By Georgina Miller, Crabapple Communications

computer on a deskSo, you want to start a blog. You think your business should have one, or you want to start writing about something in particular. Congratulations, blogging can be really beneficial to your business in terms of building credibility and improving your website’s SEO. However, before you start tapping away, take the time to do some planning that will enable you to be more strategic and consistent with your blogging.

Why you need a blog plan

Defining a blog strategy will make it easier on you when you’ve committed to writing a blog on a specific day and you have no idea what you should be writing about. With a plan in place, you should know what you want to write about next. This can be as loose as general themes, or as detailed as an editorial calendar with titles and content planned out. A plan will also help keep you on track in terms of whether your blog is helping you reach your marketing goals. Ultimately, this is the more important reason to have a strategy in place.

How to start a blog strategy

The first step is to approach your blog like any other marketing activity and set some goals and parameters around it.

Ask yourself the same questions you would for working out an overall marketing strategy. As a starter, consider:

  • Who is the audience for the blog? For example, is it all of your business’ target audience, or a segment of them?
  • What action should people take after reading your blogs? It doesn’t need to be the same for every blog. It can be to get in touch, or it might be a specific offer related to a particular product or service.
  • What are your goals for the blog? Which of your marketing and business goals do you want your blog to support? To ensure it is effective, you want to know what purpose your blog is serving – only then will you know if it’s successful.
  • How are you going to measure the success of your blog? This should line up with the purpose of the blog. It’s nice to get lots of reads, or comments, but is that helping you achieve the goals of the blog? Maybe for individual blogs that’s people clicking on specific links in them or following a call to action.

What to write in your blogs

Once you have an idea of the purpose of the blog and who it’s for, you can drill down into what kind of content you want to share. That will depend on who your audience is and what you want them to do as a consequence of reading your blog.

To get the right reaction from a reader, you need to meet them where they are on their buyer journey and respond to what they need. By this I mean – are they just looking for information at this point to solve a problem, or are they evaluating their options?

Generally, blogging is a good way to help people when they are looking around for information. Other marketing tactics such as product one-pagers are great for giving specific details of your offering, but no-one wants to read a blog that reads like a sales pitch. Often, this information gathering stage is called the “Awareness” stage of the buyer’s journey. Once you have this in mind, it will help you ensure that your blogs aren’t too salesy.

Now, think about what new value you can offer your audience. Competitor research is a great way of getting inspiration, by working out what’s already out there and where the gaps in information are. That gap is your niche. When coming up with specific topics, see what people are looking for. There are many paid-for tools out there, but if you want to start simply and compare the popularity of different topics, Google Trends is a straightforward free tool.

All of this work is important in making your blogging strategic, but key to successful blogging is consistency. Once you start, you should keep going. I’ve written a series of blogs about staying productive with your marketing, and all of these tips apply to blogging as much as anything else.

As part of your planning, it is also worth thinking ahead beyond the blogging, to the marketing of the content. While Google may drive some people to blogs through organic SEO, you should give your blogs a fighting chance through promoting them yourself. Again, how you do this will be influenced by who your audience is and where they go online. Also, if you’re engaged in email marketing, share your blogs directly with your audience that way. Blogs are a great way to share meaningful, in-depth insights and knowledge, so use all of the marketing channels you have available to make sure they’re read by as many people as possible!

About Georgina

Georgina Miller

Georgina Miller is the founder of Crabapple Communications, a marketing consultancy that helps small businesses reach the next phase of growth. Specializing in marketing strategy, written content creation and digital marketing, Crabapple Communications helps clients determine the right marketing strategy to grow and helps them achieve their goals step by step.