Want to launch your own blogging site and don’t know where to start? Tempted just to start typing and generating the content that way? Think if you build it, they will come? Stop.
Before you put pixel to web page, there are several considerations you need to take. Launching a blog doesn’t have to be a painful experience, but doing it without identifying some key pieces of information will be.
Although it’s true adding a blog to your website “could” increase the amount of traffic to your site and generate more leads, the emphasis is on the word “could”. Launching a blog is like any major step in your digital content strategy, it is one that should not be taken lightly. To make your blog effective, it has to have a clear reason to exist. That means you must identify the kinds of readers you want to attract, understand why your blog is something they would want to read, define why your blog is different, and be sure what the desired outcome of people reading your blog should be. Once you have established these goals, only then can you begin the kind of research you need to perform to begin to fathom these goals out.
In this series on researching and launching a blog, I will take you through key considerations that will, in turn, guide you through this uncharted digital territory and lead you to establish a blog that is structured, focused, and consistent.
Step One: Read!
You probably regularly visit some blogs already. Why do you keep returning to them? What is it about them that attracts you? Look at the language, how does it talk to you? Is it chatty? Does it dumb down its content? Does it speak to you at a technical level? How does it keep you engaged? What next steps does it encourage you to take? Do you take them? Does it offer you additional content? Do you return out of habit or are you responding to email marketing, social media, or other channels? How are you interacting with the content? Are there active forums? Do you participate? By analyzing your own customer journey, you can start to see how a blog works and how it is consumed at the reader level. And by understanding the ways in which blogs function, and picking them apart into their component molecules, you start to gain an insight into how you can approach your blog from a reader-first approach too.
Step Two: Know Your Audience
Speaking to your end users and also to partners that come into contact with them on a regular basis will help construct realistic personas for your blog readers. Knowing their pains and focusing on how to offer actionable steps to solve them will ensure your content is both on target and has an audience. Creating readable content will help nurture a loyal following of engaged readers willing to spread the love. And it shouldn’t stop there. Think beyond those people that are already on your radar. Your content should be designed to serve them and the people you haven’t reached yet. Creating shareable content means you have readers that are willing to demonstrate the usefulness of what you provide. Combine this with smart SEO leading to organic growth and you will cast your net wider and your catchment area will be richer. If you have a customer success team, the chances are they are already aware of any issues that are important.
To build an accurate persona, you need to start to build a profile of the typical roles they occupy. This should be as detailed as possible. From their position in the company hierarchy to their skill set and decision-making powers, right through to the information they need that is essential to their work. You can effectively obtain this kind of information using data analytics or segmentation. Based on the activities your visitors perform, you can get a good idea of the customer without ever talking to them. And if that kind of info is not available, you can even agree to getting on the phone to your target readers and start filling in the blanks. The more intelligence you gather about them, the more you can shape your blog content strategy around your reader—not the other way around.
Your articles should focus on the following four key topics:
- Posts explaining what causes reader's problems, and how to solve them.
- Posts explaining why readers haven't solved their problem, and what they can change/introduce.
- Posts identifying a problem readers didn't know they had.
- Posts about someone else that has the readers' problem, and how they solved it.
Step Three: Know Your Expertise
Niche can be nice, but limitations are often, limited. The probability is you have a good overview of the topic you are writing about. But making an effort to apply a lateral approach to your expertise means shifting your point of view. Seeing a topic from multiple angles can result in clarity on a whole new level. By challenging the “norms” that have transformed themselves into best practices will often take you on a myth-busting pilgrimage that produces one of two outcomes. Either you discover that the accepted truth is just that, the truth, or you expose it as being baloney.
For example, what if you are always reading that A/B testing indicates that CTAs are more effective above the fold? Maybe on different channels or with different types of visitor in different locations the result is the opposite. By immersing yourself in the topic and really testing the theory, your research records something that is valuable and can be implemented because its outcomes are based on fact.
Taking the time to immerse yourself in the three steps described above will result in a content strategy based on growing a reader base that is engaged and at the same time generating thought leadership and value. In the next part of the series, we will be looking at setting KPIs, best practices for blog length and structure, and how to use images effectively.
Are you planning a blog? Do you have any insight you can share about the points raised? Maybe you tried something and it worked for you or fell completely flat. Share your comments with us in the discussion section below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.