A business blog is still one of the most effective ways to market yourself in 2017. If yours isn’t getting the attention it deserves, here are some key mistakes you might be making, along with how to fix them.
The content revolution is here baby. The information superhighway is in gridlock and there’s more noise than ever. Cutting through to your audience is getting even harder among all the bloggers, vloggers and phloggers (trust me, they’re all real things).
Blogs are no longer the domain of personal musings, they’re often the first step for businesses (big and small) into the heady world of content marketing.
If blogging is part of your content strategy (or is your entire content strategy), remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re getting frustrated no one’s reading, here’s some tough love on why and quick tips on what to do about it.
1. You haven’t written any
Yes, I know I’m being Captain Obvious here, but …
It’s one thing to know that blogs are an invaluable marketing tool for your business. It’s another to have heaps of great ideas for blog posts you can write. It’s another yet to actually find the time to write the bloody thing!
The fix: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you get your blog packed with useful content? One article at a time. Schedule time in to get a blog written, just like you would for any other work commitment. It doesn’t even have to be particularly good. Write one, get the juices flowing, and then step back and decide if it’s worth prioritising the time.
2. They’re a bit crap
You’re writing frequently, on topic and adding value. But no one’s reading or engaging. The thing is, content is competitive. If your blogs are badly written and structured, well, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
The fix: You have a few options:
- Get some professional help with your writing – hire a writer or an editor to take charge of the content or coach you through some improvements.
- Practice makes perfect – check out some blogs you love to read and think about why. Is the headline, the tone of voice, the structure?
- Find a format that works better for you – maybe you’re suited to video, Instagram or Snapchat and written blog content just isn’t where you’ll find your voice. That’s OK. Let your skills and the needs of your audience lead you to the right channel.
3. No one knows your blog posts exist
Simple but key. You could be writing ground-breaking prose ready to go viral and disrupt the disruptors. But if it’s only your mum and cat reading, you’re going to struggle to get the traction your posts deserve.
- Submit guest blogs to some credible sites in your industry. This is a great way to get more eyeballs on your words, raise your profile and get some feedback on your content
- Build a mailing list. Starting with your mum and your cat is OK. Build it for long-term gain and let it grow organically as you find new ways to get your message out there. It gives new readers who like the cut of your jib an easy way to stay in touch with what you’re doing, without having to search you out (they won’t).
4. Your headlines have no punch
You have milliseconds to engage a reader online, so your headline needs to give them something they need. Clickbait has a bad rep – but the kinder, gentler cousin, clickcandy, is perfectly ethical. (i.e. It’s ok to sweeten the deal to grab someone’s attention if you deliver what you’ve promised.)
- Look at the blogs you click on and you’ll start to see a formula to their headlines.
- State the problem your blog post solves.
- Be as specific to your audience as you can: 37 ways to clean a pigeon is a very specific headline solving a problem for a very specific audience.
- Don’t just write one headline and be done with it – write three or four as part of your draft. Sommetimes it’s a combination of all of them that gets you to clickcandy.
- Use a free tool to analyse your headline and for optimal length, word use and emotional oomph (but don’t get too obsessed with getting a perfect score, use it as a guide).
- Beware of spammy headlines that’ll send your email straight to junk. If you’re using a mail distribution program or website platforms with an inbuilt spam detector, use it.
5. You’re not shareable or sign-up friendly
Successful blogs have loyal readers. Loyal readers are loyal to your business and your brand. Make it easy for those readers to share something that cuts through and resonates with them. If your website is hard to navigate, your share buttons are hidden below the line and there’s no simple way to sign up for more, your readers are less likely to make that instantaneous decision to share.
It’s also important to remember that people will share something they want to represent them or that gives them some credibility.
- Make it easy as pie for readers to share a snippet of your article with tools like Click to Tweet.
- Add social share plugins and icons above the fold to encourage shares across platforms that suit your audience like Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Feedburner, RSS feeds or Instagram.
- Strike while the iron is hot and have a super easy opt-in for your newsletter right in front of them. Don’t ask for too much info, keep it light, easy and with a promise of no spam.
6. You’re too samey
A blog doesn’t have to just be a chunk of text. Mixing up your format – with an eye on what your audience responds to – keeps people interested and helps appeal to the different learning and reading styles across society.
- Present dense research via an infographic. There are loads of simple, free tools (like Canva) around to do these easily and affordably. Or get a graphic designer on board so your graphics ooze professionalism. People share the crap out of smart infographics.
- Focus your post around an image with just a brief caption – let the picture tell the story.
- Bundle up some blogs as an ebook your audience will get value from then give it away. Same content – just a different way of slicing it up for people with different preferences.
- Create a survey, ask some questions and crowdsource some posts – let your audience share their own stories and experiences. Real people resonate.
7. You’re navel gazing
If you only ever blog about your own products and services, or wins for your business, readers get bored, Quickly. Content is more than promotion and a ‘blog’ is more than a press release in disguise. Some recent advice in a content webinar: treat your content like a magazine. A magazine might have features, interviews, how to’s and competitions covering your subject from all sorts of angles. And then the advertising is part of the package, not the main event.
- Look up and out – how can you add value to your audience? What are the issues in your industry or specialty area that people need help with?
- Not sure what your audience wants? Ask them.
- Don’t be afraid to give free advice and share what you know. Readers go back to blogs that give them a definitive answer to how to do something, and don’t force them to sign up to get the information.
More eyeballs on you
It’s great to be a content genius in your head, and know just how much people would love your blogs if you just had time to put pen to paper (old school). But the first step must be … start.
Get your blog out there, get started, make it better, and keep making it into something your target audience wants to read.
If you build it, they won’t necessarily come, but if you keep building it and follow these tips, you can stack the odds in your favour.