How to Create a Blogging Strategy for Your Business
You’ve decided it’s time for your business to start blogging (good call!), but now you have to figure out exactly what that will look like. You need a strategy.
The first thing you have to acknowledge is that blogging is hard. It requires a lot of time, energy, and skill. If you go into it expecting it to be easy and think you can just figure out what you’re doing as you go, you probably won’t get much out of your blog and may well give up a few months in (you wouldn’t be the first business to do so).
Answer These 4 Questions Before You Start Blogging
First, sit down with your team and ask yourself some questions:
- What’s the goal of your blog? You shouldn’t start a blog just because you read somewhere that businesses should have a blog. You need to figure out what you actually want to accomplish with your blog. Is your main priority improving your website’s SEO? Building relationships with your customers? Growing an email list? You’ll probably want to accomplish some combination of all those things, but figure out where your priorities are. That will help guide your blog efforts.
- Who’s your audience? Who are the people it’s most important to reach with your blog posts? A blog that gets tons of traffic from the wrong audience won’t serve your business well, you have to make sure you design your blog strategy around reaching the people most likely to become your customers.
- What’s your bandwidth? Be realistic. How much time does your current team really have to work on this? If you’re trying to fit all the work of creating and running a blog into already full work schedules, something else will have to give.
- What’s your budget? A blog itself doesn’t cost that much money to set up and run (especially since you already have your domain and hosting), but you’ll likely find you want to consider hiring professionals to help you with the writing, image design, SEO, and promotion. You may also need to spend money on things like images and plug-ins to get the blog looking just right.
Knowing the answer to these questions going in can help you craft a realistic strategy for your blog. Here are a few of the other considerations you’ll need to make.
One of the most important parts of your blogging strategy will be determining how often you’ll be updating your blog. Research on this subject has come to a very clear conclusion: the more you publish, the better the results you’ll get in traffic and blog leads.
What you have to figure out here is what you can realistically manage based on the bandwidth and budget you just figured out. You have to account for the time it takes to plan out your blog each month (e.g. doing research, coming up with topic ideas, setting up a calendar), write the blog posts (this will vary, but think somewhere in the range of 1-3 hours per post), edit the blog posts, and load them to the blog and schedule them. That’s gonna add up, and it’s very likely you’ll need to hire people beyond your current team to be able to fit it all in.
Pick a realistic goal for blog frequency to start, and be prepared to scale back if you realize it’s too much to keep up with long term. It’s more important that you maintain a high quality in your blog posts and keep up with a consistent publishing schedule than that you publish multiple posts a day.
Blog Post Length
You have two issues to figure out here:
- How long should your blog content generally be?
- Do you want some general consistency in content length, or some blog posts that are longer and some that are shorter?
There’s not a clear right answer to either of those questions, but this is an area that marketers have done a lot of research into. The results aren’t quite as clear-cut as they are with blog frequency, but generally speaking, long-form blog posts perform better in terms of SEO results, shares, and traffic. There is some variety in just how long posts can be to get those results though.
SerpIQ found that the top 10 results in Google tend to fall somewhere in the 2,000-3,000 word count range.
But an analysis of how blog content gets shared found that blog posts over 3,000 words fare best in that regard.
Basically, making sure a good portion of your posts are comprehensive and provide detailed information on the topic in question is probably a good strategy. There may occasionally be topics you write about that don’t require that kind of in-depth coverage, in which case don’t try to stretch it. But do try to make your sure your posts pack a lot of good information.
Do keep in mind here that longform posts take longer to write than shorter ones. If you decide to aim consistently for 2,000 word posts, you should anticipate that they’ll take you approximately four times as long to write as 500 word posts. Figuring out what you want in this step may mean revisiting your goals in blog frequency.
Write Yourself or Hire Someone?
If you want to keep the writing in-house to start, then you’ll need to make plenty of room in the calendar to ensure your team can take on the additional duties. That may mean lengthening deadlines on other projects or figuring out other responsibilities that can be dropped. Asking employees that already have full schedules to somehow fit blog writing in as well won’t turn out well – not for them and not for the quality of the blog posts you’re likely to end up with.
It’s more likely that you’ll need to hire someone new, whether by creating a new employee position (or a few) at your company, or by hiring freelancers to fill in the gaps in what you need. This comes with a number of benefits:
- You don’t overload your current team.
- You can hire people with the distinct skill set you need. Consider looking for people skilled in content strategy and SEO, as well as copywriting.
- You’ll have an easier time sticking to a calendar if you’re paying people to meet deadlines rather than trusting employees in other positions to fit it in on the side.
The clear downside to hiring more people is obvious: you have to spend more. And if you try to find the cheapest people to hire, you’re likely to end up with blog posts that aren’t usable or need a lot of editing to be worthwhile. If you’re going to invest in blogging, making sure it gets done right is worth it, so take time to find experienced people that are a good fit for your brand to hire.
One possibility to keep in mind here is looking for ghostwriters. If you want your name on the blog posts – one benefit to blogging is building up thought leadership – then you should seek out writers who are okay with you publishing posts under your name rather than theirs (be prepared to pay more for this). Some writers are happy to work from your notes or interviews they do with you to make sure it’s your insights in the posts, but with their writing skill making it come out more polished and web ready.
Types of Posts
There are a lot of different ways for you to approach individual blog posts and having a few main types of blog posts in mind that you know you want to use can be helpful in starting to put together your strategy and content calendar.
While this list isn’t necessarily comprehensive, here are a number of common blog post types to consider including in your plan:
- In-depth informational posts – This is what you see a lot with longform posts. They dive deep into a particular topic to bring together all the useful information the reader could need.
- Tutorials – Posts that talk readers through how to do something can be very useful to them and thus good for you.
- List posts – List posts are very popular, probably because they make it easy for people to skim for the information they need. They frequently perform well, so consider incorporating them into your strategy.
- Curated posts –Bringing together information and links from other sources can be valuable to readers who don’t have time to seek out the information on their own. Link roundups or other curated posts can therefore provide a value-add to your readers.
- Industry news – Pay attention to industry news and add your voice to the events and updates that are relevant to your readers.
- Posts on relevant trends – Covering trends in your industry is another good way to add your insights to issues people are concerned about.
- Interview posts – Interviews with an expert source can help you attract the expert’s audience while bringing new insights to your own.
- Checklist posts – A checklist can help people needing step-by-step instructions on something they’re working on.
- Review posts – Reviewing products, books, or other content out there can help your readers know of other relevant things they should consider trying (or not).
- Answers to FAQs – Any questions you regularly hear from customers and prospects can be turned into informational blog posts.
- Event recaps – Any webinars, meetings, or conferences you and employees attend could become the subject of useful blog posts for your readers.
- Case studies – Seeing examples of how to do something is often useful. Providing specific case studies in blog form can therefore be beneficial.
- Posts about your product – You don’t want to go to this well too often, but your blog is a good place for posts about how to use your product more effectively or for announcing updates you’re making to it.
- Posts about company updates – When there are big changes at your company or new products, announce them with a post on the blog.
- Posts highlighting other forms of content – Your blog can help you promote other types of content you create such as podcasts, videos, infographics, and quizzes. Including transcripts of podcasts and videos is also good for SEO and allows you to reach the people who prefer reading over viewing or listening.
If you were struggling to figure out where to get started with blog posts, that list should give you some ideas to get your creative juices flowing. You don’t have to stick with any particular type of post, in fact you should try out lots of different ones to see what your audience responds to best.
How to Promote Your Blog Posts
We’ve established that regular blogging is hard, but even for those that put the work in, getting people to find and read your blog is a whole other challenge. When you’re planning out what your blogging will look like, make sure to include plans for promoting your blog posts .
Pushing your posts out on social media is probably the most obvious promotion tactic you can use, but it’s not enough in most cases. Consider other ways to get your posts in front of people, including:
- Promoting blog posts to your email lists.
- Using paid social or paid search ads to promote your blog.
- Writing guest posts on relevant blogs to expand your audience.
- Getting involved in relevant online communities in order to share your expertise and content.
- Using influencer marketing to expand your reach.
The work you put into your blog posts won’t count for much unless people find your blog. Invest in making that happen.
If this all sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. Running a blog is hard work and running one that increases traffic, grows your audience, and improves SEO is even harder. It’s competitive and it’s a lot of work, but it’s a good way to reach your potential customers and raise the profile of your company. If you’re willing to commit, it’s worth doing. Take some time to plan out what you’re going to do before you dive in.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.