When I talk to Teapot Creative clients about blogging, many do not immediately see the link between websites/SEO and the blogosphere. I have heard “blogging is so last decade”, or even more extreme: “it’s so last century”. To my amusement, one person imagined I was indulgently blogging about my life! Perhaps not the best route to a massive readership.
In reality, contemporary blogging is an animal of entirely different stripes. Businesses today use fresh and vibrant blogs as a showcase of their brand authority. Blogs are the ideal vehicle for providing enticing content for social media, attracting new site visitors, and improving organic visibility to search engines.
It is true that perhaps in the world outside of websites and SEO, blogging might seem a bit passe, especially now that social media in all its various forms has taken the front row seats. But the role of blogs has certainly evolved to become a vital resource in the commercial content creation tool kit. Read on for my bloggers’ tips for beginners, ready to take you one step closer to tackling the art of blogging like a pro.
Choosing What to Blog About
First things first. The advice given to people starting out in the world of creative writing is something along the lines of ‘write about what you know’, and the same principal applies to blogging. People visiting a site that sells roofing materials would be surprised to find a blog about 18th century art. They might well find it interesting, but will it improve their understanding of roofing materials, or attract readers that want to buy said products? Unlikely.
The content of your blogs should complement the wider content of your site and must be seen as an extension of it, whether about a service you provide, a product showcase, or a relevant how-to for your customer base. Relevant topics might not make your website as sexy as one about five-star travel around the Mediterranean or the latest Hollywood films, but that is the challenge that you must rise to. A great rule to remember is that anything can be written about in a way which is interesting, informative, or entertaining. So, aim to hit one or more of these and you will be on the right course.
Don’t Be Afraid to Go off Piste, as Long as Your Destination Is the Same
While relevance is important, don’t be afraid to lace the odd blog through your main content that is a bit more off-beat, random or funny. A tenuous connection to something seemingly unconnected can entertain before coming full circle back to your brand. You might creatively play with the company’s name or location, or feature team member’s pets as mascots. By appealing to readers outside of your core market, you can generate new traffic that may well convert as people move around the site.
In this vein, we created a category on our site called Teapot Alternatives. This light-hearted blog corner, which touches on all things teapot related, counterbalances the more serious and hopefully useful posts which, with the best will in the world can get a bit ‘dry’ for readers. While some teapot fans may find these blogs without taking interest in our company, the Teapot Creative name is still spreading as a result.
Possible Hosting Options and Leveraging Links
A blog can be hosted on your own website or on another domain, and both are valuable options that offer slightly different advantages. Here at Teapot Creative our blog is part of the wider site, which means that general site visitors can discover our blog, and in turn the blog also benefits from the high SEO ranking of the site itself.
In contrast, if your up-and-coming successful blog is hosted at a different domain, the links between it and your main site will also provide a bountiful boost to SEO. Either way, links can be added in that lead to your products, services, and resources, making it easy for your readers to navigate to where you ultimately want them to go.
Set a Target Number of Blogs
One of the foremost principles of hosting a successful website is making sure that returning visitors are always rewarded for their curiosity. This makes regular blogging a powerful contribution, not to mention, a great way of giving momentum to steady traffic growth. The simplest way to go about this is to set an achievable target of at least one quality blog a week, depending on the unique scope of you and your organisation. Whether you are a one-person-band or a team of ten, set an achievable blogging target and stick to it.
Variety Is the Spice of Life
The Teapot Creative blog is, we hope an example of a collection of categorised blogs that offers plenty of variety. We strive for blogs that explore a spectrum of different subjects, and channel the voices of various members of our team as they write about their particular field of work. Giving team members the opportunity to contribute a weekly blog is an excellent move.
For people that are normally behind the scenes, having a chance to see their ideas in type and publicised widely can be exciting. This is a great way of motivating contributors and allowing their creativity to shine through, plus you get regular fresh content and a real sense of team ownership, a win, win situation. If at first things are a bit rusty – give it time, because writing is just like anything else: practice makes perfect!
Use Clear Categories
The simplest approach for making your blogs quick to find is to categorise them in terms of their content. This immediately gives the reader the option of reading just the one blog or dipping into the archives and seeing where this takes them. Through the use of anchor text, it is also easy to link back to past blogs and emulate sites like Wikipedia that lead the reader on a journey from one page to the next, getting to know your brand in the process.
Keep Track of Your Hits
Your blogs will not necessarily set the blogosphere ablaze but stick at it for this is certainly a realm in which perseverance pays off. Tune in to which blogs perform the best and let that guide your ongoing strategy. Quality writing, original content and useful advice is what people want and once they discover that you provide this they will keep coming back for more – and hopefully spread the news.
Make It Visual
Dropping a picture or two into your blog, either from your own collection of photos or from a free use site is a great way of grabbing attention. Not only will this catch people’s eye, but if you share the blog on social media then a miniaturised version of the photo will appear with your post.
Our opening blog in the series about content ideas has a photo of a gorilla from a free use site. Before you ask why I chose a gorilla, this was because the title of the blog is a rather poor play on words involving King Kong and Content. Finding a free use picture of King Kong proved rather tricky so I opted for the gorilla picture instead. I still think that it helps the blog to come to life and provides some visual interest before the reader gets stuck into the blog itself.
How Many Words?
Try to put yourself in the readers shoes: long blogs are great when you have a mug of tea, a comfy chair, and a bit of time to sit back and get stuck in. On the other hand, shorter ones are ideal for those quick breaks when the brain seeks an inspiring diversion. There is a balance to strike between what you want to share and holding your readers attention. If you are tackling a big subject then there is always the option of breaking it down into smaller chunks, which will avoid readers drifting away like autumn leaves on a windy day!
As a rule of thumb for minimum number of words here at Teapot Towers, we stick to 200-300 words or more. This gives scope for a quick blast of a paragraph or two, somewhat akin to tweeting, through to medium and long blogs. A random mixture in terms of word count works best, as this covers all bases whilst keeping things fresh and interesting for your readers.
And Finally… Give Your Blogs Wings
Once you have completed and published your blog, make sure you ping it out to the world through your various social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. This will immediately raise the chances of people actually finding it, especially in the early days, and hopefully of them sharing it too. Remember to make those posts and tweets nice and snappy, casting out a line to attract people back to your site. Stand out from the crowd with clever titles, attractive images, and interesting ideas.
So, there you have it: a whistle-stop starter guide to blogging. It may be just one aspect of your content creation toolkit, but with a little effort blogs can provide meaningful reward for your readers and increasing customer conversions for you. Don’t forget to explore the Teapot Creative blog if you would like a little more inspiration to get you going!