Chances are that if you're reading this, you know that blogging is becoming the modern way for businesses to communicate with customers. Of course, blogging isn't limited to businesses - there are millions of people who keep personal blogs on everything from recipes and product reviews to what goes on in their daily lives. As common as it is, you would think it's not such a big deal. But many people get intimidated by blogging - including both fledgling and established businesses. Here's why blogs are no big deal and a very big deal at the same time.
Why Your Company Needs a Blog (n.)
Wait - this headline sounds too familiar. That's because we've been there, done that. On August 6th of last year I published a post by the same name (check it out here), which explains the importance (and greatness) of blogging for businesses. In short, regular blogging increases customer engagement, attracts new website visitors, and helps you establish credibility as an educational and informative (hopefully interesting and persuasive) source on a certain category of topics.
How to Blog (v.)
Parts of speech
Yes, the word 'blog' is both a verb and a noun. A blogger blogs and also writes a blog. This is called the act of blogging. Congratulations, you just graduated from a crash course in 21st century internet use. You are now also prepared to be a contestant on Jeopardy ("What is blogging" - daily double)!
In all seriousness though, blogging is simple - even if you're not the best writer. Of course, it helps to write well - so if writing isn't your forte it would be smart to have someone review your posts or have them professionally written - but a blog is free-form writing at its finest and can be as casual or as formal as you want it to be! Starting your own blog is the perfect opportunity for adding your unique voice to your company website and brand - and when it's done right, your blog posts can add to your SEO (boosting your overall internet presence and performance).
Think of your blog as the place where you say more than what you should say on the other main pages of your website. It's the place where you can elaborate on topics and ideas that relate to your niche, products, or services. Many people get tripped up by thinking they have to be an expert on a topic in order for a blog post to be worthy of publishing. This is simply not true! A white paper, yes, that's where I'd say you need to possess a certain level of expertise. But a blog? Nope. Blogs are meant to be written from an experiential and contextual perspective. Expertise and credibility will definitely add value to your blog - but you don't have to be the sole expert. You can curate sources and cite references, then summarize an 'expert' opinion in your own words.
It's not a case study.
If you're in the business of selling niche retail products marketed to a specific subset of the population, you may think that you need to sound like an expert on the problems that your product is designed to solve in order for people to take you seriously and buy your product. Wrong! If your product works, people will buy it. Claiming that it solves a particular problem, meets a certain goal, or provides a solution to a common issue is enough for someone to take a look and consider purchasing. Often, the factors that compel someone to purchase your product will include the amount of competition (similar products), price and value, available reviews from other buyers, and how well your product is marketed.
If you have a blog, that's considered a bonus. You might write about situations in which your product would be useful and would demonstrate a solution to a widespread issue. You might write about the top five ways to prepare for one of those situations in which the problem would arise, making your product a necessity. You might write about the main reasons this problem or set of problems occurs, offering insight on prevention (and of course, offering your product as a preventive measure or type of treatment). These are all things that provide context and reference without requiring specifics. Remember, it's not a case study.
- You can also use 'feel, felt, found' to bolster your writing and reach people on an emotional level: "Many users feel as though there's no hope with this particular problem, but after using XYZ product, they found that the problem greatly improved!"
- You can use statistics as a bonus, if you have them. Always remember to cite your sources.
- You can also curate or link to external content that you found elsewhere and believe to be useful or credible (such as another blog you follow, a doctor, or another expert on the subject). Cross-linking is often a good way to get higher rankings and increase traffic, and these sources will definitely appreciate you promoting them (which means they may even promote you back).
It's Not Rocket Science
Just do it, man.
Don't be a victim of paralysis by analysis. If you overthink it, you'll wind up with writing that doesn't sound authentic. If you're naturally funny, don't stifle your sense of humor - blend your personality and wit into your writing! Good blogging is one part remembering who makes up your target audience and how you would speak to them; one part writing relevantly about the issues or experiences surrounding your product or service without being directly promotional or delivering a hard sell; two parts authenticity (the readers can sniff it out, trust me!); and one part intuition (knowing what people want to read about and getting them to come back for more).
If this recipe is still too intimidating for you, ponder your company's mission statement, purpose, ideal buyer persona, and start sketching outlines. Some of the best blogs start out as one sentence or key idea, and then they grow organically. You can even draw out your ideas visually - use a linear sketch or a bubble sketch to illustrate your thoughts. Then connect the points with strings of words that form sentences.
You don't need a PhD in literature from Harvard to be able to write a compelling blog. Here's an exercise for you: write a one-page blog post on why someone would like to meet you (what makes you interesting); or your favorite dish (why it's sooooo good you could eat it all the time). Anything. The key is just to start.
And if you still can't develop a knack for it, don't beat yourself up. There are professionals who can help you with this sort of thing. Wink, wink.