Is it time to start a blog for your business? It’s commonly said that a blank piece of paper is the hardest thing. But fear not! Starting a blog isn’t actually the hardest thing in the world — that’s probably something like quantum chemistry.
Starting a blog for your business is actually pretty simple, especially when you follow our six simple steps:
How to Start a Blog in 6 Easy Steps
- Set a realistic objective for your blog
- Add a blog section to your website
- Work on the layout and decide on a style guide
- Analyse your target audience
- Do keyword research for your blog
- Create a blog schedule
1. Set a Realistic Objective for Your Blog
Why are you starting a blog? If your answer is “I need a blog because everyone else has a blog”, it’s time to take a step back and think about what you want to achieve with your blog. Come at the problem with the “five whys”. The five whys technique is an effective way of understanding your motivation for something. It consists of asking yourself why five times in a row.
Why are you starting a blog?
Because everyone else is doing it!
Why is everyone else doing it?
Because they’ve heard that good blog content can improve a site’s traffic.
Why do you want more traffic to come to your website?
Because I want visitors to stay on the website and I want some of them to become customers.
Why do you want more customers?
Because I barely have enough customers at the moment to break even.
Why do you need to break even?
Because I have no financial backing and without breaking even, the business will go bust.
If your five whys go a little like the example above, you should realise that you need your blog to make a substantial ROI in the short term, so you might decide to write a number of conversion-focused blogs. If your five whys go a little differently, for example, if you have funding for the next few years but are worried about what will happen then, then you should adjust your course accordingly. The aim of your blog might be to attract new investors down the line!
Once you’ve discovered why you want to start a blog, decide on some goals that align with that wider goal. For example, if you want to attract potential customers, your goals for each blog should do one of three things: 1) improve your Domain Authority, 2) improve the amount of traffic coming to your site or 3) improve your site’s conversion rate.
2. Add a Blog Section to Your Website
Your business should already have a website. If you don’t yet have a website set up, I highly recommend you go and get that sorted straight away before you do anything else. While we’re on the subject, please don’t create a separate site for your blog or add your blog as a subdomain on your existing site. The official advice from Google is that subdomains and subfolders are treated equally. In practice. SEO professionals (ourselves included) often find that it’s easier to rank on a subfolder than a subdomain.
For most small businesses, it’s simple enough to add a “Blog” section to your website’s menu and direct visitors that way. If your menu is already cluttered — most likely because you have an eCommerce site and the menu contains links to different product categories — then you might have to place the link to your blog in an out-of-the-way place, such as your website’s footer. Be aware that this usually means you’ll get less traffic!
3. Work on the Layout and Decide on a Style Guide
As with brand guidelines, deciding on a layout and style for your blog will save a lot of work later on. We work with a lot of small businesses who blog on and off over the years without much of a structure. Going back over these blogs to give them a consistent look and feel is a mammoth task that can be avoided with some forward planning.
Some things to consider include image placement, capitalisation rules for titles and headings, an internal link structure, how the user will navigate between blogs, whether or not to allow comments and much more. Don’t forget author profiles, social sharing functions and the placement of any calls to action (CTAs)! For an example of a blog that ticks many boxes, take a look at the Ahrefs blog.
4. Analyse Your Target Audience
Defining your target audience is a whole new topic, one that we explored more thoroughly in one of our most successful blogs (how to define your target audience). But it’s well worth touching on here because too many bloggers skip this step.
If you’re an existing business, the simplest way to understand your target audience is to take a minute to speak to your sales team. Your sales team will be talking to your customers day in, day out, so they should have a fair idea of what your typical customers look like. In most cases, it’s absolutely fine to assume that your future customers will look similar to the ones that you’re currently attracting.
If you have a website that gets visitors, then you can also get demographic information about the people visiting your site. Start by heading to Google Analytics and enabling demographics and interest reporting. Once this is enabled, you should get information about your users’ age, gender and “affinity categories” in about a day or so. The drawback of this approach is that it only gives you information about the people currently visiting your website. It’s possible that there are people out there who would like your website but haven’t yet found your site.
5. Do Keyword Research for Your Blog
As an SEO agency, it’s no surprise that we take keyword research extremely seriously. Keyword research enables you to see the questions people are asking that are relevant to your business. Better yet, you can see important metrics such as the number of people asking a given question per month and the level of competition there is among advertisers per keyword.
When doing keyword research, it’s important to consider the searcher’s intent for each keyword. If someone types “buy an iPhone X” or something similar into Google, then the searcher has clear commercial or transactional intent. They want to buy a product. Typically, you should target this type of keyword on a particular product or service page, rather than a blog.
Sometimes you’ll see what we call an informational search. An example might be “Which phone has the best camera 2019”. The searcher is looking for a piece of content that will answer their question. If you have a website that sells phones, you might decide to create a piece of content that allows users to compare phones by camera quality.
One last trick here! It’s always worth putting your target keyword into Google and seeing what your competitors are up to. When we put that last keyword into Google, the whole page is covered by Shopping ads, as well as a substantial featured snippet from an authoritative domain. That’s a very competitive search engines results page and a new business blog is simply not going to rank for that kind of keyword. You’re better off starting with something more niche.
We’ve put together a guide to keyword analysis and research using completely free tools so you can get started without having to spend a penny.
6. Create a Blog Schedule
The final step is putting together a blog schedule. We are often asked “how often should you blog?”, which is a little like asking “how long is a piece of string?” Of course, there’s no right answer to that question. But as a rough rule of thumb, we recommend that businesses try to update their blog at least once a week with content that’s great and at least 600-1,000 words long. Don’t worry if you can only manage once a month — that’s still much better than never.
Ideally, your blog schedule should cover a complete calendar year, but six-month or even three-month blog schedules can work if you’re just getting started. Make sure that your blog schedule includes the target keyword for each blog post, as well as notes on format and any important internal links and CTAs.
A common sales funnel attracts visitors via an informational blog that encourages readers to sign up to a free newsletter. The newsletter might then contain a free trial of the product or service and voila! Your visitors have become customers.