By: Copywriter Alison R Bowyer
Start-ups are so exciting. All that enthusiasm and anticipation of what the future may hold. Been there!
If you have a new website, or you’re in the process of getting one built, you’re probably already aware that you need to add regular content to your site to attract new traffic. And that means blogging.
But what if you’ve never written a blog before, have no idea where to start or can’t think what to write about?
Don’t worry! I’ve put together seven simple tips that will help you to get started today. So take a deep breath, grab a cuppa and enjoy.
1. Work out a content strategy
Don’t panic! Although not everyone will appreciate me saying this, your content strategy is really just a plan of what you are going to write and when.
Before you get started on your first blog, it makes sense to think about the subject matter for future blogs.
The beauty of this is you can work out how your blogs are going to fit together, think about some subjects that will fit in with seasonal highlights across the year and decide what your target audience would like to read about.
Set yourself a target to write 10 blogs initially. It’s not as scary as it sounds!
Sit down with a pen and paper, and think of 10 useful subjects that will be helpful to your readers.
For example, if you’re a cleaner, you might write a blog about how to get red wine stains out of a cream carpet or felt tip off the wallpaper. Think of what problems your readers might have and how you can help resolve them.
I know it sounds daunting, but once it’s done you’ll have a bank of blogs to share with your audience on a regular basis. You can share them continually and they’ll be a permanent presence on your website, which is great for search engine optimisation (SEO).
Don’t worry that you’re giving away your secrets. That’s exactly what you should be doing. It builds trust with your potential clients and establishes you as the ‘go to’ person in your field. If your advice is good, they’ll come back for more.
And when their mates ask them if you they know a good cleaner, who are they going to think of?
Yes, that’s right. You.
2. Write *helpful* headlines
Forget about being overly creative or clever when you write headlines for your blog. Instead, think of something clear but attention grabbling. Something that makes the reader think: ooh I must open this blog. An eye-catching image will help too (see point 3 below).
Your headline might tap into their curiosity (3 life-saving cleaning tips) or fears (why you should never use bleach on your laminate) or offer them something that promises to save money or time (clean your whole house for less than a fiver).
3. Use eye-catching images
Although it’s my job, as a copywriter, to tell you that words are more important than pictures, the truth is they’re equally important.
Don’t think you need to get your camera or iPhone out to produce one of those glorious photographic masterpieces we all admire on Instagram (unless you’re promoting your photography business, in which case do).
Stock images are the way to go. There are loads of sites where you can purchase them, such as Shutterstock and Fotolia. Make sure you understand the licence and attribution rules before you publish them on your site.
I’m guessing your budget isn’t huge. Maybe non-existent. That’s okay, because the good news is you can also get stock images for free.
No, I’m not talking about doing a Google image search or pinching a picture from someone else’s website. Do not do this, unless you fancy getting yourself into all sorts of legal hot water.
I use Pixabay, but type free stock images into your search engine and you’ll be spoilt for choice.
It’s surprisingly time-consuming choosing and downloading suitable stock images, so grab yourself a drink and sit down for an hour or so. Choose a number of images that are relevant to your business area and download them in bulk. Now you have a batch of images that you can access quickly when the urge to blog strikes.
4, Sort out some keywords
As a new business owner, you’ll be wondering how you can get your website performing on search engines.
There’s no easy answer to this.
If you already have a website presence and business email, you’ll have plenty of SPAM messages promising you the No 1 spot. on Google. Your mail trash folder is the perfect home for emails like these!
If you do have money to spend, there are plenty of reputable SEO (search engine optimisation) and social media experts out there that can help you with your keyword research and social media presence. Good professional advice is always worth investing in. So if you have the cash, go for it.
But if circumstances dictate a DIY approach for now, there are some things you can do yourself to get your website SEO friendly. It’s not going to happen overnight, but your business blog will play a big part in getting you there,
First of all, think about your target audience and what they might type into a search engine. For example, if you’re a window cleaner in Milton Keynes then you may want to use window cleaner and Milton Keynes in your website copy and content. They’re the obvious ones. Now think about other words that are relevant to the services you offer (maybe carpet cleaning, conservatory cleaning etc).
Sit down with a pen and paper and think about what you might type into a search engine if you were looking for the services you offer. It’s hard to be objective because you’re so close to your own business so ask some friends and colleagues too. Don’t overthink it. Often, the first word that comes to mind is the first word that you would use on a search.
Once you’ve established some keywords, work them into any content that you write. Current opinion is that your keywords should only make up 5% of your body text.
So be extra careful not to ‘stuff’ your content full of your keywords. Search engines are sophisticated and they look for high quality content, so this approach is more likely to have a negative effect.
It’s more important that your content makes sense, is written well and that your keyword appears naturally within the content. Always think quality over quantity.
There are lots of other things you can do to optimise your blogs for search engines, I will cover these in a separate blog.
5. Quote your heroes and heroines
There’s nothing like a meaningful quote to give your blog the feel-good factor.
It shows that you’re engaged with what’s going on in your industry, and that you’re aiming high. Don’t try and pass it off as your own wisdom though. You might get yourself in trouble and you’ll definitely make yourself look foolish.
6. Get serious with stats
Maybe it’s because I have a deep-rooted fear of numbers, but I think stats add a serious element to any blog, making it more credible and (forgive me for this) more grown up.
You can use stats in many ways. They can support a message, add credibility to your message or play on fears.
Taking that last one (fears) as an example, I read a report a few years back about business owners losing customers due to spelling mistakes on their website.
The statistic was scary, something like 50%. Imagine that. Losing 50% of potential customer, just because of a few spelling errors! Enough to have you googling the nearest proofreader (or hiring the clever proofreader that included that statistic on their home page).
Don’t overdo it with stats though. Your blogs needs to be readable and digestible to a time-poor audience. So one or two well-placed stats to illustrate a key point should be more than enough.
7. Add a clear call to action
This is really important, Every page on your website, including your blog, should have a call to action. Whatever page of your website your reader is on, they should be in no doubt about how to contact you.
Your blog is not a sales pitch though, so don’t keep referring to your business or contact details within the body text of your blog. Keep it entertaining, informative and inspiring, but not pushy.
It is perfectly acceptable to have a paragraph or line about you at the end of your blog providing more information about you and your contact details, so make sure you include this.
The most important thing about your blog is that it should be clear, error-free copy that projects the professional image you’re aiming for. It shows that you’ve taken the time and care to create something really good, indicating that you’ll take the same care with the product or service you’re promoting.
So there you have it! Seven simple tips that you can use today for your start-up blog. What’s stopping you?
If you’re a start-up or small owner, I’d love your feedback on this blog. Did it help you feel more confident about getting started?
And send me a link to your own blog when you do get writing. I’d love to read it and see how you’re getting on.
Until next time.
Alison is a Freelance Copywriter based in Milton Keynes. She offers copywriting for websites and content for business blogs. You can contact Alison on 07809 599055 or email her firstname.lastname@example.org
ps. There’s my call to action right there ^