If you own your own business, or are thinking of starting your own business, perhaps you’ve heard that you should have a blog. Maybe you’ve even gone so far as to go over to WordPress.com or Medium or Tumblr and get an account. Maybe you’ve even written a post or two. No matter where you are in the process — whether you haven’t started yet, or you’ve already launched but feel a little stuck, or have been blogging for a long time but aren’t getting the results you want, this Doing It Right guide will get your business blog off-and-running in the right direction.
We’ll break this Guide 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
We’ll tackle each part in a fair bit of depth, giving you step-by-step instruction on how to create a blog that is not only successful as a blog, but helps you achieve your business goals.
Step 1: Understand Your Business and Your Customers
Depending on the current stage of your business and your personal business background, you may have a more or less firm handle on this already. But if you don’t, now is the time to get as clear and explicit as possible. A great place to start is by creating 1–3 target marketing-personae. If you don’t know what one is, you should go back and review our article on creating your first marketing persona. Seriously. Do that before you do the rest of this. It can be a PITA, and for the action-oriented entrepreneur it can seem too much like “business school BS”, but trust me — it will make your life immeasurably easier down the road, and your blog a much greater success.
You may notice that our persona article is focused on brand-new businesses and creating a persona purely from your imagination. If you’re a more established business with existing customers, or have a solid grasp on your target market, you should augment the process by conducting interviews with your sales team, customer support, and the customers themselves. We like our template better than theirs, but HubSpot has a great blog post on how to conduct these interviews. How to select your interviewees, how to solicit them and get them to engage, and what questions to ask them.
Regardless of whether or not yours is a brand-new business, you may also notice that we suggested starting with at least one persona. You can move on to the rest of this blog discussion with only one, but we strongly recommend you not do so. Creating a meaningful, successful blog is going to be challenging, and the most challenging part is going to be selecting your topic. Going through that exercise will be substantially easier if you have more source material — in other words, if you have more, good-quality personae developed. Here it’s less important to take one persona and create multiple, more detailed sub-personae; rather, you want to hit as many of the top-level archetypes for your customer base as you possibly can. The more different the better. Absolutely if you sell both to consumers and businesses, you’ll want to create different personae for those. But also if you have a wide fluctuation of purchaser income, or a wide fluctuation of other demographic parameters such as gender or age, do those as well.
Once again, really — go do it now. Then come back. We’ll be waiting here, I promise.
OK. Are you done? Great. Now you can get started.
Grab your marketing personae, and add some additional information — focus in on their interests, hobbies, spending patterns, travel patterns; really, any detail you can imagine which is fairly consistent across the persona in question. You want to strike a balance between generic and specific. For example, if you’re business is an ice-cream parlour, it may be common for teenagers to ride up to your shop on their bicycles — so put “rides bicycle” as a hobby. You probably don’t want to put “rides BMX”, even if you have lots of kids riding their BMXes to your store, because you’re better off capturing the broader category. If you’re having a hard time striking this middle ground, don’t worry about it — you’re better off brainstorming and listing every tiny detail than fretting over whether an item is too generic or not generic enough.
Once you’re done creating your marketing personae, and flushing them out with some additional details to help inform your blog content, come back here and move on to Step 2: Picking A Topic for Your Blog (A Good One!).