“I know I should be blogging but…”
If you’re marketing your own business, you’ve probably said this at some point or another. Blogging is seen as a bit of a hallmark of content marketing, but many of us struggle to find the time, inspiration, or confidence to actually do it.
There are a lot of “should”s in business, some important (yes, you should be setting aside part of your earnings for the tax man!) but others, more of a guideline.
So should you really be blogging? And if yes, how can you do it in a way that gets results for your audience AND for your business?
Should I be blogging for my business?
Whether or not you start blogging needn’t be dependent on the stage of business you are at. For many, it’s one of the first things they do to start growing an audience at the start of their business. This is a brilliant time to start blogging.
But a later stage of business brings a whole new significance to blogging as a marketing tool. This is when blogging can take you from being a relatable business owner to being a thought leader in your industry.
A thought leader is someone who is “recognised as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialisation, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organisation for said expertise”. Crucially, this person also profits from this coveted position in their field of expertise.
Why should thought leadership be on my to-do list?
It would be pretty hard to scale your business to any height without publishing good thought leadership content, especially if your competitors are investing in this.
A recent study by LinkedIn and Edelman demonstrates this beautifully. They surveyed decision-makers in B2B organisations and found some pretty staggering statistics:
- 49% agreed that reading compelling content from a brand was likely to affect their decision to buy from that brand.
- While 88% of the decision makers in the survey agreed that this improves their opinion of a company, only 17% considered the quality of most content to be very good or excellent.
- 38% of readers had less respect or admiration for a company after reading poor quality content. Even more concerning, 27% said that sometimes reading thought leadership content had led to the decision not to work with a company.
What that means is that a lot of people are regularly publishing some pretty poor quality content, but that those who are making the investment to produce high-quality, thought-provoking, and helpful content are reaping the rewards.
Having reads those stats, I’m pretty sure you want to be in that minority, right? So how do you do it?
It’s simple: Solve problems for your readers in a way that’s timely, concise, actionable, and different.
How to write blogs that your audience LOVES to read
Even though the recipe for a blog that truly makes an impact is straightforward, that doesn’t mean to say that it’s easy. Those four little words can cause some serious stumbling blocks if you’re not used to factoring them into your writing.
Let’s explore what each of them might look like:
Timely: This is not just about acknowledging the environment in which you’re publishing your blog. Of course current affairs and economic outlooks play a part for everyone. However, it’s also about being timely in the lives of your audience. What are they struggling with TODAY? What are they going to come up against tomorrow? In other words, write content that is proactive, not reactive.
Writing about these struggles as your audience encounters them not only shows you as being helpful and useful, it shows you can empathise with those you help. To do this really well, the best thing you can do is talk to your audience regularly. Engage with their content, have conversations, ask them what’s going on for them and how you can help. Do so from a place of genuine service rather than looking for the money-making opportunity in the first instance.
Concise: Most of us have probably experienced that frustration of finding a brilliant recipe online and having to scroll through pages and pages of the author’s life story before finding out how much flour you need to buy. Don’t be this person for your audience.
The vast majority of people nowadays are time-poor, so making your content accessible and easy to consume is a must if you’re going to reach the people who need you most. This is not to say that all your content needs to be blunt and bland. Inject your personality and have fun with your messaging, just don’t hide it behind reams of unnecessary waffle.
When writing, ask yourself “does this sentence help take my reader closer to the answer they need?”. Are you helping your reader understand in more depth, or are you simply repeating the same point in different words? Be ruthless on this point and your content will always strike a chord.
Actionable: People read your content to find an answer to their problem. So, in order to do this, the advice contained within needs to be something they can do themselves to move forward. You can make this even better by revisiting the earlier tip to talk to your audience regularly. Understand what level they are at, and what they feel comfortable doing by themselves and at what level they would need a helping hand.
Calls to action (CTA) are another important factor to this. It’s very tempting to include a CTA that moves your audience to the next step of your buyer’s journey, but hold on: do they trust you enough to book a call with you yet? How likely are they to invest in your membership if this is the first blog they’ve read?
Counter this by making the CTA appropriate to the blog you’re including it on. Perhaps suggest related blogs for the topic they’ve just read about, or direct them to a low-stakes next step such as joining your free group or downloading a freebie. Whatever it is, make this next step easy using hyperlinks.
Different: Last but not least, your content needs to bring fresh new ideas to your reader. It’s no good trotting out the same breakdown of a new white paper that every other agency in your field will be doing. You need to add your own spin!
The best way to be different is to be brave enough to take a stand on something you believe in. Tell your audience your opinion on a contested subject, or explain why you disagree with something commonly advised. Tell them how new developments will affect them personally, using your knowledge of your specific audience. Stand out for the right reasons.
Is that all there is to it?
Of course, when it comes to blogging there are all sorts of things to consider. SEO, tone of voice, word count – all of these things play a role. But it’s my firm belief that the quality of the content must come first. If that isn’t there, you can have the best SEO in the world and you still won’t have anybody reading it.
So push all of that to one side as you start out. Practise helping your audience in a timely, concise, actionable, and different way, then get the SEO magic involved.
In doing so, you’ll be changing hearts and minds on any scale you choose. After all, isn’t that what we’re in the business of marketing to do?