If you’re reading this, it’s a pretty sure bet that you want to write a blog, but you’re not sure where to start. Or you’re lost and are about to click away. Just give me a moment; there may even be a tip or two for the seasoned blogger hidden in here somewhere!
Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), you need to understand a little bit about why people blog.
People blog for two main reasons. Either they like the sound of their own voice, or they’re trying to sell you something. In my case, I’m trying to sell you my digital marketing skills AND I like the sound of my own voice.
If they’re trying to sell you something, it means they have a business, and more importantly, a website. Their blogs are designed not only to interest you in their product and wow you with their expertise, they are also designed to send you to the website, where hopefully you’ll click on the “Buy Now!” button, or something of that ilk.
Blogging is also a massively powerful tool in your never-ending quest for good SEO (that’s search engine optimisation to you, or turning up in Google, but more on this a little later).
As a potential blogger, you would know your reasons for wanting to blog. If it’s merely that you enjoy writing and have no further agenda to push other than your voice, I’d say “Knock ‘em dead, and make sure it looks nice!” For the rest of you that are looking to blog from a professional point of view, there are certain rules to follow.
Understand your Audience
As somebody who might already have their own website, I’m sure you already know what your client demographic is. What you need to do now is to identify topics that will appeal to them and deliver real value.
Value means that your blog needs to be one or more of the following:
- It’s interesting
- It teaches them something
- It saves them money
- It saves them time
- It’s funny
- It’s entertaining
If your business is as an auto mechanic, for instance, you can blog about tips for decreasing petrol usage, how to change your oil, 7 things that men think they know about cars – that kind of thing.
Writing well isn’t everybody’s forte, especially if you’re an auto mechanic. But understanding your topic probably is.
Remember this useful tip: write it as you speak it. If you’re that auto mechanic sitting down to write his first blog, just close your eyes and picture your buddy at the braai, beer in hand, and what you would say to him if he asked, “Why are my tyres wearing unevenly?”
Keep the tone friendly and entertaining, and use a lot of paragraphs and headings. It makes it easier for people to judge the content of your blog, and it makes it easier on the eye.
Re-read your blog before publishing. The look and feel is almost as important as the content, so editing and formatting are vital.
You will eventually discover your own voice and that’s what will gain you a following, people will follow you and your writing style.
By all means let your personality and sense of humour shine through. Readers love that. The funnier the better unless you’re blogging about something that’s not funny, like power cuts or school fees, because those things aren’t funny at all.
Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in front of your mother and you should be fine.
Remember, the internet is forever, so keep it clean.
Blogging and SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the way Google decides how to rank your website, and everybody wants their website on page one. Blogging is a great way to boost your SEO rankings because it not only shows Google that your site is active and genuine, but it allows you to use important keywords in text and images that people would use when looking for an auto mechanic for instance.
Your blog is also a mobile “mini-me” of your website that can be shared and forwarded by people. Think of it as a letter that gets passed on from person to person until it’s dog-eared and wrinkled. You’ll have a call to action (button or link pointing back to your website) at the bottom of your blog, which people who are interested in what you’ve just said will use to visit your site, and Google loves that kind of thing.
Google “SEO Optimisation” for the finer details on meta tags, meta descriptions, and how to optimise your blog before hitting the “Publish” button.
No Hard Sell
Do not hard sell your business. The blog is not the platform to talk about your specials or products unless it’s of real interest to users.
If you want to talk about your new products then get someone who is well known and has a big social media following to guest blog about it.
Keep it interesting.
Maintain your Blog
You’ve published your first blog and… nothing happened! That’s because one blog simply isn’t good enough. Now that you’ve taken that leap into the Blogosphere, unfortunately you’re going to have to keep on getting wet.
Regular blogging is vital to a successful digital marketing campaign, and if you want your website on page one, you’re just gonna have to keep at it!
Open a www.blogger.com account, set it up and start writing. Then tell people you’ve written something compelling by posting the link to your blog on your social media accounts and in your newsletter.
Blogging is a fun and engaging way to interact with your clients and generate new ones. Think of it as a newsletter with a tiny little telephone at the bottom that people can use to interact with you day or night.
If you’re worried about it send it to me first and I’ll tell you where to improve it.
All good? Now start writing your next piece!
Dylan Kohlstädt is the founder and Account Director of Shift ONE: outsource marketing for entrepreneurs. Dylan is an online marketing specialist who is passionate about the user’s experience and about helping entrepreneurs and start-ups succeed.
Dylan has 18 years marketing management experience in insurance, financial and property industries , six of which gained in hands-on experience in online marketing involving web, mobile, SEO, CRM and Social Marketing and is considered a subject matter expert on all things digital.
She has extensive local and international experience (South Africa, UK and Australia), has managed global and national brands and is experienced in managing multiple product ranges in multiple languages and countries. Dylan also has an MBA through UNISA SBL.
Unit 2, Eden on the Bay, Cape Town, 7441
+27 21 554 2498