With blogging, a core aspect of anyone’s social media strategy, it’s increasingly difficult to politely decline it’s need. The fact of the matter is, the internet is your chance to reach your people, tap into an untouched audience, portray your personality and most importantly, position yourself as the expert within your field, so you need to keep up with the cool kids on the desktop. Websites without blogs will do fine so long as they have great SEO, relevant content elsewhere and are easily navigable, but if you want your brand to ooze modern thinking and the success to implement such novel ideas, then blogging is the way to go.
At Push Start Marketing we blog for an array of clients, from minibus leasing, to pet product companies, so it’s important to follow some sort of guideline, to write with the client’s style and personality in mind, as well as adhering to a logical structure.
This blog will run you through the key steps to writing a valuable blog of your own, from start to finish, also including some top tips from our team.
Step 1 - Why are you writing your blog?
Firstly, it’s a good idea to know why you are writing and what your goal is. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes venting or enthusiastically tapping away without prior planning can make for good insight and an interesting read, but with business in mind, it helps to have more of a strategic focus.
We would recommend having a strategy in place so the whole team knows what theme they are working toward. At Push Start we create quarterly strategy plans, each month focusing on one theme, broken down into one or two blogs, written by the best person for the topic. When you come to construct these plans, it might be helpful to sit down with an A3 piece of paper and mind-map all the areas you’d like to focus on; all the events occurring and any points of interest i.e. industry changes and updates, seasonal events or company news. Pick your three favourites and promise to file the other fabulous ideas for next time…
These planning sessions are not only extremely helpful for social media strategy, they also give the team a chance to have their ideas heard, have an input into areas they wouldn’t normally get the chance to, and are a great opportunity to mix up someone’s day from staring at a screen to gathering around a table and mind-mapping ideas.
So, once you have your themes, begin exploring potential blog titles and topics for each, again choosing our favourites and delegating each to the best person for the job i.e. behind the scenes and business insight would be the most suitable for the MD or founder of the company to write, whereas a blog focusing on the practicalities of specific facets of the industry might be more suitable for a team member, who works ‘at the coal face’.
Tip: Ensure you allocate dates/deadlines for each blog to be written by to ensure accountability, while allowing for a couple of days of feedback and signing off, then pop them in to your social media schedule. This can be particularly useful if you are a sole owner, trying to wear many different hats.
Lucy Lavers says: ‘Don’t lose your thread. Remember the point you want to get across, illustrate it, back it up, even argue against, but remember that single point, lesson or opinion. If you've more than one, write another blog.’
I have my topic, where do I start?
You may have a super insightful bit of content on your website, but if it isn’t easy to find, no-one is reading it, and you may have wasted your time. It’s crucial to ensure the words you use are relevant to your readers and thus searchable, so keyword research is invaluable.
It’s not as complicated as it sounds, we promise; Google are brilliant and give you free access to stats surrounding what people are searching, and how often, through their Google AdWords site.
Use your common sense though, just because you know your keywords, does not mean you should drown your piece in them. As long as your keywords are within the piece at a density of 1-3%, and your content is relevant and natural, you’re doing the job just fine.
Tip: Think about a keyword, initially in the title, then once in the first sentence of the first paragraph, then two more times within the body of writing.
Hilary says ‘If you’re writing for business you need to know what people are asking, so keyword planning is vital. The aim is for your blog to appear in SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages), then you know you’ve done a fab job.’
Route planner TICK, Keywords TICK - what next for your blog?
Now you can be let loose on the keyboard! The first draft is called the first draft because there is meant to be many more to come, so, what we find works best for us, is to just get words on paper. Feeling pressure to write a great blog straight out of the block is not helpful, so, with your topic in mind, just start writing. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done once you just get started. Someone wise once said, the first draft will always be perfect, because it simply has to exist.
Move over SFD (S****y First Draft)
You can now look back over your initial musings. Some practical learners might find printing your work, and physically highlighting areas, crossing parts out, and adding notes where ideas come to you not only allows you to get up and walk to the printer, getting in some well needed steps and taking a breather from the computer screen, but opens up the mind to a fresh viewpoint.
From this print stage try giving the blog a structure, grouping sections into:
Introduction - clarifying the title and building expectation of what is to come
Body - whereby, depending on the topic, there could be three points to consider, top tips, steps to follow or a case study
Summary - tying all the threads together, re-confirming the title. I quite often find that in my initial “brain dump” I’ve written a summary statement early on, or completely ignored an introduction for the reader, but that’s what the SFD is for!
Although there’s a structure to follow, blogging is not a science. Sometimes you may find you need to repeat the above process four or five times until you’re happy with your final piece, other times you could be over the moon after the once-over.
Tip: Take a break between your first draft and second. Even if it’s just a lunch break, perspective only comes from a distance.
Ellie says ‘I never create a blog from start to finish in one day: I find writing the bulk in one day, then reviewing that SFD the next, helps me to ensure the style is not limited to my current state of mind or energy levels. I’ll quite often look over my first draft and think “Why did I write that?” or “My tone isn’t right for the client” then amend accordingly.’
Back it up, back it up
We highly recommend having one, two or even three people look over your work before it goes public. No-one is perfect and we all need a second opinion when it comes to tone, appropriateness, additional points and especially spelling and grammar. There’s nothing more mortifying than seeing a spelling mistake or grammatical error on a branded piece of work, so do NOT rush publishing a blog until you know it’s spot on.
Tip: Blogging is fun and satisfying as long as you stick to your preferences. Some people are touchy-feely learners and therefore like to hold their work, use stationery and mix up working methods throughout the day to keep motivated, whereas other people love technology and prefer to use the computer, utilising all the snazzy programmes and tools. Discover what suits you.
With all that in mind, enjoy it! Get creative and unleash the inner writer in you! Let us know how you get on via Facebook or Twitter.