What I Have Learnt from Writing a Weekly Business Blog for 5 Years
If you are new to blogging, thinking about taking a more strategic approach to your content marketing or trying to connect more of your online dots beyond your social media posts, it is my hope that today’s article will help you develop a stronger framework for how you may choose to approach this. I’ve included the resources that I’ve found invaluable along the way and welcome your comments about blogging resources you use in your own business to help others who will read this article.
Blogging for my business has provided so many unexpected gifts, that I thought it was worth reflecting on my journey since committing to myself that I would write my business blog on a weekly basis. In many ways, what I am sharing with you here is what I wish someone had shared with me when I first began blogging for my business!
When I first established Think Bespoke in 2010 I was also working as the Lead Trainer and Facilitator for a boutique consultancy. It was not until 2013, when I had fully embraced the entrepreneurial life, that I committed to writing a weekly blog. If you’ve been to one of my blogging and brainstorming mornings, you’ll have heard me say I have written a blog most weeks since 2013. If you check through Think Bespoke’s blog archives you will notice some of these blogs have since been removed.
Why I Chose to Start Blogging for My Business
I was first motivated to begin writing my weekly blog for two reasons. The first was that I felt it was something I ‘should’ do for my business. I thought that if I wanted Think Bespoke’s website to get found in google searches, then I needed to adhere to the preferences of google algorithms. In 2013 my knowledge of this was very basic. I knew google liked recency and relevance to the services I provided and so thought the blog was the best way to achieve this. The second reason was that I found myself repeating similar concepts, stories and ideas to clients and I wanted to capture these thoughts and share them with a wider audience.
Here’s my first blog, 5 Ways to Say NO at work. While I have amended the visual I originally used with this blog post, you will note I have not attended to the formatting issues (there’s inconsistency in the format of the Scenarios) and I do not think I’ve attended to the meta description. I love that this blog post breaks many of the formats I now follow. It is a trip down memory lane and remains to this day a concept I still discuss with regular clients.
This blog post reminds me of two important lessons I have learnt about blogging:
- Meta Descriptions are important! If you are asking yourself ‘what is a meta description’? . . please read more here from one of my favourite website sources, Moz.
- Search Engine Optimisation matters – this blog post was imported from my first blogging platform (Blogger) which I used to run concurrently with my Weebly website. When I moved over to WordPress, the supplier who helped me merge the website and blog advised me I didn’t need to worry about SEO and the All in One SEO pack was good enough. I will explore this in more detail in due course below. Stay with me.
Why I Serve My Ideal Clients First and Google Second
My focus on knowing the ideal clients or target market we serve and who we do our best work with is the driving force behind my blog content, social media focus and email marketing. While I do use data driven insights from my Google Analytics, LinkedIn Company Page analytics and LinkedIn’s social selling index, Facebook and Instagram insights, I am also mindful of what is happening in my client’s world and how I can help them. By sharing value adding content it is my aim to help current and potential clients deal with their business and career issues as they relate to my area of expertise and Think Bespoke’s LinkedIn training, online content solutions and career planning divisions.
My blog topics are chosen as part of an overall content planning framework based on my commercial goals for each of these divisions. Once the core content of the blog is written, I then follow a checklist for ensuring my blogs deliver against the needs of my clients and then, and only then, Google’s requirements for being discovered in search. My decision for what’s included in this checklist has been developed over my 5 years of blogging and is based on feedback from clients and colleagues as to what they find useful, and it’s also informed by the regular content I read across a variety of valuable blogging and content marketing resources. I have listed some of these resources further on in this article.
The Role of Content Marketing to Attract, Acquire & Engage
As I continued my business journey I began to better understand the role corporate storytelling and content marketing could play in helping grow my brand and business. In this article I share my experience with content marketing. If you are yet to get your head around content marketing, I suggest you do! It is an approach that helps you better understand how your website, social media and email marketing all hang together so you can maximise your online assets.
My Checklist When I Write a Blog
Some examples of my checklist items after I have written the first draft here on WordPress include:
I try to choose a relevant headline that addresses a topic my clients can relate to. I may sometimes use a headline checker.
Focused Opening Statement
If you revisit the opening statement of this article you will see I speak directly to the reader and explain very quickly what I am writing about and what they can expect from the article.
A Sense of Me
I also try to inject a sense of how I think or approach my client work so potential clients can get to know what I am like to work with and what drives my approach to Think Bespoke and our service offerings. This can also often include links to previous articles I have written.
Image and headline selection can take me as long to decide as the time it takes to write the article. I normally pay for my images and make sure I describe the images with the same wording as the headline (Alt Text). Alt Text and optimal format is described in more detail in this Moz article.
Title, Description & Key Words
These are chosen based on the overall content marketing framework (as mentioned earlier) and need to be completed in full and consistently with the Headline and Headings (H1, H2 and H3) used throughout the blog. This relates to SEO, which is a big topic and far beyond the scope of the purpose of today’s article. For a basic explanation of SEO for Bloggers visit this Problogger article. And then search Problogger’s SEO categories for more information.
How to treat your categories and tags is a much longer conversation which I can have with you 1:1, but I will say to start out as you mean to go and set your categories with your ideal client in mind. As you build a library of content (blogs, vlogs and podcasts) you can point prospective clients to these resources on your website to help explain concepts and ideas you find yourself repeating.
Publish, Edit, Edit
By creating the weekly discipline of writing my blog I am mostly able to stick to my self imposed deadlines. Sometimes I will publish and then go back and edit over the next few days. If I miss my self imposed deadline, as was this case with this article, I will back date the article by a day or two to keep the consistency of timing. Sometimes I am in my flow and will write three blogs at once.
How long does it take me to write a blog (I am often asked this)?
It depends on the content, but anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours is generally how long it can take me to write a blog.
Do I do all my own writing (I am often asked this too)?
If I invite I guest on the blog, I will generally introduce them and then hand over to them.
In the past I have also had a Career Q&A series which I asked a series of set questions which were then answered by the people I interviewed.
Blogging & Content Marketing Resources
Here are some of the resources I find helpful to keep me informed about blogging and content marketing trends and news.
ProBlogger is the home for those wanting to start a blog, create great content and grow their blogs and then go professional to make money blogging. it was established and is run by Darren Rowse who is based in Melbourne and reaches audiences across the world. Darren and his team run an annual Problogger conference showcasing the latest approaches to blogging. It also cover lots of other related and relevant topics including email marketing.
Social Media Examiner
Social Media Examiner helps millions of businesses discover how to best use social media marketing to connect with customers, drive traffic, and increase sales. Do not be overwhelmed by the abundance of content. Just focus on the topics relevant to you and your business and read their blog or listen to the podcast.
LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog
If you can handle the U.S. based content and side step the overt goal for LinkedIn to sell you one of their premium memberships or LinkedIn advertising options for your company page, this blog is a great resource for what’s trending in content marketing and employee amplification.
Special mention must also go to the following resources which, at the time of writing, have been great sources of information to inform Think Bespoke’s blogging and content marketing efforts, including:
- Sensis Social Media Report for Australian businesses deciding where to play online
- Sprout Social Best Times to Post on Social Media