If you have been blogging for your business for a while without seeing any results, you might be thinking, “blogging just doesn’t work in my industry”, “what’s the point if nobody is reading my blog?”, “maybe I should invest more in paid advertising and try to get leads from other avenues”, “blogging is a waste of my time”, “I don’t know how to blog. I suck at blogging.” Let me tell you that blogging works in almost any industry when done right.
Most business bloggers tend to make silly little mistakes when it comes to writing blog posts and creating content, they also don’t promote enough – or they are overly promotional and then wonder why nobody pays attention.
In this post, I am not going to give you the foundation of blogging for business (check out my 4-part Complete Guide to Successful Business Blogging). This would include things like identifying your ideal reader, clarifying your message and crafting a content strategy, creating a memorable brand and an irresistible opt-in offer. These require time and thinking, you need to schedule these tasks in your calendar to work on them.
In this post, I am going to give you 40 action steps you can start implementing today and they will make a big difference to your blog success. I will go in a logical order but you don’t have to follow it. You can start with what looks the easiest and makes the most sense to you. You don’t even have to do them all.
#1 Ask someone to do a 3-sec test
Since you are very familiar with your own blog, you will not get the right result if you attempt to do this yourself.
Ask somebody who fits your ideal reader profile to click open your website and give them a few seconds to look through. When they are done, ask them if they were able to instantly see what the blog is about, what is the benefit of subscribing, and is it the right place for them. Based on the answers you can tweak a few things to make sure visitors don’t bounce off your website, especially the right ones.
#2 Tweak your tagline
At this point, you probably can’t change the name of your website or your blog. You can however make your tagline more descriptive. Try to come up with a clear explanation of what the site and is about and who it is for. Remember, clear is better than clever.
#3 Don’t hide behind your content
I know some of us are more introverted than our counterparts but it is no reason not to put the spotlight on yourself. People find business blogs to be extremely boring because they get no sense of the person behind it. The blogger is often MIA and the content is as drab and dry it can get.
Put a smiling photo of yourself somewhere on the homepage. If your homepage is your blog, consider making it your header banner, or put a picture on the sidebar.
#4 Make a great first impression
People often judge a book by its cover – same logic applies to your website (and pretty much anything else in life for that matter). Take a good look at your theme. Does it look professional and up to date or is it ancient? Is it stylish, easy to navigate, or is it too cluttered? Does it have a spammy feel to it?
You can either get someone to install a new theme for you or hire a designer to build you a brand new one. In any case, you can’t go wrong.
#5 Add credibility building elements
People often forget to make full use of the press they have gotten recently. Maybe their product was mentioned in a high profile magazine of maybe they were interviewed on TV. Some people are featured in prominent online sites and many have new guest posts appear in A-list blogs. Let your visitors know you have clout. Mention all these appearances and features in a prominent position. It is not bragging, it is about stand out from the crowd.
#6 Stand out from the crowd
Differentiate yourself from others from the get go. Highlight your unique selling point. Why should the readers pay attention to you? What do you bring to the table that is different to what others are offering? If you specialize in an industry, say so. If you focus on a particular area, make it clear so that a first time visitor can be absolutely positive that they are in the right place.
#7 Add a killer about page
Create an ‘About’ page that is interesting to your prospects. Be genuine here, show that you are human. Tell them how you can help them, what your credentials are, and your story. Emphasize your USP. Learn from the popular bloggers and model how they do it.
#8 Highlight your best content
Your blog is not static. Every time you publish new content or update it, the older content is pushed down. Some of your best content gets pushed off the main page and becomes invisible as new visitors will not dig deep for relevant content.
Make it easy for them to discover your best content. Add links to your sidebar and title it something like ‘Reader Favorites’, ‘Most Popular’, or ‘Posts I recommend’. Your new visitors get to sample the very best and spend more time on your site. It’s a win-win.
#9 Add resource boxes to your sidebar
You have probably written a bunch of posts on a single topic. For example, you are a fitness coach and you have talked about the right lifestyle to reap the most reward from the exercise regime. All you have to do is pick the best posts under this topic, five or so, and create a separate content landing page for it. Add some introductory content and add the links to your individual blog posts. Now create a small banner with this topic (Lifestyle in this case) and add this to your sidebar. This is your resource box.
Every time someone visits your blog and they want to explore a topic more deeply, they can click on these resource boxes and browse to their heart’s content. Make sure you pick the topics that would appeal to your ideal customer/client.
#10 Add testimonials to the sidebar
It’s a great idea to sprinkle testimonials within your website, what is even better is to pick a few short testimonials from super happy clients or customers and use a plugin to have them show up on the sidebar in a sliding fashion. Every time someone looks, they get to see a short, sweet testimonial that they haven’t seen before. Pick your best ones for this coming from high profile customers.
#11 De-clutter your sidebar
It’s fairly common to see newish business blogs with tons of information, plugins, banners, and advertising on the sidebar.
I am going to give you two very good reasons for keeping it uncluttered. Number one, you don’t want to put any external links which will take people off your website. Links such as advertising, especially if they hardly make you any money, or any other links to your favourite blogs, etc.
Secondly, you don’t want people to get overwhelmed. You can easily take off things like new tweets, archives, search box, tag clouds, or any other link that people are not very likely to click in the first place.
#12 Position and promote your opt-in incentive
Even if you have a feature box on the top of the website, a hello bar, or a pop up, it is a very good idea to place a sign-up box on the sidebar, just above the fold (so people can see it without having to scroll down).
This is where most readers expect it to be when it comes to subscribing to a blog so don’t forget this one. Also, promote your freebie. Share a link of social media platforms repeatedly and regularly. Make a big fuss when you first release it. Many new business owners find it easier to promote their incentive than their offerings.
#13 Start making use of an autoresponder
Use an email autoresponder if you aren’t doing so already. When somebody signs up to your email list, they are truly interested in hearing from you. They have put their hand up to receive more information and they want to know more. Now, if you go without getting in touch for week or more, their enthusiasm will dampen. And you may have caused a hot lead to go cold.
Set up an email responder so every time somebody signs up, they start receiving a sequence of emails. Within each email, you can put links to relevant blog content to drive traffic to older, evergreen content they might have not seen otherwise.
#14 Commit to a publishing frequency + batch it
Now we are looking at all things content. Think about how often you can publish and be realistic here. There is no point in killing yourself here – remember your blog is there to attract your ideal audience and help promote your products and services. Stick to a schedule you can manage easily. I recommend once a week.
You can also try batching your writing for the month. Mark one day in your calendar and sit down and crank out all the blog posts for that month. You may find it easier to do so and get all four posts done quicker.
#15 Publish content that attract clients
Keep your ideal client or customer in mind when you are crafting blog posts. Think about content that will be super useful to them. Content where you answer questions about your product or service, content that leads up to your offerings, success stories, your personal stories, and pure how-to content – they all work a treat.
#16 Work on your headlines
When it comes to blog posts, there is tough competition no doubt, but one way to rise above the competition and be noticed is to pay attention to your headlines. Spend some time learning how to write effective headlines that arouse curiosity or promise a benefit so compelling that nobody can resist them.
Remember to make them, urgent, unique, useful, and ultra-specific (4 U formula).
#17 Write to your ideal reader
Imagine sitting across your ideal reader and having a friendly chat with them. This is how you want to approach writing your blog post.
Address one person, imagine them and write something that will be relevant to their needs. If what you are writing about doesn’t interest them in anyway, don’t publish it.
#18 Offer value, don’t sell
Do not only write about issues you find interesting. This is not your online journal. It is okay to write about personal stories as long as there is a lesson to learn or a takeaway reader will walk away with.
On the other hand, don’t make your content overly promotional. Don’t try to sell in every blog post. People read blogs to get closer to solving a problem of fulfilling a desire – they aren’t expecting to be sold to in every post.
#19 Mix your content types
Keep it interesting. Follow a variety of formats. You can write posts but you can also use graphics or make videos. You can also do straight up educational posts, such as how-to content, or you can publish linkbait where you link to the industry leaders in your niche.
Play with your post length. You can use short blog posts (less than 1000 words) or create in-depth guides/long form content (2500+ words), like the one you are reading now.
#20 Link to older content
Be sure to interlink your content. You have spent valuable time on creating this content, treat it like an asset.
For this I recommend keeping a running record of your posts. On a spread sheet, record the title of the post, the category/topic it is published under, the date and link. Now when you write a new post, all you have to do is take a look at your spreadsheet and find 2-3 relevant links to point readers to.
#21 Do round-up posts
Once a month, or when you a strapped for time, you can do a round-up post where you provide links to all the content your published in the last month or so (depending on how many times you publish).
This, too, will give your readers a chance to discover some content they might have missed, especially the new ones.
#22 Link to others
It is fine to link to others but be strategic here. Don’t link to people who are direct competitors but to those who complement what you have to offer. You don’t want to be sending your hard earned audience to a competitor.
#23 Show your personality
Remember to inject your personality in your writing. People are reading your blog because they are interested in YOU. They want to connect with you. They can get the information anywhere but what they need is a trusted advisor.
The vast majority of business or corporate blogs are utterly boring for this exact reason. Either the owner writes in a totally dull corporate voice, full of jargon that nobody wants to read or they write like a robot. Be yourself. Allow people to see you for who you are.
#24 Employ an editor
Be sure to proofread your content. Hire a proofreader or even an editor if you feel writing is not your strong suit.
#25 Use eye catching images
Definitely look for compelling images for your blog posts. Don’t use the highly common stock images where you see actors with cheesy poses such as throwing their hands in the air or making faces with overly exaggerated emotions. There are plenty of sites that offer free images with Creative Commons License or with minimal cost.
#26 Make your content screen friendly
This one is super important and probably one of the commonest mistakes that I see business bloggers make all the time.
Don’t write big, chunky paragraphs. Split them up. It is fine to write a one sentence paragraph. Use sub-headings, bulleted and numbered lists. Use bold to highlight important information. Make it visually appealing.
People are reading on their devices. You want to make it easy for them.
#27 Add social media buttons and calls to action
Don’t forget to add social media buttons (and a subscription form) at the end of every post. But don’t go crazy here! If you give people too many choices, they are more likely to do nothing. Where does your audience hang out? Give them that option and a few more.
By the same token, don’t ask people for too many actions. Don’t ask them to leave a comment, share on 10 different sites, email to their friends, sign up, check out the links, send you their thoughts … it’s too much. Stick to the most important call to action per post.
#28 Optimize for search engines
When you write your content, don’t stuff it with keywords. Yes, SEO is important but nobody wants to read incomprehensible garbage. The best way to optimize for humans and search engines both is to make a list of actual phrases people are using to find your products or similar products and build your content around that. Win – win.
#29 Track your metrics
You don’t want to spend huge time on the blog without knowing what kind of ROI you are getting on your efforts. Install Google Analytics to find out the sources you are getting your traffic from and look at their behavior. Where are they spending most of time? Which content is popular? Which pages are they exiting on? What does your bounce rate look like? Pay attention to your data and plan accordingly.
#30 Email your list when you update your blog
Many people assume that people visit their blogs regularly. Don’t make this mistake. Let people know when you update it and add fresh content.
Pay attention to the open and click-through rates for more information on how to create your content strategy.
#31 Be present in your community
Don’t be one of those bloggers who never hang out in their own community. If you want people to engage in your community, leave comments and be a part of the discussion, then you’ve got to show them that they are important and what they say matters. Reply to their comments and emails. Acknowledge your most loyal readers and commenters publically.
#32 Promote on one to two social media platforms
Now we are looking at some quick tips to promote your content. Writing a blog post is not enough, you have got to promote it multiple times on various social media platforms. But this doesn’t mean that you have to be on every single platform, it’s not possible, first think about where your audience is most likely hanging out already. Is it Facebook, Twitter, or Google+? Perhaps you are a visual brand and your ideal customer is active on Pinterest? Choose wisely.
#33 Do guest posting
If you enjoy content creation, try guest posting. Make a list of blogs your ideal reader is most likely reading and start forming connections with the owners of those blogs. Research the blogs to know what content is being popular and what kind of content are they publishing. Send them a pitch proposing your idea. Make this a part of your ongoing strategy.
#34 Do webinars, podcast or video
You can do webinars to attract people and build your email list. These can be live or pre-recorded.
You can start a podcast or YouTube channel. If you are comfortable talking to people, either on or off camera, this could be a good option for you.
#35 Run Facebook ads
Try Facebook ads. Promote your posts to get them a bigger reach.
#36 Get in touch with the influencers
Connect with the movers and shakers of your industry.
#37 Join online forums and Facebook groups
Online forums and Facebook groups are huge sources of highly valuable information. You can find what your ideal audiences are talking about and what questions they are asking. You can be of service to these people here, form genuine connections, link to your blog posts and even promote your products or services.
#38 Create a presentation on SlideShare
Or get someone to do it for you.
#39 Give interviews
Reach out to people in your industry and see if they would like to interview you on their blog or in their podcast.
#40 Get some PR
Join sites like HARO – Help A Reporter Out where you respond to queries posted by journalists for their stories. You will be quoted, featured or even interviewed and get some good press.
What do you think?
What changes will you be making to your blog next?