Including a blog on your website is a great way to increase your credibility by demonstrating helpful knowledge in your chosen field, as well as connecting with your target audience revealing to them your unique brand personality.
Promoting well written blog posts on social media is also an invaluable tool in boosting your profile and directing people to your site.
A blog post typically covers a specific topic or query related to the main website, is educational in nature, ranges from 600 to 2000 words and contains other media such as images, videos, infographics and charts.
Here’s some info to help start your blogging journey.
Setting up your blog
Understand your audience
Before you start writing your first blog post, it’s important that you have a clear picture of your target audience so that you can tailor your content to them. Start by asking yourself, ‘What will they want to know about and what do they already know?’. For example, if your target reader is a university graduate looking to start a business, it won’t be overly helpful to write about how to create a LinkedIn profile, as they probably have this mastered already. Instead you could blog about the vast range of business networking opportunities available across social media.
Other useful questions to consider are: What problem might you solve for your audience? Will you teach them how to do something? Will you be providing an alternative opinion to a mainstream issue? Could you simplify a difficult topic?
Check out your competition
What better way to draw inspiration than to look at your well-established competition! It’s worth taking a look at popular, highly reviewed blogs because their strategy and execution is what caused them to grow. The purpose of doing this isn’t to copy these elements, but to gain better insight into what readers appreciate from a quality blog.
There are several angles you should consider when doing a competitive analysis:
• Visuals: Look at the blog’s branding, colour palette, theme and use of supplementary media
• Copy: Analyse the tone, writing style and the type of language used
• Topics: What subject matters do their readers most interact with via the comment section
Name your blog
This is your opportunity to get creative and choose a name that gives readers an idea of what to expect from your blog. The blog name will represent your unique point of view in your field. It should match the aesthetic of your blog and define the mood you want to give your readers when they visit your blog’s homepage. It should also be descriptive of the type of content you’ll publish.
Some important points to consider are:
• Keep your blog name easy to say and spell: Don’t let clever wordiness or design get the better of you when choosing a name. Ultimately, you want your name to be catchy and easy to remember. Let’s imagine that a user comes across your blog on social media and they want to come back to your site at a later date but forget the name because it was too long. Or maybe they try to type in the name but misspell it because it used a pun or play on words. This can lead to confusion and lost readers, so make sure you keep it simple.
• Link your blog name to your brand message: What do you want to communicate? Consider your message both now and in the future. When thinking about your five-year plan, does your message expand as your company might, and will your blog name still reflect that?
• Choose a unique name: Before you put lots of time and effort into creating a logo and setting up a website, make sure the name you come up with isn’t already taken, as this could lessen your visibility and confuse readers who are looking for your content.
Customise the appearance of your blog
The visuals need to accurately reflect the theme of the content you plan on creating and your brand. For example, if you’re writing about sustainability and the environment pop in some green, as it’s an instantly recognisable colour for that topic. You’ll no doubt note that my website is quite colourful! This might not work for an organisation such as a law firm or a financial institution. Consider also the layout, fonts, images and graphics, and make them consistent with you and your message and the audience you want to attract.
Writing your first blog post
Once you have your blog set up it’s time to write an engaging and informational piece. Blogs should answer questions and help readers resolve a challenge they’re experiencing in an interesting and enjoyable way, whilst also providing actionable steps.
It’s always a good idea to sketch out a structure so that you have a framework of essential elements to include and can ensure they flow well. A relevant and catchy title, an introduction that hooks the reader in, a main body of substance and a satisfying conclusion are vital.
Other points to consider are:
Whilst the most important aspect is for your post to be well written, it’s worth mentioning here the value of inserting ‘keywords’ to increase your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). A future blog post will address this topic in more detail, but the basic idea is that incorporating high ranking keywords (common words or phrases which your target audience use to search a particular topic or product) into your content will help to push your blog higher up in search results.
The process involves ‘keyword research’ which can be easily done using one of the many available online tools. It’s important to also consider related words and phrases and use them also. A word of warning however, don’t overuse and repeat these words or phrases, cramming them in wherever you can, as you will be in danger of spoiling the reader experience by producing low quality posts which don’t flow well or reflect your unique brand voice (I’ll explain more about the importance of brand voice in a future blog post).
Add a call to action (CTA)
A ‘call to action’ is a part of a webpage, advertisement, or piece of content that encourages the audience to do something. Add them to your blog posts to encourage and guide your reader to take a next step, such as subscribing to your newsletter, following you on social media or sharing the article on their own platforms.
No one likes an unattractive blog post! And it’s not just pictures that make a post aesthetically appealing, it’s the formatting and organisation of the content too.
Subheadings and paragraphs
A large wall of text is visually off-putting and difficult to digest, and so it’s helpful to divide your post into sections using subtitles. Ensure that all headings are styled consistently throughout to make your content look more professional. Within those sections keep your sentences short and concise (like this one!).
Use media with a purpose
Break up the monotony of your post with some relevant multimedia content such as images, graphics videos, polls or charts. This not only enhances your reader’s experience but improves your search engine optimisation as you can add ‘alt text’ to them. This is descriptive text added to the backend of your blog which can contain those all-important keywords and phrases mentioned earlier. Alt text is also beneficial to readers with accessibility needs, as assistive technology can read it out loud enabling people to visualise the images if they can’t see them.
It’s imperative that you check that all images used are compressed for optimum page speed, as when search engines rank websites (a process called ‘crawling and indexing’ which I’ll blog about soon) this is taken into account. Make sure the images you include aren’t unnecessarily large, increasing the duration it takes to load. There are several online tools that can help you to minimise the size of your images without losing their quality.
You now have a shiny new awesome looking blog and an interesting, entertaining and educational first post to publish! Here are some last thoughts:
Ensure that your blog is mobile friendly
More than 60% of organic visits are carried out on a mobile device, and so having a website with a responsive design is absolutely critical. In addition to making sure your readers enjoy the best experience possible, optimising your content for mobile will also score your website some valuable SEO points.
Proofread your post
The editing process is an essential part of blogging so don’t overlook it! As well as checking spelling and grammar, be alert for words or sentences that don’t add value and cut them out. Ask a family member or friend to read with fresh eyes before going live as a sloppy blog can turn readers off!
Promote, promote, promote!
Share your published post across all of your social media channels. The further the reach, the more of a possibility that readers will find it. You could also consider using ‘boosted posts’ or paid ads to make a bigger impact.
Track the performance of the blog post over time
You’ve now published your post for the world to read… but are they?! Make sure you keep an eye on its performance over time so you can see if your post strategy is working well enough for your goals. There are lots of helpful website traffic analysis tools that you can take advantage of to track reader engagement.
Ready to get started?
Whilst there are lots of essential aspects to consider, remember that this is your opportunity to share your knowledge and passion and to have fun injecting your personality into your writing. Blog posts don’t have to be strictly informational, they can be filled with interesting anecdotes and even humour if it serves a purpose in expressing your ideas. Allowing your unique brand voice to emerge demonstrates who you are and helps you to connect with your people!