The blogosphere is stuffed with tips for bloggers, but if you don’t have time to sift through 100,0000 articles, this quick-hitting post is for you. These suggestions are based on my eight years (and counting) of intense business blogging.
I hope they help you.
The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Small Business
Structure and Composition
When starting on your blogging writing journey you will make a lot of mistakes. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Suck it up. Don’t wait to be perfect.
Write, edit and hit the publish button.
Construction and doing is where you learn and not the watching from the sidelines. Nothing happens until you start.
- Don’t use two sentences when one will do the job.
- Clearly convey your main point in the lead.
- Don’t start writing until you have a main point.
- An informal style almost always works best.
- Imagine your post is an email to one person who represents your main target audience.
- Use subtitles to convey core ideas and why they matter to the reader.
- To get comments, don’t tell the whole story and end with a question or two.
- Blog posts can be informational or editorial, detailed or high-level summaries, but not all of the above at the same time.
- Informational posts must cite authoritative sources for key data points.
- Editorial posts must be well reasoned.
Search Engine Optimization
When you kickoff the blog the search engines will not notice you until you have built up some credibility and authority. As you progress and build the blog content, Google will start to take notice.
Done right it will be your biggest traffic source. Guess what? It’s free.
Don’t ignore following these tips from day one. It will work but you have to earn it through awesome content and ongoing optimisation for search engines.
- Meta title tags, which usually serve as the post’s title as well, should contain important keywords, and clearly and accurately describe the content of the post.
- While Meta description tags have little SEO value, they spark interest in search results and should be written carefully.
- Writing guest posts on relevant and authoritative blogs produces high-quality links to your blog, raising your site’s authority with Google.
- Google wants to give highest search visibility to content that is authoritative, relevant, useful, readable and shareable.
- Participate actively in the Google Authorship program.
Technical work can be time consuming and a distraction. If you aren’t good at it then contract it out. There are great resources like Freelancer and Elance to help you with this.
Sometimes it’s best to stick to what you are good at. Writing, marketing and engaging with your readers and viewers.
- Use WordPress unless you have very good reasons not to.
- Hire a qualified programmer to handle updates, troubleshoot, install all necessary plugins, add functionality, and keep plugins playing nicely together.
- Don’t force visitors to log in to leave a comment.
- Allow visitors to subscribe to comments.
- Post URLs should display the post title.
There are some best practice layout principles that produce optimal results. These are as simple as ensuring that the most important elements are prominent….such as where you place your email subscription box.
Don’t overlook these as it could be the difference between success and failure.
- One sidebar positioned on the right is a highly effective business blog format.
- RSS and email subscription sign-up boxes should appear near the top of the sidebar.
- Blog search, categories, recent posts and the blog archive are essential sidebar components.
- Avoid cluttering the sidebar with whimsical, distracting elements.
- The blog header should convey some idea of what the blog is about, who it’s written for, and why those people should read it.
- Post images are most effectively placed at the top of the post or at top right.
- Image captions increase the image’s meaning and persuasive power.
- Font style and size should be easily readable.
- Black text on a white background provides the highest contrast and best blog post readability.
- Avoid ads and pop-up windows unless you have a very, very, very good reason to use them.
Finding inspiration and your creative side comes from within and without. Read a lot, watch what other top bloggers do and steal their ideas. Picasso, David Bowie and Steve Jobs did.
Persist and you will become creative.
- Always think: How can I put a new twist on an important idea?
- Essay form is effective for business blogging, but a great story is even better.
- When you borrow an idea or gain inspiration from it, give credit (and a link) to the source.
- Find your groove for brainstorming topics, whether it’s in your kitchen at 6 AM or throwing ideas around with a buddy after work.
- Customer FAQs are a treasure trove of topic ideas.
- Never cheat the reader by giving a pointless post a provocative title.
- Strive toward finding your real voice and thematic niche, but don’t feel as though you have to accomplish these things in a matter of weeks or even months.
- Rather than fretting about hitting a particular word count, say what you have to say and then stop creating.
Marketing, Community and Engagement
What are two keys to blogging success? Contagious, liquid and viral content that begs to be shared. And making sure it gets noticed by your fans and followers….that’s called marketing, promotion and community building.
Here are some tips to help you with that.
- Community building takes far more time than writing.
- To build productive business relationships on social media, share other bloggers’ content as well as your own.
- Too much self-promotion on social media is a big turnoff.
- Promote your blog in your email signature, business cards, collateral, and anywhere else eyeballs land in your sales and marketing universe.
- Inviting high-quality bloggers to post on your blog, and guest blogging on other blogs, are terrific ways to jumpstart community building.
- Responding to comments lets commenters and other readers know you care, which builds loyalty.
- Leaving thoughtful comments on other blogs in your niche brings lots of attention to you and your blog.
Here are some final tips I couldn’t fit into a category box.
- Rather than being enslaved by a rigid publishing schedule, publish when you have something to say.
- The best way to improve is to read bloggers you admire.
- Bloggers are generous and will help you if you ask.
- Bloggers are generous, so help them if they ask.
- Be willing to (thoughtfully) violate every one of these tips, because in blogging there are no rules.
What about you?
Those are my top 50 tips for bloggers, but surely I’ve missed a boatload.
- Veteran bloggers: What tips do you have for new bloggers?
- New bloggers: What questions do you have for Jeff’s blog community?
Guest author: Brad Shorr is Director of B2B Marketing for Straight North, an Internet marketing agency headquartered in Chicago. He is an experienced content strategist, respected blogger, and SEO copywriter. Connect with him on Twitter @bradshorr.
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