Just a note to start, this blog is written for WordPress based websites.
Blogging vs Vlogging vs PodCasting
One of the first things to decide is where you are going to be most comfortable. Vlogging and PodCasts will carry extra setup and production costs but have far more value to the business and can be easily converted to text via a platform such as Otter.ai (https://otter.ai/).
Why blogging is important for business?
We are now more than ever in an information age. To thrive, businesses have had to embrace the technology of various types. These range from apps and online services for their existing customers, all the way through to digital marketing.
With recent changes to Google’s search algorithms, content on your website is now the single most important factor in establishing yourself as an expert in your field. The simplest way of doing that is by having an informative blog, that highlights your knowledge in your field.
Blogs should be posted regularly and on a schedule. The one thing we have found over the past few years is that readers respond well to routine. We use Tuesday as our new blog day and have seen nice steady growth in the number of people reading our blogs.
Blogging is not a silver bullet, and you will need to post regularly for at least 6 months to see the real value. The good news is that once you have made it onto Google’s top listings, you will get at least double that timeframe on the top of the search results.
In summary, if you want people to find your business on the web, you need search engines like Google and Bing to rank your page and recommend the content on there, to people who search for keywords that you want to direct to your website. While there are several ways to do this, a good blog is going to give you the best bang for your buck.
Planning is the key
Several years ago, I did the Body for Life program and the one thing that stuck with me was the phrase “failing to plan, is planning to fail”. This is especially true when it comes to blogging. Just writing a blog with no thought or research is not going to help anybody.
Where do you start? This can be a bit of a personal preference and there is no right or wrong way of doing this. Our preference is to look at the problems your customers may be facing and then develop a set of blogs around helping them overcome those issues.
If you are not sure what issues your customers are facing that are related to your product or service, simply ask one or two of them. Alternatively, you can look at creating a survey to find out where the pain points are for your clients, and especially potential clients.
Once you have a couple of ideas together, develop a schedule. In a perfect world, a daily blog would be great. We stick to a weekly blog, but the minimum you should be looking to post is a new blog article once per month.
Once you have a schedule of topics, your next step is to do some research. We use a website called https://answerthepublic.com to get ideas on what questions people are searching for. Use this in conjunction with Google Trends (https://trends.google.com/trends/?geo=ZA) or a paid service like SEM Rush (https://www.semrush.com/). You will now get a good idea of what you need to write about.
Our final planning stage before we get going with the blog is to create a skeleton of points we want to touch on. The most effective blog posts will have more than 7000 words. We recommend that your posts be between 750 and 2500 to start off with and then grow into longer posts as you go along.
Promoting your blog
Congrats, you now have a blog up and running but nobody is reading it. It will take 6 to 8 weeks before your site starts getting noticed by the search engines. In the meantime, there are several free ways to advertise your blog.
Get social. Social Media platforms are the perfect place to start. Link your blog to Facebook, Google My Business, Pinterest, and Twitter. If you want to share your blog via LinkedIn, we recommend that you insert the entire blog article on the site and then in the comments box post a link to the article on your website. This will get you better exposure from LinkedIn’s algorithm.
An added benefit of blogs is that on a well-crafted blog, you can get as many as 10 Social Media posts from that one blog. This will help increase your business profile on Social Media platforms and will result in more followers.
Another great way to get your blog out is to add it to or use it as the basis for your email newsletter. Actuaries for one of South Africa’s top short-term insurers push their brokers to contact their clients 14 times per year. Once would be for the client’s annual policy renewal, once for their birthday, and the other 12 times would be via a monthly email newsletter.
Can I re-use a blog post?
The good news here is not only can you do it, but it is highly recommended that you do. The top bloggers will have a selection of blogs that performed well in the last 3 months and will post those blogs 4 to 6 times over the next year.
When re-using a blog, make sure that you have checked all the information written and make updates that may be required. For example, if the model number of your best-selling product has been updated and it is listed in your blog, make that little tweak. You may also have learnt some new valuable insights that would benefit your customers, so drop those in as well.
How do I get started?
The good news is that WordPress was originally developed as a blogging platform. For a basic blog, you won’t need to install any extra plugins.
Step one is to create a Blog page on your website. Most themes will have a template for your blog page that will let you select from several layouts. The industry standard is to have an image with a blurb that will link you through to the actual blog image.
Step two is to create your first post. Posts are separate from pages in the main WordPress menu and are found right near the top of the menu. Make sure that your post title explains what the post is about. Also, make sure that you drop in an image or two that relate to your content.
What if I don’t have the time or skill set?
For lots of people, the whole idea of blogging is a bit overwhelming. Luckily there are businesses whose sole purpose is to generate these blogs for you. A good content-generating agency will require one or two monthly meetings as part of the planning phase and should send you a copy of each blog before it gets posted. We have some customers who want the entire month’s blogs upfront, and others who only want one a week before we post it.
The pricing for creating blogs tends to vary based on the clients’ needs. For a single monthly blog of 1000 to 2500 words, you are looking at about R1500 ex. VAT. Discount is generally given if you are going to generate blogs more regularly, and you can get the price down to around R1000 ex. VAT for large volumes.