2014-09-03 / Business News

Tips for building a successful business blog

SATTERFIELD SATTERFIELD These days, it seems business blogs are everywhere. And why not? They’re simple to set up, and they’re a great way to promote your products and services. But here’s the real question: Do they get results?

Only if you do them right, says Mark Satterfield. While anybody can key words into a template, it’s not so easy to create a professional blog that reels in potential clients and keeps current ones engaged. You have to strike the right tone, come up with great topics, know how to hold a reader’s attention, and more.

Mr. Satterfield, author of “The One Week Marketing Plan: The Set It & Forget It Approach for Quickly Growing Your Business,” has spent the last two decades helping clients grow their businesses. Done well, he says, a blog can become an essential component in any business’ marketing arsenal.

“Each time you publish a post, people searching for any keywords it contains will be drawn to your site, where they might sign up for your email list and buy your products or services,” he says. “And it’s easy for readers to pass along interesting or controversial posts to their friends, fans, circles, and followers.”

Here are some of his tips for creating a compelling, business-driving blog:

¦ Know what your readers care about. It doesn’t matter how flashy or funny or well-written your posts are if they don’t provide useful information or answer readers’ questions. People aren’t interested in self-serving pontification; they’re looking for resources to enhance their lives. Keep this principle firmly in mind when considering all of the following tips.

In addition, he says, “Think about the words and phrases they’re likely to use when searching for that information. Be sure to include these keywords (judiciously, not exhaustively) in your headlines and copy so that your posts will be more likely to show up in the first few pages of search results.”

¦ Find your voice. The tone of your writing should be entertaining and approachable, even though you’re primarily talking about your business. “If you read your blog post aloud and conclude that your words would turn an inperson meeting into a snooze-fest, think twice before hitting ‘publish,’” he advises.

¦ Banish blogger’s block. “Make a list of posts you want to publish so that you can work on them when inspiration strikes —and so you can have a lot of content in the can for a rainy day.” Mr. Satterfield uses a program called Evernote to keep all of his ideas readily available.

¦ Tap into current trends. Google Trends — google.com/trends/ — lets you know on an hour-by-hour basis what the most popular searches are. If you write a timely post centered on one of these trends, you might get a quick traffic boost to your blog. “You can’t constantly monitor Google trends,” he acknowledges. “But whenever you can link a trend to your business, do so.”

¦ Get (somewhat) personal. Just because it’s a business blog doesn’t mean it has to be all business. Sharing select details about your personal life can get you a lot of mileage because it accelerates the “know, like and trust” factors that are crucial for building relationships. The trick is to relate these details to your business — like the vacation you just took to the Bahamas, where you collected shells on the beach with your daughter, which reminded you of an important premise you wanted to share with your clients. “Sprinkle these moments in from time to time, and your blog will have plenty of personality,” he promises.

¦ Channel your inner Jerry Seinfeld or Sarah Silverman. Your readers probably sought out your blog post because they were looking for specific, maybe even technical information, insight or advice. But that doesn’t mean you should shy away from humor. “Like most humans, your readers will appreciate a good chuckle — and more to the point, they’ll be more likely to remember your business because you made them laugh,” he says. “Just always bring the joke back to business.

¦ Watch your word count. In general, try to write posts that fall between 300 and 500 words. “If you must use more than 500 words, break your post up into two parts, using the same headline. You’ll get twice the SEO bang for your blog.

¦ Give them something to look at. Pictures will make your blog posts more interesting and memorable to readers. But don’t rely solely on stock content; post original photos or graphics from time to time and caption them with SEO-friendly keywords, which will boost your blog’s rankings. You can even embed videos in your blog posts. ¦

What to blog about:

>> For those times when you’re fresh out
of newsy ideas yet you still need to
publish something, here are a few of Mr.
Satterfield’s generic suggestions of topics
for blog posts your customers/clients will be
sure to find interesting and useful:
>> Things you should be doing now.
>> Mistakes (or bad habits) to avoid.
>> Where I went wrong and what I learned.
>> Conduct a survey and then report the
>> How to solve (insert common problem).
>> How I became a (insert whatever you do).
>> Frequently asked questions.
>> The truth behind a common misconception.
>> Meet my mentor.
>> Coming attractions from the company.

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