You've heard that blogging can help improve lead generation. But you're a business owner, not a writer. Writing takes time. It requires a constant stream of ideas. It needs to be grammatically correct. And it needs to hold a person's interest beyond the first few lines. For most business owners time is in short supply, and we weren't born with Hemingway's talent.
Yes, blogging isn't easy, but your competitors likely feel the same way. That in itself is a good enough reason for you to invest time and effort in your business blog.
The numbers look something like this:
- Companies who blog receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
- Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website.
Spending a few hours creating a blog post every week seems like a worthwhile investment. About 70% of the monthly traffic on this blog comes from posts published in previous months.
So, you can see the value, but how do you overcome the challenges?
Here are some practical tips to improve your blogging skills:
Set aside a fixed time each week when you can lock yourself away and create a blog post. If you focus during this period, you shouldn't need more than 3 hours. Choose a time when you find it easiest to organise your thoughts. It might be early in the morning or late in the evening. Whatever you do, make it a regular time otherwise, you'll get nothing done.
There are topics all around you. Open your email or pull out your meeting notes. Customers and prospect ask at least ten questions a week, many of which will make great blog posts.
Shut out the distractions
Make it clear that you are writing and should not to disturb you. I write at my desk at home or in a coffee shop; a different setting helps stimulate creativity. Switch off the tech – that means everything.
Instead of staring at a screen, take a sheet of paper and write your topic in the middle of the page. Start jotting down everything you can think of associated with the idea - focus on people and problems. Keep going until a train of thought leads you to a more specific idea. For example, "how can document management help law firms?"
Refine your idea
Perhaps you started with an idea for a post on the benefits of document management. Brainstorming the topic has reminded you that you've had many inquiries from legal firms lately. You also recall reading an article on how document management improves efficiency at legal firms by over 30%. Now you have a niche topic, and blogs that are tightly focused perform better than general posts.
Use your notes to bring structure to your post. Stick with a single idea that talks about the title of your post and flows logically. Having a structure before you start makes a huge difference when you are writing your post.
Talk to a person
This is where your buyer persona is useful. For instance, this post talks to business owners and entrepreneurs. We have a persona called "Eddie Entrepreneur" created based on our ideal customers. When I write, I'm talking to Eddie – it makes writing a hell of a lot easier.
When you start writing your post, forget about grammar and spelling. Just get your thoughts onto the screen. If you can, turn off all the editing tools and stop yourself from making corrections as you type. For now, all you want to do is get your post drafted.
Once you have the first draft, close your laptop and take a break - time for that coffee and a walk. Give the ideas time to settle and then come back to your post and edit. Editing is the time to make your writing concise and readable. It might sound difficult, but there are some great tools to help you.
Even with the right tools, it's advisable to have a human being review your writing. Send your post to a friend or college for comment.
When your post is ready, go back to the title and make sure it speaks to the content. For instance, you may want to change your title from: "Document Management for Law Firms" to "Document Management Improves Efficiency by 30% at Law Firms."
Tools and tips that make blogging easier:
Create a content calendar - Having a list of topics means you won't waste time trying to come up with a new idea every time you sit down to write a post.
Share the load - you have people on your team who are experts on the subject matter. Have them draft posts and then edit them yourself, or use a 3rd party for editing.
Hire a journalist - many graduates need on the job experience. Look for a local journalism school and advertise internships. Journalist graduates will be helpful in conducting interviews, proofing blog posts, and writing content.
Grammarly - I'm writing this post using a tool called Grammarly. The English language is complex, but Grammarly helps you write better by catching all the errors you don’t know you're making. They even have professional proofreaders available at a reasonable price.
Hemingway - Ernest Hemingway is well known for his short, easy to read sentences. Given the volume of content being created, you need to find ways to make your writing easier to read. Hemingway does exactly that.
In closing, nobody knows your business and your customers better than you. The advantage of using an outside agency or writer is that you don't have to do the writing yourself. But, keep in mind that you know your customer best. The content you produce is more likely to go to the heart of the challenges they face.