9 business blogging FAQs: tutorial for 2018

Funny how blogging goes in and out of fashion, eh? After a bit of a lull in interest where blogging is concerned, from about the beginning of this year (2018) everyone has been going “yayyyyy! Blogging rocks!” … once again.

Blogging FAQs by Suzan St Maur
Here are some of the blogging FAQs we’ve been talking about – and resolving – in my recent workshops…this is a long one, so grab some coffee before reading on!

1. Blogging has been around forever. Is it better to blog on social media now?

No. Nothing has changed. That’s the irony of it. Despite a flurry of alternatives to straightforward blogging being put forward over the years, we always come back to the same home truths.

You can post your blogs where you like now: on LinkedIn, Facebook, even Twitter if you make them short enough … plus umpty-dump other platforms which come and go ad nauseam. And there is always something wrong with those options. What? There is still a huge risk for you and your business or other activity if you blog only on external platforms.

No matter how attractive the platform is, you still do not own the real estate. And that is something I really can’t emphasise enough. Share your blog posts wherever you want, but make sure they’re published on your site first. That’s how you retain a) their ownership and b) the Google recognition.

2. Everyone’s blogging about my topic. How can I make my blog stand out?

There might be 50,000 people blogging about your topic, but you are unique – and so is your blog.

You need to focus on using social media – and face-to-face networking if that’s appropriate – to build up your own “tribe” of followers who love what you stand for and appreciate what you write about.

Tutorial on blogging
And needless to say, you need to know exactly what your current and target clients/customers want and need … what keeps them awake at night … and make sure you write blog posts that address those wants and needs.

Once you start addressing the needs of your “tribe,” you’ll find that you can blog about them in a way that will earn you a lot of kudos. If you work on a local basis that is extremely powerful. But even if your remit is international, once people appreciate your expertise in your particular “niche,” your audience will continue growing.

3. I don’t know what to blog about. How do I find out the answers to this?

Go to the Blogging category on here and have a good old stroll through the topics. There are more than 250 articles there. And if you want it all in one volume, check out “How To Write Brilliant Business Blogs” on your nearest Amazon. (I would provide a link but the book is changing Amazon pages soon … just search for the title on Amazon!)

If you still don’t know what to blog about, go and ask your current and prospective customers/clients what keeps them awake at night. What worries them about issues to which you can provide answers? And that isn’t just about services, coaching, mentoring, etc.

It’s also about hard and fast products. If you sell beauty products, don’t just broadcast why you think they’re brilliant. Think about the problems women may have that your products can solve. Write about those problems, and how your solutions can solve them.

4. I’m dyslexic and can’t write properly. What options do I have for blogging?

The great thing about the online environment is that you don’t need to be skilled with a quill pen and and inkwell in order to blog.

One thing I always ask participants in my workshops is this: “OK, you say you can’t write. Can you speak?”

That usually gets some raised eyebrows even if we’re still getting into the coffee and cakes. Most people say, er, yes.

So I come back with what may seem like a no-brainer, but goes like this: have you tried voice recognition software? This stuff has been around for quite a long time now and the earliest versions were pretty crappy. But in modern times there are some utterly stunning options out there for people who want to “talk” rather than write blog posts and other things too.

Tutorial on blogging by Suzan St MaurInterested? Google “voice recognition software.” I gather there are even free versions you can download.

Then when you want to write a blog post, imagine you are sitting down with a typical customer/client, talking about something that they’re worried about and that you can resolve for them.

Speak your story into the machine and (after you have cued it up to work from your voice) it will appear miraculously on your screen. Tidy it up (using your spellchecker and maybe Grammarly) … add your images, tag it up for SEO, and bingo.

5. I have a number of different issues I can help readers with. How do I decide which to feature?

Do your homework. We all know that readers of blogs, like readers of almost everything else, do so on the strength of what’s in it for them – not you, the author.

So don’t assume you know what they’re looking for: go and ask them.

Based on their feedback, you should be able to come up with a list of key topics to concentrate on. Some may surprise you, too.

It’s usually very hard to stand back and put yourself in your customers’ shoes, especially if you have founded and built up your business or other activity from scratch and work at it 24/7.

Tutorial about business blogging by Suzan St MaurA classic example of this showed up in a workshop I was doing once on Elevator Pitches. One man had a company that made the most exquisitely crafted rimless glasses – lenses and frames imported from Italy, precision tooling and fitting, you name it. That was the basis of his elevator pitch.

Role playing as a typical customer, I asked him why rimless glasses are better than framed glasses?

“Oh,” he muttered, “it’s because you can see much more clearly if you don’t have a frame around the lens.”

It took quite some while before he realised his pitch was wrong…because the high quality and precision elements were important to him. The truth was that those were features, whereas customers are interested primarily in benefits.

Think of your list of topics being based on a list of benefits that you and your business or other activity offer.

6. How long should my blog posts be?

Word on the street is, Google feels a blog post should be at least 300 – preferably 350 – words long if it’s to be taken seriously.

Over and above that, though, we need to use a rather neglected, old-fashioned tool:  common sense.

Think about your typical reader. Is s/he someone who will sit down to read your blog with a cup of coffee while the kids are watching a movie? Then you can afford to write a longer blog than if, say, they were grabbing a 5 minute break from their work.Business blogging tutorialIs your blog very conversational, maybe with a couple of good stories in it? It can be a little longer than an article about finance or accountancy which is stiff with figures, computations and statistics which are hard to digest. That latter one needs to be short enough that readers don’t suffer from TMI (too much information.)

Do you blog every day? Then you can get away with a few hundred words, focusing on one topic per day. If you only blog once a month, you’ll get more interest with a longer article (provided that you use plenty of cross-headings to break it up and avoid long sections of continuous text.)

One thing you can do if you’re concerned that an article is going to be too long for your blog, is to edit it top and bottom and run it as a two-parter.

This also helps to encourage people to come back to your blog, to catch up on Part Two the following week or month. Just remember to recap on the key points of Part One at the start of Part Two, and after Part Two has been published link it back to Part One and vice versa.

7. How often should I blog?

See # 6 above and also use that antique tool, common sense.

Consider the following:

How much time do you have to write your article?

Quality is much better than quantity. If you only have 12 key topics then blog once a month. Don’t fill up gaps with junk.

If you’re just starting, don’t be too ambitious. Go for once a month to begin, then amp it up to twice a month if you are sufficiently inspired.

As your audience grows, you might like to invite guest authors to contribute. (I do.) A great way to give readers more choice.

Be realistic about what you can do well, and let that guide you for blogging frequency.

8. How should I promote my blog?

The best way I find to do this is to compose a short “abstract” of each article which I use as an introduction, and then share that with a link to the article on all my social media platforms.

Invite people to comment on your blog – both in the social media links and on your blog itself. Get as many conversations going as you can.

Make sure you have share icons on every article and encourage readers to share your articles with their followers.

Article about blogging for businessWhen people comment on your article and/or abstract with its link, make sure you respond to them. Each and every comment even if there are dozens. If you can’t find some words to say then just hit like (on Facebook use the more enthusiastic icons if you can!) and add a few emojis.

The benefits there are a) that the social media platform concerned will see that your content is busy, which it may like and reward you for, and b) the fact that you interact with each commenter shows them that you’re a real human who has heard and understood what they said – not a content-sharing robot or some kiddie you’ve hired to “do your social media.” And that’s worth a lot in terms of building up a loyal following for yourself and your business/activity.

9. I’ve been blogging for three months now but am not getting many results. Should I stop?

In a word, no.

People who teach networking techniques always laugh at workshoppees who say they tried face-to-face networking a couple of times but gave up because they hadn’t made any sales as a result.

This is not the time or place to go into the whole story of contemporary marketing but blogging, like networking and many other business activities of today, is about relationships. And just like you wouldn’t marry someone you met for ten minutes today, and maybe for another ten minutes a month ago, why on earth would someone jump into a business relationship with you after reading one or two of your blogs?

If you get it right, each blog will be the start of a conversation between you and your readers; it’s those conversations that become the secure, real relationships you want.

In a nutshell:

1. Blogging has been around forever. Is it better to blog on social media now?
No. Blog on your own real estate first, then on social media later if you want to.

2. Everyone’s blogging about my topic. How can I make my blog stand out?
You don’t need to. Be yourself, because your take even on a popular topic will be unique.

3. I don’t know what to blog about. How do I find out the answers to this?
Go and ask your prospective and current customers, readers, associates, etc.

4. I’m dyslexic and can’t write properly. What options do I have for blogging?
Increasing amounts of software, apps, plug-ins exist now to help you, from voice recognition systems and beyond.

5. I have a number of different issues I can help readers with. How do I decide which to feature?
Be sure the issues are ones that your readers really care about. What may be important to you may not be to them. Ask them.

6. How long should my blog posts be?
Minimum of 350 words to satisfy Google, maximum depends on your topic and how/when your readers will read it.

7. How often should I blog?
At least once a month to start with, maybe increasing to twice a month and more frequently as your audience grows.

8. How should I promote my blog?
The best way is by posting introductions on social media getting readers to click to your blog to read the whole thing.

9. I’ve been blogging for three months now but am not getting many results. Should I stop?
No! You’ve only just begun. Give it plenty of time and build up the right relationships and trust with your readers.

Any questions?

Just jot them down in the comments below!