How to write a successful blog for start-ups and small businesses

By Matt James
Photo by Andrew Neel

Writing a blog is a great way to grow your business and add value for your clients, creating a space to let you and your brand’s unique identity shine. Blogs can be a fantastic way to communicate directly with your customers and attract new ones, but with so many company blogs out there sitting unloved and unread in a dusty corner of Google’s search rankings how can you ensure that your blog avoids a similar fate?

Unsurprisingly, there’s no secret trick that will guarantee you visibility – but by adhering to some key principles you can ensure that your blog finds its audience.

Quality is key

The first and most important point is that your blog’s success rests on the quality of its content. Weird right?! It sounds obvious, but this basic principle is often overlooked. You want to give your readers a reason to return, so make sure your articles are relevant, informative, and well written.

Some of the biggest mistakes small businesses make when creating their blog are a lack of consistency and a messy, unfocused approach to the content they upload. I once worked for a small company maintaining and updating their blog. We posted a lot, chased SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) rankings, and did what we thought we needed to boost visibility; where were the readers?

The fundamental problem was a lack of consistent quality. Among our long form articles about our products and features on our suppliers were short articles reproducing our recent print advertising (usually with a badly formatted image), or links to obscure French pop music on YouTube. While we attempted to create informative and interesting content that related to our products and services, it was lost among the sheer quantity of irrelevant posts that added nothing of value for our customers.

It is vital to remember that your company blog is a key asset of your business, and the digital space you create should maintain the high standards that the rest of your business holds. Ask yourself at every stage: ‘how does this content give value to my readers?’ Don’t be afraid to write long articles just because you think nobody will read them; if your article is informative and useful then it already holds intrinsic value. Have confidence that your expertise is worth sharing!

Understand your audience

Photo by Antenna

Chances are you already have a good idea of the key demographics you want to target, so ensuring that your subject matter relates to the interests and concerns of your audience is key to running a successful company blog. It’s amazing how many companies forget this point, so just remember this is a space for you to expand on the identity of your business and not to share your own personality with the world!

To talk to your audience, you need to ensure that your tone of voice is consistent with the rest of your brand messaging. A young and vibrant startup company that uses chatty, conversational dialogue in its product descriptions should carry that laid-back style through to its blog, drawing the reader in and giving a sense that the customer can share in the identity of the brand. Conversely, industries where professionalism and formal language are more highly valued, such as financial services or real estate, need to build trust with readers and project a sense of reliable expertise. Having a consistent tone of voice is central to establishing a strong and reliable brand identity.

Once you’ve determined how you’re going to talk to your readers, it’s important to keep your subject matter closely related to your industry. Ask yourself, what are the current trends or issues affecting my area of business? What would my readers like to know more about? Staying up-to-date with developing trends allows you to anticipate subjects that might be of interest, and lets you position your blog as an authoritative source of relevant information.

With each blog post try to answer a question your readers might have, or unpick some myths about your industry. Over time, these targeted and purposeful posts will turn your blog into a valuable resource for anyone seeking information on a specific subject – building trust and confidence in your central business while hopefully attracting new customers. Don’t forget to end your posts with a clear call to action that drives readers back to your site: invite people to check out your product range or find out more about your services.

Don’t Fear SEO

Photo by Merakist

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) has been the bane of many a blogger’s life over the past few years. The concept of packing your posts with specific keywords or phrases to drive your blog higher up Google’s search rankings has been debated to death, and a huge amount of conflicting advice is out there on the internet.

Undoubtedly you want your blog to be seen, and over the past few years companies have been desperately trying to climb their way to the front page of google by inserting inordinate amounts of subject-specific keywords into their posts. While many companies have used these keyword tactics to their advantage, changes to Google’s algorithm have since made it much harder to exploit such loopholes. Nowadays, blogs are rewarded for a more conversational tone and a natural writing style; in other words, content written by humans, not bots (or humans attempting to write like bots!).

Ultimately, this is good news: it means that quality content, with the right headline, will stand a good chance of finding its audience. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential readers, and ask yourself what sort of headline would you want to click on? Beyond this, ask yourself what you would type into your search bar to find information. People are increasingly using long form sentences to search for information, like ‘what to know before buying a house’ or ‘reliable estate agents in South London’, so bear this in mind when crafting your headlines!

There are a number of great resources out there that will help demystify the world of SEO; I’ve listed a couple below that will get you started. Just remember that great content comes first and the readers will follow.

Happy blogging!

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Matt James is a freelance writer, blogger and copy editor. One that the Listening Partnership can highly recommend. Contact him on his Linkedin profile