Tutorial: blogging for business – how to use a strategy

HTWB blogging 2014-1I wish I had a dollar, pound, euro, rupee, or whatever currency you like for every time I see an article or blog post that goes into vast technical detail on how you should develop your blogging strategy.

OK, if you are Coca Cola or General Motors, this probably is something that you need to take seriously. But then if you are Coca Cola or General Motors your choices of staff toilet paper are likely to require lengthy policy documents that need to be peer-reviewed and ratified by anything up to Board level.

(For a list of the top 10 most helpful articles on blogging for business as chosen by our readers, click here)

Yes, you need a blogging strategy. No, it does not need to be complex.

But, it’s a good idea because it helps to stop you running out of steam.

First of all you need to take a good, long, hard look at your readers / clients / customers / prospects (as always) and think about the sort of information they will find useful. Yes, that one again. But I can’t emphasize the importance of this too much: it’s essential.

Now, before you start worrying about individual blog topics you could write to inform and entertain them, think first in terms of blog post types that you could use – then flesh those out into individual posts.

So for instance …

How-To blog posts … always popular although a wee bit overdone at times. However they’re probably not overdone in your niche, so think in terms of all the functions and processes your audience might need to go through and run up a list of posts based on each one of those. And don’t try to cram too much information into each one.

Remember that although people argue until they’re blue in the face over how long a blog post should be, the answer is always, “as long as it needs to be for your target readership.” But in general, folks don’t really want to read more than a few hundred words at a time. Space your how-to posts out into digestible chunks.

Lists … another almost-cliché in the blogosphere, but they still work. Numbers attract. Some of the woo-woo gurus even tell you what numbers readers will find attractive … 7, 10, but never 13 … etc. Whatever numbers you can muster, numbering your key points is attractive to blog traffic.

Tips … following on from lists and numbers, XX top tips on how to do whatever will get attention. These usually are easy to extrapolate from your own written information, or from your brain when you’re working through a process or other activity within your business.

Feature articles … posts based on your own observations, ideas and thoughts relevant to your business and more importantly, those of your target audience.

Historical material … why and how your business, and the businesses of your target audience, have come into being in the first place. These are more entertaining than they are informative in terms of contemporary information, but are nonetheless interesting and attractive.

And so-on.

Next, work out the frequency of your blogging

It’s all very well to listen to the “gurus” who say you should blog 3 times per week, every day, or whatever.

However, what’s important here is what works for you.

HTWB Tuition adOK, a lot depends on your industry, your own business, and the relationship you have with your readers. (Notice I do not  say how much time you have to spare … that’s not the right way to look at things if you want your blog to enhance your turnover and profits.)

Given the choice, I would say that regularity is more important than spontaneity. Your blog is your means of establishing worthwhile communication with your readers/customers/prospects, and they will come to appreciate a regular post from you whether – within reason – it’s every day, once a month, or once a week.

If my back is up against the wall? I’ll say go for once a week. That’s a “do-able” amount for most business people and it’s also a useful interval for communicating with your audience.

So, 52 or so posts a year?

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? But look at it this way … here are the main categories again, and on the once-a-week basis you only need to produce around 12 of each per year.

How-To blog posts … surely you can think of 12 or more how-to posts about your business or activity that your readers will gobble up with interest?

Lists … are a superb way to share information from your own skillset – or as a means of curating other blog posts which you admire. Number them and include the number in your headline (10 top tips to help you …..) because although I personally feel that approach is a bit of a cliché now –am I a snob or what? – numbers like that still draw attention when used in headlines.

Tips … ditto. If and when you run out of your own tips and ideas, research your topic and share others’ tips that you admire and feel are worth sharing with your own readers. Your recommending them won’t cause you to lose credibility: on the contrary. Your readers will admire your perspicacity and generosity in sharing.

Feature articles … given that events in your business – and those of your customers – are likely to be changing as rapidly as everything else, there shouldn’t be a problem for you to find enough material. If you should find yourself short of ideas, look beyond your own immediate business and examine related issues that can affect your business and those of your readers. Given the speed at which business is churning and evolving, you shouldn’t go short.

Historical material … having been born and grown up in the 20th century I still feel a bit offended when people talk about my childhood days as if those had been in one of the Ming Dynasties. No matter how young you are, never forget that some of your readers / customers may have been born before Prince’s prophetic 1999. (Don’t ya just love the music though? Check it out on YouTube!) And use historical information to underline your own in-depth knowledge of your business. When you start thinking about it, there are very few areas of business which do not have a history. Use them.

Editorial calendars

Editorial calendars do pretty much what the name suggests: they provide you with somewhere to set out your blogging (and other social media) plans for the upcoming weeks, months, and whole year.

small__503600331 (1)Geekier readers might find their eyes lighting up when I say that there are vast numbers of digital editorial calendar devices you can download and install that will plan everything from a blog post once a week to an entire military invasion of the Moon. Just Google “editorial calendar” and watch what comes up.

Non-geeks can relax, however. Most DIY blog facilities (like WordPress) offer basic calendars to store drafts and schedule posts ahead of publication time, allowing you to move things around and plan ahead while leaving yourself some flexibility to add new things in at the last minute.

(And if you’re really technophobic you can even use a paper-based calendar or print diary.)

So relax. 

I’m so sorry to trivialize the advice you might be given by other blogging experts, but, it’s that simple.

Unless you’re running a mega-humungous corporation, your blogging policy needs only to consist of a) what you feel your audience will benefit from in terms of your contributions,  and b) what you learn from your audience, on that they want to read about.

Yes, you could do well to structure a “blogging policy” that encompasses all these issues, especially if you have other people in your organization who will be contributing to your business blog, and incorporate all that into your “editorial calendar.”

As long as everyone in your organization understands the above, your blogging strategy will work superbly.

What experiences with blogging strategies have you had? Please share them with us.

 

photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via photopin cc

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