More than two-thirds of all businesses use content marketing to attract potential customers to online assets. Among these, most use a combination of blogs, social media, and other strategies to maximize exposure. But what makes a brand exciting enough to deserve the time of day for readers and consumers?
There are four types of business blogs:
- The link on a website that takes visitors to a blog that hasn’t been updated for 18 months.
- The blog filled with press release and media mentions, company updates, and promotional material.
- One that posts personal content. These blogs appear unprofessional and rushed, leading to little customer engagement.
- The blog that answers questions, entertains visitors, and strikes a balance between personal and promotional.
The fourth type is the one every company should shoot for, whether they outsource marketing or push blogging onto an in-house intern. This post will take a look at some of the tricks business bloggers can use to revamp boring content into relevant, entertaining articles.
1. Topic Farming
The first step is to find topics that deserve well-written copy. This is the turning point between an exciting and boring blog.
Every business is different. You may be a private contractor in a small town, a cross-country trucking company, or represent clients in out-of-court settlements. Whatever the case, we’ll need to find ways to spin relevant information on your business and industry to justify its place on your blog.
The “industry” element is crucial. Gone are the days when businesses write their same story over and over, discuss how wonderful the weather was at a corporate picnic, and bore their readers to death. Today’s business bloggers need to branch out to their industry at large to answer the big questions people may have.
Questions? You may ask. Yes, questions. Consumers submit queries all of the time to Google in hopes of finding an answer, so why not be the blog that supplies that answer?
The first step is finding a topic that is searchable and relevant to your business. These topics need to be in the form of a question, like: What traits should I look for in a contractor? What do I need to know about real estate agents? How do I start a business?
The post, then, needs to answer these questions. For more topic-farming help, I provided a list of inspirational sources below:
- Check up on competitors to see what they’re blogging about.
- Use Google News and search for industry-related terms.
- Query your social media followers on what they want to learn about.
The headline is the second most important part of a worthwhile business blog. The title needs to take that question and turn it into an inviting teaser of what’s to come in the body.
Go to any popular news outlet or blog and see what you find. Most headlines are formed around how-to articles, top 10s, easiest ways to fail at something, and other popular formats. The headline helps bloggers write posts because it gives them a base to work from. 13 tips? Easy. Write an opening and jump right into a list.
These types of headlines make content scannable, allowing ADD-ridden readers a chance to pick up the highlights without wading through potentially boring content. But you’re not writing boring content — you’re writing exciting content. For more headline tips, check out “How To Write 9 Headlines That Make You Sticky.”
Another thing that sets blogs apart is the format. This includes the layout, spacing, links, headings, and how images are put into the content. Images are a big one, especially since most readers enjoy visual stimulus and most bloggers don’t know how to insert images properly.
The idea is to make a blog as professional and normal as possible with internal elements that support the content. Before publishing, preview the post to see how it looks on the screen and double-check the links and images.
Aside from the topic and format, the style of a post refers to the language, diction, and pacing. To avoid writing press releases and PR-heavy content in posts, we’re going to take a step back and try to appeal to the Internet audience.
People expect blogs to entertain and inform them. If they’re disappointed, they’ll leave. To meet the style parameter, consider using some of these tactics:
- Ditch the industry jargon and stick to simple, everyday terms.
- Use humor if you’re clever enough to do so — otherwise avoid it.
- Write brief paragraphs that contain complete trains of thought.
- Don’t try to impress anyone with obnoxiously-sized words.
When in doubt, take it out. If you find that a post rambles on and covers too many ideas, break it into multiple posts that answer various questions to maximize readership.
The above lessons aren’t mysteries, but “flow” is. Flow is how a piece reads. As an example, take a newspaper and put it side-by-side with a Time magazine — notice anything different? The magazine article reads like a story, whereas the newspaper reports facts.
While your business blogs should have facts, quotes, and opinions, they need to have that little extra to encourage the aforementioned question-askers to dig for more.
It boils down to storytelling. Your business blog should be written for a specific persona, which means personal experience and anecdotes are expected. Don’t open up a post with, “Here are my 10 tips for writing a resume.” Instead, start with an engaging story that threads the content together and ultimately wraps up in a nice call-to-action.
The call-to-action is the “marketing” element in a business post. This justifies the investment in the blog and, if the content is strong enough, can direct readers to sales points and other online assets.
It takes practice, but the best way to write better business blogs is to read better business blogs. After all, don’t readers make the best writers?
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