How to Build a Successful Business Blog From Scratch

You probably already know why your business should have a blog. You know you'll increase traffic to your website, build authority, provide useful information, and engage with your customers. You might even provide the information they need to make a buying decision. Unfortunately, most blogs get very little traffic.
08/19/2016 09:42 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

2016-08-18-1471552961-6121271-build2.jpg

You probably already know why your business should have a blog. You know you'll increase traffic to your website, build authority, provide useful information, and engage with your customers. You might even provide the information they need to make a buying decision. Unfortunately, most blogs get very little traffic.

Stick around, I'll tell you how to fix that.

Who do you think you're talking to?

Depending on what you sell, the people who use your product might be a wildly diverse group of people, and you might need a different approach for each type of person. So you might need to develop a number of buyer personas to fit each type of consumer.

Bring your buyer personas to life. Basic demographics are fine, but you really need to know what your customers care about. When you know what they care about and what their pain points are, you can create blog posts they will be really interested in.

That said, I pity the poor fool who is tracking my online reading list, trying to find a pattern. Maybe that's why I get so many social media ads that are wildly off-base. Writers are too hard to pin down.

With a firm idea of who you want to reach with your blog, develop a personality and voice for your blog. Way too many businesses confuse dry, old-school articles with blog posts. Blog posts are a whole different animal. They are lively, often opinionated, casual, colloquial, and sometimes funny. In other words, they are chock-full of personality. Make it so. Just make sure to understand the difference between "controversial" and "abrasive" before taking any hot-button political stands.

Make a plan

I see two mistakes consistently made in content plans. Some businesses don't have one, and their websites are like employee diaries. Nobody wants to know what Sue in accounting had for lunch yesterday...or see videos of her nine cats. Mistake one is not having a plan.

Mistake two is having too rigid a plan. A few corporate blogs I've written for followed a theme, and offered a month's worth of posts about one or two topics. This is a fine idea if you're building a hub - a central landing page that links out to a bunch of posts covering different aspects of one subject. But it's pretty restrictive to limit all your blog posts.

Brand yourself.

Increasingly, customers are looking beyond products to see what kind of company you really are. Millennials, especially, want to know how you treat employees, what causes you support, and whether you're worthy of their hard-earned money. And since there are 78 million millennials, every business needs to care about what they want.

Millennials are connected socially, interact heavily with brands, are not impressed with advertising, and read blogs before making buying decisions. They place high value on trust and authenticity.

More than ever before, businesses have to think beyond selling their products and build a brand reputation. Your blog is the perfect place to start, hand in hand with social media.

That means revealing your mission, your future plans, and your inner workings. It means telling customers about your people, and showcasing your customers' stories. Get personal. Ask for input and then implement it. Treat customers like part of the team.

Define Pain Points

Why do customers buy your product? What need are they answering? How can your product fix their problem or make their lives better in some way?

Answer those questions in your blog. That's what will draw people to your blog.

2016-08-18-1471552614-2869482-build1.jpg

Promote like a pro

Here's the secret sauce. The initial success of your blog does not depend on the quality of your posts. Quality is what brings people back. First, you have to build your blog readership.

Attracting your first group of readers is the hardest...so don't start cold. You may not know it, but you have influencers. Vendors, for example. People you do business with, your customer list, and even businesses physically near you. Your local radio and television stations might even help out.

To pump up the publicity for the launch of your new blog, WOW! them. Take the time, hire a professional writer to work up an amazing piece, and get some absolutely fantastic photos.

Plan a big post for a local or online event you can leverage for publicity. Sponsor or present at an event and liveblog as it's happening. Host a giveaway or raffle. Create special dishes. Do something big that fits your business and blog about it. Then keep blogging, even if it's frustrating at first. It's a long game, but totally worth it.