A blog is a fundamental part of running a successful business.
It enables you to develop a loyal following, grow an audience and gain credibility in your industry.
The benefits of blogging are numerous: potential customers and clients can come back to your website day after day, a blog acts as a one-stop-shop for everything to do with your business and you can position yourself as an expert in your industry.
But the hardest part in making a blog successful isn’t understanding why blogging is important. It’s all about learning how to approach it.
For starters, you need to build some necessary foundations that feature in every single blog post you create. You can essentially add any element to a blog post that you feel fits in with you and your business. Below, you’ll find some of the most important features to include.
Different heading styles
We all know reading on a computer screen isn’t the easiest thing in the world.
Having different text styles throughout your post is really great for making content easier to read. It helps break up the text on the page and also highlights some of the most important parts of what you’re writing about.
On the web, shorter blocks of text are more appealing to readers, so aim for no more than five sentences per paragraph.
And don’t be afraid of a sentence on its own!
Think of it as a hierarchy. So in the backend of your blog you have different heading styles, usually labelled ‘heading 1’, ‘heading 2’ and so on, or <H1>, <H2> etc.
Each of these represents a different format, whether it’s a larger font, a smaller font, bold or italics and so on. You could have your subheadings in one style, your click to tweets in another and your quotes in another.
Not only is this great for usability and navigation, but it’s also important for search engines too.
When they crawl your website, they pay a lot of attention to any text that is labelled as a ‘header’. It’s beneficial that your subheadings really relate to the content of your post and include some keywords too, as this will really boost your SEO.
Your action: when you’re planning your next blog post, start by writing the outline first, and include what each paragraph will cover. These can work as your different headers.
A vertical optimised image
Your blog images can play a huge part in generating work and sales for your business. They send a message about your brand and open you up to potential clients and customers.
Recently, bloggers have been creating images that are perfectly suited to Pinterest, and with good reason. It’s one of the biggest traffic generating sites out there if you know how to use it in the right way.
A vertical blog post image lets your content be easily shared in an instant (p.s make sure you’ve got social sharing buttons too – look to the left for inspiration.)
There are a few things to remember when it comes to creating blog post images.
First, use a text box to include the title of your post. This way your text stands out and it’s also easier to read.
Second, use your brand fonts, but only use a maximum of two. A script front is more difficult to read, so you that to highlight a couple of words and make sure the rest is in block test.
Finally, brand your images. When someone sees one of your blog post images on Pinterest, they need to know it’s you. Think about colour, font and style.
Optimising your images is also important. First off, when you’re saving an image you’ve created, make sure you save it as something relevant, not ‘IMGV2Final.jpg’. Call it your blog post title or use some keywords, and do the same for the Alt text too.
When it comes to pinning your images on Pinterest, make sure you’re giving them a description. This will help direct people back to your blog which gets eyes on the products and services you have to offer in your business.
Your action: Look through Pinterest for blog post image inspiration and write down some ideas.
A call-to-action, content upgrade or opt-in
Every single blog post should contain some way for people to sign up to your mailing list.
Providing your audience with even more than this, like a free workbook download (otherwise known as a content upgrade), or a special discount offer, are even stronger ways to grow your list.
You can even create a lead magnet that encompasses what your brand is about to continuously grow subscribers. Even a simple call to action would work that relates to a product or service you’re offering.
At the end of each blog post you want your reader to do one thing. If you give them too many options they’ll just leave. Giving them one option is like handing it to them on a plate.
Let’s say you run a coaching business and you write a post about how face-to-face communication is so important. You could link to the video coaching sessions you offer as your call to action.
You want to go back through and do this for every single post you’ve created – a big job, but definitely worth it. If you’re just starting out, you can do it right from the get go.
Your author bio
This is more important if you have various writers for your blog – you can see an example of mine below. But even as a solo blogger, it’s still worth thinking about. Mainly because it’s a great and easy way to introduce yourself to new readers.
Once you start sharing your content on Pinterest, you’ll find that you’ll get many more new visitors to your blog. These people will just randomly land on a blog post. They want to know who you are and what you have to offer.
Adding a little bio, your picture and a call to action that relates to your business (e.g. get in touch, schedule a call with me today), can help you have an increase in shares on social media, but also in client inquiries too. It helps sell you as a real person, which is always beneficial to showcase when you’re running a business.
Social sharing buttons
I’ve already mentioned these so far and they get their own section because they’re that important. The ones you see on the left here are operated by SumoMe for free. Just create an account, copy and paste a bit of code and you’re done.
You want more eyes on your website? You need people to share your content. What other way to do that than providing them with one button to press?
Besides the sharing buttons, it’s also useful to add your own social media links. This is so that anyone who’s interesting in following you and keeping up with your updates can do so easily.
Do you want people to read one of your blog posts and leave your site?
No you do not!
That’s where related blog posts come in.
In WordPress you can add a widget and in Squarespace you can add a Summary block – but the principle is the same. As far as user experience goes, you want to lead people down a path of content through your site. Once they’ve finished reading one post, you want to give them something else to read or do. This means they’ll stay on your site for longer – and potentially purchase something you have to offer.
If you feature all of these things in each post you create, then you’re on your way to running a successful blog. As for where the ideas come from? That’s a topic for another day.