Content creation, and in particular blogging, can be of huge value to small businesses. A simple and cost-effective way of improving customer engagement and increasing lead generation.
Blogging is a tried and tested tactic in online marketing. It can help improve your writing skill, increase the visibility of your website, and build trust in your business. Check out our recent post “Should a small business blog? Hell, yes!” to see why blogging is so great.
Despite all the benefits, many businesses do not quite recognise the value blogging can bring, or lack the confidence to give it a go. Well, I hope the simple steps below will give you the confidence to improve your blogging skills and helps you to maximise your marketing efforts.
1. Understanding your readers
In the early stages of starting your business, you probably carried out some research on your target market. To really help focus your marketing strategy, dig deeper into the mind-set of your customers, and further develop your customer profiles.
Start by creating 3 imaginary customers. The types of customers who are the most likely to be engaged by the content you create. Give them each a name, this will help provide some reality to the exercise (trust me it works). Then, try and answer some questions to help you understand how your customers think. Here are some examples….
What are their likes and interests?
What problems do they commonly face?
Where would they look to find a solution?
How do they mainly consume information?
What is their end goal?
The more targeted the questions, the more specific your answers will be and the more realistic the customer profiles. This exercise will help you to focus your content creation ideas to those which are most relevant to your target audience.
2. Generate content ideas
We’re not quite at the stage of writing out titles just yet. Rushing into this can often act as a hurdle for creating the content itself. Try writing out as many content ideas as you feel comfortable with. Use a spider diagram with your customer attributes in the middle, and note down your ideas. Try and be specific with your topics so you have plenty to write about now and in the future.
For example, imagine you’re a wedding planner. The kind of areas your customers may be interested in could be local wedding venues, floral designs, low-cost wedding dresses and even honeymoon ideas. Creating content ideas is a great way to get the ball rolling, and will help demonstrate just how much you know about your business and market.
3. Identify your platforms
As with most aspects of running a business, it’s not about quantity, but about quality. You don’t have to create a blog a day or a 5000-word essay. Often, the simpler content is the most engaging. You can create blogs for your website, a short titbit for Twitter, or a brief Facebook update. Mixing up your content and analysing the most effective marketing avenues will ensure quality in your content. One important aspect of blogging is the ability to improve your SEO, so it is important that your best content makes it onto your website for others to see, especially search engines!
4. Tell a story
Now you know who want you want to write for and what you want to write about, you can then create an outline of the content. One method which helps to create an effective and engaging blog is through story telling. Create a beginning, middle and end, where you take the reader on a journey of discovery. Just like a good novel, every line and every paragraph should leave the reader wanting to read more.
Not all blogs have to be a story, it all depends on the type of content you hope to create. Is it a case study? A user guide? A past-experience? Whatever you choose to write about, having a structure will help keep the content concise and engaging.
5. Consider your headings
This is probably the most important aspect of your blog, because without an engaging title, no one will be inclined to read it.
Write out some heading ideas and see which are most engaging and entice you to read on. Think about which ones best describe the content you have created. You’ll soon find once again, you can create a quality title without overdoing the word count. Your headings should be short and concise, and demonstrate the value to the reader, and summarise the key message for your reader.
6. Throw in some artistic flair
Plenty of thought should be given to typography, imagery and formatting styles. You should decide on your blog designs early on and create a template so you can quickly and beautifully present all your future blog posts. Pictures speak a thousand words, so just like an engaging heading, your chosen image or images should help show what your blog is all about and entice the reader into the content.
As you are now on your way to becoming a blogging expert, why not try some of the other forms of content creation? Here are some ideas to help you innovate your content marketing, and come up with new and improved ways to reach your audience… Good luck!