A Blogging Masterclass in a Blog Post
Whether you are setting out alone to blog or looking to create a corporate blogging team – this Blogging Masterclass is designed to help you set off on the right track.
A client of mine, an accountancy practice with 3 blogs all focused on different strands of their business – made a decision that rather than to put all the responsibility of blogging onto one person’s shoulders, they wanted to get more of their team involved.
Team members were invited to join the ‘blogging’ team – all welcome, however, they provided some simple criteria for those that wanted to be part of the blogging team had to be sure they were:
- Dedicated to the cause and happy to create a blog post each week
- Happy to participate in training – so they were aware of the world of blogging
So that’s when I was brought it – to train up a team of enthusiastic people all new to the art of blogging.
Now, I don’t consider myself a master blogger, (always new things to learn) but definitely an experienced one.
Having been a frequent blogger for a number of years – and indeed, creating blog posts on behalf of some of our clients too – I’ve spent those years, learning and reading, and honing, testing, adapting and optimising.
You too may be setting off on your blogging venture, either alone or as part of a corporate blogging team – and so I thought I’d share with you the insights I shared with them when training. Hopefully, you’ll find them useful. So here goes.
Firstly, some terminology:
Short for ‘web log’ a blog is a personal or company online journal. Others can participate – comment, share. One to many. (I’m never surprised that a number of people never understood where ‘blog’ comes from).
Very simple, an article that has been published on a blog. You post a blog post – just as you would post a letter.
A blog category is simply a way of grouping posts that share a common theme. So you can break categories down into Arts, Business, Foodies for example.
There are a number of platforms, some self created ones that form part of a website – or more commonly open source platforms such as; WordPress, Blogger or Typepad
Ok – so with the terminology covered off, let’s get into the nitty gritty…
- Blogging enables you to say more. It’s a freer communication than many of our traditional media – far more conversational. Very often businesses find it difficult to continuously share their brand message or personality through visual advertising and traditional media – and so blogging provides more insight into what that person, business or brand stands for. The voice of the business.
- Authentic content to share on social platforms. Very important that as a business or brand you have authentic content to share with others. After all, we are what we share – and so what better way to advocate what we do than to blog about it and share with others to grow awareness and opinion from those that potentially matter.
- A blog embedded into your website generates traffic. A study by www.hubspot.com showed that companies that blogged achieved 55% more website traffic than those that didn’t. This makes sense – as clearly, you are sharing something which then drives people back to your site to read it. Giving people something to engage with – rather than a passive website.
- Assists in growing brand and personal authority.
- Thought leadership. You can share your expertise and opinion (much as we do at Carvill Creative).
- Entertains and grows ‘fans’. If people enjoy what you write, they will in time grow fond of your musings. Keep them entertained and they will share with others – and ultimately, you will grow a following.
So with very clear insight into some sound reasons for blogging – let’s now cover some tactical and practical blogging tips.
Carvill Creative’s 20 Top Blogging Tips
- Keep it brief (ideally about 500-700 words). But you can mix it up. If you look at Seth Godin’s blog – some of his posts are literally 2 sentences. Others are 2 pages. But remember, you have to keep the audience engaged, and therefore, concise is usually more attractive. (Yes – I do realise this is an epic blog – but sometimes when you’ve got lots to get across about a specific topic, then long blogs are totally acceptable).
2) Vary the topic.
- Factual. Could focus around a recent change in legislation and implications – or something very topical.
- Useful and Practical – 10 tips, 5 steps to understanding ABC. People tend to enjoy the ‘quick tip’ style blog posts. But don’t make every post in that style.
- Entertaining – Light and humorous so that the user understands that whilst you know your stuff, you’re not taking life too seriously.
- Opinion driven – Asking for viewpoints from your audience. This is our view – what’s yours – do you agree, disagree.
3) Always watch yor splling and grammar. Errors can really hinder credibility.
5) Consider video blogs. Turning your content into a 30 sec to 1.5 minute video (short and to the point). Check out apps such as www.animoto.com – really useful for taking images and turning into great video.
6) Create attention grabbing headings. My advice -you should write the headline imagining that the user won’t even see the article. So the headline has to grab attention and tell the story.
- Question – “Would you let a marketer extract your teeth?” or “Which test do you think got the most results”.
- How to – “How to get everyone to do what you want”
- Curiosity – “LinkedIn smarter than Facebook” – this piece was actually talking about photos on LinkedIn where people clearly had ‘smarter dress’ than the more casual pics on Facebook.
- Command – “If you read one thing today – do this”
- Quantify – “Twenty reasons you should do X” or “8 essential blogging tips you can’t live without.”
7) Use keywords where you can – in headers and throughout the content of the article. Eg: “Tax Planning Tips to blow your mind”.
8) Schedule. Stick to a tight publishing schedule. Blogging pays off over time – it’s a marathon rather than a sprint and it takes time to build up relevant and optimised content. Ideally, 3 times a week.
- Appoint an Editor
- Create an Editorial List
- Allocate responsibilities
- Keep to schedule / Editor to hound / Incentivise / Competition
9) Insert a ‘call to action’. Such as subscribe to blog or subscribe to newsletter or download our free guide or get in touch.
10) Promote your blog. Promote links to your blog on your website and in email footers, business cards and other off and online relevant marketing materials.
11) Share your blog on relevant news services. Search other relevant blogs in your sector and see what scope there is for you to post your blogs on other portals. For example: www.businesszone.co.uk encourages bloggers to share their blogs.
12) Share on social. Get your blog noticed by publishing links on social media vehicles such as Twitter, Facebook, Linked In (all social spaces relevant to your industry). And – make sharing simple – Ensure that your blog has the ‘sharing widgets embedded.
13) Write for the web. Remember, people don’t read online, they scan. Use short paragraphs. Short sentences. Bullet points. Clear headers.
14) Be useful. Try and provide at least one piece of practical ‘how to’ advice in each blog post. That way the reader will learn that you are always going to provide something useful.
15) Don’t push. Don’t focus your posts around selling your products – users will switch off to this. Instead share advice, news and information which will prove useful to your readers (growing authority in the space).
16) Be creative with where you procure your content – if you have published materials offline, then where relevant ‘blogify’ them.
17) Follow the leader – if you find a respected and popular blogger/expert who focuses on areas you are interested in, your business area, subject etc – then write a post commenting on their post.
18) Guest blog – Ask others to guest blog on your blog and advise other blogs you respect that you’d be happy to do the same.
19) Create a Blog boiler plate. Create a succinct ‘60 seconds’ that describes your business and includes a link back to your site. Ensure this blog boiler plate is included at the end of every blog post you create. (Keyword enabled where possible).
20) Link to other posts. Refer to other posts you’ve written and include links so that you are showcasing other relevant and related content from your blog too.
Ok – so armed with tactical tips, you’re ready to get started. So let’s look at…
Types of Blog Posts to Get you Started
- News articles – for most companies this will be the bread and butter of your blog. News articles could include industry news, company news, information for staff and anything new that is going on.
- Case studies – these make brilliant blog posts as they will help to sell your business. This will help visitors of your site to work out whether they want to do business with you and can lead to an increase in enquiries.
- List posts – people always like to read list posts. A example of this could be ‘top 10 reasons to avoid…’ or ‘the 5 best ways to…‘
- Stories – people love a good story, especially stories that are witty and that they can relate too. Think of any funny business stories you might have with a meaningful message.
- FAQ posts – if you are constantly fielding questions on a particular subject, or want to help people to find the answer to a question easily, then FAQ posts are a very good idea. Think of the top five most asked questions and start there.
- Employee spotlight – one way to engage with and reward your employee’s is to spotlight one each month. You could interview them or give them praise for work they have been carrying out via a blog article.
So, whether you are setting off alone or creating a corporate blogging team – here’s your checklist:
- Appoint Editor (that may just be you!)
- Create ‘Editorial/Features List’
- Brainstorm some ‘Headlines’
- Create an ‘editorial process’ / content / images / consistency
- Allocate blog posts
- Set aside an hour to blog each week / month
- Set alerts in outlook / phone for yourself
- Be conversational, be yourself (not too formal)
- Keep at it
- Give it time. Your blog is unlikely to be an overnight success.
- Be loud and proud about your blog
- Blogging is a marathon rather than a sprint. The key is to keep it at…
@Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative – the online visibility experts. A digital marketing and design agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire. The agency covers all aspects of marketing strategy and online visibility – covering social media marketing and social media training, user focused website planning and conversion focused website design.
Want to talk to the team at Carvill Creative about your blogging, marketing, social media activity or training needs? We’re happy to chat, so simply ‘get in touch’.