Are you considering launching a blog for your company? If so, it’s one of the smartest marketing decisions you can make. Small businesses with blogs experience 126% more lead growth and 55% more website visitors than those that don’t have them. (Sources: Oberlo; ActiveBlogs)
Taking your blog idea and successfully implementing it is not easy, however. A blog launch requires marketing and branding skills, technical knowledge, organization, and a touch of personality.
A proper launch plan can take you from aimless to achieving in no time. Here are the seven steps to starting a blog for your small business…
1. Clarify Your Target Audience
Even if you already have dozens of ideas for blog posts, none of them matter if you aren’t prioritizing your audience. As a business owner, you aren’t usually writing about your personal interests. You’re writing blog posts based on your clients’ needs–which often differ greatly from your own.
Both your existing customers and potential ones will read your blog if it’s relevant to them. Think about your ideal client and the types of problems they face. The nature of your audience’s problems–that you solve as a business owner–also dictates the types of blog posts you’ll publish.
Does your audience consist of beginners, those with intermediate skills, or experts? Do your clients look for a polished and formal tone or a relaxed and personal one? You’ve found a match when you have answers to these questions that suit both your business and your audience.
2. Identify Why You’re Blogging
When your target audience has been clarified, it’s time to determine why you want a blog. Though every business owner wants more leads and sales, that doesn’t mean you should start blogging haphazardly.
Are you starting a blog because everyone else is doing it, or because you have your own plan? Are you convinced by content marketing and know that there are at least 6 ways a blog can help grow your business?
If you have clear and precise answers to these questions, you’re ready to launch. If you’re merely trying to follow the blogging trend, it’s wise to step back for a moment.
Think about the time, money, and resources you’re investing in your blog. When you have a clear plan established for each component, that’s when you’re ready for the next step.
3. Establish a Blog Design and Tone of Voice
The third step in starting your blog is the blog design and voice. Website visitors decide whether or not they like your blog within three to nine seconds, so your first impression needs to be a good one.
Unless you’re blogging on a third-party platform like Medium or blogger, your blog colors and fonts should be the same as your website. Speak with your web developer or a trusted freelancer and share what you want your user experience design to be.
It’s wise to keep your blog design simple and conversion-focused. Use these 3 steps to improve your website conversion rates, too. You want visitors to have an easy time finding content, reading it, and taking action when they’re ready.
Your blog’s tone of voice is crucial, too. This refers to the style of writing and its degree of formality, or lack thereof. If you sell technical products or services, your blog’s tone should lean academic and formal. If you have an eCommerce business or personal brand, it makes sense to be laid back and even goofy at times.
Think carefully about what your audience will connect best with. If you’re feeling stuck, look at competitors or successful brands in your niche. Chances are they’ve found at least a few useful strategies.
4. Draft an Editorial Calendar
Once you’ve finalized your blog design and tone of voice, you can start your editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is the list of blog topics you’re writing about and when you’re publishing the posts.
Resist the temptation to write down hundreds of ideas before your blog even launches. While it feels good to write down tons of ideas, you don’t want to overcommit before you see what works. Publishing a few blog posts at a time makes it easier to see what’s working and what’s not.
First, write down one or two dozen blog post topics. That number of blog posts allows you to focus on content production without spending unnecessary time on planning. It’s easy to get distracted if you don’t have tomorrow planned out.
Next, set aside time once per quarter to plan new content. You want to give yourself enough time and space to notice industry developments and capitalize on them. If you’re only writing content based on your own preferences, you could miss trends that your audience wants to hear from you on.
Over time, your audience will see you as a thought leader. By using this editorial calendar planning strategy, you strike the balance between your own content and what your audience is facing.
Your editorial calendar doesn’t need to be perfect to launch your blog–it only needs some information. Include your post title, target keywords, draft date, publish date, who’s writing it, and your promotional strategy for at least one month’s worth of posts.
5. Set Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
The fifth step in launching your small business blog is setting key performance indicators (KPIs). If you haven’t heard of KPIs before, don’t worry. It’s a fancy term for any metric that determines success for a given action.
For example, your blog launch KPI may be the number of post-launch visits. A brand new blog can expect dozens to several hundred visitors after launching, depending on how well it’s promoted. You can use blogging to improve your SEO, too, as long as you know the ways to create great SEO blog content.
If your business doesn’t have a digital audience yet, consider setting a KPI of 100 blog visits in the first month. This is an ambitious, yet achievable goal that can be reached by getting the word out before, during, and after the launch.
If you’re already leveraging email marketing best practices with your email list or have a social media following, your KPI may be 1,000 or 2,000 visits in month one. The benchmark you set depends on your existing audience size, how engaged they are, and how appealing your new blog is.
Reaching your KPIs is a matter of setting realistic goals, having a clear plan to achieve them, and recording your progress. You can only improve what you measure, so track your KPI actions every week at a minimum.
6. Determine Your Desired End Goal
While blogging in and of itself is enjoyable, it serves a purpose for your business. If you don’t have a desired end goal in mind for your blog readers, you need to create one.
Blog content is first designed to bring people through your digital door, but also to convert them from cold leads to warm ones. The blog posts you’re writing should position you as the authority in your niche, demonstrate your usefulness, and ultimately pitch readers on your product or service.
Take time to think about what you ultimately want your readers to do. Is it signing up for your email list? Booking a demo? Ordering a product sample? Requesting a quote for your services? No matter which one applies to you, your blog posts should prompt readers to take action.
A great way to accomplish your goal is by placing call-to-action (CTA) links or buttons throughout your blog posts. Readers see your value propositions in the natural context of your blog posts, increasing the likelihood that they’ll request information from you.
7. Create a Promotional Plan
Finally, your blog needs a promotional plan in order to generate traffic and engagement over the long haul. Successful business blogs don’t just deliver useful content; they are shared between colleagues and posted widely throughout various Internet channels.
There are several promotional activities you can leverage for your small business blog. Here are four of the best:
- Make social media posts. Social media offers access to millions of potential clients. Posting your own thoughtful commentary alongside your blog posts drives organic engagement and improves your authority.
- Build an email list. If you haven’t already created an email list of your audience, launching your blog is the perfect time to do so. Create simple opt-in forms on your website first. Readers will then sign up, providing you a way to send them brand new posts every week.
- Repurpose your content. Another way to promote your blog is by repurposing your content for maximum results. Repurposing content means adapting it to a different medium, like a podcast, video, or social media post. Look at your top 10 most popular posts and consider how you can make a video out of it. When your video is done, include a link to your blog post in the description. As people find your videos, they’ll be enticed to check out the blog post, too.
- Strengthen your content with SEO. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the practice of making your blog posts as Google-friendly as possible. Googlebot is constantly crawling websites in order to rank content that matches users’ search queries. If your content is authoritative, relevant, and keyword-optimized, Google will boost your rankings and you’ll get more targeted traffic as a result. Remember to have realistic expectations for your SEO campaign, as SEO can take time to work.
The Bottom Line
Launching a blog as a small business owner is something to be proud of. Though it takes more than a couple of days to get a blog started, it’s well worth it
Here’s what we covered in this blog post:
- Clarify your target audience. You’re in business to serve clients, which means your blog should answer the questions your target audience is asking.
- Know why you’re blogging. Your content should serve a purpose–not merely make you look better. Know why you’re starting a blog and where you want to take it.
- Design your blog and choose a tone of voice. Your blog needs to look great in order to convert readers. Also, think about whether you want to write in a casual or formal tone.
- Set up an editorial calendar. Plan out one month’s worth of posts before you publish anything. This keeps you organized without getting overwhelmed.
- Create KPIs. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Set inspiring goals for your blog so you have something to work for every week.
- Identify your end goal. Blogging doesn’t work unless it’s driving traffic and leads. Think carefully about where you want your readers to end up, and whether or not your blog is a clear bridge to that goal.
- Establish a promotional plan. Leverage other marketing strategies to get maximum traffic and engagement for your content–both short-term and long-term.