Starting a blog is a commitment that should be taken seriously. While you may be eager to get started writing and publishing blog content, there’s a list of things you should do first to set your business blog up for long-term success
If you already have a blog but it isn’t performing as well as you want it to, the exercises and tactics in this video will help you audit your blogging strategy and come up with a fresh approach. To start, define your blog’s purpose. Before you decide what to write about, you need to figure out “why?”. Why is this content important? Why should people listen to you? There are millions of pieces of content being published every minute online. If you really
want your content to stand out, then you need to determine your blog’s “why?”. Ultimately, you’ll want this to align with your business’s purpose.
Read also : Why does your business need a blog?
Once you define your purpose, identify your audience. This starts with understanding your business’s buyer personas. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on real data and some select educated speculation about customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The way that we define the HubSpot blog core personas, it all starts with our product personas. Again, who are we trying to get to use our products, or who are our products built for? For our marketing products,
that’s usually marketers at smaller businesses or people who are in a little bit more of a jack-of-all-trades profession at an SMB. For our sales products, we have sales reps—again in that more SMB environment— and then our newest product line we have service people, a service product that then we’re trying to attract service people from SMB, whether that’s dedicated in their title or whether they do service in addition to other things.
I think empathy is super important in terms of blogging because you really need to put yourself in that person’s shoes and be like, “What are their struggles? How can I help them be better by not giving them necessarily the content that I think they should have, but that they really need,” and thinking about it from that perspective. There are two key takeaways to keep in mind from what Emma just said: Have empathy, and put yourself in the shoes of your personas to understand the content they need.
If your business doesn’t have a buyer persona identified, then make it a priority. You can create your personas for free using HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool. I’ve included a link in the resources section of this lesson, so check it out. Next, set clear, measurable goals.
Before we jump into creating specific goals, let’s talk about how they should be structured. Consider creating S.M.A.R.T. goals. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is defined as one that’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
Here are four goals to consider making a priority:
Let’s start with organic traffic.
Organic traffic, which is non-paid traffic coming from search engines, is the most common goal for business blogs, especially in the early stages of your blog when you’re focusing on building your readership. The more relevant people you’re able to attract to your blog, the better. Let your content start a relationship with them, which can grow into them becoming a lead, a customer, and then, hopefully, a promoter of your brand. If you’re looking for a place to get started with a goal for traffic, consider increasing organic search engine traffic to your blog by at least 6% per month. Why 6%? Because a consistent 6% increase month over month for a year equals a 100% total increase.
Next is email opt-in rate.
Again, traffic to your blog is important. There are many helpful ways to increase your blog’s traffic: search engines, social media, and so on. Another one is increasing the size of your email list. If you make email opt-ins a priority on your blog from day one, then it’ll pay off later in ongoing traffic to your posts. If you’re looking for a place to start, consider striving to convert 20% of your incoming traffic to subscribe to your email newsletter. A conversion like this won’t happen overnight, but it can happen overtime if you hold yourself accountable to creating quality, consistent content. Which brings us to the next point, content creation.
If you want to increase your traffic month over month and have a healthy stream of people signing up for your email newsletter, then you need content — high-quality content — and you need to create it often. If you’re looking for a place to start, and depending on your bandwidth, consider creating one new blog post every other week. If you have more bandwidth for content creation, then make your goal one blog post per week. But when it comes to setting a blogging quota, focus on quality, not quantity. One quality blog post per
month is going to provide more value than four mediocre blog posts.
Read also : How to create and structure a blog post
There are 52 weeks in a year. Let’s say you blogged every other week. That’s 26 blog posts in just one year — there’s so much potential here to think bigger than just your blog. For instance, think about how to recycle your blog content into other strategic initiatives like a guide or a checklist. Here’s a pro tip: Think of each blog post as a puzzle piece towards a larger picture. For example, if you want to create a new offer on your website every three months, then consider using some of your blog posts as a way to help you build that content.
That’s exactly what I did with a step-by-step guide that I offer on my website, wildwewander.com. I outlined an offer I wanted to create; I identified eight blog posts I could write to help me get there and wrote them over the course of eight weeks. I then repurposed and expanded that content into a comprehensive how-to guide. And how’s the content from that guide performing? The site page where the offer can be accessed received over 16,500 visits from search engines over the past 12 months. For context, that’s a 574% year-over-year increase in traffic. Put the time in early, and it’ll pay off in the long run.
If you want to learn more about how to puzzle an offer together by repurposing blog posts as pieces of a larger offer, then check out the repurposing content link in the resources section of this lesson. And lastly, make connections with industry influencers. Working with influencers should be a big part of your business’s overall content strategy. Who are the thought leaders in your space? Who shows up often when you Google your topics? If you can find a way to collaborate with them, then you can form a symbiotic relationship. If you’re looking for a place to start, consider building a relationship with one new influencer each month. You can do this easily by reaching out and letting them know about a piece of content you’re working on and getting a quote from them.
If you include others in your content, then they’ll most likely be willing to share it once it’s published.
Next, do research online.
There’s no use in starting from scratch. More likely than not, people have already written about what you want to write about.
One of the things that my team does pretty regularly is when we’re trying to target a piece of content for a new keyword or a new topic, the very first thing we’ll do is we’ll google that keyword or topic and see what’s already ranking very highly for that. The reason why is because Google ranks content these days based on searcher intent. So they’re trying to match the very best piece of content for what this person is looking for. So it’s actually kind of a cheat sheet to look at what’s already getting served up because this is the stuff that Google is deeming to be the best match for this searcher intent.
Researching the topics you want to write about on Google is always helpful. Doing so gives you insight into what content already exists and where you might be able to provide even more value than what’s being offered. The last thing you want to do is say something that’s already been said before. That would just be creating noise, and noise isn’t helpful.
Here’s a pro tip to consider: When doing research for a target keyword, build a spreadsheet and dig in and analyze the first page’s top 10 search results. Your spreadsheet should have the following columns that can be filled out for each search result listing:
- Page title
- A list of notes on what you like about the content and how it could be improved. It’s important to determine how you’d provide new value or meaning, as this will help you identify opportunities to create additional value
Next, allocate resources to staff your blog.
If your goal is to create quality blog content often, which it should be, then you need to staff your blog properly
You first need to start with someone who is kind of like a half writer, half strategist. You need this person to come out and define what your blog’s purpose is, and what the strategy is going to deliver on that purpose. They should set up the metrics, and then have a strong editorial handling on things, too. Because this person is going to be creating the guidelines that are going to be handed on to hopefully other people as you grow your blog.
And considering that you don’t have anything in terms of content without quality, you need someone who cares very deeply about the quality of their content but also has that kind of programizing and strategic aspect of their brain, too. So that should be your first hire. And then after that, as you scale, I think making additional hires is usually a function of content quantity. So if there’s some reason why there’s more demand, you have more opportunity, or there’s some reason why you need to scale up content
production, that would be at the point at which you would say, “Okay, let’s bring on some additional writers onto the team.” And then because you’ve had that first hire that’s a little bit more half strategy, half editorial, that person
will have hopefully put together some kind of guiding directional guidelines that then they can hand onto other members of the team.
And lastly, use your blog to fuel a topic-driven content strategy. Blogging is just one facet to your overall content strategy. If you want to have your website show up organically on search engines, then you should strongly consider implementing the topic cluster model. This model uses a more deliberate site architecture to organize and link URLs together to help more pages on your site rank in search engines – and to help searchers find information more easily. This architecture consists of three components:
- One, pillar pages, which cover a broad topic in depth and are linked to a cluster of related content. These pages are seen as the north star educational resource on your site on a specific topic, and your intention is to have them rank for more difficult, higher volume keywords on search engines
- Two, subtopic content, which is a series of content assets that form a cluster of relevant content around your pillar pages. This type of content includes blog posts that focus on more detailed, longer-tail keywords in support of the topics you want to rank for
- And three, hyperlinks that connect the cluster of related content together. At a minimum, it’s important to link all your subtopic content assets to your pillar page. Again, this helps pass more authority to the page which can help boost its search engine visibility while at the same time, providing a helpful next step for the reader
For example, I wrote this blog post, along with many others, as a subtopic content asset which links to this content marketing training pillar page. A primary goal of this pillar page is to encourage people to visit HubSpot Academy’s free content marketing certification course landing page and sign up for a free learner account. To learn more about this topic cluster model and how to build an effective pillar page, check out the link in the resources section of this lesson. And that’s it. Six things you should consider doing before starting your blog. Taking your time with this part of the process will set you and your business’s blog up for long-term success.