I see a lot of businesses getting blogging wrong. Using their blog like a billboard, thinking up some contrived story where their product saves the day yet again.
Audiences are too smart for that and most of us know it.
We also know that we should be adding value with the content we put out. Where I see a lot of people get stuck, however, is that they don’t know quite how to do this.
So here’s a five point plan I’ve put together for when clients ask me for ways they can add value with their blog. It’s by no means exhaustive, but it does cover some of the primary ways you can really help, engage and interest your audience. For obvious reasons, I call it the Vowel System.
Advise – You know a lot that your audience doesn’t about what you do. You’re a cleaner? Likelihood is you’ve figured out a few time-saving hacks to get tough stains out of upholstery. You’re a financial advisor? What are the simple mistakes you see people making again and again (and again). Put these into a blog post that makes it easy for your reader to get the key information. A simple way of doing this is the ‘5 ways to…’ approach. Though probably overused as a technique (yes, I know ;-P) this does give the reader a clear idea of what they can expect from the article and usually promises a quick read.
Entertain – This requires a little bit of ‘profiling’ – which is why it’s a great exercise to do anyway. Answer the question ‘What does my audience really enjoy?’ Find out, and write something about it. So you migh have a real-estate business and know that three out of your four top clients love heliboarding. Why not put out a piece on the top places to go in Europe? You can afford to go a bit ‘off-piste’ with your content here, as long as you’re sure that you’re really hitting the mark. Make sure you use this in combination with content that’s more relevant to your business as well.
Investigate – Are there any questions that your customers or clients ask that you don’t know the answer to yet? Or an area related to your business that really intrigues you? Why not put aside a bit of time for some research put out a longer write up on the topic? This will likely be a longer post, but there’s plenty of evidence pointing to the benefits of these for SEO. It’s also a great way to learn something new about your field, and help position yourself as an ‘expert’ with your findings.
Opinion – Don’t be afraid to stir up a bit of controversy by putting some of your own thoughts and ideas out there on your blog. There’s no need to be provocative on purpose, but if you have some strong opinions about your industry and you can argue them well, why not share them with your audience? In my experience these type of pieces often generate the most engagement, as commenters tend to take sides and carry the discussion on. Here’s a great example from a Linked-In piece I read recently. As is the case in this example, sharing your opinions also helps your audience get to know the person behind the company too, which leads me nicely into the last point:
U – You. There’s some truth to the old cliche that people buy from people. The great thing about a blog is the personal nature really allows readers to get to know you in a way they can’t from just looking at your website or marketing materials. Exactly how you do this will depend on the industry you’re in – it might not be appropriate for a lawyer to start blogging about his weekend trip to the Dorset coast – but there will be a way to find a balance that’s right for you.
Like I said, this definitely isn’t an exhaustive list and there are dozens of other approaches you can take to creating great content that will resonate with your audience.
But is it worth all the effort?
Well, I’m halfway through writing an ebook detailing the life of my side project – a tech startup around my passion of surfing. The book is called Write Your Business Into Life, and it lays out the 7 steps we used to get the business to the top of the Google Rankings, top of the App Store, to get a world-famous ambassador on board and to get featured in print and on blogs around the world. All without spending a penny.
The book will be out later in the summer, but I can tell you now that a big part of our success was down to our blog.
There can’t be many other things that you can do for free that have such a positive effect on your business.
Give it a go. Commit to a regular blog for 6 months and I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And if you need some tips on how to get started, feel free to get in touch.
Word Butler is really just Ben Martin, a copywriter based in Swansea, South Wales. If you’re a business with purpose and passion, and need a bit of help putting it all into words, let’s talk.