I gave this talk at WordCamp London 2016 on 9 April 2016.
I have written another post about the experience of preparing and delivering the talk.
This post focuses on the content.
— Rian Rietveld (@RianRietveld) April 9, 2016
Why Should You Blog?
Blogging will help you:
- get more traffic – blogs provide fresh new content for a hungry Google. Older posts can continue to pull in visitors.
- help SEO – I find it easier to rank for posts than pages as they’re longer and more targeted.
- build loyalty – by providing valuable content consistently you’ll build a following.
- build trust & credibility – you can show in your posts that you know what you’re talking about.
- help & educate others – people appreciate being given solutions to problems they have.
- help yourself (!) – sometimes I’ve wondered how to do so something, Googled it and found my own post!
- gain new business opportunities – e.g. guest posting, client enquiries and speaking engagements.
I was inspired by Rob Cubbon when I started off in my field.
He’s a graphic and web designer turned digital marketer and entrepreneur.
Rob started a WordPress blog in 2006 and hasn’t looked back. Blogging helped him to win client work and grow his business.
He now generates a lot of his income through ebooks and courses, and publishes regular income reports.
His posts usually end with an encouraging:
You can do it!
As a fledgling web designer, this was just the kind of message I needed.
My first blog post
Although I started in business in August 2013, I didn’t get round to writing my first post until January 2014. Here it is:
I was posting monthly in 2014 – usually at the month’s end.
But I knew it wasn’t wasn’t really enough to build a following.
It all changed with a tweet…
I sent this tweet in January 2015. I like free stuff, and I like sharing it:
— Claire Brotherton (@abrightclearweb) January 23, 2015
I’d actually picked up a copy of the ebook (Zero to Blogger) the previous autumn and had meant to read it and take it on board. The book normally costs but is given away free every month or so.
Soon I heard back from Sarah on Twitter, which was a lovely surprise – not everyone online makes the time to converse with you. She invited me to join her Facebook group and join in with the blogging challenge.
So I did.
I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for…
What is a 30 day blogging challenge, anyway?
The aim is to write one post a day for 30 days and share your posts in the Facebook group.
Sarah sends out an email every day with blogging hints and inspiration. The ebook is a collation of the 30 emails, plus a guide on starting a blog if you’re new to blogging.
My blogging challenge confessions
It was a good time for me to take on the challenge. I’d just left a difficult project, and the challenge gave me a purpose.
I also hung around in the Facebook group for a few days before starting, and pre-wrote 3 posts.
Why did I think the infographic would be easy?!! It wasn’t…. but using Canva helped.
The type of posts I write aren’t that quick. To write a plugin review, you need to test the plugin. Which takes time. And so do adding screenshots or video.
I didn’t actually complete the challenge in 30 days. I did it in 34. But that’s still pretty good going.
Skipping a day here and there is not unexpected – life gets in the way. I practically had to be ordered to take a night off last year at WordCamp Birmingham to enjoy the evening social!
Read about why I started the challenge: Why I am taking part in the 30 Day Business Blogging Challenge
And what I learned from it: The 30 Day Blogging Challenge – What Have I Learned?
The Rewards of the Challenge
Being part of the Facebook group was hugely rewarding, discovering new blogs and getting encouragement along the way.
It was heartening to see my traffic, comments and shares go up.
There are awards when you get to certain milestones – starting, every 7 days and finishing.
Those who get to the end get invited to a Graduates Facebook group with some exclusive content.
How to Get Your Posting Strategy Right
Planning your posts
Firstly, know your audience, and understand your topic.
Research keywords that people would type in to find your post.
There’s evidence that longer posts (2000+ words) perform better in search. Personally, I like to write epics! I’m like Columbo and keep thinking of one more thing to add!
Use the correct markup for your posts, i.e. headings in the correct order and alt text for images. Write a meta description.
Write short paragraphs and break up the text with bullet points, images, tweets, blockquotes – anything to avoid a solid wall of words.
Better to start off slowly (e.g. fortnightly) and build up. Abandoned blogs are just sad… 😥
Be consistent in your blogging to keep your readers on side.
What to write about
Here are some of the types of post you could write, with examples:
Problem & solution – Shows off your expertise.
FAQs – What questions do your customers ask? Answer them in posts.
How-to/Tutorial – Could be through text, screenshots, video, audio. If you show you can do it, some people will pay you rather than DIY.
List post – Everyone loves them. The most shareable type.
Review or comparison – Helps people decide on a product or service. If it’s a comparison post, you’ve got an even greater chance of ranking in search.
Event report – Records proceedings of the event for yourself and others.
Pricing in your industry – A post to build trust. People will be looking and wondering. You don’t have to reveal prices but at least talk about the subject.
After the post is written
Before you publish a post, write a call to action at the end – something you want the reader to do. If you want them to comment, ask them to!
Leave plenty of time to publicise your posts. It’s as important as writing them, if not more so.
Reply to comments on your blog – it’s polite to thank readers for leaving them.
And don’t forget to comment and share other people’s posts – it’s good karma.
Don’t steal others’ content.
Be careful with images – don’t just pinch them from Google.
Find free stock photo sites here. Check the licensing terms and attribute if required.
For use of screenshots, read this post: Screen Capture – Copyright Violation or Fair Use?
Outsourcing makes sense for some things e.g. infographic or ebook creation and audio/video transcription.
You can buy private label rights content created by someone else to reuse yourself. Personally, I wouldn’t use it on a blog. You may find it’s been used elsewhere verbatim and Google won’t look too kindly on you. Original content is always best. 🙂
WordPress plugins I use for small business blogging
Mostly free. Get the links to these from the slide deck at the end of this post.
Better Click to Tweet
This is what it does…Better Click To Tweet adds quotable tweet boxes to your posts to encourage social shares Click To Tweet
Broken Link Checker
Guess what – it fixes broken links! Which improves your SEO and user experience.
Coschedule by Todaymade
My editorial calendar. The plugin is free; it connects to a paid service.
Jetpack is a love/hate plugin – I happen to love it. Made by Automattic, it contains a suite of tools.
Some that I use are:
- Enhanced Distribution
- Gravatar Hovercards
- Related Posts – shows similar posts to keep people on site.
- Site Stats – not as accurate as Google Analytics, but fun to watch.
Another collection of tools for list building and social sharing. Some of them have paid upgrades.
I use Content Analytics, Heat Maps, Highlighter and the Scroll Box.
I’ve stuck with Yoast SEO despite the recent changes and use it for my on-page SEO, and its sitemaps.
Tools I use for small business blogging
Get the links from the slide deck.
You could write the best post in the world, but if it doesn’t have an engaging headline, no-one will read it!
Coschedule Headline Analyzer lets you try out different headlines. Each is rated and a score calculated.
Headlines which contain useful keywords, are around 6 words and evoke emotion perform best.
Google Analytics is what I use to measure my site’s traffic.
Long Tail Pro is a paid tool for keyword research, which links to Google Keyword Planner.
It suggests keywords for you, shows you how many people search for them and who ranks in the top 10 for each.
The Long Tail Platinum upgrade also shows you a score called keyword competitiveness. This summarises your chances of ranking highly for a given term. A score of under 30 gives you a good shot, and would make a good blog post topic. If it’s 70+, forget it!
SEO Edge is an iOS app lets you track up to 5 keywords you want to follow in search rankings.
Luckily for me, my mum was an English teacher and I’ve been blessed with marvellous spelling and grammar.
It still helps to have tools to check my writing over.
Grammarly web app flags up spelling and grammar errors. It does so in real time, which can get annoying if your typing isn’t up to snuff (which mine often is).
Hemingway Editor simplifies your writing. So long and complex sentences are highlighted for revision.
It also really scares you off using the passive voice and adverbs!
In addition, Hemingway shows you how long your article would take to read, which I quite like.
Both these tools have paid upgrades.
Another blogger’s experience of small business blogging
Don’t just take my word for it on the power of blogging… read what Rachel has to say.
“A blog is an invaluable tool for driving new visitors to your site. I’ve often found that people researching something online have found one of my blog posts on the subject and after reading it, they’ve hired me to do it for them instead of doing it themselves.”
– Rachel McCollin, WordPress developer and writer
The slide presentation
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