How to Actually Get a Link from a Blogger

earn links from bloggers

If you’ve ever been tasked with building links for a website, you know it’s earn links from bloggersone of the hardest parts of SEO. Most SEO specialists spend a lot of time sending outreach emails to bloggers asking for a link, and most of those emails go unanswered. You can easily send over 100 emails without earning one link—or, in a campaign considered successful, get one or two for all that work.

Prospect.io shared the numbers of a couple of their campaigns. Their less successful campaign earned them one link per 60 sites they reached out to, and even their more successful one only netted them 13 links per 120 sites. Total that’s over 150 people that didn’t respond—or at least, didn’t respond positively.

link building results

So why don’t most link building campaigns work?

As a blogger that receives frequent link building emails, I can provide an explanation of the main reasons most link building emails I get don’t work, as well as a description of the rare times link building outreach did get results.

Link Building Pitches That Won’t Work

The most common type of link building email I get that never yields a positive response looks something like this:

Dear Kristen (or worse, Dear Austin-copywriter.com),

I came across your piece: <link to something I’ve written>. What a useful resource!

I thought you might like to know, we recently published a piece on <related topic> which provides a ton of information that would be valuable to your readers.

Maybe you can add our link to your great piece? <their link>

It’s a polite enough email and one I can tell is applying tips that are suggested in articles around the web. It tries to demonstrate that they did some research on me to make sure the email is relevant (although actual emails sometimes undercut that point by doing this part badly). It includes flattery. And it attempts to make a case that what they’re suggesting will be useful to my audience.

But none of that really matters for some key reasons. Here’s why this doesn’t work.

It’s asking me to do more work.

Going back and adding a link to a piece that’s already published takes time out of my busy day. And in order to make sure the link is added in a way that’s natural and relevant, I’d generally have to re-write some part of the piece to make it work.

The likelihood that putting that work in would actually result in a blog post that’s better for my audience or produces better results for me is low. In most cases, it’s frankly nonexistent. The only person that work would benefit is the person sending the email—a total stranger to me.

For pieces I wrote for clients, it’s even asking me to ask my client to do more work.

Many of these emails aren’t asking me to add links to pieces on my own blog, they’re wanting me to update blog posts I wrote for clients. When I submit a piece I wrote to a client, there’s a whole level of work in between my submission and the post going up on their site. Someone does editing work, loads it to the blog, adds images, and schedules it to be published.

Making an update to that piece isn’t as simple as me going in and changing it. At that point someone else working for that client who has the right access would have to do that work. So not only would I be doing work to figure out how to update the piece so the link would fit naturally, I’d be asking my client to do extra work to go in and make changes to the live post.

That would be an awkward ask for me at best, and something that’s just not really appropriate to ask of a client when there’s no benefit to them or me.

A decent portion of the time, the email is sloppy or the link isn’t relevant.

Even if you do everything right in a link building pitch like this, you won’t get that link because of the two points above. But the majority of these emails I get don’t do everything right.

In fact, the most common page I get people asking me to add a link to is this one:

http://austin-copywriter.com/writing-samples/

If you took two seconds to read that URL and figure out why that page is not a logical target for someone else’s link building campaign, then you just did more work than most of the people sending me these emails. You don’t even have to click through—the reason’s right there in the URL that these people include in their very email.

Sometimes the pages they ask me to add links to are tag or category pages on the blog—not quite as egregious as the Writing Samples page, but still not a piece of content I could even add your link to if I wanted to.

Sometimes the subject line of the email doesn’t match the contents, an obvious copy-and-paste error. Or sometimes they get my name wrong or say things that make it clear they don’t understand I’m a freelance writer (something that’s extremely obvious in the first few seconds you spend on my site).

In short, the attempts to show they did their research and made sure the email was relevant fail, in obvious and ridiculous ways.

Link Building Pitches that Do Work

In the eight years I’ve been blogging around the web, I’ve gotten just a couple of link building pitches that actually do lead to the source earning new links.

Here’s what they did differently.

They made my life easier.

That’s it. That’s the big secret.

Instead of asking me to do more work. A good link building email finds a way to make me do less.

Specifically, these pitches:

  •      Suggested topic ideas that hadn’t been written about yet.

For many of my clients, part of my job is coming up with blog topics. I have to do a certain amount of research and brainstorming on a regular basis, which takes work and time. If you take the time to look at the blog, find a gap in the current coverage (that in some way relates to your business or content), and send a suggestion, you’re helping me out.

If you include a few links in your email to resources you’ve created that will jump start my research process on the subject, even better! And when I start writing, I’ll include a link back to those helpful resources, both as a thanks for the help, and because they genuinely provide useful, relevant information to my audience.

  •      Made sure the topics they provided were relevant to my audience.

I mentioned how the email templates that don’t work often pay lip service to thinking about my audience, but you have to go beyond lip service here. Make sure you figure out who a particular blog is targeting and suggest topics that will matter to them.

If you’re link building for a security company and contact me about a piece for a client’s blog that has an audience of seniors, your pitch should have a senior-specific angle. Don’t suggest a post on “How to Make Your Home More Secure,” go for something like “How Seniors Living Alone Can Stay Safe.”

And often getting more specific is better, since broad topics have usually already been done. Think about how you can use your expertise (or your client’s expertise) to help suggest a unique angle.

  •      Tied the pitch into to a trending topic or date.

Many of my clients love it when a piece can be tied back to a specific holiday or trending topic coming up—even the kind of goofy ones, like National Ice Cream Day (July 21, if you’re curious). Look for something that makes your pitch more timely. HubSpot has a handy calendar with all the unofficial holidays you can use in your pitches.

Keep in mind here though that some businesses plan their schedules out far in advance. Pitching a topic relevant to National Popcorn Lover’s Day (March 14) in late February may work out for you, but often looking ahead a couple of months will work better.

Start Actually Earning Links

Does this sound like more work than copy-and-pasting the same template 100 times? You betcha.

Will it get you more than one link per every 100 or more emails? Almost certainly, if you do it well.

Take time to learn who you’re contacting, who their audience is, and what the blog regularly covers. Then suggest a new post that you can be a valuable resource to help them write. That’s much more likely to earn you a link than asking them to update an old post they’ve already published.

7 Good Business Blogging Examples

Blogging has become one of the most valuable marketing tools that businesses have for improving SEO, building an email list, and connecting more directly with customers and leads. When done well, blogging can do a lot of good for your business.

But blogging isn’t easy to do well. It requires a lot of ongoing work to produce regular content, and making sure the content you publish is useful and entertaining to your audience is a constant challenge on top of that.

If your company struggles with business blogging and could use some inspiration, I’ve brought together a few good examples of businesses* that consistently produce solid blog content for their audiences.

1.    Care/of

business blogging example care/of

Care/of is a vitamin subscription service that customizes the vitamins they send to each customer based on their particular lifestyle and needs. The company’s blog includes articles that directly discuss the benefits of the supplements they sell, summarizing and referencing research studies that back up their claims. But they also publish posts less directly related to their products that address health-related topics that their target audience is likely to care about.

Some good posts that demonstrate this are:

  • Spice of Life: A Closer Look at the Benefits of All-Powerful Turmeric

    Turmeric is one of the supplements they sell, so this post is directly touting the benefits of a product, but the post manages not to feel overly promotional. It gets into the history of how turmeric has been used as both as a spice and a medicinal aid and references a number of research studies that have found evidence of its health benefits.

  • 5 Ways to De-Stress Over the Holidays

    During the holiday season, people get overwhelmed and stress becomes a big part of many people’s lives. This post covers a number of strategies that can help people reduce stress, including (but not limited to) taking some of the supplements the company provides. It’s another good example of a post that provides value first, but mentions their products where it’s relevant.

  • 7 Healthy Living Blogs You Need to Follow Now

    I call this a sharing-the-love post. It can feel unnatural to write a blog post that sends your readers to other blogs similar to yours, but people have room in their lives for more than one blog about a topic!

    By highlighting other blogs that cover health-related topics (most of them more about recipes or exercise rather than supplements, so not direct competitors to Care/of), this post provides something valuable to readers while also potentially starting positive relationships with influencers in the space.

2.    Media Bistro

business blogging example mediabistro Media Bistro helps play matchmaker for hiring managers in the media industry and the talented professionals they hire. Since the company has two equally important audiences, they produce two blogs: one for employers and one that offers career advice to media professionals.

The blog for employers is a good mix of posts that cover news relevant to hiring managers, answers to questions their readers are likely to have and general advice. Some recent examples worth checking out include:

  • Congress Weighs Massive Changes to 401(k) Contributions

    Employee benefits are something every hiring manager has on their minds, the benefits they offer and how competitive they are can make a big difference in the caliber of talent they attract. So when the government considers legislative changes that could affect the value of a common employee benefit like the 401(k), it’s something the Media Bistro audience needs to hear about. This post explains the proposed changes and what it would mean for the blog’s readers

  • Can You Hire or Fire Based on Political Beliefs?

    In the divisive atmosphere that’s followed the last presidential election, this is a question probably on the mind of more than a few hiring managers. This blog post provides both the technical answer (legally, yes, at least in most states), while also getting into the bigger question of whether or not you should factor politics into your personnel decisions.

    The career advice blog regularly publishes roundups of top jobs available in different cities – something that’s definitely valuable to readers looking for a job – along with posts that offer general career advice and answers to common questions. A few good examples to look at are:

  • 6 Ways to Track Down a Magazine Editor

    For many professional writers, figuring out the right person to pitch is a big part of the job. This post provides specific steps writers can take to discover the editors at publications they want to pitch. It’s a useful piece that solves a common problem readers have.

  • How to Land Higher Paying Assignments

    No matter the industry, any blog about careers should address the issue of money. It’s one of the biggest topics readers are thinking about. Media Bistro tackles the topic in this post, which provides specific advice on how to start making more money and backs it up with anecdotes from expert sources.

3.    Priceonomics

business blogging example priceonomics

Priceonomics has a business model based on data: tracking it effectively and putting it to good use. And they use their blog to effectively demonstrate the kind of good use their clients can put it to. Their blog posts all use data to answer common questions – or at least as often, questions you didn’t even know you had, but find yourself really interested in learning the answer to.

A lot of the content on their own blog serves as an example of collaborations with their clients. By showing the ways their customers use data to create great content, they make a case for their products, while also entertaining their readers.

Their posts are a mix of fun, useful, and just interesting information. Here are a few good examples:

  • Is There a Connection Between Bad Grammar and Bad Reviews?

    This post is a good example of a collaboration with a client, Datafiniti, a company that has a large database of products and their reviews. Once you hear the question, you probably think back to the large number of badly written negative reviews you’ve read – many of them with lots of unnecessary capital letters or confusing typos. It’s a good example of the kind of question you didn’t know you had until you heard it, and now you kind of want to know the answer, don’t you?

    The post not only answers this question (the answer is yes, if you’re wondering), but also includes a lot of interesting insights on the average length of reviews (apparently one-word reviews are quite common) and how length and spelling errors both correlate to whether a review is positive or negative. It’s a thorough and interesting analysis that does a good job of demonstrating the value Priceonomics provides to customers.

  • Ranking the Most (and Least) Nutritious Meals for Your Dollar

    This is a good example of a really useful post. If you’re someone who cares about your health (most of us) and also cares about spending your money well (also most of us), then this is the kind of information you need to make better decisions when choosing your meals. This is another collaboration with a customer – this time a company with software that helps people plan and track healthy eating.

    It tests the common supposition that healthy eating costs more (spoiler: it does). But it follows up that depressing finding with a list of healthy foods and recipes people can eat that pack a lot of nutrition for the cost. In short, it’s super useful.

4.    Grammarly

business blogging example grammarly

Grammarly sells subscription software that automatically checks customers’ writing against a number of rules and best practices to help them improve. Obviously, their audience is anyone that writes often – from students, to professional writers, to professionals who want to write better emails. Their blog posts therefore often delve into common problems and questions writers have, but they also sometimes explore fun history or weird information that curious learners (something most writers are likely to be) will find interesting.

Some good examples to check out include:

  • Want to Stop Procrastinating at Work and Get Stuff Done? Here’s How

    If I wasn’t currently hard at work on this blog post as I type, I might feel personally called out by this post. Like a lot of creative professionals and well, probably everybody else, writers often deal with procrastination. Staring at a blank Word document has a way of reminding writers about other things we could be doing.

    This post therefore addresses an issue that Grammarly’s target audience definitely cares about. It provides actionable advice that can really make a difference for a common problem.

  • Mexican Novels to Help You Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

    You know something all good writers like to do? Read! In fact, I’ve long considered reading one of the most essential tips for being a good writer. This post makes use of a timely reference (it went up on May 5) to provide Grammarly’s audience with information they’re likely to care about: recommendations for good books.

    This post technically doesn’t have anything to do with the company’s product, but that doesn’t matter. It keeps their target audience interested in the blog and more likely to come back for more.

5.    Threadless

threadless

Threadless mostly sells t-shirts, along with home décor, art, and accessories. People can buy t-shirts anywhere, so what makes Threadless really stand out is the hip and artsy personality they pack into their products. The blog continues that branding with posts that are fun, interesting, and highlight original art (including the art they put on their t-shirts and other products).

Here are a few posts that will give you a good taste of the fun personality they present:

  • No Context Needed: Overheard at Threadless

    This is a funny post that says a lot about the brand as it mixes design (each of the quotes are displayed with original illustrations) and humor. The quotes from employees around the office show the kind of light and goofy atmosphere that defines the company’s work culture and make it easy for readers to feel a connection to the brand.

  • The Cute Meets Creepy Creations of Comic Artist, Maria Ahokoivu

    This post features one of the artists whose work shows up on Threadless products. It humanizes the artist behind the work – she talks about favorite movies and pizza toppings, along with her work as an artist. And the post includes examples of her work, along with some links to specific Threadless products readers can buy. With artist interviews like this, they’ve found a human, personal way to sell.

  • 6 Tips for Making it as an Artist (And Making Money)

    Some of the people most likely to love and buy the products Threadless sells are other struggling artists trying to figure out how to get their own designs out in the world. This post provides advice for how to start profiting off your art and includes quotes from artists that have actually pulled it off. It’s valuable advice that speaks to a common struggle of the kind of people who follow and buy from Threadless.

  1. Intercom

intercom2

Intercom sells customer management software that helps businesses better organize and improve their relationship with customers and leads. As a result, they have three main audiences: marketers, sales reps, and customer support professionals. Their blog addresses topics relevant to each audience, as well as tackling issues important to anyone helping run an SaaS company. They often use their own experiences working at Intercom to provide useful advice to readers likely to face similar challenges.

Here are a couple of good examples of how they do that:

  • Motivate Your Star Performers with Meaningful Career Conversations

    For all three of the main audiences Intercom targets – sales, marketing, and customer support – one of the most important parts of success is finding and keeping good employees. This post provides specific steps that companies can take to make sure good employees want to stick around and uses examples of how Intercom does things to illustrate how the recommended process works and why it’s valuable.

  • Why Your Privacy Ecosystem is Crucial in the Age of GDPR

    This post addresses head on the biggest issue many tech companies are worried about right now: GDPR legislation. It provides useful advice on how to approach your own product and those it integrates with in order to better protect your customers’ privacy and stay on the right side of GDPR.

  1. HelpScout

good business blogging example helpscout

To promote their customer support software, the HelpScout blog provides a lot of information on providing great customer service, along with posts that more generally address how to run a business well. They regularly publish fairly long posts that include helpful tips coupled with examples that help illustrate the tips.

For an idea of what their posts often look like, here are a couple of good ones to read:

  • 22 Customer Retention Strategies that Work

    One of the many good reasons to provide great customer service is that it convinces happy customers to keep coming back – which is good for your bottom line. This post provides a lengthy list of good ways to keep customers happy once you’ve earned that first sale and backs up the recommended strategies with research and statistics.

  • Writing Support Emails: A Style Guide

    Style guides are a valuable tool for businesses that want to be consistent in the way they communicate across different channels, but they’re not commonly associated with support emails. This post provides a corrective to that. It gives specific and useful advice on how to structure emails to better provide your customers with what they need and accomplish your support goals. And it uses specific examples to illustrate the suggestions throughout.

Hopefully spending some time with good examples of business blog posts will give you the inspiration you need to get fired up writing for your own blog. Even though blogging requires a lot of work, it really can be worth it if you keep up with it and make sure you provide great blog posts that are helpful to your audience.

If you’re struggling with staying on top of all the writing that a blog requires, it’s ok to ask for help. Writing blog posts for businesses is a big part of what I do. I can take some of the load off for you. Just contact me to see if we might be a good fit.

 

*While I think all the blogs I write for are pretty great examples of good business blogging as well, I left them off the list here to avoid personal bias. Lucky for you, that means you can see even more examples of good business blogging over on my writing samples page. Enjoy.

 

6 Great Content Writing Examples

Anyone who works in content marketing is used to encountering bad examples. You get better at noticing the stuff that doesn’t work when it’s your job to make stuff that does. Because we’re so used to seeing bad examples, it feels really good to encounter examples of content writing done right.

It can give is some inspiration in our work and, if we’re the target audience, be directly useful to us as well. To provide some of you with that feeling today, I’ve collected a few examples of great content writing I’ve encountered. Enjoy.

Great Business Blogging Examples

For most companies that do content marketing, blogging is the biggest part of the job. Blogs give you the opportunity to provide fresh, useful content to your audience on a regular basis and they’re one of the best tools you’ve got for SEO.

But they’re also hungry beasts that demand lots of work and never let you take a break. That’s caused far too many businesses to try to settle for lazy, cheap content on their blogs – or give up on them entirely within a few months of not seeing immediate results.

The brands that stick with it and provide consistently helpful and high-quality content are therefore in the minority.

HomeAdvisor

Homeowners tend to have a lot of ideas for projects they want to try and questions about how to handle everyday fixes. The Home Advisor blog HomeSource is packed full of answers and tips. The blog is a mix of practical tips like how to hire a good contractor or pack for a move, along with more fun topics like decorating your home and yard.

Probably the most common questions homeowners have are those about cost. Many people – especially new homeowners – simply don’t know what’s normal to expect a home repair or update to cost. In addition to the blog itself, HomeAdvisor therefore offers a True Cost guide to give you an idea of what your budget should be before you start a project, and help you rule out any contractors that charge outside of the norm. And since the company’s business model is based on matching homeowners with the people who do those sorts of projects, they of course offer a handy CTA on the same page to help you find relevant professionals in your area.

content marketing example

Rover

Rover’s got a bit of advantage over most businesses when it comes to their content. The company is all about pets (mostly dogs) – and we all know pet pictures are one of the most popular things on the internet. But in addition to taking advantage of the love people have for pictures of cute animals, the Rover blog Daily Treat also provides a lot of useful information on topics important to pet owners, such as training and safety tips and answers to pressing questions like “do dogs recognize us on a phone screen?” (if you have a dog, you’ve probably wondered).

blogging example
They’re one of the companies that can most successfully get me to click on a link in an email, because they do a great job of figuring out the things pet owners really do want to know.

Ehrlich

If you’re thinking “sure, their content’s good, but Rover has it so much easier than those of us doing marketing in areas less compelling than the cute dog industry,” here’s an example for you. The pest control company Ehrlich has a great blog, deBugged that provides lots of useful information about bugs and other creepy crawly-adjacent subjects.

Bugs aren’t a subject most of us go out of our way to do some reading on each day, but when you need to know how concerned you should really be about Zika virus or what to do about bed bugs, those posts will come in handy. And the rest of the time, you may find posts on topics like how long wasps live to be interesting as well. Like Home Advisor, they include CTAs at the end of their content where relevant so that person trying to figure out what to do about bed bugs knows who to call to help.

blogging example

 Great Examples of Longform Content

As content marketing is adopted by more and more businesses in all sorts of industries, finding a way to stand out is a challenge. One route many businesses are taking is creating content that goes more in depth. It takes more work, but if you can pack more of the information your prospects need into one longform piece rather than spreading it over a number of shorter pieces, many people will find that more helpful.

Freshbooks

Freshbooks’ target audience for their accounting software is small businesses and freelancers. That’s a group of people that thinks a lot about pricing – figuring out how to charge for your services in a way that works for you and your customers is a fraught subject.

In order to provide them information so useful it could stand out in the marketing crowd, they put together an ebook that tackled the subject of how to switch from charging hourly to project-based pricing. The 70-page book is structured like a conversation between two relatable professionals and lays out the case for a different approach to pricing that can help service-based small business owners make more.

The book got reviewed around the web and collected positive testimonials from a number of key influencers. Not bad in our world of content saturation.

longform content writing example

Moz

I mentioned content saturation before, but arguably the industry that has it the worst is marketing. Many of the earliest adopters of content marketing were marketing agencies and marketing software companies. Producing content about marketing that doesn’t repeat what’s been said before and manages to provide something truly useful is a huge challenge businesses face. But Moz is consistently good at it.

Any time I encounter someone looking to learn the basics of SEO, I send them over to the The Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Moz. It’s thorough, but manageable. It’s written in a way to be accessible to people new to the concept and it’s organized to make it easy to focus in on specific sections when you just need a refresher on, say, keyword research.

The guide was produced several years ago, but is updated regularly to make sure the information stays accurate. It’s been read over 3 million times and continues to generate new traffic for the site.

longform content writing example

Rodale’s

For people just getting started, gardening is both exciting and overwhelming. There’s a lot you need to know and figuring out both the answers to your questions and even what questions you should have can be challenging.

In addition to their usual helpful blog content, Rodale’s also provides some longform guides that help the people in their target audience – gardeners that care about the environment – learn all the most important basics to start out with.

Their Beginner’s Guide to Organic Gardening covers using seeds, using transplants, weeds, pest control, and basic gardening vocabulary. It ensures readers can go into their local nursery with all the 101-information covered.

longform content writing example

Content marketing is hard to do well, but seeing how other brands are pulling it off can help you to revisit your own strategy to consider ways to do better.

Hopefully these examples will provide some inspiration for your own content. And if you could use some extra help with content writing for your business, that’s what I do. Get in touch to see if we might be a good fit.

Want more examples of great content writing to check out? I collected 7 great examples of business blogs in a recent post and I’ve got a whole page of content writing links by me over on my writing samples page.

Unpopular Opinion: Stop Calling Blogs Social Media

blogs aren't social mediaLanguage can be so complicated, can’t it? Especially when you’re dealing with words that are new and still evolving. The word “blog” only just came onto the scene in 1997. The first use of “social media” may have beat it by a few years, but the evidence of its earliest use is unclear. These are words that apply to technology that keeps evolving. And even as the technology itself evolves at a rapid pace, the way we use it changes even faster.

For a long time, blogging has been lumped in under the larger category of social media. I think it’s time for us to acknowledge that it no longer belongs there.

3 Reasons That Blogging Is No Longer Social Media

  • Blogs increasingly resemble media properties more than they do the content on social networking websites.

Brands have spent years trying to throw everything at the wall to see what sticks when it comes to blogging. Recently, we’ve started to gain a clearer idea of just what does work and, in most cases, it’s well researched, meaty, long-form blog posts that more closely resemble the articles common to media properties than the short and pithy posts of social media.

The difference between this type of blog post and a tweet is comparable to the difference between a magazine article and a slogan – they’re completely different types of writing, with different goals, and vastly different work processes involved. The way we talk about them should reflect that.

  • The most social thing about blogs – the comments – are only a prominent feature on a small portion of blogs.

If there’s one component of blogging you could use to really make a case for their being social media, it’s the comments. But how many blogs do you visit that don’t seem to have any comments at all, much less significant social interaction in the comments? Many prominent blogs have even done away with comments altogether, due to the increasing workload of sifting through comment spam. Copyblogger, a big proponent of calling blogs social media back in 2009, famously disabled the comments on their blog in 2014. They felt confident people would move the social component of interacting with their blog to social platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

So if the blog is for putting quality, article-like content out there and social networking platforms are for talking about them (and anything else you want to discuss), perhaps it’s time to acknowledge they’re serving different purposes.

  • The goals of a blog are different than those of a social media presence (although they’re related).

Social media is all about interaction, awareness and promotion. Blogging is about education, thought leadership, and traffic. The specific goals and KPIs for the two mediums should differ.

Social media’s a great tool for promoting your blog posts and ideally developing the community that will visit your blog, and blogging can be an opportunity to gain the trust of readers and turn them into social media followers – and both should be helping you work toward the larger goal of building trust and gaining customers. But they each have a distinct role to play within the larger strategy of content marketing.

 

When you hear the term “social media,” what do you picture? For the vast majority of us, the interfaces of Facebook or Twitter will be the main images that come to mind. I’d be genuinely surprised if you told me that the image of your favorite blog popped into your head. Blogs are a type of media, and they’re often social. But they don’t fit with how most us now use and understand the term “social media.” It’s time to acknowledge that, as important as the relationship between the two mediums is, they’re not the same thing.

5 Questions to Guide Your Blog Strategy

If your business has a blog, but doesn’t have a blog strategy yet, I just decided what the next two things on your to do list should be:

1. Finish this post. 2. Create a blog strategy.

You can’t just blog blindly. Whether you’re taking the time to write content yourself or hiring a freelance blogger, blogging has a cost. No good businessperson wants to incur that cost without taking the proper steps to get something back from it. When it comes to business blogging; that means creating a blog strategy.

The Difference a Blog Strategy Makes

Based on a 2013 study, only 20% of businesses had blogs, and over a third of those never got updated. You know how that happens, right?

Someone says, “we need a blog!”

Someone else says “Ok.”

Then no one creates a blog strategy or puts in the work to keep it updated.

An abandoned blog will do nothing for you. A blog that you’re investing time and money into that’s not getting read or driving conversions won’t do much more for you than an abandoned blog will (although you’ll be spending a lot more on it).

Creating a blog strategy can help you avoid those fates.

Here’s what you need to consider to put a good one together.

1)   What are my blogging goals?

A blog can bring in new leads and customers, but that’s not going to happen right away and it’s not always easy to determine which leads first found you through the blog. So while that can be your overall goal, when it comes to creating your blog strategy and tracking your progress, it helps to have some lower-level goals that can help contribute to that, like:

Think about why you want a blog and what you want it to accomplish for you. Your blog strategy should be based around those goals.

2)   Who am I writing for?

Hint: it’s not you. You can absolutely create a blog that’s all about the things you’re most interested in – but it shouldn’t be on your business website. Your business blog has to be about what your audience cares about.

You have to think about their problems, their questions, the types of things they normally like to read and do online and in the world at large. What you blog about and how you write needs to all come back to them.

3)   What does my audience care about?

You really want to get inside their heads here (as much as you can without being creepy, anyway). If you’re a local business in a city full of people with local pride, that should come through in your business blog. If your audience is moms who care about the environment and worry about the ecological effects of every product they buy, your blog should share that concern (and provide information that helps them make informed choices).

Do some research:

  • Pull up websites you know your customers like and look at what posts and articles are the most popular.
  • Read the comments that people in your audience write on those sites.
  • Spend time in forums.
  • Have conversations with your customers and prospects directly.

Keep a running list going where you collect all the ideas you learn so you can make sure you’re blogging about the things they care about.

4)  What’s my (realistic) blogging schedule?

If you read somewhere that you have to publish a new blog post every single day, forget it. While it’s often true that regularly posting fresh content adds up to better blogging results, that’s only true if the content is good and you keep up with it. A lot of businesses don’t have the bandwidth for daily blogging.

My one-woman business publishes once a month because I know that’s the most I can expect from myself while also getting all my client work done. The ideal isn’t to produce as much content as you possibly can, it’s to produce as much good, worthwhile content as you reasonably can. Setting your sights too high in terms of quantity will mean an abandoned blog or junk content no one wants read.

Carefully consider how much time you really have, how much time your employees really have, and how much you can afford to spend on a good freelance blogger. Then create a blog strategy and editorial schedule that’s doable.

5)  How am I going to promote my blog posts?

Don’t overlook this step. It’s one of the big things that sets successful blogs apart from those that fail. People have a lot of content to choose from out there. How are they going to find yours if you don’t create a plan to get it in front of them?

Content promotion can be part of a long-term social media and influencer strategy, it can incorporate paid media to get results faster, or it can be some combination of the two. Just make sure your blog strategy includes room for promotion (both in terms of time and budget).

 

Starting a blog is easy enough, but doing blogging that’s worth it and yields results for your business is hard. Anyone who says otherwise is misleading you. If you’re going to invest in a blog, be willing to invest enough to make it worth it. My free report on building a better blog is a good place to start in visualizing your larger blog strategy. If you could use some help with the content writing, side of things, I’m happy to help.