Guest post by Clare Tischer
Sitting down in front of that flashing cursor and composing your first blog post for your business might seem overwhelming. Where do you begin? Who do you address? Why bother? Why are you asking yourself so many questions? These are all valid concerns. Establishing a consistent blog for your business can be beneficial long-term if you make the commitment to attentive posts and helpful content.
Find and know your audience.
Ta-da! You’re on stage on the internet! Who is watching the show? Other businesses? Clients? Prospective leads? It depends. Who follows you on Twitter? Who are your Facebook fans? If you’re like most businesses and start-ups, your following is varied in age, gender, and profession. Recognize this and use it to your advantage by working the diverse crowd as a charming, polite voice. Be yourself. Be warm.
Select your focus.
An attempt to cover more than two topics in a single blog post is going to confuse your readership. What’s most important right now? If you’re beginning your small business blog, this is your opportunity to shine right out of the gate. What’s a common misconception about your brand? What’s a challenge you’re currently facing as a business and what’s being done to address it? How has your mission changed since you first launched? All of these are great first topics because they allow your audience to get to know your company on a human level, an incredible value. Don’t be afraid to be candid but don’t air your dirty laundry either. On the other side of the spectrum, don’t feign perfection either. Words read online can assume whatever tone the reader is feeling that day and pretending to be flawless will likely give the impression of arrogance, not to mention makes it difficult to relate.
You can’t build Rome in a day.
If you find yourself adrift in a land of run on sentences and tangents, get up and walk around for a minute to clear your head. It’s not that you can’t write about these topics, just that you should save them for future posts and content. The good news is that a regularly updated blog shows that you care and know people are reading or want to read. If you find yourself wanting to elaborate on non-introductory topics, save them to auto-post at a later date after you have already debuted your first blog post.
If a one liner has offended in real life or wouldn’t fly in mixed company, it’s certainly not going to work in your blog post, no matter how many of your friends thought it was hilarious over beers last week. Tread lightly by not making sweeping generalizations. Remain tactful by never openly disrespecting or comparing yourself to a competitor. Keep it light-hearted but professional.
A great blog post concludes with news about your upcoming event, workshop, or product as it relates the blog entry’s contents. What’s on the horizon and what excites you about it? If you’re not excited, no one is. Wrap up your story with what the reader should be looking for next and when they can expect to see it. End the post with connections to all the social media channels they can find you in as well as your RSS feed and a link to subscribe to your e-mail newsletter. Building these relationships as soon as possible grants you that much more true reach.
Have your co-owner or an trusted employee read over your post before publishing. Even the stiffest grammar fanatic can overlook their own typo or assume that a few sentences meant to entertain might instead confuse or upset. Having a second pair of eyes proofread your work should be second nature. Swallow your pride and see it as a learning experience to adjust your style and tone accordingly to the benefit of your entire business.
You’re done! Just kidding. You still have to give us a way to find this post and communicate with us once it’s live. Is it on your homepage’s index or easy to find in the site’s navigation? Link us to this post on your Facebook and Twitter once or twice, a few days apart. Insert suitable keywords. Ask an outsider to tell you what they would search for in order to find the post’s subject and use their assessment to your advantage. Create a clickable link in your next e-mail newsletter with a preview of the blog post that encourages subscribers to read it in its entirety. Do customers have questions? Are other businesses requesting insight on the subject? Are you willing to provide it? Be aware of comments and follow up appropriately but do follow up. That’s the most important piece. Don’t hit publish and then leave your readers hearing crickets when they begin to engage you. Peruse your traffic stats and gauge where the most traffic originates from in order to better utilize publicizing your second post.
Clare Tischer is a non-triathlete in Boulder, CO and makes a living as a copywriter and community manager for the local restaurant industry. She has definitely been online too much since the days of Angelfire. Follow her at @clareyt for all geeky things food and drink or read her personal blog in which she ponders personal finance and life at neverniche.com.