I’m not going to claim that I am a blogging expert, although I have been blogging for over 6 years on this blog, several years on a personal blog and as a guest blogger on other people’s blogs. I’m not going to tell you that I am an SEO guru who can help drive thousands of eyeballs to your blog each day, although we get at least 35 leads per week that come directly from people finding our blog content and then learning more about how we can help them with their social marketing. What I am going to tell you, is that I am a busy mother, wife, business owner and content consumer that has had to learn to skim through business blogs, posts, and data, to find content I enjoy, that is relevant to me and to growing my business. I can tell you that we live in a YouTube, 140-character, shiny Pinterest picture kind of world, and if you want your blog to be read by and shared by more people, you might want to take out your Big Chief notebook and write some of this down.
8 Lessons That Will Improve Your Business Blogging:
Use FABULOUS images
We live in a social world. Content flying in at a staggering rate. (Approximately 21 million Tweets per hour and approximately 420 million posts per hour on Facebook) Tweet That!
Whether you are sharing on a social media site, or on your blog, your images need to STOP TRAFFIC! As we are scanning the stream of text, great photos cause us to stop and take a second look. On your blog post, great images evoke emotion; they tell the story before you tell the story; they connect our visually-oriented brains to the message you are trying to convey to us. To stand out here are some tips: Don’t use corny photos or “Corporate Porn.” You know those photos of a perfectly diverse team in the board room all high-fiving each other around a FLIP CHART! Come on, show us something great. Don’t use clipart or graphics that look like they came out of the free and oh-so-tired Microsoft library. Don’t use poor quality images you find on Google. Check out services like UNSPLASH, Shutterstock, or check out the creative commons area of Flickr and Google Images, but look for large beautiful pics. Use a site like Picmonkey to add your logo or some fun text to personalize the image further.
Use Attention-Grabbing Titles (but that are tied in or relevant to your business topic)
The title of your blog is very important, but it is hard to come up with titles that both, describe your topic and capture the attention of readers or those searching for your topic. While it’s great to ride the wave of a trend (How David Letterman Retiring is Like Managing Social Media), you also must be careful not to get too trendy or witty with your titles that it brings the wrong people in and they leave just as fast. I once wrote a post about needing to be a little like Magnum PI when digging for prospects on social media sites. I even had this great mustache clad photo of Magnum. Our numbers went crazy that month. We got lots of hits to the blog, but our bounce rate went through the roof. Who knew he was still so trendy?
People love tips, how-to posts, and lists. 100 tips, 5 of the worst, 12 steps, etc. For help creating blog titles (or social media post titles) check out these two great resources: HubSpots Blog Topic Generator and Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.
When I go to a blog post or website that looks more like a textbook than a socially engaging website, my eyes glaze over and I am forced to click away before I slip into a coma. Learn from today’s social trends. Twitter has taught us if it can’t be summarized in 140 characters, you probably don’t need to say it. Pinterest and Google Plus have taught us that all you need is a large photo and wee bit of text to keep people with you. And then there’s Instagram…sometimes the photo says it all. If you have a lot of text to cover (like this post), break it into bulleted segments and add great photos. White space gives our brains a break. Space is like the rest in music. Without the rests it’s just a bunch of noise. [BONUS TIP: When breaking up your text, make the headlines for each section a H2 tag – changing it from the small paragraph text style to a HEADING 2 format. This helps your SEO since Google scans H1 and H2 tags to see what your post is about before scanning the small text]
Make it easy for people to share your posts
After all, you are writing to hopefully reach a larger audience. Be sure to add the social share buttons on the bottom (and/or top) of each post to make it easy for people to share. It’s frustrating when you have to search around a site and scroll to the very bottom to find the almost transparent gray images of the social icons. Most blogging platforms have social plug-ins…add them.
I get this question at least once a week. “How can I get people to comment on my blog posts?” This is a tough one. People might love what they read, but feel intimidated to post a comment in a public forum. Some just don’t want to take the time, and some blogs actually make it hard for people to leave comments because people have to register for an account before they can comment. Another thing to consider is that if you have a great call-to-action at the end of a post or you are asking people to connect with you on other social media platforms, it also could be that people are wanting to have the conversation elsewhere. I get more emails from people who have a comment or question after reading a post. They simply go up to the CONTACT button instead of down to the comment area. Look for other measures such as the number of retweets you get on your post, or how many people +1 or LIKE them.
Give People a Next Step (Calls to Action)
I blogged for a very long time (a shamefully long time) before I learned this one. I was writing to be helpful. I was writing to share my knowledge or passion with the world, but I wasn’t writing to convert readers into leads. I wasn’t even writing to keep people coming back…strategically. Every post should have a “next step”. That step could be to subscribe to your blog, to sign up for your newsletter, or to download a tip sheet that ties in with the post they just read. If you suggest other past posts to read to dive deeper into your topic that also keeps people around and pulls them closer to you. If you want some specific ideas on how to set up this workflow with call-to-actions be sure and read, You Want to Drive More Traffic to Your Website.
If you scan the web for your industry topics you will find, there are a lot of boring writers. It seems like there are a lot of writers who try and impress everyone with their highly intellectual command of the English language. Don’t write for a college-level English course. Write for the average reader. Write for a pimple-faced, 10th-grade reader. Put a bit of your personality in your posts (unless you don’t have one…then put a bit of someone else’s personality in your post). It’s always fun when you are reading and it feels like the writer is sitting across from you having a fun conversation.
Stir Up a Bit of Trouble
Don’t be afraid to take a more controversial stand on your topic. Sure you may alienate 50% of readers, but the other 50% will love you for it. There is an audience for every topic and every spin on a topic. Write from your passion point and your audience will find you!
What other tips have you learned along the way? We would love for you to share them with us in the comments section below.