I could have titled this post “6 ways to improve your blogging”, but I got the Young Frankenstein reference stuck in my head so I went with it. While Gene Wilder and Teri Garr are rolling in the hay, a wolf howls and Wilder screams, “Werewolf?!?” Mel Brooks gives him direction with “There wolf. There castle.” Wilder heard something that he thought might pose a threat, and Brooks gave him calming direction. That’s what I’m here to do in this post.
You’re blogging for your startup or small business, but you’re not an expert blogger (yet), so you’re making mistakes but you don’t even know you’re making mistakes. Here I present to you the shortlist of things to do when blogging as part of a content marketing strategy. Who am I to be telling you what to do? Well, I read and make tiny adjustments to 20-40 vastly varied blog posts every day for Atlanta Tech Blogs, and I have the data to support which ones get more readership than others. Here are the winning recipes.
- Valid RSS Feed – RSS is the means by which most people get some notification that there’s a new blog post from one of their favorite blogs. WordPress and Blogger blogs have RSS feeds built in by default. If you’re not using WordPress or Blogger, use Feedburner to create your feed, and then make that feed known with an icon and link right beside all your social media icons.
- Home page link – You’re marketing your business through content marketing, so you want to make your content that you’re marketing very visible. Nowadays, visitors find out who a company really is and what they’re all about not from the “About” page, but from blog posts. Put a link to your blog as one of your main nav links.
- Shorter titles – Earlier this week I edited the title of a blog post from 19 words down to 3. You read that right. Someone titled a blog post with 19 words. 19 words is longer than some blog posts themselves! Here’s a hint: if you can’t fit the title to your blog post within the title field of your blogging UI, it’s way too long. As a discipline exercise, try to keep titles to fewer than 5 words. Yes, I used 7 words in this title. Rules are meant to be broken, and the only consistent thing about rules is their exceptions.
- Creative images – the default image or featured image is what grabs readers’ eye after they skim the (now very short) title, so make the image easy to see, easy to decipher, eye catching, and – most of all – relevant to your post. You may have to create your own images, and that’s ok, as we’ll see below that when you promote blog posts using social media, posts, tweets, and pins with beautiful and relevant images get multiples of higher readership.
- 500 words – Not to short, but not too long. For SEO purposes, posts should be at least 350 words, so aiming for 500 is a good goal. It’s not that hard. This post is 999 words long.
- Make a point – it’s really, really easy to blather on like we can tend to do on the phone with an old friend, but if you are actively promoting your product or service, get to the point! If you’re really gutsy, and it fits with the culture of your business, make a controversial point. If you do it well and back it up, readership in the tens of thousands awaits you. Melissah Smith of MarketingEye got more than 70,000 views with this post just because it was controversial.
- Be consistent – Marketing in any form requires consistency. It takes multiple (6-7) instances to gain a potential customer’s attention. Blogging consistently is one of the best ways to market using content marketing. “Consistently” means what you determine it means: daily, weekly, monthly, twice a week, whatever. Decide what you’re going to do, and do it.
- Calendar – you can wake up each day and say to your self, “Self, what shall we blog on today?” but that can, and usually does, break down quickly. The better way is to create an editorial calendar, and stick to it. Decide, based on your business events, seasonality, or other industry trends, when to blog about what. Put it on the calendar, and create a deadline for yourself. Nothing hurts like a date.
- Not too much – Don’t overdo it. Some people can get away with blogging multiple times per day, but that’s a rarity and doesn’t usually apply to startups or small businesses. It’s overkill, and kind of like the ref issuing 9 yellow cards in a soccer match, the warnings become meaningless.
- Let me search – if I miss a blog post from you and I want to read it, give me a simple search field on your blog, so I can find what I’m looking for quickly. Otherwise, I might give up and not read that blog post that you really wanted me to read that might finally convince me to buy your product or service. Google makes a good living providing search. No, there’s no search on Atlanta Tech Blogs because the point of the site is to drive awareness to other tech startup blogs from Atlanta. I’m breaking my own rules again.
- Push it out – You have to tell people about your content, and social media is way to do that. However, you have to choose the social media channels that are the best ways to reach your audience. For Atlanta Tech Blogs, Twitter rules. LinkedIn and Google+ come in a distant second & third. Facebook, not so much. Where is your audience? Find out, and give them what they want, including some really nice eye candy where appropriate.
There. Now you’re ready to go create your very own content marketing monster. It’s alive! It’s alive!!