So you’ve decided you need a business blog. But you don’t have the budget for a PR or content agency, which means it’s something of a DIY – and you don’t know where to start. Here are some helpful pointers.
First, spend some time planning. As a professional writer, I often get requests from people who want to start blogs for their companies. Typically, I’ll get a request that looks like this: “As part of our marketing we want to post about 50 blogs over the next six months. Can you help us to write them?”
And I always have the same questions, which are:
1 Are the topics already planned? I’ve worked on a lot of projects where a client wants 50 videos or blog posts, and then they run out of ideas after they’ve written eight or ten.
2 What is the purpose of the blogs? To inform? To brag? To educate?
3 Who is the ideal reader of the blogs, and what do you want them to get out of reading them?
4 What will the source material be? Would you provide raw material for the content? Because I am not an expert in your field, so I’ll need access to people or information, or both.
At this point, they usually shuffle awkwardly away and I never hear from them again. Because they haven’t thought the process through – and those are crucial questions to answer before you write a single word.
In addition, frequency is one of the most important thing to consider. Take the (real) request above. Six months is approximately 24 weeks. That means two blog posts weekly – can you commit to that kind of frequency? Do you have time to take away from your job, and your own core skills, to write something well enough to market your business in the way you’d like to? Most people honestly don’t. Even a weekly blog comes around very quickly – and soon you’re scrambling to throw something together to stick to the crazy schedule you’ve planned.
More importantly – do you really want to overwhelm already info-overloaded customers and clients with that much content?
So here’s what I’d recommend:
* If you think you can write something yourself, commit to blogging once every fortnight, or once a month. This will cut down on the number of topics you need to generate.
* Plan at least six to ten blog posts ahead, and if you can, have at least two or three written before you start posting them.
* Keep a notebook or file somewhere for ideas – they will occur to you while you’re in the shower or driving between meetings, and you will forget them if you don’t make a note somewhere. You really will.
* Set up a system of accountability – ask a colleague to nag you to write them, or set up regular reminders on your calendar and ensure you stick to those deadlines.
* Keep them brief – 300-350 words maximum. Remember that people have a short attention span when it comes to reading.
* Always keep your reader in mind and ensure they get something out of reading your blog.
* If you can’t keep up with it yourself, hire a professional writer to work alongside you – that way you don’t have to write well. You can simply provide them with short notes, and they can do the crafting. Plus they can be your accountability system and remind you when the raw material is due.