According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are 185,810 writers and editors in the United States—that’s just 0.13% of all occupations. So if you’re not a writer, you’re not alone. But chances are, you still need to write for the sake of your business.
If you want to give your business website the visitor boost it needs, it’s time to blog. And if you’re not a writer, no worries—you’ll be writing like the pros in no time (with the right tips and practice, of course).
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Why Blog for Business?
You’ve done your market analysis. You know who your customers are. But to get customers and make sales, you need to market your business to them. Because without marketing, how will anyone know you exist? They won’t. And when it comes to marketing strategies, blogging takes the cake for many businesses.
Why? Establishing a blog helps you:
- Increase brand awareness
- Engage visitors
- Establish yourself as a thought leader
- Attract quality leads
After all, businesses that do content marketing get a whopping 7.8 times more site traffic than those that don’t.
1. Increase Brand Awareness
When you publish a blog article—and a good blog article that ranks in the top few search engine results—people will see it.
And when people click on the blog article and read it, voila! They’re on your business website, learning your company name and logo and finding out what you do.
2. Engage Visitors
Each time someone lands on your website is an opportunity for you to engage with them and build a relationship.
Done right, your business blog can command a visitor’s attention anywhere from two to nine minutes.
3. Establish yourself as a Thought Leader
Establishing credibility should be one of your top priorities if you’re a new business. And if you’re a veteran business, maintaining and improving your credibility should always be on your mind.
A blog doesn’t just help establish your credibility. It also frames you as a thought leader (aka, people see you as an authority on your subject matter).
4. Attract Quality Leads
Blogging is a marketing tool, after all. One of the main draws of this strategy is to convert website visitors into leads and leads into customers.
When you start a business blog, you can attract new visitors to your website and use additional marketing efforts (e.g., whitepapers, email subscriptions, etc.) to turn them into leads.
9 Things Every Blog Article Needs
Is blogging a marketing strategy you want to try in your business? Are you hesitant to try it because you’re not a writer yourself?
Hesitate no more. Get started by learning the following nine things every blog article should have.
People have an attention span of (drumroll please) eight seconds. Can you blame them? There is so much going on. Countless tabs to track, information to learn, and questions to answer.
People want answers. Fast.
In fact, many people (43% to be exact) skim. To help skimmers and busy non-skimmers alike, give readers the information they need in bite-sized pieces.
- Short paragraphs (e.g., three sentences max)
- Short sentences (e.g., 20 words max)
- Bulleted lists
- Bolded words or phrases
Let’s take a look at an example. Which of the following is easier to read?
Example 1: If you want to write a blog article that ranks and converts, you need to make it skimmable, use a catchy title, and keep it at the right length.
Example 2: Want to write a blog article that ranks and converts? You should:
- Make it skimmable
- Use a catchy title
- Keep it at the right length
Chances are, the one that uses a bulleted list and shorter sentences is better on the eyes and easier to read.
2. A Catchy Title
Your friend told you about a crazy news story. You want to dig into it and learn more about it. So, you do a Google search for the topic. And then, you see it. Countless articles on the same topic. Each article may have the exact same content inside. So, how do you choose which one to read?
Chances are, you probably look at the publication and how high up it is. You may look at who published it (e.g., BBC). Or, you might choose the first thing you see.
But sometimes, you pick the article with the best title.
On average, five times as many people read headlines than body copy. And when someone is scrolling through search engine results, a compelling headline may be what you need to get them to read the full article.
So, what makes a title “catchy?” When writing a headline, consider the following tips:
- Keep your headlines simple and easy to read
- Use numbers so the reader knows exactly what they’re getting (example: this article title!)
- Pay attention to the type of emotion the headline conveys (e.g., joy)
- Stick to word counts that work (e.g., less than six words)
- Use attention-grabbing copy
- Make sure your headline accurately reflects what’s in the article
If you need help grading your headlines on their catchiness, ask a colleague or friend. Would they be intrigued? You can also use headline analyzer tools (e.g., CoSchedule).
3. The Right Length
What’s the ideal length for a blog article? According to HubSpot data, the ideal article length is 2,100 – 2,400 words. But, a 2,000+ word article isn’t necessarily going to win you favor with search engines and your audience. You must consider context, too.
The type of article you write may impact the length you aim for. For example, HubSpot reports that an article defining a topic (i.e., “What is XYZ?”) might be between 1,300 – 1,700 words. On the other hand, a how-to guide should be 1,700 – 2,100 words.
But when you have a business to run and a million other tasks vying for your attention, 2,000 words may seem easier said than done. So, what’s the lowest word count your articles should have? According to Yoast, you should shoot for a minimum of 300 words when writing your blog articles.
Long story short, there isn’t a standard article length every writer adheres to. Before holding yourself to an arbitrary number of words, consider the following tips:
- Your ideal word count might depend on the type of article you write
- Avoid rambling in your article to hit a word count (it won’t work!)
- Some article topics don’t need as much explaining as others
- Whatever the length, make sure to optimize the article for search engines (which we’ll get to later)
Sally went to the seashore to sell seashells. She sold them to a man who paid $40 per seashell. But before she sold them, she had a sandwich. Then, she got lost. But finally, she found the man and sold the seashells.
When you write a blog article, organization is a must. You don’t want to give your reader whiplash by going from Point A to Point D only to backtrack to Point B. Your articles should flow in a natural order that makes sense to the reader.
Need to get technical? Define first and explain later. For example, we write many technical articles at Patriot Software about payroll. Before we go into the process of running payroll itself (e.g., how to withhold payroll taxes), we need to define key parts of the process (e.g., what are the payroll taxes).
For the best article organization, make sure to:
- Write out an outline
- Set the stage early
- Use transitions
- Edit and revise
Your first article draft probably won’t be what you end up with—and that’s OK! Be willing to move things around, reword, and rewrite your article to optimize readability.
If you’re a business owner, you know the ins and outs of your company. But when you’re writing an article, you don’t want to just write about what you know. You also want to include some other research about the topic.
Add stats and grounded research to your blog articles to back up your claims, establish your writing’s credibility, and make things more interesting.
When researching your articles, use credible sources, including government websites and professional organizations. Be sure to link to the source (or add another type of attribution), too.
Sixty-five percent of the general population are visual learners. And let’s face it—too much copy can be hard to get through without something breaking it up.
Add at least one visual to your blog articles to break up some of the text. Don’t worry if you’re not a designer. There are tools out there (e.g., Canva) that provide templates for creating visuals.
So, what kind of visuals should you make? You can add visuals to articles that contain:
- Data (e.g., pie chart)
If you want to dive deeper into the art of graphic design, you may consider adding a detailed infographic that summarizes the key points of your article.
7. Search Engine Optimization
The point of writing a blog article is for people to read it, right? Absolutely. So if you want to get your articles in front of readers’ eyes, you need to optimize it for search engines.
Search engine optimization is the process of getting your articles to rank in search engines (e.g., Google) for specific keywords. You want your article to pop up close to the top of the page when someone searches for a specific topic (e.g., dog grooming).
To optimize your articles, you need to:
- Conduct keyword research (e.g., Semrush)
- Include keywords throughout your articles
- Add a meta description and title
- Balance SEO goals and quality writing
Let’s look at an example. Say you run a dog grooming business. Using a keyword research tool, you see that “dog grooming” has significant search volume—too much, in fact. So, you want to get more specific. The keyword “how to cut my dog’s hair” has lower search volume, making it easier to rank in search engines. Voila. “How to cut my dog’s hair” becomes your blog article topic and main keyword.
8. A strong CTA
A CTA, or call to action, is a prompt that encourages someone to take a specific action, like purchasing a product or signing up for an email newsletter.
So, what do you want readers to do after reading your blog article? Do you want them to make a purchase? More than likely, yes. You want them to become customers. But, that’s not always the next course of action when someone reads a blog article.
Like your other marketing efforts, your blog is a funnel. If you’re not familiar with the marketing funnel stages, here’s a quick refresh (give or take a few steps):
A blog article may grab your readers’ attention, but it may not instantly convert them into paying customers—especially if they’ve just discovered your business. So, your calls to action need to reflect where the reader is in the marketing funnel.
Calls to action in your blog articles may include:
- Email subscription
- Whitepaper download
- Product purchase
- Relevant blog articles
You may use visuals, copy, or a mix of both as your call to action. Whatever your call to action, make sure to keep it simple. Stick to one CTA so you don’t overwhelm and confuse readers.
Whew. A quality blog article has a lot that goes into it. But there’s one more thing that makes all the difference between an article that captivates your readers and one that puts them to sleep. And that is pizazz.
Your articles can’t be boring, or you’ll lose readers faster than you get them (remember that eight-second attention span?).
When writing your articles, tell a story. Keep things interesting for your readers, but stick to the facts. Exaggerating may wind up costing you credibility.
Making your Blog the Best Version of Itself
Now, let’s say you put all nine things we mentioned above into your blog. Again, blogging for business is a long-term game, so you likely won’t see the immediate effects.
To give your business blog the best chance of success, make it the best version it can be. You can do this by:
- Blogging consistently (e.g., three times per week)
- Adding value (don’t just add to the conversation of all the blogs out there; command it!)
- Collaborating with others (get industry experts to contribute to your blog)
- Promoting it on social media
- Adding a newsletter (give readers a chance to sign up for an email subscription)
- Asking customers for your next topic idea
- Measuring your success (e.g., bounce rate, time on page, etc.)
- Getting an expert (e.g., hiring a content writer or outsourcing to a content team)
A word of warning: Blogging is a long-term game. When you start a blog, don’t expect to immediately see an uptick in visitors. It takes an average of three to six months for a new, quality blog to get traction. Likewise, don’t get your hopes up on seeing hundreds of website visitors buying from you the second they read a new blog article.
The more quality work you put into your business blog, the greater the reward. And when in doubt, consider what you would want to read and what it would take for you to become a customer.