13 Tips To Turn Your Blog Into a Kick-Ass, Client-Generating Machine
A popular goal of business owners large and small, is to start a successful blog. Maybe you have started a blog before, buy never really got any traction, or perhaps you couldn’t figure out what to write and the blog just died. Whether you are just starting out or starting over, a successful blog that engages, inspires, and answers readers question is a great way to generate clients.
1# What’s the Point?
A blog is a big commitment and its rarely successful when you “wing it.” Write a blog mission statement and make sure that everything that you write and post links to that mission statement. And NO, “sell more stuff” is NOT your blog mission. That may be the goal of your business, but the point of your blog should be to educate consumers and establish yourself as a source of (non-selly) information. PERIOD. As soon as you start to pitch your products or services, readers switch off.
Let’s say that you are an attorney specializing in wills and estate planning. Your blog might include posts about making a will, how to talk about living wills with family, or financial planning to protect your assets. You might talk about changes in the tax code, planning for retirement, and legacy financing. You might post tips on talking to elderly parents about their wishes. Your posts might include links to articles written by others (be sure you credit the sources) about what happened to people’s assets when they failed to make a will. The point of your blog might therefore be, to educate people about wills and estate planning and help them make decisions about their end-of-life financial planning.
But your blog doesn’t have to be directly about your business. Some of the best blogs that I have ever read focus on only a part of their author’s brand.
The baker that blogs about her personal weight-loss journey, posts her re-imagined diabetic friendly recipes, and shares tips on losing weight while eating out is inspiring and fun. Because of her blog, other diabetics and dieters have found their way to her bakery. Even though she bakes predominately traditional baked goods, in increasing numbers people with special dietary needs are becoming customers.
The architect who blogs about the renovation of his own mid-century modern house has tens of thousands of followers. People follow to see the progress of his renovation, lust after other homes that he showcases as inspiration, and ask him questions about the process. People have come to trust his work, taste, and expertise and have hired him to help them create or renovate their own properties because they love his own.
An electrician devoted to electric cars has proved to be an important source of information for consumers interested in purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle. He uses his blog to review electric cars, explain electric charging station needs, provide information on grants available to people purchasing an electric vehicle, and to talk about his personal experience in moving from a tradition motor to electric motor. While installing electric charging stations is only a small part of his business, his blog has had a direct, positive impact of his entire electrical services business.
2# Speak to Your Reader’s Needs
Why would someone want to read your blog? You may get a few friends and colleagues to read your blog out of loyalty or curiosity. You might be able to count on your Mom or your spouse to read a post occasionally. But in order to gain new followers who may ultimately become consumers of your brand, you have to understand what motivates people to initially read your post.
Typically, people read a post because it answers a question. They type a question into their search engine, and with any luck, if you have properly embedded tag words, they find your post, read it, and it answers their question. If their query is a one-off or it was just a curiosity, they will probably move on, richer in the knowledge that you provided, but not a follower. Think about how many times you have done the same thing.
In order for your casual, one-off reader to become a loyal, engaged follower, they need to 1) have more then just a passing fancy about your blog's topic, 2) find you credible, and 3) find your delivery engaging. Better engagement numbers comes from better engagement. Do you know why followers are reading your posts? Are you using analytics to monitor which topics are most popular? Are you answering questions asked in the comments section of your blog? Do you write about topics that your followers need to know....even if they don't know that they need to know it yet? How can I provide value through my experience? When you establish yourself as an expert and share information or share your personal experience in a way that engages people, they will read what you wrote and likely return for more.
3# Be Consistent
People trust consistency. When you consistently provide content, your readers trust that you are committed to them. This builds a relationship. Consistency doesn’t have to mean daily. But it does mean frequently and ideally, on a schedule.
If you are just starting with blogging, write a handful of posts as a foundation and create a few in reserve to post when your week has been too busy to write or you suffer from writers block.
4# Be Visual
Blog posts with at least one photo are read more, shared more, and can help your SEO. Make sure that your pictures are clear, appropriate, and that you own them or can use them legally. Copying pictures off the internet is not legal, but you can download royalty free photos from many sources online.
5# Create a Blog Post Calendar
Think about the periods of time when your readers would be most interested in specific information. If you are an electrician, your readers might be searching for information on generators and emergency lighting in May before hurricane season, outdoor and pool lighting before summer, and Christmas decoration safety in November. If you own a restaurant you might write about losing weight while eating out in January, when most media is pushing weight loss. Your readers might be looking for information about food safety when catering outdoor parties during the summer or planning the perfect graduation at a restaurant. No matter what your industry, think about the times when your readers are likely to have question that you can answer.
6# Be Responsive to Topical Issues
When something happens that affects your readers AND is directly linked to your brand, use the opportunity to provide topical information. Changes in the law? New trends? New inventions or products that can affect your readers? Help readers to easily understand new information and use new products.
With a new tax plan, tax attorneys, family planners, real estate professionals, even day care providers might research and discuss the changes. People are eager to get real information about how the changes will affect them and their business, especially with so much guessing and supposition being reported. Be a source of information.
7# But DO NOT Mistake Your Political Beliefs for Topical Information
The fastest way to derail your brand and turn off readers and potential customers is to go political. Of course, you feel that your political convictions are correct. You may even feel that only an idiot wouldn’t agree with you. But the fact is, there are millions of potential readers who simply don’t agree with you or do agree but find political convictions are private matter. Unless your business is politics, sex, or religion, you really should keep your opinions about these topics private and away from your business brand.
Are you a day care provider? You can talk about how the new tax bill will affect child care deductions without providing your opinion on the bill or commentary on the people supporting or fighting it.
8# Take a Conversational Tone
While statistics can be really effective, if your blog reads like a textbook or an instruction manual, its much harder to connect with your readers. Write your blog posts as if you are talking to a friend, sharing information with someone you know and like, this makes your blog more enjoyable to read.
9# But Always Keep it Professional
Humor is largely subjective. You may find a joke or cartoon hilarious, but it may be offensive to someone else. Slang, “trendy” talk, and cursing makes you look immature, unprofessional, and often desperate to seem cool. Avoid. Your goal is to be a source of information and friendly expertise, not a jokester. A conversational tone means light and friendly, but still professional.
10# Get Your Posts Seen
Writing and posting to your blog is only the first step. But if that is where you stop, only people already following your blog will see your work. To get your posts seen by a wider audience you need to share your posts on your own social media, add your posts to relevant blog aggregators, and add SEO that will help people using a search engine to find information, to find you.
11# No Brand is an Island
One of the best ways to engage, find new readers, and establish yourself is by networking, following and commenting (positively) on other blogs that you like…related to your brand. Search for other blogs doing interesting things in your space or an associate space. Build those relationships through commenting and sharing, ask someone whose voice or business point of view you like (remember #7) to guest post on your blog. Make online colleagues.
If people ask questions, make positive comments about what you have written, or share your posts, engage with them! Thank them for commenting and sharing, ask them questions, create dialogue.
13# Have Fun and Keep at it
A blog should contribute positively to your life. But it requires that you keep at it. There will be times when you can’t think of a single thing to post. Try to write a few extra posts when inspiration strikes so that you have some spares on hand. Keep a folder of interesting articles and blog posts from others to help you with inspiration.
updated from original January 2018 post