An informative and well-visited company blog can be a huge asset to a business. The blog can be a source of fresh web traffic, help to shape your brand and influence the buying decisions of your customers. However, sitting down with a blank web page can be a daunting task. Where do you start? What do you write about? How do you write something people want to read?
One of the biggest concerns I hear from time-strapped business owners and marketers is that they don’t want to risk spending hours planning and creating a post that might never be seen by anyone. This is especially true for service businesses who find it hard to find topics to write about without being boring or salesy. The good news is that after reading this, you won’t need to worry about any of these things.
We’re going to take three simple steps to writing company blog posts which will help even if you’ve never written one before. Here we go.
1. Know your goals and marketing approach
Before you even think of potential blog titles, you need to have some clarity about the purpose your company blog serves. There are many things a blog can be used for and achieve, including:
- Making your site look active
- Providing content to share on social media or email
- Demonstrating your knowledge and expertise
- Humanising your brand and showing personality
- Becoming a source of industry news
- Releasing company news, offers, service launches etc.
- Ranking for relevant keywords
- Becoming a source of fresh web traffic
- Persuading customers to enquire or purchase
In reality, your blog is likely to work towards several of these simultaneously, but you should have a priority so you can optimise for certain outcomes. Having an overriding strategy for your blogs doesn’t require a huge undertaking of preparation and analysis but it can serve to give you direction when it comes to planning blog titles and content.
Having identified the chosen purpose of your blog, you should now build a framework for creating the actual pieces. Some of the things you need to decide are:
The type of blog – bulletins, interviews, opinion pieces, research or case study pieces, “how-to” articles
Topics covered – a broad range within your sector, something more niche, something highly specific or technical
How they’re written – highly formal or intellectual, humorous, direct and salesy
How often you post – how often do you want to share something? How often is your audience likely to want to read them? What do you have capacity to do on a consistent basis?
If your goal is to entertain and build a community around your brand, you can write about pretty much anything. Most likely you’ll want to keep it somewhat relevant to your industry because that’s likely to support commercial goals more directly. Either way, this brings us very nicely to step 2.
2. Decide what to write about
This is really where great blog posts are forged. It’s really hard to write something compelling about an inert topic or something you’re personally not interested in. This is why you need to combine three key ingredients.
- Your expertise
- Your area of interest
- What your target audience wants to read about
With any one of three of these ingredients, you can write a blog. With two out of three, you can create a passible blog, but when all three come together, you’ll likely be able to create something really useful.
Now, it’s important to note that when we’re thinking about what to write about, we want to be specific; not just “finance”, “family law” or “social media marketing”, for example. Effective blogs are about specific topics; something that can be covered in detail in a few thousand words – not something you’d tend to write an entire book about.
- Solve a specific problem faced by members of your audience
- Add a unique point of view or expert insight into a trending news story
- Share a case study of a specific piece of work or success story
- Tell them about a lesser-known feature or product that might help them out
Once you’ve decided on some niche topics that you could write about in such a way that contributes to the wider goals of having a company blog, it’s time to check what’s already out there. Now, if you’re not concerned about having your blogs rank on Google, and they’re purely for sharing on social media or keeping your blog active, it might not matter if 100 other people have written about this exact same topic before. However, if you do want to leverage blogs to attract organic search traffic, knowing what else is out there is extremely important.
It’s time to do some keyword research.
“Keyword research” sounds technical and laborious but it doesn’t have to be like that. Yes, you can get very technical with it and for SEO pros operating in tricky niches, this is a task that requires hours of work. However, all you need to do is go to Google and search for the terms you think your article might rank for.
If you find that there are pages and pages of results all focusing on that one area, it may be hard to rank. There are tools out there that estimate the keyword difficulty of any given term but you don’t really need one of these to get started. What you’re looking for is to find a term that when you search, there are only one or two relevant results. These may be extensive articles that partly cover your search intent or they might be exactly about the topic but the piece, itself, is not high quality.
Here’s a quick example I found:
For a search of “social media productivity hacks” here are the top five results (after the featured snippet):
You can see JC Social Media’s piece ranking up there at number two. This is a fairly competitive phrase as far a blogs go. There are multiple valuable posts on the exact topic of social media productivity hacks. You can also see that these articles are on websites that Google deems authoritative, which gives those pages more ranking potential.
These things combined, it would be difficult to rank well for this phrase, especially in the short term. You’d likely need to create a piece with 70 or 100+ tips and build some links to the page. You could try and lead the piece with a video or infographic, which might be another tactic.
However, if we make the search term just a little more specific, we can see that opportunities present themselves. Below are the top five results for the term “Productivity hacks for managing Instagram”:
We see here a mixed bag of results as Google works to find you the most relevant pages. The first two results are exactly the same as for the “social media” search term because Google is interpreting “Instagram” and “social media” as synonymous. However, at number 3 is a completely different take on the subject; an article suggesting which Instagram accounts to follow if you’re interested in the topic of productivity. Definitely not what we’re after.
It’s only result number 4 that answers the specific query accurately, providing tools that aim to Increase productivity on Instagram. Result 5 goes back to something off-topic. A well-put-together article to the effect of “15 tricks to boost your productivity on Instagram” that was on a semi-authoritative website would likely rank well for this term.
You’re seeking a Google results page that your piece could reach the top of or, at least, reach the top three. In order to work out what this might be you have to know what you’re up against. On one hand, keyword research only really matters if your aim is to rank on Google with the piece and attract some web traffic you otherwise may not have had. On the other hand, by doing a quick Google search, you’ll at least see if what you intend to write about has been well covered before.
Find some inspiration
If you’re really struggling to think of a potential topic to cover, see what other companies in your sector are producing on their blogs. Select a group of competitors, collaborators and influential outlets and check out their blog content. Which do you like? Which do you think might work for your website and for your audience?
You might be able to combine a few of these posts to create a more in-depth or higher value piece. You might spot a key point that everyone seems to be missing. Maybe the higher-ranking articles are a few years out of date and there are some recent industry developments that would make your piece more relevant to people.
Finding topics to write about, especially in areas that others haven’t already swamped, is tricky at first, but as you become more experienced you’ll be able to go through the process quickly. You’ll also get better at thinking of titles that are likely to be a little unique in their subject matter.
3. Create something awesome
Now you’ve decided on the topics you want to cover and how to write about them, it’s time to create an awesome blog. In my opinion, you’ve done the hardest part. You should be about to pen an article about something you know about, that you’re passionate about and that you’re confident is going to be of value to your audience. What a time to be alive.
In theory, the content is already there in your head, you just need to get it down in the best possible way. You don’t have to get it right first time. You will need to edit and rework the piece several times over until it is the final product. You may realise that what you’re writing about doesn’t quite work as a blog or it should be a completely different piece. That’s fine.
Now is a good time to remember that it’s paramount that your reader finds value in your blog. In today’s online climate, anything but genuinely interesting and compelling content goes under the radar. Don’t let this be you.
These are the key components of an awesome piece of content.
You might associate this with ‘clickbait’. The reality is that people are drawn to certain article titles. “10 simple tricks to double your web sales today” is much more compelling than “How to earn more money from your website”. Your article might be fabulous but if users aren’t clicking on your link, it’s not going to get read. The title should also help signpost what your piece is about and who should read it.
The first few lines of a blog are crucial but you don’t need to set the internet alight with them. Writing the perfect intro is as much about what not to write as it is about what it contains. The title has already done the main legwork in terms of signposting.
The intro needs to achieve two things:
Reassure a user they’re in the right place (give a little more info about what’s covered in the piece)
Give the reader a taste of your writing (you write fluidly and in a way that the reader will glean value)
The two things you must avoid are:
Alienating your reader (by using jargon, making a bad joke, conveying political allegiances, etc.)
Making mistakes or generally writing badly (misspellings, grammatical faux pas and using convoluted sentences)
Break up your text
In general, people using the internet like to consume information in bite-sized amounts, even if they’re reading a long article. Long paragraphs should be avoided and there are many tactics for breaking up your text. Use images, subheadings and bullet lists where appropriate.
List-format articles are incredibly popular because the text is naturally broken up frequently and information is delivered one digestible point at a time.
Make clear succinct points
Part of writing well is the ability to be concise. At no point should your reader feel like they’ve already read what they’re reading now. It’s very obvious when you’re making a point you’ve already made and your reader feels like they’re having something repeated to them, even if you’ve used slightly different wording.
Make your points clearly and move on to the next piece of information. This helps keep up the pace and prevents your reader from getting fidgety.
Answer the issue completely
Your piece should provide a comprehensive solution or complete picture of an issue. You can avoid going off on tangents by linking other articles or information when you think the reader might like to know more about a certain point. Outbound linking is usually a sign that you’re well-read around a topic and are aware that your audience may find other resources useful.
Articles can be extensive. If someone wants to read about a topic they’ll delve into it. It’s unlikely that you’ll deliver real depth in 300 words; that’s usually only sufficient for a quick update or a simple tip. For articles about something in any way technical or expressive, it’s common to see blogs of 1000-4000+ words. Most of the blogs on this site are between 1200 and 2500 words long, including this one.
Reflect on previous work
The best judge of how good a piece of content is is how well it’s received by the intended audience. How many reads did it get? What is the average time on page? What about the number of social shares or comments? Using these indicators, you’ll get a sense of the type of pieces that work well with your audience and those that miss the mark. By drawing trends and asking for feedback, you’ll be able to craft better and better blogs over time.
There are different approaches to blog-writing but the three-step process I’ve outlined above is the one that works for almost any kind of service business. It’s important to lay the foundation of a solid blog strategy by knowing what those blogs are out to achieve. Finding a little gap in the existing online literature that is something you can write about with interest is the next and most tricky step. Then it’s down to you to create something you’re proud of and to continue your development as a writer.