Four Things Most Brands Wish They Did Before Starting a Blog

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The entire concept of blogging may not be rocket science, but there is still a large component that drives a formula for success. If you’re starting a blog and you want your content to spread, you have to do a few things to ensure that the content is worth sharing. You need to focus on creating valuable content and not making the typical content marketing mistakes.

Over the last 5 years I’ve learned how to successfully create content for both my personal blog and clients. Furthermore, I’ve learned what not to do and the importance of kick-starting your blogging efforts the right way. If you’re new to blogging or planning to get into it, here are a few things you should do:

Research Your Audience

One of the first things I always ask anyone starting a new blog is, “Who would you consider your perfect customer or client?” From there, I wait until they have an answer and don’t proceed further until it’s been identified. In blogging, you need to specifically think about who it is your creating content for and who you want to read your posts. Furthermore, you need to think about what it is that these individuals will be interested in reading, consuming and sharing.

It’s important that you sit down and look at your existing customers and evaluate what trends there are between those who spend the most money with you. For example, if you’re in the B2B industry and your target audience has been identified as accountants, you need to think about which types of accounts or what type of organizations your best clients work for.  You need to know exactly (or as exact as you can possibly make it) who would be considered your target audience. Create a persona built around your target audience and write a mini biography around what this individual is like. Geographic, demographic and psychographic are the three main ways you can find your target market. These are things you should have researched and understood before getting into business but if you haven’t done this already, now’s the time.

These insights will provide you with key data that can be used to take your blogging efforts to the next level. Once you have identified the geographic, demographic and psychographic details relating to your market, you can start building content that you know will peak their interests. For example, the folks at KissMetrics target business professionals in the marketing field with their marketing software.Understanding their target audience is primarily built up of people interested in technology, they created posts about tech leaders like the Founder of Amazon Jeff  Bezos and Google All-Star, Marissa Mayer. Once you know who it is you’re going after then you can begin to build a plan around how you will ensure that the content you develop is aligned with their interests.

Ultimately, the more insights you can gather about them as it relates to channels they read now or their overarching interests – The better you’ll be equipped to create content of interest.

Identify a Communications Strategy

Unfortunately, many organizations view their communication strategy to be something only talked about when they are going to market with an ad campaign. Instead, a communications strategy should be viewed as a strategic imperative for growth 365 days a year. Marketers and executives need to set the expectation of understanding that a brands story is told 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Conversations about brands and businesses are more out in the open then ever before. The conversations are happening on social media whether a business likes it or not. That said, while these conversations cannot be controlled by brands or any organization. These conversations can most certainly be influenced. The power of influencing a conversation through your communications efforts is one of the biggest benefits of developing a communications strategy. The other obvious benefits are that you will communicate more effectively, saving time and money. But it gets better than that.

As this strategy is rolled out and implemented, you can test and optimize your efforts for meaningful and measurable results. You can identify what efforts are working best and what efforts are not. From there, you can modify and adjust your efforts to ensure the results on the other side are plentiful.

Create a 6 Month Content Plan

Most people who blog do so without a plan. This typically leads to a wordpress site with 8 blog posts, created 7 months ago with no recent content shared or created. This approach is one destined for failure and disappointment. If you’ve already identified who you’re trying to talk to and have a good understanding of your communications strategy, the next logical step is to start planning how you’ll bring this content to life.

Your content plan should be rooted from a commitment to developing unique content ideas. Ideas are the lifeblood of any blogging strategy and is the differentiator between content royalty and content pilgrims (tweet this idea). Without creativity your content blog is dead in the water. Think about how you can be different than your competitors as it relates to your content and constantly strive to push the envelope.

When you develop your content plan, think about not only what day of the week you’ll be creating content but also think about what things will be going on at that time that are relevant to your audience.This tactic is what I call reactive storytelling. Reactive storytelling is the combination of a top of mind idea and a compelling marketing message. For example, when I realized that the season premiere for Mad Men was coming up, I wrote a blog post sharing life lessons from Don Draper.

Creating content that is timely is an easy yet effective way to drive additional web traffic to your site. At the same time, it’s also important to create content that can live on its own accord and provide value to your audience. The following infographic is an awesome guide to anyone looking to develop a blogging strategy and figure out what types of post they should develop:

content-matrix

Have an Appropriate Blog Design

I’m  not going to pretend that great content rules over a great blog design. There are hundreds of blogs that have horrible designs but have awesome content and as a result drive thousands and thousands of views every week. That said, people judge a book by its cover. That’s not groundbreaking information but it’s the truth even as it relates to blogging. Your content is important but the design of your blog is crucial to optimizing your site for reach and success.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”—Steve Jobs

A few things that you need to keep in mind when developing your blog is the three most important elements of a blog design. First, you need to embrace the idea of creating a blog that is easy to use and navigate. Blogging has been around for years and people have developed an expectation as it relates to how they consume and receive content. Remember the KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid.

Second, don’t over do it with various fonts and font sizes. It’s important that your blog has a font that is easily able to be digested and read. If you’re creating content with your text in a 10px font, you’ll quickly see that the majority of your traffic is bouncing due to eye strain. That’s not something you want associated with your brand. Aim for a font size around 14 or 15 and have headers that are easy to read.

Outside of these two tips, there are a handful of other things that need to be considered when developing your blog design. How does it reflect your brand and is it designed to drive conversion? Are there forms at the end of each post asking for an email? Are the social sharing links making the blog too cluttered? These questions need to be answered to ensure you have an effective blog design. Not asking these questions or ignoring the answers is a sure-fire way to be met with failure.

Conclusion

When you are starting out with your blog it’s going to be challenging. The idea of generating traction and hundreds of comments on your blog posts will seem like a far away dream. But don’t give up. Keep pushing through and you’ll soon see the benefits of creating consistent compelling content. If you want to generate traction with your blog and achieve success, my recommendation is that you should follow the steps above and focus on creating top-notch content. Yes, the idea of creating top notch content is easier said than done but if you put your customers first, you’ll find success.

What other things should people consider before starting their blog?

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Ross Simmonds
Ross Simmonds is a digital strategist, public speaker and entrepreneur. He's currently writing  Stand Out: A Content Marketing Guide for Entrepreneurs which highlights how businesses can use content marketing to drive meaningful and measurable results
Ross Simmonds

@thecoolestcool

Digital Strategist | Startup Whisperer | Speaker | Writer | @Eagles Fan | Lover Of Fresh Prince of Bel Air Re-Runs & Technology
Why Every B2B Marketer Should Be Using LinkedIn Marketing - http://t.co/2spATblZBr http://t.co/H2Mhqzcw4Q - 9 hours ago
Ross Simmonds
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