Blogging has been around for a while, but it’s still a huge part of content marketing. Why? Because it works. All businesses, big and small, should have a blog. I’m not trying to say that you have to blog every day. I will say, small businesses that blog see 126% more lead growth than the businesses that don’t (source). So the real question isn’t should you blog, it’s whether you know how to start a blog as a small business.
This seven-day guide is also a bit of a challenge, to get you out of your head and taking action. Here’s how to not only start a blog but do so in 7 days.
DAY 1 – The Technical Part
Depending on who built your website and on what platform, chances are you can simply add a blog to your existing site. If you built your website yourself on Squarespace for example, it’s as simple as clicking a few buttons to create a blog and this can then be easily linked in your menu.
If your website is on WordPress, you can start creating “Posts” on the admin side of your website. Again, with a few additional clicks, you can add your blog listing to your menu fairly easily.
If you didn’t build your own website, you can also simply ask the developer who built it to add this feature. And then going forward, you’ll be able to add your blogs. Depending on how nice your developer is, they should be able to show you how to access the admin section and how to upload your new blogs.
DAY 2 – What’s the Purpose?
This will be the part of this process that will define everything else we do going forward. Simon Sinek calls it “Start With Why”. Dr Stephen Covey calls it “Begin With The End In Mind”. We just think of it as the purpose. Why are you setting up a blog and who for?
You’re creating a blog for your small business to help people find you online. You need to give value to your audience. That value will ultimately build trust by showing you know your products/service and your industry well. You’re writing for them, not for you. Put yourself in their shoes.
It’s important to define goals at the beginning of anything you do, as ultimately, it’s the only way to measure your progress and success. So, make it clear and simple:
- What are you writing about?
- Who are you writing for?
- What is your audience looking for?
- What would provide the most value to your audience?
Once you can answer those questions clearly, you can move on to Day 3.
DAY 3 – Creative Exercise
So now you have a blog and you know your purpose. What’s next? Well, here’s the fun part. It’s time to come up with ideas for what you are going to write. At first, set yourself a simple task. For example, you can try to generate 10 blog titles to get you started. Keep them simple and make them relevant to you, your business, your product/service/industry and most importantly your purpose. If you’re a dog trainer, there’s no point in blogging about diving for example. (Or is there? Feel free to send me the link.)
Here are some options to help get you thinking:
- How to…
- 10 Tips on…
- Top tools for…
- 5 Ways to…
- Industry-specific statistics 2019…
If you’re not sure what sort of things to write, you can find out more about how to generate blog ideas that will grow your business.
DAY 4 – Writing
By this point, you now have a blog set up on your website. You have 10+ ideas for blog titles that you could write. Now it’s time to flex those fingers across that keyboard and get writing. As a general rule, blog articles should be at least 400-800 words. If you go longer, that’s not a problem. Any shorter than that probably won’t have enough value for your readers.
Set yourself an achievable and realistic goal. Your blog ‘schedule’ could start with 1 blog a week. Use your content calendar to plan your content around relevant events, important days or industry-specific things that are coming up. (Our free social media calendar template has a lot of prompts that you could use for your blogs, too.)
If you’re not confident in your writing, and even if you are, a useful tool is Grammarly. I use it for all the content I write, including blogs, articles, emails, and social media posts. It will help cover simple mistakes just like spellcheck, but it will also help you identify any issues in your grammar and writing in general. It’s a handy tool.
Want some extra help with your writing, here’s A FOREST from our Head of Content, Gareth Alvarez.
Here’s a more in-depth guide on persuasive techniques.
DAY 5 – The Finishing Touches
For each blog post, you’ll want to find some imagery to go with it. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to get out there with your camera. Unless of course, you want to, or you already have pics. Here’s a list of free image sites to improve your content marketing.
Make sure you’ve linked to any services or product pages on your website that are mentioned in your blog post, like this: digital marketing consultancy services. This will help your reader to find what they are looking for easily on your website. Also, make sure you’ve linked to any resources or sources that you may have written about to.
If you’ve seen an interesting video on YouTube you want to include, or a Tweet to embed, for example, don’t be afraid to add it to your new post. It makes your content more interactive and engaging. Which means the chance of people liking, sharing and engaging is higher. Did you notice that video in the previous section about writing techniques?
DAY 6 – Publishing
Once you’ve written your first couple of articles, you can get to posting. Having an extra blog post ready to go before publishing that first one will help to give you a small cushion. Think of it as a comfort zone, just in case one day you didn’t make time to write a new blog. Try to always be at least one ahead of the game.
If you have a weekly blog, you could have your content ready a month ahead of time.
Publishing your blog can be scary. We’ve all been there. You start to ask yourself all sorts of questions. What if it’s no good? What if no one reads it? Or I get negative comments? But here’s what really matters.
What if people love it? And if hundreds of people read it? Or you get amazing feedback from people? What if someone messages you and says, “that blog you posted really helped me out, thanks”? More importantly, what if someone says: I loved this, can we work together?
Isn’t that worth taking the risk? Too many people will talk about something and never do it for fear. Fear that it might not work out the way they want it to. After all, it’s easier to picture how it could be than actually do the work and learn from the experience.
If you’re about to hit the publish button, congratulations! You’re now better than at least 60% of other small businesses, you’ve actually started publishing content! You should be really proud. So that means it’s onto….
DAY 7 – Sharing and Distribution
Your blog, as a small business, means you now have original content to share on your social media and newsletter channels. Yep, that’s right. No more looking for a link to share, or creating just a simple image post for your social media. You now have real content, of value and based on your purpose, ready to share.
If you’re running social media for your business, I would always suggest a content calendar to help you get started. No matter what stage you are at, this system will work for you. We set one up for all our clients. Ever heard the expression, “Fail to prepare and prepare to fail”?
Now you can set yourself blog and social media content that’s relevant to what’s happening in your business and your industry. A basic plan takes away that last-minute rush to figure out what to post.
Wondering how to grow a blog as a small business? It’s all about seeing what works and pivoting from there. Put your content marketing funnel to work.