Our last two blog posts looked at growing your email list using lead magnets and why MailChimp is so great for email marketing. Both of these topics make one very fundamental assumption: that you have an existing blog.
Most business owners these days, especially small business owners, know that it’s important to have a blog. But do you really understand why? Can you see the intrinsic value of blogging? And how did it become such a big deal in the first place?
A brief history of blogging
The concept of blogging has been around for about 20 years, but it’s only really taken off in the last five to ten years.
Initially people thought blogs would be a passing fad. Just another online craze for us to shout about and feel ‘on trend’ with. But, as it turned out, they were a lot more important than we first gave them credit for.
Blogging made content creation accessible to non-technical people for the first time. More specifically, it made sharing online content more accessible to all. And by all, we mean both individuals and businesses.
Suddenly, individuals could be heard online. An individual could have just as loud a voice as a small business owner starting out his gardening business, or as the CEO of a global financial services company. Blogging levelled the playing field of the digital landscape.
Being part of a community
Of course, it quickly took off as more and more people saw how easy it was to have an online voice. Not just to send their words out into the world, but to actually be heard. To be acknowledged, respected, become part of a community and join in debates via the ability to comment. Blogs allow people to not only read articles, but also add their own thoughts to the discussion through comments. Sharing was made really easy by the introduction of the RSS standard, which made it easy for blogs to be shared, syndicated and aggregated.
So, blogging allowed people to let their opinions be known, to develop authority and create a reputation in their area of expertise.
In fact, blogging became so huge that even Google recognised it wasn’t going away any time soon. So they bought Blogger, one of the first blogging platforms, founded in 1999, which was largely responsible for bringing blogging to the mainstream.
Our favourite web platform, WordPress, started in 2001 as an open-source blogging platform and has since grown into the world’s most popular online content management system (CMS). It holds just as much weight for business blogging as it does for personal blogging, as more and more businesses are recognising the benefits of creating professional, user-friendly, content managed, websites and blogs.
Why do I need a blog?
Google, and other search engines, just love content that’s continually changing. It keeps them on their toes and makes their little hearts sing. And they reward you for it by gradually boosting your website in their search rankings.
But you can’t just change the copy once and expect that to do the trick. Because it won’t. You have to keep adding fresh content to keep those search engines happy. You have to keep tapping them on the shoulder, saying “Hey, look what I’ve got for you this week”, and like an eager little puppy, they’ll lap it up and play ball with you.
Another increasingly important ranking factor is how popular content is across social media. So the more interaction your content has, the better it will rank. This includes comments on your posts and how and who shares it.
Your email list is like a garden
As we explored in our previous post, your email list is like a garden that needs care and attention to help it grow. Your readers need to be kept interested and engaged if they’re going to turn into email subscribers and join your mailing list. But they’re hardly going to stay engaged if you never feed them anything new, are they?
So, the bottom line is, if you want to run a successful digital business that relies on organic search, you need to be creating high quality, regular content. And the simplest, most effective way to do that is through a blog.
So what should I blog about?
Ok, so you get the idea of blogging and you can see why it’s important. But what on earth are you going to blog about? Dancing cat videos are some of the most popular shared content on the web… but that ain’t going to help you grow your customer base unless you’re selling cat related products.
Know your audience
The best place to start is with your audience. It’s all very well writing about topics you think are interesting but will your readers agree? This is where it’s really important to know and understand your customer base – and that includes your readers and email subscribers, as they’re just as important as your existing paying customers.
Who are they? What are they interested in? What do they need? What problems do they face that you can help solve? If you know your industry and your customers well, you may find you already know the answers to these questions. Or you might prefer to devise a questionnaire that you send to your customers or display on your website, to get valuable insights and feedback.
Research, research, research
You should also do some research in your industry or field of expertise. What are other people talking about? What’s getting people excited or fired up? What’s trending on social media? Are there any gaps where you can sense people’s frustrations but their questions aren’t getting answered?
Whatever business you’re in, there are topics you can write about. You just need to do a little digging to get started. And you’ll find that once you’ve turned over that topsoil, it becomes a lot easier to dig deeper and those juicy content worms will start wriggling their way out!
How can we help?
The team at Wildheart Media is here to make your life easier. Our Essential Setup package has everything you need to set up your business blog.
We’ll carry out in-depth research to help you understand who your audience is and what they want.
We’ll review your existing website by carrying out an SEO audit to ensure you’re keeping those search engines happy.
And we’ll guide you through the process of creating informative, engaging, regular blog posts that will form the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy – so you can build a loyal audience and grow your digital business.