While having a blog can be a great way for businesses to get and keep customers interested, so many miss the mark. We’ve all seen them before- the blog that’s basically a series of advertisements for the company and their products, or the blog that’s a ghost-town where it seems that the only activity in years is the series of tumbleweeds blowing by. So, what does it really take to get and keep business blog readers interested? I have asked the CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to provide their best tips. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice some similar ideas, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Remember Your Elevator Pitch
You only have 30 seconds or fewer to get someone's attention in a business blog. Get your first 140 characters (or fewer) to say as much as possible- without pretentiousness!
And do it with a smile!
There is nothing worse than being a know-it-all with a frown. It shows!
2. Become Unforgettable
The best way to make a business blog successful is to forget hard selling your products/services. Lead with growing your email list and a community of followers that come to rely on the information you share.
Focus on providing resources for your audience that are packed with value and solve their problems.
Be consistent in your delivery and they will keep coming back for more.
The next time they are looking to buy a product/service similar to yours, your brand will be top of mind.
3. Stand Out as a Challenger
Be seen and be heard. It's a platform to attract attention. Isn't that the purpose?
Getting noticed is a risk. Share your expertise. Don't write something that's vanilla. Make it spark and sizzle.
To stand out in a crowded space means going deeper into your topic.
*Share your opinion
*Bust an old school myth
End your blog with a distinct challenge question for engagement.
Your challenge: Choose 3 hot topics and then set a post date.
4. It's All About Them!
The purpose of the blog is not to make company announcements. Sure, that's one thing you can do, but most of the posts should be about what interests your readers, even if not all of it is about your company. If you sell to pet stores, some posts can be about pets, some about pet owners, some about tax tips and some about how to use your product.
5. Visuals with Color Theory
To really capture a reader's attention, a strong visual image should be presented as well. This image should make excellent use of color theory in its design. The right balance of hue, shade, and tint in combination with a solid composition will draw a reader into your tale.
6. Action Oriented Advice
The best business blogs, or really resources in general, provide specific action oriented advice. At the end of the day, results are based on what gets done. Clear advice on things that have worked effectively will keep your readers coming back for more.
7. Stop it!
Too many entrepreneurs are trying to do it all by themselves, afraid to hire a support team. They say they cannot afford to do it; truthfully, you cannot afford NOT to hire support for your blog.
Seriously, you cannot do it all yourself! 6-7 figure entrepreneurs have their Dream Teams; they did not do it alone. Time to evaluate how much time you are working "in" your business times your hourly rate = how much you are leaving on the table.
Get support- hand off the things that you are not called to do!
8. Give to Get
My blog has done quite well and I believe the reason for its success is that I make my blog posts helpful resources for people. People want help and tips - they don't want to read ads disguised as blog posts. So, provide your readers with helpful information that will truly help them and they will share your content on social media and they will keep coming back to read your newest blog posts.
9. Sales-y Bad, Valuable Good!
People are sick to death of constantly getting bombarded with sales pitches. If your blog entries are too "sales-y" and just shamelessly promote your products and services, readers will ignore your site. Instead, provide valuable information ("how to" pieces, top 5 tips, industry news, etc.) that your target audience can actually use. This will brand you as a subject matter expert.
10. Give Unconditionally
Give your readers the best possible value that's within your power to provide.
Whether that's a tutorial, a free cheat sheet or an in depth blog post - if you show your audience that you're invested in giving them only the very best content, they'll recognize that and return that generosity with their own loyalty.
You're showing your readers that even though you have a business to run, you're not compromising their own user experience.
11. Blog Attraction Screams VALUE
You are intimately familiar with your clientele by knowing their needs, wants and deep down desires. Blogging with these in mind, selflessly sharing the best of what you know, delivers the value. Helping your prospective clientele improve their own work serves to attract throngs of registrants to your blog. Making it a habitual practice to blog frequently while offering high quality will help build a global presence and increased clientele leading you to the Smooth Sale!
12. Flow From Feedback
Encourage two way communication; use the questions and followers that visit the blog to generate new content.
Don't be scared of asking your visitors questions, adding their suggestions into the copy you generate, and thanking people as you go.
Expand the blog with a google/skype hangout or live event. This can be recorded, so that you can either publish a podcast to drive traffic to the blog or to offer it in exchange for premium membership to the site.
People will join if you interact.
13. The One Most Important Thing
If you write great content but nobody reads it, what's the point? The initial step in getting people to read your blog posts is to pique curiosity, and the title is the way to do that. I subscribe to over 100 blogs. With the several hundred posts they add to my Feedly daily, together with suggested posts which appear on Twitter, I cannot read everything. For me, what to read versus what to skip boils down to a title which grabs me versus one which does not.
14. Give 'Em More
On a regular basis, offer a free worksheet, tip sheet, template or white paper at the end of your blog post. This free goodie should be directly tied to the subject of your post. You could create the page the goodie is linked to as a landing page requiring the visitor to part with their name and email to add them to your mailing list. So, you've now killed two birds with one stone - you've built good will by giving away good free information and you've added them to your mailing list!
15. Content is King
Content is king in all correspondence, especially blogs. Specific content relating to an issue or topic that is current in today's economy or a particular industry is even better. Pick a topic, describe or explain it, and then offer possible solutions. Why especially in blogs? Because people have subscribed to your blog and you should be respectful of their participation and time.
16. Be Relevant
If you want to create interest and fan loyalty, you've got offer your Tribe (followers) information they actually want to hear about in a way that they recognize.
In short, Be Relevant! Provide up to date insights, tips, tools, systems, techniques, stories, pictures, reviews, apps, and graphics that will help them grow and expand both personally and professionally.
17. Be 'Silver Tongue' Relevant
Provide the tightest and most actionable content as possible, laced with a 'silver tongue' [powerful and persuasive/moving speech.]
Want proof? Author Rick Frishman advised in 'Author 101,' "take chances; be provocative, naughty and controversial."
Author/poet Maya Angelou once said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said and what you did, but people will never forget how you made them FEEL.”
See? You're welcome.
18. Did You Hear That?
It's that question your clients are asking! Rather than having an aneurism attempting to be cute or creative, listen to the questions your clients are asking - chances are they're not the only ones after the answer. Real, practical information trumps BS all day, every day.
19. Blog Like a Celebrity
Want a successful business blog? Read celebrity blogs. Why? Because celebrities connect with their audience by writing posts for their target audience; they know who they are. For example, if Celebrity A is a mom, she may write about tips and tricks, such as how to travel with your kids without stressing out. If Celebrity B is a vegetarian, recipes and seasonal produce will keep readers interested. Celebrities also know that multi-media, such as images and videos, will keep readers engaged.
20. Unique & Helpful Info!
If you want people to read your blog and share it with others, then you have to do two things. First, you actually have to provide useful information that people will be interested in and will be of use in their life. And second, you have to present it in a way that is actually... lively & interesting!!! Do those two things and you will have a successful blog.
21. Share Yourself
Providing personal insight into a situation can often resonate more with a reader than black and white facts. This allows a reader to understand you more as a person. Rather than reading how a large percentage of the population recovered from some event or development, explain how you bounced back from that same problem, and then use the research-related facts to supplement your post. Also, the addition of pictures and images provides a strong connection for readers (create images if you can).
22. Positive Value!
The one piece of advice I would give to people who want to start a successful business blog is make sure that all posts have a positive theme that will provide some value to the reader. People are more likely to read a blog if they will receive some benefit as a result and will be more attracted to a positive message.
23. Be Relevant!
Being relevant is key!
Of course, this assumes that you know your audience - what interests them?
What do they want to hear... from you?
What will keep their attention and make it worthwhile to read what you have to say?
Just as there's nothing better than a good marriage and nothing worse than a bad one, there's nothing better than receiving valuable information and nothing worse than having one's time wasted.
People are busy - add value, quickly!
24. Share Valuable Information
The key to developing a good business blog is to share valuable information that your readers can learn from. To keep your readers coming back, you need to teach them things they don't already know and can benefit from. If you share valuable information that's beneficial in their lives, your business blog will thrive!
25. Give 'Til It Hurts
Yes, the internet is incredibly competitive and you must be willing to invest more time and energy than anyone else. Take a look at the most successful bloggers in your space and develop an extensive strategic plan to dominate your Blogging Niche.
The plan should be all encompassing and very creative. Remember, being the “Best of the Best” only comes with a total effort and requires a long term commitment. Keep in mind – Hard Work Is a Lifestyle.
26. Address Customer Needs
Answer a question, no matter how simple, that your customers frequently ask. Create a post with a simple answer that you can refer them to.
27. Mini-Series for Substance
Build a mini-series of articles on a specific topic and spread them out over a few days or weeks (or even months). It builds consistency and substance. It also helps to prioritize blogging in your busy schedule. You can even create them all at once and schedule them for the future, increasing your efficiency. Then, also find areas to submit the articles as a guest blog in a slightly amended or summarized version with links back to your own blog. See your expert status grow with your mini-series!
28. Get High With Your Blog!
I would say that the most important thing is to BE TIMELY! Since you’re going to be writing frequently in the blog, work with what's going on in the world to help you.
For example, a human resources blog might springboard off the recent problems of the NFL. Also, ANY time you can weave marijuana legalization into an article, readership goes through the roof! It involves so many issues in society, you're certain to get great readership on this topic. And no, I’m not smoking anything!
29. Teach, Don't Preach
Your business blog should not be a promotional tool but rather, a teaching tool. Put as much effort as you can into teaching others how to do what your company does. Show your readers how complicated your product or service actually is and teach them how to solve industry problems. Those looking to solve the problems themselves who find your content will do it themselves; those who can't will need to hire someone to solve that problem. You will be top of mind for these people and seen as an authority.
30. Stick Out From the Crowd
Want to run a successful business blog? Develop your persona. Many bloggers focus on a high activity level or creating graphics that never gain any traction, but creating and building on a specific persona sets a foundation for growth. With countless blogs to follow, readers want something that sets you apart, and the best way you can do that is with your own persona. We recommend consistent activity and high quality, informative content, of course, but it begins with your persona.
31. Don't Keep Secrets
Don't be afraid to give up industry secrets in your blog. Too many businesses hide info to try to compel the customer to contact them and instead, just market themselves heavily - this is wrong. Be open and free with your information. You'll be branded as the expert and be the one people turn to for help. Remember, most people may want to know how you do what you do, but don't want to actually do it themselves.
32. Research Keyword Phrases
Research keyword phrases that relate to the services or products that you're selling (there are many tools available) and feature them in your blog articles starting with the headline. For example, to promote branding services to small business, I would research long-tail keyword phrases related to 'how to brand my business.' And in turn, select a widely used phrase and include it as the title of my next blog post. For example: 'Branding ideas for small business.'
33. Make Your Blog Interactive
I have found that when blogging, the posts that are interactive with the audience get the most traction. When I write a blog that speaks to the reader, such as question/answer posts, posts with images including "click to tweet" links at the end of each blurb, or anything else that breaks up paragraphs, the hits I get on that blog nearly double. The audience wants to feel like they are engaging with you, not just reading a block of straight copy which probably won't resonate with them for long.
34. Create Community
Don’t just dispense wisdom; ask a question at the end of each post that inspires real conversation and debate. Respond in a timely manner with warm engagement that expands on their thinking. Find ways for active community members to contribute in other ways, such as guest posts. Provide members of the community an opportunity to share links to their best posts on a given topic.
35. The Consistent Blogging Fault
SMBs often face one fault with blogging: consistency. Check blog posts by date and you see a trend. Initial posts are made for a few weeks. Next, post frequency increases. A few more weeks and the time-consuming blog is burdensome, so they post less frequently. Frequency isn't the issue; consistency is. Multiple posts in a month for a short time and then going silent leads to lost interest and a forgotten blog. Consistently posting just once per month is more effective than inconsistent posting.
36. Know Your Readers Inside Out
Know what your readers want. Study them and build an image of a 'typical' reader, and highlight their needs, wants and desires using tools freely available on the Internet: google trends, analytics and keyword planner, to name a few. This helps you understand and give them what they want. This is how we discovered what our readers wanted. Taking advantage of new trends in the holiday market, we are generating a new income from home in a lifestyle business.
37. Be Prepared!
Too many blogs fail because the content creators have not planned for when they will be too busy to write, publish or market content. Therefore, the best practice is to create a bank of articles that will see you through at least one month, if not three, so when you are busy, you have backup content. However, businesses should never use this as an excuse not to write - you should always be creating content.
38. Consistency is the Key!
When developing a blog, the best advice I have been given and give to people is consistency. People create an expectation in their minds about what they are going to learn about and the style of writing when they latch onto a blog. They want to know that if it is a marketing blog, they are not going to be reading about food and vice versa. As well, the style of writing and the way the blogs are laid out should be consistent so that people get used to seeing what they want time over time.
39. Build Your Network
The best advice for a successful business blog boils down to one word: Networking.
By networking with bloggers and influential people in your field, you expose your blog to entirely new audiences through exchange-marketing opportunities like guest posting. In addition, you have instant credibility with this new audience, since you are essentially getting a recommendation from someone who is respected in your field, which boosts your stock more than anything you could say about yourself.
40. Think Outside the Blog
Focus on a topic you know or recently experienced. Then, cleverly tie it in with the product or service.
41. Keep Your Content Jaw-Dropping
My biggest piece of advice for anyone looking to start a successful business blog is to be shocking, and if possible, controversial. It's important to provide information to your readers that is new, extremely engaging, and valuable.
Just remember, nobody wants to follow a follower.
42. Make it Visually Stimulating!
To create a successful blog, make it visually stimulating. Blogs are typically meant for written content, but it is essential to break up the text with pictures, infographics, or colored headlines to engage readers. This helps guarantee readers will stay on your page. Additionally, readers tend to simply skim over blogs and articles. Utilizing vibrant text, interesting infographics or callouts will help draw your readers to the most vital information you want them to read and take away.
43. Draw Them In
The Blog should have a person being able to relate to what you are saying.
It should have the reader asking themselves questions.
It should arouse the reader's curiosity.
Leave the reader wanting to hear/read more.
It should have the reader wanting to make an inquiry to you.
It should have the reader saying "Yes, yes, yes, right on", feeling a connection to whatever you are saying.
It should make them want to share the blog and tell others to read your blogging.
44. Tips on Creating a Blog
A blog is an entertainment platform to share thoughts and opinions in a favorable fashion. A publicist starting a blog working in the Public Relations industry must stay on top of the competitive edge. The average day is 95% spent on building, developing and creating the perfect content to attract readers. A blog should consist of informative, influential, and engaging facts and resources relatable to a large target of audiences. In essence, blogging is fun, so enjoy!
45. Blog Daily to Build Readership
Write your blog content every day if possible to build your audience. It can be onerous to write that many blogs, but you can write a month's worth of blogs in one day and post throughout the month. Consistent blogging creates more keywords to search against and draws in more readers.
46. Mother's Know Best
My one tip for a successful business blog would have to be to write content so unique and interesting, no matter what topic it is on, your own mom
would read it and find it interesting (my mom hates reading in general, so this would be quite the achievement, but also proves that your content is
most likely ready for prime time).
47. Get a Personality
Be open with your reader, talk to them like the blog is actually you. People read pages of information each day, much of it bland and without personality. You can stand out by adding in a bit of emotion, humor, or mentioning something from within your life (i.e. I was visiting the Zoo on Sunday and the monkeys made me think about crowd-sourcing or whatever). These are your ideas, your thoughts - people like people at the end of the day, so be yourself and let your personality show.
48. Tailored Influencer Outreach
When researching topics that are popular and likely to gain some interest, you must do some research. Buzzsumo is a great tool for this, as it finds already popular content along with people that have shared it. This is your target market.
Maximize the potential of each blog post by sharing it with those who have an interest in your niche, ask for their thoughts and include them in your post. This way, you get influential people talking about your article and extend your reach.
49. Research Your Readers!
For a successful business blog, you must create the content your audience is searching for. Find out what your customers and prospects are interested in and want to know about you, your company, your industry, your products and services.
There are a lot of ways to find out what your readers want: surveys, creating buyer personas, keyword research, social media, etc. Once you know what your readers want, you can interest them by creating the content they're already looking for.
50. Get Inside Your Reader's Head
Create an online survey to ask your readers what they want. The responses will help make your future content direction clear. You'll know what topics readers want more of and which products they want you to develop.
To make an effective survey and get lots of responses, you need to keep it short (max 5-7 questions that can be answered in 5 minutes or less) and filled with open-ended questions and multiple-choice questions versus yes/no type questions.
51. Get Down to the Nitty-Gritty!
Specific details on how to do something or solve a problem inspires readers to try it themselves and elicits a response. Drill down to the tiniest details on the topic or a step-by-step in a how-to inspired blog. For instance, if you blog about refinishing furniture, don't just say "next you sand and paint the piece." Instead, tell me the name, brand, and grade of sandpaper you used to sand the surface and what kind of paint was used, how it was applied, and where to buy it. Get nitty-gritty!
52. Befriend Before Business
A successful business blog starts with the right voice. The voice of your company should be the voice of your audience. Your fans want to listen to a friend, not a business associate.
The most powerful blog posts are those which have informative content for the customer, in a voice of a friend. It is important to remember, your audience wants to laugh, cry, smile, and think, before ever being pitched to. Use your voice to make your audience feel at home and they will reward you.
53. Put in the Groundwork First
I find that the more preparation I do beforehand, the less likely I am to get hit by writer's block. This includes researching topics and fleshing out ideas the day before I plan to write them up, as well as getting any other tasks done first which I think might play on my mind. Shutting my emails down for the first 20-30 minutes also helps me to get the hardest part out of the way without any distractions.
54. This Got Me 6,000+ Subscribers
In less than 5 years, I've gone from being a nobody with 0 readers to 6,000+ subscribers and becoming a recognized (and sought after) industry thought leader by doing these three things:
1) I update at least once-often twice-a week to keep the site visually fresh;
2) I focus on evergreen content, as opposed to current news, to keep readers coming back for information that doesn't go stale; and,
3) I use HARO to interview my audience, because readers benefit from seeing their name in print.
55. Make Them Want More
A blog is like a T.V series, no matter how interesting it is, you have to leave them wanting more. Every post needs a cliff hanger or at least a tease of what's to come. Your posts should flow together, in a series, each one providing another part of an overall question you are answering. But it's a delicate balance, give your audience too much information in one post and they have no reason to read the next; give them to little and they have no desire to read the next.
56. Bigger Topics- Bigger Audience
A successful business blog provides continuous information on relevant and diverse topics to a continuously increasing number of followers. The best blogs appeal to a wide audience and they skillfully use humor and story-telling to impart valuable information in a way that readers can’t help but remember.
57. Tips for a Business Blog
Have a focus, but be willing to go off-topic. It's good to have a clear focus when it comes to your blogging topics, but too much of anything can be a turn-off. Be willing to introduce new topics or a new way to look at a common topic to add interest and increase engagement. Mix up your format. Try mixing in a few shorter posts or adding images to see if it changes your page views. You can even consider throwing in an occasional video post to add a new level of interest.
58. Don't Be Average
Successful blogs keep in mind that the content must focus on topical expertise, a specific audience and the unique perspective the writer holds on his topic. It will be content that informs and inspires, yet at the same time be written in such a way that the reader should agree or disagree with it. There’s enough middle-of-the-road content available. Business audiences are eager for original, thoughtful and incisive thinking that helps them see the world and their work in a different way.
59. Look Out, Look In
To be a success at blogging, you need to have faith in yourself and your message, be succinct in your delivery, and be open to the influences of others who may currently be more successful than you. Look at the elements that help others succeed and see whether you can successfully and AUTHENTICALLY incorporate them into your writing style. External influences can help your inner muse blossom. Don't be afraid to experiment. And don't be afraid to ask your audience what they want to hear about!
60. Scanability/Readability is Key
When it comes to writing blog posts, scanability, or readability, goes a long way. You have slightly over an instant to hook a reader. When a post is scanable, you’ll see increased time on the page and repeat visits.
• After a brief intro paragraph, jump right into a list.
• Break up the post with headings to make it digestible.
• Leverage bullet points when sections are unnecessary (like so).
• Always include engaging and shareable content to illustrate your points.
61. Write Experientially
Write experientially. Use sensory language: describe how things look, sound, feel, taste, smell. Connect these sensations to emotions like excitement, frustration, panic, fury, envy or joy. This helps the reader to not just understand your words, but to feel them too. The driest business topic can enthrall if you connect it to experiences, whether it's being tediously stuck at the office while everyone else has gone home or the smell of cut grass while teeing off with a new client.
62. A Blog's Compounding Interest
Blogging is a fantastic investment. Like any investment, though, you must make continuous deposits - called posts - over time before you realize the incredible return. Invest more, get more! With analytics, you can monitor the content that's working, promote it socially, and have a call-to-action with a landing page to collect your leads. Can't think of a topic? Check your email "Sent Folder" for blog post ideas. You've already written more content than you realize when answering sales inquiries!
63. Practice KISS!!
I believe for writing a good business blog, one needs to keep these keywords in mind:- Knowledge, Infographics, Simplicity and Short.
First and foremost is the knowledge that the blog shares. It's very imperative to be up to date with domain knowledge and it requires lot of reading from good sources.
Secondly, good information needs good presentations and that's where infographics are great way to communicate.
Then, one should strive to make posts as simple and short as possible.
64. Quality, Reliable, Consistent
These qualities allow a blog to be viewed as a resource for the reader. Since they know the content will be good, they return time and again. Our legal blog could be dry, but we try to focus on different types of issues relevant to businesses today like Patent Trolls and trending items like the Star Bucks Parody. We also throw in non-legal items as well that we feel will be of interest to our readers.
65. Awesome Comments Section
A blog that nurtures the ecosystem of contributors in the comments section will enhance readership and make the blog a must read. I often find the best business blogs have the most engaging and thought provoking content in the comments section. This fact is always a function of the blog being a place where intelligent people create additional value with insightful commentary. A smart business blog will develop relationships with the best commenters as a source for procuring topical content.
66. Make It Clear and Actionable!
It’s critical to communicate simply and clearly. One of the biggest detriments to communication is trying to demonstrate your intelligence and vocabulary. Remember: memorable is doable. So, make it easy to understand, easy to remember and easy to take action. Think about what inspires and motivates you. Give examples and tell stories to connect with readers. That will make your message valuable to them, and they will remember and appreciate YOU!
67. Make It Conversational
As a small business owner in the creative arts business, sharing my story has provided lots of followers, who can relate to the growing pains of starting and running a small business.
My writing style is conversational and that's what captures them. It's like they are talking with me while they read. I write so they can smile, think or even laugh out loud at my foibles.
I just hope to make a difference in their day- and that they want to read more.
68. Mix It Up
Diversify the way you present content. Keep your readers' attention spans by varying post lengths (long, medium, short) and using Q&A interview notes instead of first or third person narratives. Use different mediums to get your point across - posting videos and photos with a quick paragraph attached helps gives readers quicker insight on the post. Want to share industry insights and not take credit or do more than quote another source? Have guest bloggers contribute occasionally.
69. Draw the Reader in
You need a compelling headline with a good picture. You are competing for attention from FaceBook and elsewhere. A catchy headline and image can draw the reader in. List type of headlines do best for many industries.
70. Leverage Current Events
Maintaining a successful business blog takes time. My one piece of advice would be to spend the time required and do research to make your blog posts relevant to your readers by leveraging current events. This way, your blog post will come up in search terms when people look for current news, introducing your company to new audiences and demonstrating that your brand is on top of current trends, engaged, and relevant. This will keep readers interested in coming back for more. I recommend designating an employee to focus 50% of their time, or more, on the blog to give it the time it deserves.
71. Be Painfully Open and Honest
The most important piece of blogging guidance we provide to our clients is to be as open and honest as possible. Sometimes, painfully so. Whether you're B2B or B2C, if your blog comes across as being full of PR speak and generalities, it will never build an audience. On the other hand, if you truly show it all, you'll more quickly amass a larger following.
Sharing difficulties, failures and financial details can all lead to a much more compelling blog, which ultimately furthers your brand.
Do you have another tip for a successful business blog that wasn’t included? Please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!