So if you haven’t been living under a bush for the last few years, you’ve probably heard how beneficial blogging can be to drive online traffic. But it may seem overwhelming if you don’t understand how to get started blogging for business.
It is proven that businesses that blog regularly get more traffic to and leads from their website than those that don’t. Hubspot found that in 2015 B2B businesses that blog get 67% more leads through their website, and marketers that prioritised blogging were 13 times more likely to enjoy a positive return on investment.
But increased search engine traffic is not the only reason to blog. Blogging is a powerful way to establish your authority or expert knowledge in your subject area.
However, if you don’t think of yourself as a natural writer, getting started blogging for business can be pretty daunting. In fact, even if you are used to business writing – for proposals, tender documents and other marketing text – it can be hard to get your head around the different approach needed for blog writing.
In this post, we’re going to look at seven simple blog formats you can use to get started blogging and help your business get found online.
How to get started blogging for business – 7 types of business blog posts for beginners
While you can write a blog in any format and any length, there are certain styles of posts that are easier to get started with. Here are 7 styles that are easily applied to business blog posts to help you get started:
The personal post
The personal blog post helps your customers or potential clients get to understand the person behind the company. You’ve heard the phrase “people do business with people, not companies” – that’s what the personal post is all about.
You can share experiences from your personal or business life and relate it to struggles that your readers may be having. This is a particularly popular style of post for people in the coaching or online learning arena but can apply to almost anyone. A “Why I started my business” type post is a good opportunity for you to outline your value proposition to potential clients – for example, many people get their great business ideas when they need something themselves and can’t find it on the market. This is a great story to tell about the essence of your business – and storytelling is a vital part of blogging and content marketing.
If you are the shy and retiring type, you might need to warm up to writing personal posts as they can feel a bit like ‘putting yourself out there’. Keep in mind, you don’t need to share your deepest, darkest secrets to bring a personal touch to your posts – just telling people about your first car or showing that you have the same struggles as your customers gives an insight into the person behind the business.
The listicle or roundup
The listicle (a mash up of ‘list’ and ‘article’) is one of the easiest post types to write and is incredibly flexible. You can use this format for information filled posts, humorous posts or even roundups of content created by others. If you are nervous about blogging, a listicle style blog post is great to start with as it practically writes itself. However, do put some effort into making sure your content is quality. You can really undo the goodwill you are trying to create if readers click through to find that your article says nothing of value or simply copies content that is already easy to find.
Here are some ideas for listicle titles:
- 5 signs it’s time to get your car serviced
- 20 great places to meet singles in Perth
- The passive solar checklist – how to slash your home power bills
- The 15 best free stock photo sites
- 10 ways to recognise new parents
- 7 productivity apps you MUST have in 2015
Notice that a lot of the titles have numbers in them? This is a technique that has been shown to attract clicks. I find it has another great advantage, in that you can clearly set the goal posts for your writing. And if you run out of good points to mention…just change the number!
The controversial post
Controversial headlines sells newspapers and in the same way, they can also make blog posts alluring. You do need to approach controversial posts carefully if you are in business, and make sure you are not undermining what your brand stands for or offending your target audience. Often a good balance to strike is the ‘fake controversial’ heading – where you seem to be making one statement but in the context of your blog make a good argument for the alternative. Here are some examples of ‘faux controversial’ posts:
- Why I refuse to do my taxes (article about finally investing in an accountant)
- I stopped reading to my kid and you should too (encouraging kids to read to you instead)
- Why sugar is more harmful than cigarettes (sugar is not legally restricted as cigarettes are)
Be prepared – controversial posts are more likely to polarise your audience. If you have comments enabled on your blog, you should be prepared for some negative feedback when you take a controversial stand.
If you are very sensitive or hate confrontation this is not a tactic you should opt for – and tread very carefully around any topics to do with religion, politics or parenting.
The secret post
Remember when you were a little kid how exciting it was when someone shared a secret with you? Psychologically speaking, we don’t seemed to have strayed very far from that feeling – everyone is motivated to access that little bit of knowledge that will help them get ahead!
Some ‘secret’ post example titles are:
- The little known trick for saving hours every day
- Shhhh – the huge discounts big stores don’t want you to know about!
- What everyone should know about mortgage brokers
- Revealed: how I FINALLY lost those last five kilos – and kept them off
In this type of post, make sure you are actually telling people something they probably wouldn’t know otherwise. Even though it has only taken a minute of two of their time to click on your blog, they don’t want to feel their time was wasted.
The case study post
If you don’t think of yourself as a very creative writer, the case study post is a very useful format to try out. It involves finding a happy customer (ideally just after you’ve completed work and their delight is still fresh) and interviewing them about their experience with your product or service.
You can use a direct quotes from your client in the case study style post with a number of advantages. Firstly, the case study will come across as more authentic if you can use your customer’s own words to describe the benefit your business has created for them. Secondly – it saves you from having to describe them yourself! This is something that many business owners find difficult to articulate.
There are three main sections that go into a case study:
- Introduce the customer and explain the situation or challenge that your customer was having before they started using your product or service.
- Detail the solution was that was applied.
- Describe the results that the customer experienced. If you are providing a business to business product, try to explain this in terms of return on investment as people in this market are looking for solutions that help them make more money, more efficiently.
Case studies are a very important form of social proof and useful for many types of businesses, particularly those who offer solutions to other businesses. Sometimes case studies are called ‘success stories’ – you often see these on weight loss and personal training, coaching and education websites.
The versus or comparative post
When researching products, consumers often use a sort of shorthand in search engines – this vs that. The comparative or versus (vs) post is a great way to pick up search engine traffic based on common product comparisons people are likely to make. This type of article is very popular for technology and software, to help customers weigh up the pros and cons of different options:
- Xero vs MYOB
- Macbook Pro vs Microsoft Surface Pro
- Canon vs Nikon DSLR
- Gas vs induction cooktop
- Paleo vs Atkins
The usual format is to write about each option in turn and then in a summary, make a recommendation on which in your opinion is best. Sometimes you can use a ratings system or even ‘crowd source’ some content for this style of post by surveying your customers.
The tutorial or how to post
The how to or tutorial post is full of valuable, practical information about how to get something done. “How to” is a very popular search prefix and you can harness the power of long tail keywords by using it in your blog title, to address questions that your prospective customers might have:
- How to get started blogging for business (see what I did there?)
- How to build your new home for under $200,000
- How to cut 12 years off your home loan
- How to remove wine stains from an acrylic bench
- How to outsource your chores and free up your time
Most people have a thirst for knowledge and it’s very tempting to find out how to do all sorts of things if the information is out there. How to posts appeal to those of us who always want to know the best way to do everything.
Some business owners worry that if they freely give away information in the form of a tutorial or how to post, their potential customers will have no reason to come to them or their competitors will have access to their intellectual property. Of course, you don’t reveal your trade secrets in this type of blog (unless you are supremely confident that no one can bring the magic that you can!). But by giving away just enough valuable information, you’re really proving why you are the ‘go-to’ expert in your game.
Ready to get started?
Blogging for business is not as scary as it seems. As with almost everything else, regular practice is the only way you’ll grow confident in your ability to blog.
To get started:
- Commit to a regular schedule of posting a blog article to your website – make it an achievable goal: for example monthly to start with, until you get your confidence up
- Develop a list of topics in advance so you are never stuck for content
- Start with a post format you feel comfortable with, such as a listicle
- Don’t forget to share your content via social media or email marketing to help others find it
If you want to help your website be found in search; lift your reputation as an expert in what you do; build a relationship with customers before they even come in contact with you; and build your brand cost-effectively – it’s time to start blogging for your business.
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For businesses that rely on communicating ideas to the highest standard, I highly recommend Hook and Loop.