Welcome to part 2(a) of our practical, real-life, down-in-the-weeds Getting Started Guide to building your own business blog. Unlike the many, cursory articles out there on how to start a blog, our intent is a little different. We’re diving deep to give you a real step-by-step guide to get you to success.
The Guide is broken down into four parts:
- Understanding Your Business and Your Customers
- Picking A Topic for Your Blog (A Good One!)
- Creating (and Maintaining) A Publishing Schedule
- Creating A Promotion Plan
If you haven’t already done so, you should go back and follow the steps in part 1. You’ll need the information you put together there, in order to be successful with this part. And so, with no further ado…
Pick A Topic
Step 2a: Brainstorming a good list of topics
Your blog needs a consistent topic. It can be fairly broad, like Tim Ferris’ experiments in lifestyle design, but it needs to be consistent. The reason for this is fairly straightforward — blogs that focus on a single topic are orders of magnitude more successful than those which are more random. But it can’t be just anything; your business blog is only useful if it generates business. You can think of it this way: your blog is your primary platform for content marketing.
That said, this is brainstorming, so you don’t want to artificially limit your ideas — feel free to go a little crazy, but balance that with a little focus. Go back to the list you created in the previous section, and use it as inspiration, then start writing down any blog ideas which would qualify as good content marketing. To qualify, the topic needs to meet the following criteria:
- It needs to be ancillary to, but supportive of, your business
- It needs to be appealing to your target audience
- It needs to be broad enough to enable long-term, regular addition of new content
The example you’re striving for is the Betty Crocker cookbook, mentioned in the article on content marketing. Recipes are ancillary to General Mills’ overall business, but clearly supportive of it: if you make more recipes, you’re likely to use more of their products. They’re broadly appealing to the same people who are likely to buy their products. And it’s easy to consistently and regularly add and update new recipes (i.e., add new content).
Another example is the Michelin Guide. The Michelin Guide rates restaurants from 1–3 stars. The original meaning of the stars were
- Worth eating here
- Worth going out of your way to eat here
- Worth a trip specifically to eat here
Again, the Guide was ancillary to Michelin’s core business (tires), but supportive of it (if you go driving to these restaurants, you’ll use your tires and need to buy more); it was broadly appealing to the same audience — there were only 3,000 cars in France at the time of the original guides publication, and the people who owned them were absolutely restaurant goers, and rich enough to take extended trips just to eat somewhere particularly amazing; and adding regular content was easy (there are always new restaurants to review).
Hopefully, it should be fairly easy to come up with at least a handful of ideas that meet these criteria (we’ll explain why you need more than one in a minute).
If you’re having trouble coming up with any ideas that work, reach out and contact us — The Ibis Network help you with the brainstorming, no charge.
Spend a fair amount of time on this. I’d recommend at least 20 minutes a day for a week. You want to let your mind wander and come up with as long of a list as you can (that meets the above criteria). You’ll need a long list because, unless you get very lucky, the next step will make it much shorter. Once you have your list of potential topics, come back here and move on to Step 2: Picking A Topic for Your Blog (A Good One!), Part B — Filtering The List.