Crafting A Blog Post for Your Business: 4 Keys to Success

Posted by Todd Hockenberry on Feb 13, 2013 7:14:00 AM

crafting a blog postOnce you've got your salespeople to come around to the idea of inbound marketing, what do you do with their content ideas? If your salespeople followed the "notepad method" of content creation, then after a couple of weeks they should have plenty of ideas just waiting to be turned into killer content.  Check out this recent interview where I discuss this idea in detail.

But pages of questions, comments, and unconnected ideas aren't going to cut it in the content-centric world of inbound marketing. You've got to tie all of those great ideas into a cohesive whole. 

One of the best ways to put all of your content ideas into use is by turning them into blog posts. Blog posts are awesome because they:

  • don't have to be terribly long
  • tend to be written informally
  • allow you to offer up concentrating chunks of information
  • and the comments section gives you an avenue for interacting with prospects.

As great as blog posts are, writing a post can be challenging. There is no single "right" way to take an idea for a blog post and turn it into a finished product, but there are a couple of suggestions I can offer if you're having trouble.

1. Stay focused

You might have a hundred great ideas for blog posts, but I guarantee they aren't going to work if you try to shove them all into one post. Stick to one central idea and follow it through to conclusion. There's nothing wrong with a personal anecdote or digression here and there as long as they bolster your main idea, but try and keep it to a minimum. If your post is a series of unconnected personal stories, then your readers are going to lose sight of your point. One way to make sure all of your paragraphs and ideas work together is to outline your post. For example:

Introduction and Main idea: Pens are better than pencils.

Supporting detail 1: Pencil lead smears, but ink doesn't smear after you let it dry.

Supporting detail 2: You don't need to sharpen pens.

Personal Story: Short paragraph about that time I couldn't write down a number because I had a broken pencil.

Conclusion

You don't have to write out an outline, but keeping a format in mind while writing can help keep you focused and on topic.

2. Let SEO Be Your Guide

If you find yourself casting around for something to write about, or you're drowning in too many ideas and don't know which to focus on, choosing one or two high ranking keywords to use as a guide is a great way to gain focus. Do the leg work and research the keywords that have clout in your industry, the keywords you rank for, and the keywords that you want to rank for. Once you know the keywords that you want to go after, dig into your pile of ideas and create posts around those keywords. Creating blog posts around keywords is a great way to work on your SEO and get content out there.

3. Stay Calm

You aren't writing an academic paper, you're writing a blog post; you don't need to overawe your readers with four syllable words and a formal tone. Write in the same tone that you would speak in as if you were talking to a prospect. If you're having trouble getting into the right frame of mind imagine that you're having a conversation with a prospect. What questions would lead into the point you want to make? What would the normal progression of ideas be if you were having a conversation? If it makes sense, you can set up your post in a question and answer format. If the best way to explain your point is with a numbered list, then format your post so that your points are in a numbered list. Write your post in whatever way is the most natural and clear.

4. Write

The best suggestion I can give is simply to write. You don't have to have a perfect post the first time through, but you do need to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). If you find yourself putting off writing your next blog post, then I recommend scheduling yourself time to write. Block off a half an hour or an hour just like you would for a meeting, and don't let yourself do anything else until you have your first draft down on paper. You can always edit later, but the most important thing is to get your ideas out.

Salespeople are excellent sources of content for blog posts and they can then use them to build credibility with prospects as they progress through the buying process. Salespeople that are also blog authors build a reputation as thought leaders and establish themselves as helpful resources and not just order takers.

About the Author: Todd Hockenberry is the founder of Top Line Results, an inbound marketing agency that specializes in leading top line revenue growth at small and medium-sized companies with a focus on manufacturing, technology and capital equipment.

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Topics: how to start a blog, blogging for business, Top Line Results, content creation

Building a Blogging for Business Network

Posted by Pete Caputa on Mar 28, 2008 10:10:00 AM

Blog networks are a big deal. For people new to blogging, the idea of a professional blog network was born around 2004. The idea was to pull together a bunch of blogs on different topics and have them share resources, and use successful ones to successfully launch new ones through cross promotion. Calacanis and Denton were the first ones to make it work with their respective networks: Weblogsinc and Gawker Media. Calacanis sold Weblogsinc to AOL in 2005 and it makes AOL a lot of money. Gawker Media is still independent and recently conjectured to be worth about $150M. However, there's lots and lots and lots of blog networks around now. I blogged for Creative Weblogging for awhile. b5Media seems to be thriving. TechCrunch, GigaOm, PaidContent and a few other blogs have taken their popularity and used it to launch other blogs, thus creating blog networks. Federated Media and Glam Media have pulled together blog networks by recruiting a bunch of successful bloggers to outsource their ad sales. 

There's a bunch of benefits to a blogger joining a blog network. Behind the scenes, there's a lot that goes into making a blog hum from design, building, hosting to ad sales, ad serving, research, fielding requests from public relations firms, writing, comment moderation, recruiting writers, payroll, etc, etc. However, the biggest benefit of being involved with a blog network is the cross promotion opportunities. A successful blog can quickly make a new blog successful by linking to them frequently, putting them in their blog roll and sometimes, just by association.

But, all blog networks to date are media businesses. They hire (or are started by) great writers and they sell ads. Their business model is gaining eye balls and selling impressions.

The bloggers in my network are not in the media business. They're in the asian cosmetic surgery business, the laser liposculpture business, the bulk mailing list business, the North Carolina whitewater rafting business, the sales force evaluation business, the aed implementation program business, the deformable mirror business, the museum exhibit design business, the after hours trading information business, the home renovation design businesss. The list goes on.  

They don't sell impressions. They're not blogging about Audrina from the Hills' topless photos just to sell more ads. They sell real products and services.  They have real knowledge and real experiences.

Why isn't there a blog network for them? 

Blog networks have historically been run like journalistic enterprises. They've beaten the newspapers. They beat magazines. But, the motivations of the bloggers in my network are different. The means are the same. They must establish credibility, build a community and draw in traffic from search engines in order to build their readership. But, they want to drive traffic in order to generate leads and make sales. Not sell ads. Their products and services help people solve problems and create opportunites. They're not just sharing ideas and information for the sake of entertaining and informing. They're sharing ideas and information to establish credibility and make a prospective client feel more comfortable doing business with them.  They realize they need to be informative and educational in order to build a readership. They realize they need to link to other bloggers and participate in the distributed conversation that is the blogosphere. They need to do all of the things that a professional blogger does.

So, why isn't there a blog network for them? Why shouldn't businesses have the ability to join a network and benefit from a little cross promotion? They're adding value to the web by sharing their knowedge. They are the true experts. They don't write about their topics for a living. They do what they're writing about for a living. Their writing comes from years of hard won experience as practicioners. 

Joining the PC4Media online business network is not much different from joining a Chamber of Commerce or other business networking group. The reason business professionals join those groups is because it's an opportunity to get to know other business professionals, build relationships, do business directly and help each other out by referring business to each other?

Why shouldn't businesses have a blog network that allows them to do that online? Why shouldn't businesses proactively join a network and link to each other, promote each other, use LinkedIn and Twitter together? Why shouldn't bloggers who blog to benefit their business have a network that helps them establish their blog readership quicker, increase their search traffic and traffic from social media sites quicker? Join the conversation quicker. 

Now they have that opportunity.  Stay tuned as this develops. I'm excited and a bunch of my members are too. We're going to be having a lot of fun as we support each other in growing our respective businesses. You're invited to join us

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Topics: how to start a blog, blog network, blogging for business, business blogging

How to Generate Leads Using Blogs and Social Media

Posted by Pete Caputa on Mar 26, 2008 1:06:00 PM

Here's the slides from my Intro to New Media Marketing presentation this morning. And here's feedback from attendees. And Linda's take on the event.
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Topics: how to start a blog, blogging for business, marketing analytics

You're Invited to Write a Guest Post on My Blog

Posted by Pete Caputa on Feb 22, 2008 12:28:00 PM

I have about 600 subscribers that I've accumulated over the years. Many I know personally. Many I don't. But, most are either people in the tech biz or small to mid sized business owners. I started small and I've stuck with it. Like anything, it's not easy and it takes committment. 

Small & Mid Sized Business Owners and Marketing Professionals who are considering starting a blog are usually hesitant for a lot of reasons. Most of them very valid.

  1. They're afraid of how much work it's going to be. And they're already strapped for time.
  2. They don't know if they'll be able to write interesting stuff. 
  3. They don't quite understand how it will help their business grow.
  4. They don't know how to grow their readership.
  5. They don't know how to get one set up on their website or are afraid it's going to cost a lot of money to do it.
  6. They're afraid that there will be more people that criticize them in their comments than will complement them.
  7. It's not really something that people in my line of business do. (I hear this a lot from financial and legal people.) 
  8. If you have any other reasons, please share them in the comments. 

However, I think the biggest reason not to start a blog, is because they don't know how to get started. I usually tell them to find interesting blogs, start subscribing and reading them via a feedreader. Then, start leaving comments on those blogs. Eventually, you'll write a really long comment and you'll realize that you should post your thoughts to your own blog instead of in someone else's comments.

But, some people still hesitate. So, I have an offer for any business owner, sales manager, web manager or marketing manager that wants to take me up on it.

If you have some insight and can write a genuinely educational article (on any topic) about your product, service, business or whatever, you're invited to write a guest post on my blog. You can even link to your website.

There's no charge. There's no catch. Your post will have to pass a little bit of editorial review and you must lean more towards educational than promotional. But, all you have to do is apply by filling out this form

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Topics: how to start a blog, blogging for business, blogging

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