At the ripe old age of five, Calypso’s blog boasts almost 370 posts. This year alone, we averaged seven posts a month. Compared to many business blogs, that’s an impressive number, but any marketer worth his or her salt will tell you that the quantity doesn’t matter if the quality is crap. True marketing quality—even for a 500-word blog post—is a direct result of an organization’s commitment to messaging, strategy, and understanding its audiences. And, although we tell our clients this every day, we didn’t always make this same commitment to our own blog.
Yup. At times, we stumbled. We lost sight of our audience s. We wrote ambiguous titles. We got off topic. But we kept going. We built on what worked, and we scrapped what didn’t. And now, after almost 370 posts, here are our top business blogging tips:
Narrow your audience focus.
Got buyer personas? When we started blogging, we didn’t. We wrote broadly to an ambiguous reader who, presumably, had some level of interest in PR and marketing topics—oh, and maybe someone who wanted a career in PR. Oh, and maybe energy executives. We had the expertise; we just didn’t know how to channel it appropriately to target people who’d ultimately want to work with us. So we paused, developed unique audience profiles (i.e., buyer personas), and wrote out possible questions each persona might encounter as they worked through their daily professional responsibilities. And we started writing to those questions.
Write about what your audience cares about—not what you think they should care about.
This might sound intuitive, but it’s a lot easier said than done. Let me put it another way: your readers don’t care about you. They don’t care about your new proprietary software, your latest product release, or how big a splash you made at that recent industry trade show. Save those announcements for your “news” section. The most successful (read: traffic-boosting and lead-generating) business blogs talk about the customer, and provide tips and solutions to make his or her life easier. Blogs aren’t a direct sales tool; they’re a way to highlight your expertise so that, when your prospects are ready to buy, they know that you know your stuff.
Embrace different voices (but common goals).
We believe that our team’s diversity is an asset. If you’re not connecting with my writing style, try Kevin’s executive-level insight on PR crises. Looking for something quirkier? Check out Marc’s eccentric observations on creative design. Our clients are vastly different from one another, and so are we. We embrace it—knowing, ultimately, that regardless of tone, we all subscribe to the same philosophy.
Know that great content drives traffic—and will serve you for years.
Month after month, this little beauty is our most-viewed post. And it’s more than three years old. It likely took less than an hour to write, but it (more than) pulls its weight. Blogging enables you to produce content that never goes away—without you needing to do anything else. Sure, you can update posts, re-purpose topics, combine similar posts into an e-book, and so on—but your blog, on its own, can continue to generate traffic and leads as new audiences search for what you’ve written about.
Pay attention to titles and keywords.
“Ambitious Taglines and Other Silly Notions” is a great post that offers a true challenge to a potential client: dare to be bold. It describes the value of strong messaging and the perils of sacrificing a solid brand foundation for short-term gains. But do you get that, from the title? Not really. Even lists and “How To” titles need context. When we published “Top 5 Bad Behaviors to Avoid,” we left out crucial information: who should avoid these behaviors? And why? In what context
Make mistakes and learn from them.
Here are a few we’ve made, and what we learned:
- A post can have great content, but if it doesn’t use the right keywords, far fewer people will find it.
- Titles that sound witty but don’t actually reflect the post’s content are rarely a good idea.
- Also not a good idea: letting every single intern post something on the blog (spoiler alert: you’ll end up with a lot of “Here’s how scared I was on my first day” posts).
The best way to turn your blog into a waste of time (for you and for your customers) is to STOP blogging. It’s far better to blog twice a month consistently than to have an initial spurt of five posts in a week—then go radio-silent for the next six months. Find a schedule that works for you. We assign team members to a post weeks in advance, and recommend topics that unite their expertise with our buyer personas’ needs. We report on blog performance in our monthly staff meetings, so everyone is accountable.
I’m an optimist. In blogging, when you get it wrong, you may still (partially) get it right. Just as a novel writer needs those horrid first drafts as a stepping stone to her masterpiece, a business blog can still benefit from imperfect posts. More posts mean more indexed pages, more opportunities for search engines to recognize your target keywords, and more ways a prospect could find you. So, while some of our older, less targeted posts may feel as cringe-worthy as our middle school journal entries, we’re not scrapping them. We’re learning from them.