A Guide On How to Start a Blog

One of the first things a business owner must understand is the fact that the internet is built for content. And your success with online marketing and especially content marketing is dependent on the quality and frequency with which you create and distribute content.

All successful businesses with a robust online presence will have a blog by which they keep the conversations warm with their audience. The blog will keep the audience interested in the brand through informative and meaningful content. A blog serves a 2-way purpose, the brand receives audience engagement while the content provides information and value to an eager audience with a preference for the brand.

This write-up seeks to make the audience understand the steps involved in starting a business blog and takes an in-depth look at content creation and aspects of starting a blog.

What is a Blog?  

The word blog is a combination of two words – web and log. In the beginning, these served as informal personal online journals run by lone individuals. But with the advent of web publishing tools, it became easier for non-technical users to get their blogs up and running. Since then the number of bloggers has been increasing at a tremendous rate. And on the last count, there were about 4.4 million blog posts published daily, as per 2019 data.

Facts that Makes Blogs an Attractive Proposition

  • 77% of internet users are known to read blogs.

  • Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trustworthy source of information.

  • Companies with blogs are known to get 97% more links to their website.

  • Websites with a blog are shown to have 434% more indexed pages.

  • Businesses with a blog get 2x more traffic than those who don’t.

  • 72% of marketers opine that content creation is the most effective SEO tactic.

  • B2B marketers who use blogs receive 67% more leads than who don’t.

Step-by-Step Approach to Starting a Business Blog

Blogging is a vital aspect of inbound marketing, as it allows the dissemination of information in a swift manner to your subscribers and new visitors to your website. This, in turn, establishes your credibility as a thought leader in the industry. However, blogging is not a quick fix solution to your content marketing needs and requires planning, long term commitment and resources to generate adequate ROI. Now that we understand what a blog is and the prerequisites involved, let’s also look at a step-by-step approach to starting a business blog:

I Identify Target Audience Beforehand:

While writing a blog might seem straight forward but it is the audience you are writing for, who are important. It does take some amount of data and research to arrive at your targeted audience. The notion here is to understand their pain points and challenges that can be addressed through content. For this, the method is to create a fictional buyer persona, it means a representation of your ideal customer.  By doing this, there will be clarity in understanding your customers and prospects. 

In fact, a buyer’s persona will give you insights and helps you create tailor-made content around their specific needs, behaviours and concerns that drive them in their regular life. Next, we look at the specifics on creating a buyer persona, these are:

  • Interview customers in person and on phone for better understanding.

  • Enquire with the sales team about customers as they deal with them regularly.

  • Search in your contacts database and look to uncover trends on content consumption.

  • Capture personal information on contacts with specific lead forms on the website.

  • Research outside forums related to your product and service.

II Explore Content Ideas:

Now that you know the target audience, you must look into ideas that would sustain the blog in the long-term. One of the techniques to accomplish this is by identifying a list of evergreen topics. These are topics that do not lose relevance with the passage of time and will remain interesting to your audience no matter when they engage with it. These

come with a distinct advantage not seen with timely and newsworthy articles. This apart there are other ways to come with content ideas that include:
  •  Explore specific pain points associated with your buyer persona

  • Keyword research can give ideas on what people are generally searching for in your domain.

  • Suggest a keyword or a topic and investigate different angles for creating content for the same.

  • Research your competitors and assess what they are writing about.

III Select a Content Management System (CMS):

If you are a business owner you will have an existing web development team to take care of your digital needs. It can be in house team or external service provider. You may not need to deeply concerned about the micro-level specifications but can suggest the basic concerns with them. If you have a corporate website, you can incorporate the blog with it in the same domain itself. 

When you are launching a blog, you would require a digital system to host your content. There are various options available in the market, but go with a system that includes the following:

  • Tracks Performance Metrics: Your CMS should consist of features enabling you to track conversion rates, page views, and traffic sources. These metrics will allow you to gauge your success and also give you insights on whether you are accomplishing your business objectives through the blog.

  • Responsive Design: A vast majority of users are likely to access your blog from mobiles and other devices. This makes it absolutely essential that your CMS has a responsive design that automatically adjusts to the dimensions of the small screen.

IV Designing your Blog:

Making your blog look aesthetically awesome is a primary requisite because it is what attracts an audience, who will be your prospects and eventually be your customers. For designing a blog one has to have an understanding of user interface and user experience. However, the most popular CMS will have free templates that can be

customized for use, lessening your anxieties about having good knowledge of design. Still, there are some pointers that you can watch out for while creating a blog:
  • Blog Home Page: The main page of the blog should be able to tell visitors what the blog is about in a quick glance. Be conscious to include a search button allowing visitors to explore both old and new posts.

  • Colour Scheme: Select a colour combination and remain with it throughout all the pages to make the blog look coherent. Ideally, a business blog should consist of colours that define your brand identity with few additional colours giving it a distinct look.

  • Branding: If you are hosting your blog along with your website, it should look consistent with the branding of your site. While it may be alright to make it look unique, the effort should not confuse visitors to consider the blog is unrelated to the website.

  • Consistent Experience: Once you have selected a general layout for the blog, stick with the same for all the other future blog posts. This will offer a consistent level of experience to the readers.

  • Call-to-Action (CTAs): The blog serves as a medium to convert visitors at the top of the funnel. Hence, it is important to take the reader to linking pieces of content that would nurture their journey further down the funnel with strategically placed CTAs.

V Evolving a Content Strategy:

 Till now we have discussed the logistics associated with the setting up a blog. Now let’s evolve a content strategy both immediate and long-term.  This will include the following:

  • Frequency of Blog Posts: This will majorly depend on what your company does and how much of an audience you seek to attract through blogs. The amount of traffic that you attract will be in proportion to the number of blog posts you put out in a specified time frame. More traffic means more leads and customers.

  • Type of Content: A blog is considered extremely versatile and can accommodate a variety of content type including infographics, how-to posts, listicles, slideshares, editorials etc. Decide on the type of formats you want to stick with. With time you will be able to analyse which type of content performs well. The more formats you experiment with, in the beginning, better will be your insights with the analytics data.

  • Establish your Goals: You need to have a fair idea on the amount of traffic that you seek to generate in the first few weeks versus six months down the road. This will be primarily dependent on the existing user base and the promotional strategy getting incorporated.  Setting such expectations internally while evolving a content strategy is crucial to the success of a blog. Remain mindful about evolving a strategy that remains flexible with emerging conditions.

VI Promoting the Blog:

The crux here is to plan the promotion of the blog and how the content can be disseminated organically. One of the ways to improve the reach of the blog is through subscriptions, this can become the means for getting visibility among readers who regularly interact with your content and improving the possibility of your content getting shared improves. The same subscriber base can be nurtured through content to become leads and customers down the line. Now, let’s discuss how to increase the subscriber count:

  • Opt-in forms on Blog: Set up forms on your blog and CTAs on all your blog posts encouraging readers to sign-up. Ensure that all subscribers opt-in for receiving emails. Alternatively, you can also encourage visitors to sign-up with opt-in forms on your main website. This can also improve the traffic to the blog.

  • Define Frequency Clearly: Finalize on the frequency with which your subscribers would receive mails, whether it is going to be weekly, monthly, or whenever there is a new blog update. The ideal practice is to keep the frequency to the minimum which would prevent subscribers from opting out altogether.

  • Option for Unsubscribe: Every mail that you send to your subscribers must contain an option to unsubscribe from the email list. This will keep the subscribers in good spirit without making them feel they have no choice but to receive your emails.

  • Plan it in Advance: For the sake of convenience, have a calendar stipulating the dates on which subscriber emails need to be sent out. This will allow team members associated with the blog to work cohesively towards a common goal.

Strategies for Promoting the Blog:

  • Social Media: Once you have published your post, ensure to inform the available audience on your social media accounts about your blog. Capture their attention with images, videos and compelling copy in your posts.

  • Paid Advertising:  The course of action for reaching an audience unaware of your blog is through paid ad campaigns on the major social platforms.

  • Press Release: The launch of a blog is the ideal time to write a press release announcing the launch. This can also generate backlinks for your blog to allow more traffic to flow in.

VII Planning for the Sales Journey:

One of the common questions asked about blogs is about converting a random visitor into a lead and eventually into a customer.  The question is valid, but a blog is not where you can make a sale, rather it is space where your prospects can learn more about the product or service and decide whether to engage further with the brand or not. These  can be practices that nudge visitors further in their buyer’s journey:

  • Call-to-Action: These have to be placed in the blog with a little foresight as to where you want to send your readers after they read your blog. You could link the CTA to other content, offers, and site pages. Begin with a wide variety of linking sources and slowly narrow down the focus based on what works according to the analytics data.

  •  Lead Magnets: A lead magnet as the name suggests is meant to collect leads for your brand and is given free to the audience in exchange for something valuable like a valid email address from the visitor. Place your lead magnets inside the blog to attract attention from the audience. Once you are in possession of their email address, you can send them emails depending on their preferences and their location in the sales funnel based on past behaviour on the website.

  • Lead Capture Tools: There are third-party tools and plug-ins that allow lead capture preferably added in your sidebar, within the blog post, or in the footer. These can include different kinds of pop-ups that appear to the audience at time frame defined by you. They are designed to be least intrusive and encourage viewers to opt-in for a demo or a trial and can be a great asset for a blog to capture qualified leads.

VIII Internal Editorial Strategy:

When it comes to establishing credibility and authority for a blog there are two facets to it. First is search engine authority and second is reputation your garner from your readers. While the former is about SEO and link building. The latter pertains to establishing a reputation through content that cites relevant sources, includes statistics and is without grammatical errors or typos. Blog reputation is kept intact by evolving standard and guidelines for a blog, this will keep the team members in check without leaving room for careless errors. Some of the practices to abide by established standards and guidelines:

  • Internal Editing Process: No matter how good the writers are, all the work produced must go through a scrutinizing process wherein they are checked for grammatical errors and typos. The blog needs to be reviewed and fact-checked by an editor before it goes for publishing.

  • Editorial Standards: Each blog that is produced must be consistent with grammatical principles, citations, and capitalizations. This can be implemented through written guidelines to be followed by every writer in the team.

IX Attracting & Scaling Traffic:

 In the long-term, a blog can help the brand with increased traffic. But in order to get consistent and regular traffic, you must put in the hard work to make your content rank higher on search engines.

Let’s take a closer look at SEO to increase traffic to a blog:

  •  Keyword Research: This starts with identifying keywords or search terms actually getting used by the audience. Brainstorm with those keywords to come with topics to create blogs with a good sprinkling of these keywords.

  • Deciding Keywords: While doing keyword research, you will come across a host of words with high search volume with high competition. This makes them difficult to rank for. Instead, look for long-tailed niche keywords with low competition. These might not bring high traffic volume but will ensure that the niche keywords would bring in better-qualified visitors to site.

Optimize Blog: Once you finalize the keywords, it is time to optimize each blog post for SEO. The keywords should be inserted within your meta descriptions, page title, URLs etc.

X Start Creating Posts:

When it comes to writing a blog, it must be done ahead of schedule, giving you enough time to fine-tune and improve the blog before the eventual launch. There are a few things that can be kept in mind while writing a blog and these include:

  • Content needs to be Skimmable: A good blog will allow readers to skim through the blog and understand what it is all about. This can be done through short paragraphs, bullet points, and images. Besides, a text-heavy blog is will not attract much of an audience.

  • Include Images: An image is helpful in breaking text monotony and coloured images are known to make visitors 80% more willing to read a piece of content.

  • Link to Other Sources: This is important because people generally want to know where the data and information is coming from and hyperlinking is an effective way to accomplish that. Overall when the goal is to disseminate information, it helps to provide readers with additional content.  

XI Measure and Analyze

Now that you have launched your blog and keeping your audience engaged with regular updates. It’s time to look into metrics that will gauge your level of success and give clarity on performance. Some of the metrics needed to be looked into are:

  • Page Views: The way to measure the amount of traffic your site generates is through page views of each post. It means the number of people coming to your blog and reading your posts.

  • Click-through-rate: This happens to be a key metric in building SEO juice for each of your posts. The more visitors come to the blog and click the hyperlinks within, it is considered better for the authority of the site.

  • Sources of Traffic: This is an important measurement determining where the traffic is coming from and whether your promotional strategy is paying off in the long run. With analytics, you can get exact details on where the traffic is coming from. It could be - emails, paid campaigns or social promotions. This will help you to optimize content strategy over time.

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