WHY BLOG? GETTING STARTED WITH BUSINESS BLOGGING
Written by Sarah Rowland
Last updated: 13/04/2018
You’ve heard time and time again that blogging is the way to generate more leads for your business, but you may not know the first thing about writing for the internet, or fully understand the benefits it can provide.
Well, you’re not alone. There are many businesses in the yachting industry and otherwise that have unused, unloved or out-dated blogs live on their websites, or those that don’t have one at all - these marketers are missing a trick!
Yachting Pages presents a case for business blogging for marine marketers, with insight to the what, why and how of blogging, and with valuable tips to help marine marketers in getting it right.
What is blogging and how can it help my business?
A blog is simply a type of short-form content that is published online on any website. The earliest blogs were a type of online diary or ‘web log’ where people typically shared their day-to-day activities, but some 20 years later, blogging has become a powerful marketing tool for businesses and professionals around the world.
Business blogging is ultimately a form of content marketing, which itself is a type of inbound marketing, whereby clever content is used to draw new users directly to a business or brand, rather than them going ‘out’ and fighting against the noise of the competition. The idea is that effective inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects to your business door (or website) with good content, keeping them coming back for more and eventually converting them into long-term customers.
Many companies effectively use their blogs to answer questions, entertain and discuss interesting topics related to their business or industry. It is used as a means of driving traffic, increasing online visibility and generating new leads.
Why blog? The benefits of business blogging
HubSpot explains, “By publishing the right content, in the right place at the right time, your [inbound] marketing becomes relevant and helpful to your customers, not interruptive.”
So, why find the time to blog for your business?
Blogging helps to drive traffic to your website: In short, blogging helps you to create more web pages, which then provides more points of entry for users to find and enter your website. Furthermore, more content means more opportunity to rank for the relevant keywords and phrases that you may wish to target, and produces fresh content to be shared across social media.
Blogging helps to convert traffic into leads: The beauty of blogging is, when this new traffic arrives, you have the opportunity to convert that traffic into a qualified lead. Every new visitor is a new opportunity, especially if you add a lead generating call-to-action. This could be offering a free trial or discount code to anyone who leaves their information, which can then be used by your sales team to contact that lead and build on that relationship.
Blogging helps to establish knowledge, authority and trust: Blogging done well is a great way to establish you and/or your business as a leader in your sector. By sharing your industry knowledge for free, with posts that answer the common queries of your target market, you build authority in their eyes, and eventually trust. They will likely come back to your blog to find answers to their future questions, or even invest in your products and services, because you help.
Blogging drives on-going leads: The good thing about online blogging is that posts usually have longevity, and drive longer-term results. These are known as ‘composite posts’ and are typically relevant to readers now and in times to come. So, if you publish a post today it will typically generate immediate views and maybe some leads, before it’s shared on social media and found for days to come. If it is ‘evergreen content’, you are then usually able to share it again at a later date, generating yet more traffic and leads.
The good news is there is a lot to blog about in the marine and yachting industries, with how to’s, list posts and destination and recruitment guides making for interesting pieces for businesses, owners and crew. You can read more about the uses and benefits of blogging from Moz.
How to blog: Getting started with business blogging
As with all marketing methods, there are best practices to follow for those starting a business blog to ensure you are drawing the right kind of traffic to your site.
Before starting a blog for your business, it’s vital to start with plenty of research to ensure that this venture is worthwhile and can become a success: You should have clear goals and targets that you want to get out of your endeavour, and an action plan to help to get you there.
1. Research - Understanding your audience and their problems and interests:
A business blog is a place to share knowledge and validate your authority as an industry expert. It will be part, or an extension of your business website, and should therefore be conducted as such in a professional manner.
It’s best to get started by understanding the type of audience that your business may already have (existing clients), as well as those that you may want to attract in the future (new leads). Your blog is your space to share the knowledge that your audience will find interesting, making them aware of your brand before pushing them along the sales funnel.
2. Content creation - Explore popular topics and keywords:
Content creation can be tricky. You’ll need to decide which topics are relevant, and be creative with them to capture the attention of readers in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Start by putting together a list of the common questions, problems and interests that individuals within your industry may have so you can create content that they may find useful and interesting. You may already have a good idea of what these are, or you may look to the popular posts of competitors. Widely shared social media links and search engine results pages (SERPs) also hold clues to popular content types/topics, or you could check Google Trends or your Google Analytics and Search Console accounts for ideas.
You’ll of course want to give some consideration to the types of keywords and phrases that you are hoping to target with each blog post, and form interesting content with these in mind. Our SEO guide provides more insight into keyword distribution.
3. Timing - Decide, and stick to, a regular posting schedule:
Interesting and objective content is not the only key to a successful blog. It’s important to ensure that you are creating relevant posts regularly. You should try to stick to a consistent and realistic posting schedule, so any regular readers are not left disappointed. This may of course vary with business demands.
With this in mind, it’s also important to ensure that you are uploading, sharing and promoting your posts at the right time. You should target the time when your industry or audience is most available and able to read and share your content - perhaps around lunchtime, rather than first thing in the morning or last thing at night. In the yachting industry, new content will not likely be seen when the industry is out of the office on holiday or at boat shows! Free tools such as Hootsuite and Buffr are great for scheduling posts, while there are plenty of guides to advise the best and worst times for sharing content on social media.
4. Writing style – Building a brand persona:
It goes without saying that your blog is likely part of, or an expansion of your business website. As such, your content should remain professional, but your writing style and tone of voice can wander slightly, creating the opportunity to build a brand persona.
Furthermore, the title of your blog posts gives both users and search engines the biggest clues to its content. Ensure titles are accurate and reflective of the content that they provide, and make them interesting enough to draw in readers from search engine results pages (SERPs), encouraging them to choose your post over the others offered.
5. Engagement – Sharing and managing content:
The good news about blogging is that, after all your hard work, good blog posts can provoke conversations and debates across your industry now and in years to come. Once written, your posts can be shared more than once depending on their content - especially if they are relevant year-round or seasonal posts.
Unfortunately, personal or business, blogs are open to spammers and ‘trolling’, with sales pitches and unfriendly remarks sometimes left in the comments of your posts. The latter of these should hopefully be less likely in a professional space, but to avoid this scenario, you may want to consider making users sign up and create an account to be able to comment, and/or implementing an approval process. Both of which can be time consuming, but necessary.
Generating leads with guest blogging
Once you have gotten to grips with writing for your users, guest blogging for other relevant websites is another great way to reach new readers, generate new links and entice high-quality traffic and leads to your door.
This works both ways of course, as you could also think about accepting guest posts to your blog, which holds its own set of pros and cons.