Set up your blog on the right foot

by Stratton Craig

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The blogging world has received new acclaim in recent years, and there’s never been a better time to add your voice to the authoritative conversations gripping the web every day. Whether you intend to build your business presence with personalised posts or to establish an exclusive blog destination, the right attitude and a clever strategy can help you attract a regular readership in a matter of weeks – even days.

Follow these tips for your best shot at starting and managing a successful blog…

Write from the heart

When it comes to blogging, there’s no ‘right’ way to write. This is your opportunity to express the unique character of your business or its employees. Embrace your most esoteric traits – these are the ones that will draw people in.

Avoid blogging blindly

While writing in a comfortable style, you should also take the time to carefully consider the content of your blog posts. What are you an expert in? How can you enrich the lives of your readers with unique insights they can’t find anywhere else? Focus on these and remember to bring every single post back to the key message you hope to convey.

Lay down the necessary groundwork

Before you can get blogging, you obviously need to decide where you’re going to blog. For many businesses this will simply mean adding a new tab to your existing website. Others may look to the likes of WordPress for world-leading templates or SquareSpace and for built-in hosting packages.

Whichever platform you go with, spare a little thought for aesthetics and make sure your content will be easy to read. A bit of white space can be just as important as the words you fill it with, because copy that’s overly compact or difficult to read will be off-putting from the outset.

Recruit a second pair of eyes

Whether it’s you doing the blogging or a fellow colleague, make sure at least one other person reviews your posts before you publish them. Drafting your blog in Word can help you pinpoint spelling errors your CMS may overlook, but there’s nothing better than human instinct to determine whether something reads well enough to hold someone’s attention.

Use all the tools available to you

Although your first priority should be publishing regular, high-quality posts, you also have to consider how you’re going to put that content in front of your target audience. Is your reader more likely to Tweet, linger all evening on Facebook, scroll through LinkedIn during slow spells or join a Google+ community? Do your research and make sure you’re promoting your posts on the right platforms.

But don’t just copy and paste. In order to attract a truly engaged audience, you need to make some effort to build those relationships. Use social networking sites for the purpose they were designed: to network. Share other people’s content. Comment on relevant stories. Use trending hashtags. Become a name and face that people are likely to remember. 

Trail your readers

In order to generate even more traffic, you’ll need to find out which signposts are sending your existing readers in the right direction. Google Analytics is a free and simple way to capture your readers’ opinions with useful stats like how long they’re spending on your site, how many pages they’re reading and which posts they stick around for the longest.

You can even gain useful insights into the demographics of your audience, including where they live, how old they are and what other interests they have. Channel these learnings into future blog posts to ensure you remain relevant to your core readership.

Vary your content

In the beginning you’ll probably be posting primarily words and pictures, but sooner than later it’s important to think about the bigger picture. Our recent research shows that readers between the ages of 18 and 44 crave video content the most while 26-24 year-olds and 65+ year-olds specifically look out for social media content on the web. Think about incorporating diversity on your blog, whether it be with colours, images, videos, graphics or social media content. This way you’re sure to capture the widest possible audience and retain their interest for the long-term.  

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