It’s no secret that blogging is an incredible marketing tool for any business wanting to drive growth.
Publishing a post at least once a week to a blog hosted on your company’s website that’s filled with industry news, insights and informative content is beneficial for many reasons. In fact, HubSpot notes that B2B marketers using blogs receive 67 percent more leads than those that don’t.
Unfortunately, many people jump on the blogging bandwagon without taking adequate steps to prepare themselves with the fundamentals of blogging. Because while blogging itself doesn’t have to be drag, it does take some advanced preparation and a little mental elbow grease to get a company blog off the ground, beyond the usual selection of a CMS (like HubSpot or WordPress) and blog contributors.
So, today I want to discuss the five ways you need to prepare for a new company blog, before hitting publish on your first post. These steps will not only create a strong foundation, they will also set you up for success in future.
As with anything related to marketing, it’s important to set goals for yourself when starting a blog. Coming up with long and short term goals will help you maintain focus. First, at a high-level, by helping you define what you actually want to get out of your blog, and then at the tactical level, by ensuring your efforts are streamlined by remaining in line with the goals that you set.
My advice to you is to brainstorm some SMART goals, which are simple, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. By reminding yourself to keep your goals SMART, you will bring consistent structure and measurement into your objectives, without making them unrealistic.
For example, you may say that you intend to blog three times a week, with the intent of increasing your website traffic by 10 percent over a two-month period. Alternatively, you could set a goal to blog a certain number of times about a particular topic, with the goal of gaining 15 lead conversions on a related offer that is attached to those blogs within a five-week period.
Whatever goal you choose, remember to follow the SMART outline and then document what you agree to. That way you can measure your progress against those goals.
(I want to point out, however, that a strong blogging strategy needs to be paired with a robust social promotion strategy, in order to be effective. Blogging alone, with no amplification, will not bring you the results you seek; it’s part of a much larger puzzle.)
BUILD AN OPT-IN FORM
Is one of your SMART goals to gain “X” amount of subscribers to your blog? Then you better make sure you have an opt-in form built for use on your website. Don’t make this an after-thought; have your form finished and ready to go so people can start subscribing to your blog after the first post.
We have ours on our blog post pages.
After the form is built, come up with a game plan on where you want to post it throughout your website. Most sites have three to five pages with notably more traffic than others, such as an “About Us” page. Start by identifying which of your pages gets the most frequent visitors and add the form there.
JOIN A QUALITY STOCK PHOTO SITE
I cannot stress enough how important images are for your blogs. People love eye catching photos, and they are more likely to engage with content containing images that are attractive. And with social media sites like Pinterest – which has close to 110 million users – or Instagram, there is proof that people will share high quality, unique photos.
So set your blog up for virtual success by joining a stock photo site. Then you can have thousands of images at your fingertips.
MAKE CONNECTIONS WITH THE BIG PLAYERS
Something I think a lot of new bloggers forget is the importance of network-building. It is a good idea to start making connections now with other big bloggers or influencers in your niche.
You can start by searching for influencers or peers within your space on Twitter or LinkedIn (or whatever social network makes the most sense for your persona). Then engage with them – but don’t just share or retweet their content. Engage with them and ask questions. You can also talk to them about your own content process. You can poll them to see what they’re most interested in learning about, or advise them of when you plan to publish content on a particular topic.
Finally, when you’re ready to start publishing your new blogs, you have a network in place that is more likely to share your content. Heck, they might even ask you to guest blog.
Last, but definitely not least, you need to sit down and write a content calendar. Simply put, a content calendar is a schedule of what you intend to post and when. The calendar will set the framework for the evolving story you want to tell about your business over the next several months – or at least the next few weeks, at a bare minimum.
One benefit to having a completed content calendar for the month is time. You will find yourself using your time more effectively because you’ll already know what content needs to be written, when it needs to be written and when it is scheduled to be published. This will alleviate the pressure of working on tight deadlines and using forced creativity.
Most importantly, however, a content calendar is a tool that will enable you to be strategic in blog topic choice and planning. Let’s say you’re looking ahead to the fourth quarter, and you know you have a particular event or campaign coming up, for which you’d like to build buzz. With a content calendar in-hand, you will be able to plan ahead for what content needs to be published to support your goals and begin work on it in advance.
Otherwise, you’ll be directionless. Blogging is useful and can drive traffic, but if you want to see results, you need to be forward-thinking, with a content calendar in your arsenal.
Are You Ready?
If you’re ready to get started blogging for your own business, great! Just remember, the most important thing you can do is be consistent. A company blog works when content is being published to it on a regular basis – at least once a week, if not more. That means you can’t just blog a few times and expect a steady stream of lead conversions to come knocking down your door.
Set SMART goals, engage with influencers and maintain your content calendar. Also, have regular internal meetings with stakeholders to ensure the content you’re planning and creating for your blog is in-line with your business’ goals. Because anyone can start a blog, but you need to be strategic in your execution if you want to see results.