A website without a blog is like a heart without a beat.
But if you ask 40 people what a blog is, you might get forty answers. Therefore, I suggest, especially if you’re contemplating a blog or even a business website, you take some time to wrap your head around the concept of a blog. Then decide exactly what it means for your purposes.
A blog can take on many forms, you see. It can serve different purposes for a business but also its customers. The most successful blogs weave a secret thread called “engagement” into the fabric of their blog offerings.
Blogging, I’m sorry to report, isn’t as simple as it seems.
Creating and maintaining that elusive and precious thread of engagement makes it more challenging yet. Drawing an audience, increasing website traffic, and crafting consistent quality content for your blog only touch on the first of your blogging worries.
Look, your blog truly represents your digital pulse. And, in my view, it’s the activity center of your business website and web presence. Your blog gives your business a voice, and yes, a heartbeat. It’s your brand’s digital home to welcome customers and visitors, even employees, suppliers, or partners.
Your blog has a BIG job.
But Why Blog?
If you’re thinking of creating a blog, first ask yourself, why?
But, beyond asking the question, take a serious look at the answer. Because your answer has everything to do with the direction you set for your blog and the blogging strategy you’ll apply.
To help you determine the right direction to take, and before getting into the actual creation of your site and blog, do yourself a humongous favor and think this through. I know you’re anxious to start, but this one step一to determine your blog’s core purpose and direction gives you a huge advantage in finding success more quickly.
Trust me, I know. I was a little vague at the beginning of my blogging journey. I wish I understood more to set myself up in a better direction from the beginning instead of taking the longer and more complicated way to get there.
So what do you need to know? Well, you are looking for clarity and focus so you can consciously structure your site and content. This is important for you to reach your business goals and helps you to attract the appropriate audience.
The process to find your “why” is straightforward. Your website’s subject and the main topics for your blog surface as you decipher your blog’s “why.”
If your website and blog are associated with a business, physical or digital, whether service or product-oriented, you already have some purpose or direction for your blog built-in.
A business, or your blog as a business, needs a Mission/Vision/Values Statement in place, or at the least a Statement of Purpose or Company Manifesto as a general guide to conducting business. It explains a “why” clearly and concisely to anyone with anything to do with the company.
A Blog on a Mission
Distilling your blog’s vision to a singular understood direction is a key to your business and blog doing well and gaining traction on the web. I love how Andy Crestodina simplifies the process, offering a simple formula ANY company can adopt for a content strategy in this video.
Even though I had this one 100% right in my first business, my digital business didn’t get the memo, and there was squirming around some at first for me. Geez. I want you to do better.
Let me share this MVV (mission/vision/values) Statement with you for a broader business directive as an example.
At the time, I had one employee, yet I wrote this for my first company. One. Still, I wanted an understood objective as the business and crew grew. I wanted everyone to know and understand our business was about “delighting guests …..embellished with personal touches.”
On top of that, I had a slogan indoctrinated into each service, and it became a sort of battle cry for our event work. (“We are the party!” In case you’re wondering.) The point is, whether you are a team of one or a well-oiled corporate machine of people, you need a core shared meaning for why the company exists, the purpose, and the goal.
So, what if you don’t already have a business or even an idea for what your blog will be about? Well, get out a compass and find a direction. Here’s how.
First, figure out where your passion (what you like) and expertise (what you’re good at) converge.
From this exercise, narrow your top choices for your blog’s main subject to 3 topics at the most. Even if you are enthusiastic and sure about a single final topic selection, this is the next step before giving it the green light to go.
Without this research step, you will fail. Believe me when I say this matters.
You Who, Who You?
Understanding your “why” means taking a microscopic look at yourself and forming your business operating plan, but first comes the deep research step.
In this step, you are honing who your blog appeals to, how, where, and why. But ultimately, it’s all about audience focus and accurately identifying your target market. Even though you are identifying your customers or readers or an audience as precisely as possible, you’ll likely need to evolve and adjust as you get, and analyze your actual user data.
Don’t skip this critical step even if it doesn’t seem to make sense to you right now. Try to visualize who you are talking to and produce your content accurately as you craft your blog. Admittedly, early on, this step is a mix of specific data from research and educated guess.
Developing an Audience Avatar, or what Bonnie Frank of Business Fabulous calls your ICA, or ideal client avatar, lets you discover and uncover the secrets of talking to your one particular person in a truly appropriate way.
Seek relevance and authority in everything you create for your blog, so people view you as credible and trustworthy.
Taking extra time at the start to understand your audience (target market) and your business (blog strategy) pays. This understanding is the turnkey to creating engagement for a successful blog.
Getting these first steps in place shortens the time it takes for you to have an impact with your business blog as the center of your digital hub. What you create and produce for your blog’s content will also depend on your findings in this process.
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What Content Belongs on Your Blog?
When you’re clear about your blog direction and business goals, you can customize the content you produce to suit your particular audience and business needs.
I encourage you to take a resource-rich and mixed media approach to your content strategy while always embracing a user-friendly mindset. Remember, the content you create is the path you are presenting to your visitors, readers, and customers to follow.
Along this path, your focus is always on UX or user experience. And in turn, along the way, site users learn about you and your business or products. (And why you are fantastic, of course!)
At this point, you may want to contemplate what kind of content fits your blog best.
Content can move an audience in so many ways. No matter what type of content or media you go with, audience-focus means you want to inform, entertain, answer burning questions (like I am here!), and otherwise offer useful, valuable, compelling content to connect with people.
The possibilities for content are unlimited, but most often, well-written content is at the core of most blogs. One of the biggest plusses to quality written pieces is that they can be evergreen, meaning they maintain their value over a long time.
Evergreen content is valuable in the longevity it provides, but timely content also makes an impression and shows you are on top of things. Original content is your top goal.
Some people think of your main site navigation pages as evergreen content, but I suggest improving them over time. I know I view mine as an ongoing project:)
And speaking of site structure, you’ll want to use pillar pages or cornerstone content as a strategic touchpoint and framework to direct links to supporting posts. Use this inbound linking tactic because linking to content on your site strengthens these core pages.
When you are crafting your blog content, consider all of this. Now for the fun stuff.
Content Types for Your Blog
There is no “one size fits all” strategy for a successful blog, but a unique blog mix makes you awesome. Finding your perfect content mix takes time and experimentation, but you can have fun with it, learning as you go.
105 Content Types to Fill Your Editorial Schedule by Nathan Ellering for the Convince & Convert blog ought to give you some ideas to knock around.
You only need to start with one or two types of content to match your audience’s preferences and top business goals. Whatever the content type, quality and usefulness rule.
Ready for More Blog Scoops?
I’ve given you a lot to think about, research, determine, and consider to launch your successful blog, update your blogging, or tweak your blog for focus and strategy. I hope you’re excited about your blogging journey as I am. I know I’m looking forward to the next post to help you move another step forward. In the meantime, please leave your comments and questions below. Thanks for reading this first post:)
P.S. Since you’re already jumping ahead and brainstorming your blog’s name, you may want to read this post to learn all about domain extensions. Just one more little thing to think about for you!
See you again very soon to help you work on giving your blog a giant healthy red heartbeat.
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As a B2B Content Creator and Small Business owner for more than half of her life, Sue-Ann loves everything business and content. Her superpowers include writing and promoting others, with a dash of creativity and a bucket of ideas thrown in! Make sure to connect with Sue-Ann.