Implementing a blogging strategy for your business can feel like a major undertaking. But if you follow this guide, you can master the essentials of blogging for your business in seven days.
Day One: Research Your Competitors
You don’t have to start from scratch when it comes to coming up with a blogging strategy for your business. Instead of reinventing the wheel, start with competitive research. There’s a good chance that no matter what business you are in, you have a few competitors (if not hundreds) that already have a blogging strategy in place.
When you look at your competitor’s blog, you will want to note the following things.
- Who authors your competitor’s blog posts? Owners, employees, guests contributors, and freelance writers are the most likely authors.
- How often do your competitor’s publish new blog posts? Daily, 2 – 3 times per week, and weekly are the most popular publishing schedules.
- How long are your competitor’s blog posts? Shorter content works best for certain audiences, as it is easier to digest. But for the best social sharing and search engine performance, long form content (1,500+ words) has been proven to be best.
- What topics get the most social engagement? Search your competitors domains or topical keywords at BuzzSumo to see topics that get the most social shares.
- Who are your competitors writing for? Do they write for beginners? Do they write for the technically savvy? Do they write for CEO’s?
- What tone do your competitors use? Are their posts lighthearted and friendly? Serious and stuffy? Casual? Education?
- What comment platform do competitors use? If you want people to comment on your content, know what system (Disqus, Facebook, Livefyre, etc.) your target audience is already used to using.
Once you have answered these questions by researching your competitors, you should spend some time thinking about what you liked and didn’t like about each of their approaches. The goal of this exercise isn’t to be just like the competition – it’s to learn what works, what doesn’t, and what you can do that will separate you from the fold.
Day Two: Outline Your Strategy
Once you have had time to digest what the competition does, it’s time to outline your own content strategy. Your goal for day two is to write a detailed game plan that covers the following.
- What your content goals are (traffic, social engagement, links, and conversions are common).
- Who will create, edit, publish, and promote content.
- How often you will publish new blog posts.
- How long your posts will be.
- What topics will your posts cover (general categories, not specifics).
- Who your target audience is.
- What tone you want to use for your content.
With an exception to the first three points, everything else should be included in an editorial guidelines document. Editorial guidelines should be given to all content creators and editors to ensure that your content is crafted precisely to match your goals.
Day Three: Create Your Team
Once you have outlined your strategy, it’s time to organize your content marketing team. If your content marketing team is all in-house, then start by holding a meeting to introduce everyone to each other, describe everyone’s roles, and go over your content strategy.
If you plan to use outsourced help, be sure to get the best help possible. Instead of starting with sites that have freelancers who write articles for $5, start by finding freelancers who write for the top publications in your industry.
For example, if you have a marketing agency, look for freelancers who write for marketing publications. Yes, they will be more expensive, but they will also have the knowledge and experience you need to develop valuable content.
Once you have found some of the best writers, editors, graphics creators, and promoters, hold a virtual meeting using Google+ Hangouts or GoToMeeting to get everyone on the same page. While you can work with all of these people individually, making them a part of a team will lead to better content and goal achievement.
Day Four: Develop Your Calendar
Once your team is in place, it’s time to create your editorial calendar. You can use tools that you are already used to like Outlook Calendar (for internal teams), Google Calendar (internal and external teams), or Google Spreadsheets. You can use tools designed specifically for blog editorial calendars like CoSchedule. You can use project management tools like Trello. The goal is to find something that is easy to use and easily accessible by all of the members of your content team.
Depending on the tool you choose, you should be able to, at minimum, schedule the dates that each piece of content is due to be submitted and published. Tools like CoSchedule and Trello will also give you the option to organize pitches from writers and move through a specific chain, from submission to promotion.
Day Five: Publish Your Content
Once you have your editorial calendar in place and your first pieces of content submitted, you will move to the exciting part of blogging, which is publishing your first pieces of content. Publishing your content is not as simple as pasting it into WordPress (or your preferred CMS platform) and hitting send though. Before publishing, you will want to run each piece of content through the following simple checklist.
Is your content free of grammatical and spelling errors? (Use Grammar.ly to find out.)
☐ Have you chosen a keyword phrase to optimize your content for? (Use Google AdWords Keyword Planner to research one.)
☐ Did you create an eye-catching title for your content that includes your keyword phrase and will entice people to click through to the post? (See these headlines formulas for inspiration or go with UpWorthy’s strategy of writing your headlines 25 times to get the best ones.)
☐ Does your content have at least one awesome image? (Create one for free using Canva if it doesn’t.)
☐ Does your content have bold headings and short paragraphs to make it easily consumable? (Break the post up logically if it doesn’t.)
☐ Does your content have a call-to-action at the end? (If not, add one that encourages people to comment, share, or click through to your product or service.)
☐ Does your content have social sharing buttons to make sharing easy? (Try AddThis as it works on almost all platforms.}
Once you’ve ticked off these points, your content is ready to publish. You can look at different studies on when the best time to publish a blog post is. But remember that it’s not the actual publish time that will help you achieve success unless you happen to have a thousand people who tweet your post as soon as it goes live.
Day Six: Promote Your Content
Once you’ve published your first blog post, you will need to promote it. You should promote your content using every avenue you have at your disposal. The most popular promotion strategies include emailing your subscribers, sharing on social networks, and promoting posts on social networks. If you have a large budget for content promotion, platforms like Taboola and Outbrain can help you get even more traction.
When it comes to organic social promotion, you may want to share your content multiple times to make sure you reach everyone. CoSchedule created a handy visual tool for their own promotion strategy.
Image Source: CoSchedule
After all, your entire audience isn’t going to be online at 8am EST every Monday morning. The key to making each share of your post interesting is to vary it. Create text updates, photo updates, and video updates that all link back to your post. Use different variations of your blog post title and questions related to your posts for extra, unique engagement.
Day Seven: Analyze Your Results
Once you’ve started publishing and promoting your content, you will want to begin analyzing your results. The simplest approach is to use Google Analytics to see how much traffic you are receiving for each piece of content you create.
For those who are tracking conversions in Google Analytics using goals, you can link conversions to blog content using the Landing Pages report. Note this only tracks conversions from blog posts that people have landed upon versus blog posts that people have clicked on after they are already on your website.
You can also use tools like BuzzSumo to see which content on your domain is the most popular in terms of social sharing. If social engagement is your goal, BuzzSumo will show you up to a year’s worth of data on which posts have achieved that goal.