Blogging can be scary. You may not have written much before. You may wonder how you’re going to fit blogging into your schedule. However, the steps below will get you off to a strong start. Experienced bloggers can use these steps to fine-tune their approach for better results and less stress.
1. Decide on—or refine—your target audience. Defining the readers whom you seek is a powerful step for your blog as well as for your business. If you try to appeal to all readers, your blog posts will appeal to none because they’ll be too generic. In contrast, if you narrow your target, for example, to owners of small manufacturing companies in the Midwest who are grappling with how to treat everyone fairly in their succession planning, your readers will feel that you’re speaking directly to them. Sure, you’ll lose some readers, but the ones whom you attract will feel strongly about your content, especially if you identify one of their pressing problems—such as succession planning—and offer solutions for it.
2. Decide on your frequency. The right frequency of posting to your blog is not one-size-fits-all. I blog at least once a week, but you may choose to post more or less frequently. The most important thing is to blog consistently, so your audience can rely on your commitment to them. It’s no good to blog five days a week for three months and then abandon your blog. That shows a lack of commitment that doesn’t square with the commitment that you show in other parts of your business. Instead, pick a frequency that keeps you from burning out. To test whether it works, try blogging for a month or two before you go public with your blog. Also, to tide you over when work gets busy, stockpile some “evergreen” posts that aren’t time-sensitive and line up guest bloggers to fill in gaps in your expertise as well as your schedule.
3. Create an editorial calendar. When you create a list of your blog post topics ahead of time, it relieves some of the pressure on you to dream up ideas “on the spot.” Let’s assume that you post weekly and your blog has three main subject areas—investments, retirement planning, and long-term care insurance. You could rotate topic areas weekly so readers who are more interested in one topic than another know they can expect to learn more about, for example, long-term care insurance every three weeks. Within the long-term care insurance weeks, you can list topics that are narrow enough to be covered in a blog post, such as when to buy insurance, what to look for in a provider, which features are worth paying for, and tax deductions for buying insurance. When you list these topics far in advance, you’ll have time to collect background information and develop your point of view before your deadline looms. This will make the writing process less stressful than if you’re staring at a blank computer screen the night before your blog post is due.
4. Develop and follow a process for your blogging. When you create a process ahead of time, you’ll find blogging flows more easily. An editorial calendar is just one part of a process that can include:
- brainstorming ideas
- organizing your thoughts before you write
- composing and editing your first draft
- obtaining compliance approval
- posting and promoting your content via email and social media
The less you have to think about what comes next, the more likely you are to complete the necessary steps.
5. Learn more about writing that appeals to readers. There’s always room for improvement in our writing. I learned a lot from having my work critiqued in writing classes offered by adult education providers. Classes needn’t focus on blogging. Much of what’s considered good writing cuts across genres. There are also books that can teach readers. I recently enjoyed Donald M. Murray’s Writing to Deadline: The Journalist at Work. A more basic, yet invaluable reference is Edit Yourself by Bruce Ross-Larson.
Follow these five steps and start attracting new clients through your blog!