With a renewed focus on blogging, I have been exposed to all the common pitfalls – obsessing over traffic, stressing over keywords and starting lots of posts, but finishing few. After spending thousands of hours writing for, speaking about, consulting on and building blogs, I am hitting the reset button on the way I approach small business blogging.
I am approaching my blog with a new set of principles in 2014.
The principles are simple enough for a fourth grader to understand, but can take years to master. They are broad enough to apply to any small business blog, but focused enough to yield results.
Regardless of what other people have already blogged or what traffic your blog gets, keep publishing. It’s time to stop consuming and start contributing.
Publishing doesn’t need be limited to words. Blogging can take many different forms – video, podcasting, cartoons. There are tons of way to tell your story and connect with your audience. If writing isn’t your strength, then find out what is.
No one likes to hear people talk about themselves all the time. Celebrate other people on your blog. Post interviews, stories about customers and share insights about other players in your industry. Don’t be too inward focused.
Create and contribute to a community. A community you can add value to and be a part of exists. Search hashtags on Twitter or pages and groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Find your community and give.
Blogging doesn’t end with the publish button. Cultivate relationships. Give value without expecting anything in return.
After you give, give some more and then give again.
People spend so much time creating their content, but so little time promoting it.
Have a plan to promote each and every post you publish. Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come.
Keywords be Damned
Recently, we have seen Google make seismic changes to the way they rank search results. Penguin and panda updates, hiding keyword data (not provided), and, most recently, the hummingbird update. All these moves were made to enhance the user experience – not to help SEOs.
With Google waging war on poor content, let’s focus on creating quality content that speaks to our customers. Google will always favor high-quality content over the latest SEO tip or trick. Always.
Make it a Priority
Too often, we get caught up in strategies and tactics that will produce short-term gains. While blogging can have an immediate impact on your business, its true value will be seen months, if not years, down the road.
Don’t let blogging be the last to-do on your list. Understand that you are building an asset, and treat it with the same importance as you do other marketing initiatives.
Make it Personal
People don’t connect with businesses. They connect with people.
Make your blog personal. Write with humor, passion and humility. Blog with a voice that people can empathize with and that can motivate and empower. Blog with a voice to which people can connect.
Blog with your voice.
Know Your End Goal
Be mindful of why you are blogging in the first place – increased traffic to your website, more leads for your business, building a community, becoming a thought leader, etc.
Stay focused and on message. Don’t write for the sake of writing. You’ll end up wasting your time and your customers.
Break the Rules
We have read them all. There are no shortage of resources that share best practices on blogging –
- best time to blog
- best headline length
- best word count per blog post
At the end of the day, these rules work for some audiences, but not necessarily yours. The only way to know the best way to reach and connect with your audience is to experiment.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Share your blogging principles below!