With photos and videos flying by on social media, blogs can seem like a throwback to an earlier, wordier era of the internet—and a lot of work. In fact, a business blog is an important tool to attract a new audience and engage with your clients. And writing it doesn’t have to be painful.
While we often think about brand strategy in visual terms, marketing your business is really about storytelling. Blogs are a form of content marketing that simultaneously allow you to craft a narrative for potential customers and showcase your team’s creativity and expertise. Thoughtful, professional blog posts offer advantages that short-form posts on Twitter and Instagram don’t.
While your landing pages and website outline the basics of your business, a blog is a chance to bring potential clients to your site and educate them about your industry so they understand why they need you.
This blog post will take you through the steps to start creating your own posts and telling your business’s story.
BRAINSTORM BLOG TOPICS
Your first step is to do some research. Find out what other businesses in your industry are publishing. Are there frequently asked questions in your field that are beyond the scope of an FAQ page? What do existing clients want to know? What new types of clients do you want to attract?
You can use analytics on your website and social media to see what pages, topics, and posts are getting the most attention. Those are areas to delve into further in blog posts. You can also see what search topics are trending to produce timely content.
Remember, blog content can build your brand identity and market your business, but posts shouldn’t sound like a sales pitch. If your content pulls people in, you can unlock an audience you wouldn’t have otherwise had, so think creatively about the kinds of stories your business wants to tell. (I recently found myself clicking through a pest-control website having been immersed in a truly fascinating post about the habits of house mice in the wild!)
USE SEO TO FIND YOUR AUDIENCE
Once you’ve settled on a topic, think about the keywords associated with it. What search terms will bring new readers to your site? To pull in as many readers as possible, SEO, or search engine optimization, is key. There are many online guides to SEO, and keyword research platforms like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush can give you guidelines as to what terms you should include in your blog.
SEO reports can also give you an idea of the ideal length for your post and link you to pages with similar keywords that you can use for research. Include outbound links in your post to share helpful tools or information with readers, and be sure to link to other parts of your website where readers can contract your services.
TYPES OF POSTS
Once you have an idea of the kinds of content you want to address, there are a number of formats you can use. Varying the types of posts you include will keep the blog interesting and visually appealing.
- Detail the types of services common to your industry. Show how they differ and which one is right for which client. With more information and a deeper understanding of your services, people are more likely to reach out and become customers. This is a place for an internal link to your services page.
- Introduce members of your team in an interview post. Let readers know that there are real people behind the screen, who they can relate to and trust. These posts can be more personal, highlighting professional and individual achievements and interests.
- Create informative posts about your industry or its history. This can be an explainer in response to frequently Googled questions—“What is crypto currency?”—or you can draw in readers with a more esoteric topic, like the history of printmaking, and show how it relates to what you do in the field today.
- Comment on relevant current events. Show that you are on top of new developments related to your field and attract readers who want an expert take on what’s happening.
- Provide instructions in a how-to post related to your industry. This can be something specific—like how to use certain software to complete a task—or more general—how to keep your identity safe online.
Once you’ve got your topic lined up and your links and keywords assembled in a document, it’s time to get down to writing. While the style of your blog will be unique and each post will look slightly different, there are several things to keep in mind that will keep readers engaged.
It’s worth spending a little extra time on the first couple sentences—the ones that will pull readers in and convince them to read further. Show your readers what is at stake: What dilemma might they be facing and how can you help? What insight can you provide? Why will this be a fun read? You can include a surprising fact or brief anecdote related to the post topic.
While you want your audience to be swept up in the great story you’re telling, help a reader out! Starting off with an outline can help you organize your writing by dividing content into distinct sections. Use section headings in the post itself so readers can skim and get a sense of what you cover. Keep paragraphs short, and use lists and bullet points for key takeaways.
Your blog’s tone and voice will be specific to your marketing strategy, but try to strike a balance between professionalism and informality. It’s fine to use second-person pronouns (you) to talk directly to your audience. Don’t be afraid to use contractions, short sentences, and even sentence fragments for emphasis.
It can help to read your post out loud: Do you get caught up in long phrases? Break them apart. Does a sentence sound stiff or overly formal? Rephrase it out loud as though you were explaining the idea in a conversation and then put that on the page.
That said, this is still a professional text, not a text message: avoid informal uses of punctuation (Whyyyyyy????!!!) and excessive emojis, and make sure your post is free of typos.
You want readers to come away with a clear sense of the story you’re telling. Your blog lets you show that your business is service oriented and provides value in the form of information readers want and need.
Refrain from excess jargon. Unless your blog is highly specialized and your clients are exclusively industry insiders, make sure the terms you use are clear to people outside the field. An informative post can be a good place to define commonly used jargon in terms accessible to a layperson. You can link back to those educational posts in future posts that use industry-specific vocabulary.
Avoid the passive voice. Using active sentences will create a strong tone and establish clear connections. It will also make sentences shorter, allowing them to pack a bigger punch. (Compare that sentence to: “Sentences will be made shorter by the use of the active voice, and there will be a bigger punch packed.” Ouch.)
Keep sentences relatively short. Varying sentence length is a nice stylistic trick to avoid a monotonous post, but try to steer clear of long, winding sentences.
You can use free online tools to calculate your text’s Flesch-Kincaid readability score, which determines how easy your post is to read and its approximate grade level based on word and sentence length. A higher score means an easier-to-read text. If your score is too low, try to break down long sentences and replace complex words with more accessible ones.
Finally, edit! A well-written blog shows that your business is professional and can consistently produce high-level content—qualities potential clients will be looking for. Make sure your posts have been edited and proofread before they go live.
It’s hard to catch your own mistakes, so another member of your team should take a look, or you can hire a professional copyeditor like those at Flatpage.
Add an eye-catching image to your polished prose, and you’re ready to promote your post on social media and jump into your next topic!
About the author
Tess is an editor, proofreader, and Spanish-English translator. She has produced website and social media content for artists and nonprofits and edits blog posts on international topics. She edits for individual and institutional clients in a number of areas with materials ranging from grant applications and policy briefs to scholarly essays and academic monographs.