The Ultimate Guide To Small Business Blogging – Part Two
In part one of this article – if you’ve not read it yet, you can get that here– you learned about why your business needs a blog. And, hopefully, you set one up.
If you haven’t, go and do that now. Go on, I’ll wait…
Okay so in part two of the series I’m going to answer that question that’s right in the back of your mind, “What the hell do I do now?”.
When you’re just starting your blog, it can seem like you have a mountain to climb. And, in the words of one of my mentors, it’s simple – not easy. But it’s nowhere near as hard as it seems.
You just have to be consistent, and know a few tips of the trade. Who better to teach you those than a professional blogger, right?
What You’ll Learn
Let’s look at what you’re going to learn today then:
How to find your audience and interact with them
Quick and easy ways to create content they will love
5 minutes to better writing
Part two of this guide is the meat in the metaphorical blogging sandwich. This is where your blog is made, or broken. So I’d suggest bookmarking this one and coming back to it often.
3 Questions To Find Your Audience And Make More Money
As a business owner you should have a good idea of who your audience is. Or, at the least, who is going to use the: product, service or idea that you’re selling.
But this is where content marketing – which is what Blogging is – really comes into it’s own.
Instead of the more traditional, mostly passive, forms of marketing, now you can really begin to interact with your audience. All through the click of a button you can find out:
Who they really are
What they actually want
Where you can find them to help them
This means you can build those better relationships, like we spoke about in the last article. And get a really good return on time invested. All because you know exactly who your customer is. Neat, huh?
How do you get to the stage where you know the person then? Well it comes down to asking yourself three questions.
Grab yourself an pen and paper, and give yourself some time to think about the answers to these questions. They’re going to mould the direction of your blog, after all.
Question #1: Who’s Your Ideal Reader?
‘Potential customers’ isn’t an answer. That doesn’t mean anything. You’re focusing on their wallet, not them as a person.
And that’s a sure fire way to fail at blogging.
You need to focus on who they are. What they do. What they like.
Consider these points:
Are they male, female or both?
What age bracket are they in?
What are their favourite films and TV shows?
Do they have lots of free time, or are they always working?
It might seem a little over the top, but it can really give you an insight into how your blog should look, sound and feel.
For example, for my small business site, Gentify, a simple brand persona would look like:
Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, Band of Brothers
Entrepreneurs and Businessmen – some free time for ‘networking’, but their isn’t a great work life balance
This means I know my content needs to be: male-centric, a little egotistical with some emotion and all of my articles need to get straight to the point.
If you want some more help setting a persona for your customers, try this article where Raubi wrote about it.
Question #2: What Are Their Needs?
Know who your customer is? Perfect. Now it’s time to figure out how you can help them.
Your blog – as you discovered last week – is a great place to establish yourself as an authority. The best way to do that? Help people with their problems.
This question is going to form a big part of the content creation phase, so keep it to hand. But think:
What does my reader want more of?
What does my reader want less of?
How can I help them get it?
Question #3: Where Do They Spend Their Time?
This is where you figure out where you’re going to interact with your audience. Because, although your blog is the stage, there isn’t anybody around to see the show just yet.
It’s time to identify where they spend their time, and most importantly, go looking for answers. This is going to help you grow your blog, as well as give you some content generation ideas.
So, where does your audience go for answers:
Do they use a specific forum?
Do they read a specific blog?
Do they pay attention to a certain podcast?
Are they asking questions on sites like Yahoo! Answers and Quora?
By finding these places, you put yourself in a position to:
Answer their questions personally
Create content based on their questions, for others to read too.
You’re probably thinking that your niche, or your type of business doesn’t have a forum or a blog. But it does. Trust me. Try looking in places like:
The Simple Guide To Content Creation
Okay, by now you know who you’re writing for. What they need. And where you’re going to find them.
You’re already doing better than 90% of bloggers and you’ve not even written your first post. Well done you. You can celebrate with a Cappuccino if you want? Mines an Americano, thanks.
Now you know who you’re writing to, it’s time to start figuring out what you’re going to write to them. Which can seem a daunting task. But, not when you know how.
You’re going to learn two simple methods:
Using comments and questions to create blog topics
The Skyscraper Method
These are idiot-proof ways of creating content. Even the most dry, unimaginative accountancy lecturer could come up with all-singing-all-dancing content using them.
Which means someone like you is going to Stephen King by the end of it, right?
Method #1: Using Comments And Questions To Create Epic Content
Where do you go to find answers? The Internet, that’s where.
It can answer all of your questions:
How heavy is a White Rhinoceros? 1,700 – 2,300kg
What was Joe Pesci’s childhood album was called? Little Joe Sure Can Sing!
Who actually buy’s Phil Collin’s CD’s? Nobody knows.
So chances are there, the people who want to spend money with you, are asking questions about your niche all over the Internet. You just have to find them.
Let me give you an example…
I was recently asked to do some blogging work for an Online Marketing site, Nichehacks. They wanted content that their users would engage with. So I had to find some topics that their audience were into.
My first port of call was their blog comments, where I found these two interesting ones:
So guess what my next article was about? Yeah, you guessed it…
If you don’t have your own blog comments – which at this stage, you definitely don’t – where do you go to find these answers?
Simple. Other people’s blogs or forums.
Try following this simple process:
Find another business or authority with a blog
If you cant find one, look in a forum or Facebook group
Check for questions, comment or common themes
Create content that directly answers their question
The ideas for well thought out content are almost staring you directly in the face. You just need to open your eyes a little wider.
Method #2: The Skyscraper Method
This is a really simple system that’s going to have a powerful impact on the content you create.
Simply put, you’re going to take already established content and make it even better. What do I mean?
You’re not about to become a plagiarist, don’t worry. What I mean is that you’re going to take content ideas that are:
And create your own version of that content. You’re going to put your mark on it, and make it even better.
It’s something I use in content creation all the time, and highly recommend you do, too.
What You’ll Need…
You just need a few simple, mostly free, tools to perform this method. You can do it completely for free too if you really need to.
Now, how does it work? Let’s go through it step by step.
Step One: Search BuzzSumo
Head over to BuzzSumo, with your topic – or link – ideas at the ready, and type one of them into the search bar.
This comes down to your business, but you can either be really specific, or quite general.
Let’s say, for example, I wanted to create a new article for this site on the topic of Content Marketing. I would do one of two searches.
I’d search for the general keywords:
Or I’d look at a site that writes about that topic:
Step Two: The Three Key Points
From there, you want to look at three different things:
Shares: How many times has it been shared, and on what platforms? Also be wary of this; some sites have 10,000 subscriber e-mail lists that you don’t. So these figures can be slightly off.
Comments: Did the readers of the site it’s on comment on, or engage, with it? If so, you might have a winner.
Can you write it? You already know it fits your audience – especially with your reader persona in place – so the only question that remains is, could you actually re-write it? Finding a piece you would feel comfortable writing about is key.
Step Three: Making It Better
Using the example above, let’s say I went with this post from Social Media Examiner:
I’d then have to figure out how I’m going to make it my own – remember, we’re not stealing it, we’re building on it – and improve the content. The same goes for you when you find your posts.
But how do you make it better?
Add more to the list: ’25 Social Media Marketing Tips From The Pros’ is already shaping up to be longer, and more in depth.
Make it more actionable: Add in ‘tasks’, or ‘steps’ that your reader can instantly
Use more research: Can you find more research – from journals, scientific texts or industry news – to make the points more valid, or up to date.
Can you tell it from your perspective: You’re in business. You’ve been around the block a few times. Can you make all of the points from your experience and views? Passing on that all-important knowledge you gained.
Step Four: Start Writing
What are you waiting for? Get going…
Oh. What? You want some tips on how to write a blog post. Well, I think I can do that for you.
Five Minutes To Copywriting Success
Writing a blog post isn’t hard. All it takes is a quick Google search to see that any man and his dog can, and probably has, set up their own blog.
The hard part is making it read well. For people to want to read what you’ve written.
If you’ve made it this far into the article, hopefully you can credit me with knowing how to make other people do that. And I’m going to show you how to master it.
The Golden Rule Of Writing
Everything you write serves only one purpose – to get someone to read the next line.
That’s it. Because if they do that they will:
Stay on your page
Learn everything they need to learn
Enjoy what they’re reading
Get better results
So it pays to understand that as your golden rule. Whether you’re writing a fiction best seller, or your latest blog post, that’s all writing really is.
But how do you get people to read onto the next line?
There are some simple tricks, tips and techniques you can use to make it happen as often as possible.
Simple, Yet Effective, Tricks Of The Trade…
It’s going to take you less than five minutes to learn all of these techniques. They’ll take a little longer to get used to. But, writing is a practice, so the more you do it – the better you’ll get.
Here’s some ideas for you to instantly implement:
Write shorter sentences: Short sentences are important. They’re easier for you to read. And, they have a much bigger impact on your reader. If you need a number to aim for, try to make sure you don’t go over 12-15 words on average.
Use shorter words: Wherever you can, use the shortest words possible. They need much less effort from the reader. The less effort they need to use, the longer they’ll read for.
Be simple, not dumb: Simplicity is key. You want everyone to be able to read your blog post and understand what you’re saying. That doesn’t mean you should dumb it down. It just means that you need to speak simply.
Use ‘…’ and ‘?’: Getting people onto the next sentence is quite easy. Why?
Because questions, and ellipses (…) play to your readers curiosity. Nobody likes an unanswered question. So finish the sentence on a cliff hanger…
Then address it at the start of the next paragraph.
Three sentence paragraphs: Words are much more powerful with lots of white space around them. Use it to your advantage. Keep paragraphs short and sweet, and don’t go over three sentences. You’ll thank me for it later.