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t’s pretty much common knowledge that these days, any business, particularly an online business, should have a blog. But how? And why? What is this platform going to do for your brand? Are you selling products? Are you building a community? Is it about building awareness? And most importantly, who’s it for?

These are all questions you should be asking yourself before you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboards. Now let’s get onto the how… Check out our first five easy steps to a winning blogging strategy below:

Brainstorm

Whether you’re starting from scratch or you’ve already got something up and running, stop and get your team together! A brainstorm between your writers, marketing gurus and whoever else might be involved is a must for any successful blogging strategy. This brainstorm should be happening about once a month. If you’ve been blogging previously, get your analytics up in front of everyone – what posts have been successful? Which have been the most shared on social media? Take these factors into account when you’re coming up with topics for the next month.

If you haven’t started with content yet – no problem! This next tip’s for everyone: Have a close look at your competitor’s posts. Jot down any articles that have high share-rates. You should take inspiration from these, and write a related post.

Another one for the newbies: if you haven’t already decided on how many posts per week you’d like to publish, now’s the time to do it. Keep in mind you’re going to want to stay consistent, posting the same amount each week and on the same days too. Knowing these details will help you come up with a content calendar.

Schedule

Once you’ve decided on the number of posts you’ll be publishing per week, and per month, you’ll be able to create a rough plan for a content calendar. Do some research! Look into when your target audience is online the most. This is when you should be posting and promoting.

Clients

We know that we’ve talked about knowing your audience and clients before, so we’ll keep it brief. If you know your clients, you’ll know what they’re after in a blog. Whether it’s craft DIY tips, quirky ‘behind-the-scenes’ footage or informative marketing advice, you’ll know it and you’ll be able to provide it. Knowing your audience is also knowing the purpose of your blog, which is something that should be decided straight away in order to get your strategy underway. Check out these 5 Critical Tips for Identifying Your Target Audience from Technori.

Writers

If you’re just starting out, or your business is relatively small, you may have already decided that you’ll be writing the blog yourself. That’s completely understandable! Just be aware that there are a few things you should get your head around when it comes to creating great content. Firstly, you should make sure that you’re an avid reader of other blogs. This is great in terms of keeping an eye on the competition, but also knowing what’s out there in general, and knowing what’s possible within a blog platform. Reading will provide you with inspiration in terms of both structure and subject matter. Make sure you’ve got a list of go-to blog examples to devour.

The above still applies to writers that you’ve hired, but hiring the right writer is also crucial. Obviously, the right person depends on the purpose of your blog. For example, if your aim is to sell a complicated product, you’ll need a writer who is also an expert in what you’re selling. This writer will need to provide a lot of insight, and so it may be appropriate that in this instance, your product manager take on the blog themselves, or at least train the person you’ve brought on board.

Make sure your writers are great at creating catchy headlines. Obviously, these are the first things your audience are going to see – you want your headlines to inspire enthusiasm and interest, as well as be optimized for SEO (but we’ll get to that).

It’s one thing for you to know your audience, but make sure your writers know it too. Make communication with your writers a big priority – they should know not only your audience, but the goals of the business itself, what’s it all about? Check out these guidelines for creating great content.

Style Guides & Editors

The importance of the language you use on your online platforms should never be underestimated, but in this case – this isn’t all an editor and a style guide are for. Of course you don’t want spelling and grammatical errors throughout your content, but there’s something as equally important: consistent style and tone. It doesn’t matter if you have one writer or twenty – you want all your written content to be of a similar nature, it needs to represent your brand after all.

Early on in the content creating process, put together a style guide for your writers. This can list everything from preferred spellings and topics to cover to how to format headings. If your writers follow this carefully, you will be rewarded with consistency throughout your whole blog, no matter how many writers you have.

Analytics

Installing analytics is a must for every website owner. These are brilliant tools that allow you to track and measure your success, enabling you to identify successful posts, and use this information to create similar posts. The most commonly used tool is Google Analytics, which offers an extensive breakdown of your site, traffic and audience. Some of our favourite features?

  • Audience. This lets you view your demographic, their interests and behavior.
  • Acquisition. See where your traffic is coming from – is it direct or from an organic search? Is it from social media or an email marketing campaign?
  • ‘Real Time’. See how many people are on your site at this exact moment; what they’re looking at and where they are in the world.

It’s amazing what you can learn about your audience and your own content by reviewing your analytics on a regular basis. Did we mention it’s free?

Keyword Research

If you know your audience you’ll have a rough idea of what they’re searching for when they hop onto the world wide web. Once you’ve got this in mind, you can play ball seriously. There are a number of keyword planning tools available for you to choose from. There’s Google Adwords Keyword Planner which can tell you how often a term is searched for each month, as well as suggest similar terms to use. This is one of the few free tools available, some of the paid services include Market Samurai and Raven, which also offer SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Packages.

Another tool we’ve just discovered is ReSearch.ly. This service filters conversations from 1000 days of social data so you have insight into your target audience’s “influence, sentiments, demographics and psychographics”, allowing you to “get inside your reader’s head”. ReSearch.ly offers newbies 10 free searches before they have to subscribe, so have a play around, and see if it’s something that could work for you.

Once you’ve done your keyword research, you can get your writers on board and discuss how to integrate these terms into your written and visual content. Think outside the box here, use your keywords in your image captions and alt tags, if possible have a category title using a keyword… Be sensible though, you still want your content to be super easy to read and share-friendly.

If all of this is new to you and you’re a little confused – no problem! Check out Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO & Keyword Research here.

Link

There’s one more thing to consider before you put your blog post out into the world: Links. Your post should be an authority on whatever subject you’ve chosen, but there will always be offshoot subjects you haven’t covered, or have covered in the past… Never miss an opportunity to provide your readers with more information, whether it’s from your own site or a fellow blogger’s. Creating internal links (these connect from one of your posts to another post on your site) are great because they keep your visitor on your site, exposing them to more of your content. This also means that you and your site keep more of the ‘link juice’ (yes, that’s a real thing). Alternatively, by linking to an external source, not only are you showing your readers that you’re a good sport, but you’re also starting a relationship with like-minded bloggers and paying it forward. This encourages others in your industry to interact with you and your brand, which ultimately brings more traffic your way.

Publish

That’s right, we’re finally here. You’ve done all the grunt work; the brainstorming, the researching, the writers’ training, the style sheet and you’ve trawled through your analytics… Now’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. Hit ‘Publish’ and give yourself a pat on the back, a cheeky afternoon beverage or a nap (or maybe all three). You deserve it.

Promote

Unfortunately, the work doesn’t end there. Now you’ve got to give your latest post the best shot of reaching the most people on the web. Firstly, be sure to include sharing options at the bottom (and top) of your posts. You want people to share your content quickly and easily, which means making sure there are as few steps for them as possible. Next, promote your new post across all your social media platforms – use call to actions to grab attention and prompt interest. Another detail to remember – get your writers on board with social media sharing as well. It’s equally beneficial to them, as it gets their name and work out there for readers, but creates brand awareness for you as well.

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