One of the interesting things about being in business for yourself these days is that not only must you be an entrepreneur, but you probably have to be a content creator too. Between websites, e-newsletters, social media posts, and blogs, creating content has become part of the fabric of owning a small business.
I would like to drill down on that last idea today – blogging. If you don’t have a blog, consider getting one, for three reasons.
- First, a blog is a nice, friendly way to communicate with customers and potential customers alike. By its very nature, blogging is an informal communications tool, and that’s great. As opposed to other forms of business writing, a blog allows you to let your personality shine through and relate to readers in a more personal, less formal way.
- Second, a blog can help you build your brand and establish yourself as a credible authority in your area of expertise. Your blog will allow you to share what you know, and let readers discover how much you do in fact know. And then, when they need whatever it is you sell, they will (hopefully!) remember you and that great blog of yours. You will be seen as the expert.
- Third, a blog is keyword rich; You end up creating content full of keywords, and that helps search engines rank your site higher which probably means more page views for your business.
Given that, the important thing is knowing how to write a great blog post. Here are six tips to get you going:
Tip #1 – Be conversational: One of the best parts of blogging is that you can be more personal in a blog. As such, you can write in a conversational tone and don’t think you have to be a “writer” to do so. If you just let you and your personality shine through, and use good grammar, you will be on your way.
Tip #2 – Have a point: Share an insider tip. Tell a good story – perhaps about an experience you recently had with your business that somehow relates to your customers. Post some valuable resources. People have plenty to read these days (too much, actually), so the key is to create a blog that they would find interesting, funny, useful, etc. The key is to not be boring.
Tip #3 – Make it visual: The Internet is now driven by images, and the more media you have within the blog, the more people will be attracted to it. Pictures can illustrate ideas in the blog, or they can be used to underscore a tone. For example, if you are writing a blog reviewing a product, add in a picture of a person using that product, rather than just one of the product. Readers will relate to the person better than the object.
Tip #4 – Follow the six sentence rule: When writing the text for the post, you want to make sure that you try to follow the “six sentence rule.” Writing online is different than writing offline; online, your paragraphs need to be short, six sentences or less. Save the longer paragraphs for when you are explaining a concept. Also, if you place a picture between the paragraphs it will create a richer experience for the reader and they will be much more likely to retain the information you present. (This paragraph is long, and it has five sentences.)
Tip #5 – Understand SEO: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art of having search engines such as Google and Bing rank your site highly in relevant search results. There are two ways your blog can help with this.
First, be sure to use keywords and key phrases as needed – don’t stuff your blog with them because that doesn’t work and can in fact be a detriment. Keywords should be adequately supported by the content of the blog so their use makes sense within the post. You should also make sure you are using headings and sub-headings in the text.
Second, your blog’s SEO can be increased by links. Having other blogs and sites link to your blog is a signal to Google that your blog is valuable (valuable enough that others will link to it.) You can get links by 1) creating great content, and 2) linking to other sites and blogs and requesting that they link back to you.
Tip #6 – Make sure the title is clear: This last tip will help you gain traffic. Make sure that the title of the blog post reflects the content. Instead of a title like “Blue dreams come alive!” when you are writing about pool party ideas, be more specific such as, “5 Ways to Make summers come alive with pool parties.” It’s beneficial to do this because 1) people who are searching for pool party ideas will use the words “pool party” and not “blue dreams,” and 2) it will generate more clicks because people will know what it is they are clicking. Look on top media sites like BuzzFeed or Huffington Post to see how the pros of syndication and click-throughs do it.
Finally, consider using numbered lists in your title; people like them, such as, well, “6 Tips for writing a great blog post”!
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.