The secret about business blogs is that, besides the obvious benefit of driving traffic to your site, your blog can actually help you create new ideas for your business. But driving traffic and fresh ideas only happens if you really think, plan, and create a meaningful blog.
Let’s dive in and make it happen.
Discover & Brainstorm
- Think about who your audience is
- Discover what information your customers are looking for
- Think global & local
- Consider the DIY-ers
- Get outside the box
Plan, Set, Go
- Create lists
- Plan your editorial calendar
- Get (the party) started
Discover & Brainstorm
1. Think about who your audience is
For now, your current customers are your audience. If you know a few of them, think about those people as you write. If you don’t know your customers personally, think about a friend or an acquaintance who is similar to one of your customers.
If neither of those works, you can create a few personas. In a basic sense, this just involves making up one or two imaginary people who symbolize some of your customers. Give them names, ages, and professions, and think about what they like, what they need, and how your business fits in.
You don’t need to get crazy with this—the main idea is to spend a few minutes thinking about your customers and relating to them. As your blog gets going, you might realize that the people who engage with your blog are a subsection of your customers (a niche audience). If that happens, you can try tailoring some of your blog content to them. Or try the opposite and switch up your topics if you’re trying to figure out what a bigger customer base is looking for.
Let’s say you own a local flower shop. You have a brick-and-mortar store and a website, and you’re starting a blog.
You have a wide range of customers, and you know many of them. You pick two customers to think about when you’re writing: Denzel, who buys small arrangements at least once a week for any friend who needs cheering up, and Linda, who comes in most holidays to get flowers for family.
2. Discover what information your customers are looking for
What problems are they trying to solve? What questions are they looking for answers to? Are there topics related to your business that your customers are passionate about?
Go to Google, start typing your product or service into the search bar, and look at what Google auto-suggests. This will tell you what people are asking about that topic or product. It also might give you a good indication of what words customers are using (try different variations of keywords). Write down all the ideas and related words.
Use resources like Answer the Public to find out what your customers are asking about your business’ main product or service. Answer the Public shows charts of a variety of questions which can help you brainstorm and discover new ideas for relevant topics. Take screenshots or make notes.
Answer the Public provides good insight into what people wonder about flowers. Everything from “Are flowers edible?” to “What does each flower color mean?”.
You could write a post about edible flowers, and even try offering edible flower arrangements with included recipes. Or you could write about color meanings, with suggestions for specific events and relationships.
3. Think local & global
- Local events
- Global events and holidays
- Everyday life events
Write them all down, and think about how you can create meaningful posts that help your customers navigate everyday challenges and celebrate events. You can even break each one down and look more closely at what questions people ask around those holidays or events. Then dedicate a number of posts to answering those questions or creating Q&A articles about the most important ones to your business.
Graduation is coming up and, from your research, you discover people are wondering two main things: what flowers are best for graduation, and what flowers you can intertwine into your hair and still wear a cap on top. You write posts covering both topics and publish them a good two weeks before graduation so your customers can start planning.
4. Consider the DIY-ers
Are there any how-to’s you can create to not only increase your SEO and gain new customers but also enhance your value for existing customers? Videos, short listicles, or step-by-step articles are a great way to add DIY content to your site.
Weddings are a great topic for lots of different articles about flowers, including DIY. You start to make a list of all the possibilities: DIY arrangements, charts of what colors look best together, tips on how to make your arrangements look professional, etc.
5. Get outside the box
Consider fun topics that people might be curious or passionate about and that are related to your business (how far you want to dive in here will depend on your business and products).
Are there things your customers might want to discuss?
Is there a fun quiz or a different way you could get your customers to relate to your business?
Take your time with this, ask friends to help you brainstorm, and write down ideas as they come to you. Think about things you’ve liked that other businesses have done, and try something similar.
Spirit animals are pretty fun, so what about a spirit flower? Your flower website could have a colorful banner that links to a spirit-flower quiz for customers. They could either answer the questions to find out what their spirit flower is, or they could answer for a friend, and send that friend the results (along with a bouquet made from the results of the quiz).
Plan, set, go
1. Create lists
Take everything you learned above (keywords, ideas, customer questions, fun topics) and compile them into one list.
Next, create a list of all the kinds of articles you’ll create. For example:
- Shorter posts (500-2000 words)
- Longer posts (3500+ words)
- Answer posts
- Business updates
There will be overlap with your list:
- Shorter posts can answer a specific question your customers want to know
- Shorter posts can be lists, quick how-to’s, and infographics
- Longer posts can be a deep dive into a topic, or a more indepth guide
- Longer posts can link to shorter lists/posts within that same topic
What’s the perfect word count? While 1800 is fairly common for blogs, you should use as many or as few words as it takes. Don’t add fluff just to fill a word count. Do try different post lengths and types. Over time, you might discover that your specific customers prefer some over others.
*There are tons of free and paid apps you can use to build lists and create your editorial calendar. If you want to manage it all digitally, spend a little time looking at options and try a free demo or two.
If you already have a Google account, you can use Google Calendar and Google Sheets just to get started.
And of course if you like pencils and paper, you can start out simple and transition over to a digital calendar later.
You might write a series of short guides to which flowers work for different occasions (dating anniversaries, marriage anniversaries, birthdays, etc).
Then each of those guides could link to related posts (deeper dives into flower color and meaning, a series of questions you wrote to help someone pick a customized flower bouquet, or longer posts about each specific occasion).
2. Plan your editorial calendar
So far, you’ve built a list of ideas and article types that will help you create a solid strategy for your blog. This is really important, because customers can quickly tell the difference between a lame blog (a random smattering of posts that are obviously just there for SEO), and a blog that is relevant, related, and thoughtful.
Now, look at your list of topics/ideas and article types, and start to match them up. Group topics that go together, and then think about what kinds of articles each of those topics might be (shorter, longer, lists, etc).
Factor in holidays, sales, and local events, and leave room for quick blog posts that can address things that happen in your community (fundraisers or trending movements you want to support or highlight).
Then take out a calendar and start to plan. Think about what content your customers might want to see first, and consider related posts you can follow that first one up with to keep customers coming back to your blog.
How often should you post?
How often doesn’t really matter—being consistent does. Pick a realistic goal and stick to it. Once a day is a very aggressive number to hit and maintain; once per week or once every two weeks might be more realistic.
Before you completely fill out your calendar, write one or two blogs to get a feeling of how long they take. Then you’ll have a more realistic idea of how often you want to post.
Get (The Party) Started
The next step is a big Congratulations. Everything you just did starts to build a successful blog. Sit back for a minute and put your feet up.
Once you’ve sufficiently congratulated yourself (with a piece of cake, a walk, a swim, or a nap), move on to the next step: creating your content.