A personal or company blog is an important piece of any content marketing strategy. Whether you’re a life coach going pro, or a small business fitting into a market niche; a startup touting your company’s attributes, or an author targeting a new and larger audience: having your own blog allows you to talk to potential customers directly and show off your expertise in easily-digestible ways. You can also target market trends and specific readers while controlling your messaging to a degree not possible in other content venues.
That said, don’t kid yourself: having a blog you can be proud of is no easy feat. And while you should definitely run your own blog, and bring on outsourced blogging help to flesh it out and make it shine, you also need to make certain that you run a good blog, one that promotes your brand in the best way possible. A bad blog won’t completely torpedo your other marketing efforts, but a good one will amplify their impact immeasurably while legitimizing you in the eyes of people who don’t otherwise know who you are.
Professionalism is key, but it’s only the first step on the path to running a great blog. Here are 13 best practices to help you get the most out of your blog:
1. Keep It Brief
It’s tempting to always write as much as you want, but keep your posts digestible and power-packed. Develop your point for your targeted reader, but don’t let the ideas get stale. Between 400 and 800 words is the ideal length for most blog posts, with anything beyond 1,000 words in need of revising.
2. Stick to the Point
Each post should be focused around a given topic, and only that topic. There will be supporting details, but they should stay supporting details. If you find yourself getting lost in tangents, consider making other, different posts that deal with those topics.
3. Develop a Singular Voice
People will find your blog however they find it, but they will become fans who return to it based in part on the strength of your written voice. Put time into developing a strong, trustworthy writing persona, and more people will want to read what you have to write.
4. Numbered Posts are Easier to Follow
Did you ever notice how many articles, blog posts, and other pieces of digital content are organized around numbered lists? This isn’t an accident. It’s easier to focus your thesis and keep things brief if you organize your thoughts in numbered sections.
5. Purple Prose Is Painful
You could be the most wonderful writer in the entire world, and if people get lost in your phrasing they’ll stop reading your post and never click-through to actionable content. Save the flowery language for your novel: blog posts need to be simple.
6. Images are Your Friend
If your blog looks crummy, people won’t expect much of it. Images can provide context that ratchets up the impact of your messaging. Invest in an account on a stock footage website, and you’ll gain access to thousands of images you can use for a nominal fee.
7. Target Effectively, Post Regularly
Your blog should be targeted to a specific market demographic. As such, you need to talk about things relevant to that audience, and post regularly enough on those topics to build up a content archive with which people will want to stay in contact.
8. Include and Properly Utilize SEO and Keywords
Keywords are your friend. Research relevant keywords and craft blog posts around them. This is crucial to an SEO strategy that will lead your blog to being found by people searching for these topics and ideas.
9. Infuse the Piece with Value for the Reader
Some people will tell you the only thing you need in a blog post is SEO-friendly keywords, and it doesn’t matter what you write in the piece as long as you have them. DO NOT LISTEN TO THESE PEOPLE! Make sure your posts provide value to readers. Give advice, share how to do something, provide knowledge and insight, and gain readers, followers, and fans.
10. Write Every Piece for an Audience Persona
Each piece of content should be geared not only towards a specific keyword, but also towards a specific reader. Before you start into making content for your blog, be sure to know who your target readers are, develop multiple targeted personas, and write each piece of content to appeal to one of them.
11. Always Include a Call-to-Action
Your blog has one ultimate, final goal: conversion. At the bottom of each blog post, you should feature a call-to-action that encourages further engagement. It can be as simple as suggesting readers read another piece on a related topic, or you can ask them to sign up for an email list. However you do it, the longer a reader stays engaged with your content, the more likely they are to, eventually, convert.
12. Promote Everything on Social Media
There’s a mountain of evidence showing that the vast majority of online traffic comes from social media. Far more, in fact, than either internet searches or direct browsing. As such, you need an active social media presence to promote your blog posts. Be sure to use hashtags, too.
13. Speak Truth, Share Knowledge & Expertise
Your blog, on top of everything else, will be a reflection of you or your company. As such, don’t shy away from what you know and do. Be your best self, be trustworthy, and be of service to the people who find your blog.