Some people love blogging. And some not so much…don’t fall into this group, like I did.
Adding fresh, new and informative content to your website is essential for SEO and building traffic. More importantly, it creates trust and nurtures relationships with current or future customers.
By blogging consistently, you have a way to potentially generate 67% more leads.
The truth is: although I recommend it as a best practice to clients, I put off my own business blogging for a few reasons.
- It can be time-consuming.
- It requires commitment.
- It needs promotion.
I bit the bullet by adding blog-related tasks into our weekly workflow, and built a carefully crafted blog on this website.
Four articles were published and promoted, over a span of four weeks.
And guess what?
We saw a 400% growth in website traffic in one month.
I received emails and phone calls where potential clients literally said:
“I read your blog post, and I want to work with someone who knows what they are talking about.”
Why didn’t my company start doing this, years ago?!
Get started now, if you haven’t already.
By following these blogging tips and tricks for beginners, your business can also grow blog traffic, generate social shares, and acquire more leads!
1. Set defined goals for your business blogging.
As with any project or endeavor, setting defined goals will give you a vision and purpose.
Did you know that 70% of consumers learn about a company through its blog? Understand what you would like to achieve, so that you can better connect with your target audience.70% of consumers learn about a company through its blog.Click To Tweet
Think about these things to establish your goals:
- Can you determine your “why” for writing?
- Who will your content focus on and specifically target?
- What value will your content bring to readers?
- Is there a specific tone or voice you’ll deliver your information with?
- Are there key metrics you want your blog to help achieve?
- What action should your user take from your blog (i.e. download, sign up, register)?
2. Build a blog component into your current website.
Keep your blog on the same domain as your website, but as its own separate section if you have other main pages like Services, About, Contact, etc.
If your blog is the main reason you have a website, then showcase it as the main feature.
Use a reliable blogging platform.
We recommend and use the self-hosted version of WordPress. It’s user-friendly, great for search engines, and very customizable.
If you already use WordPress for your small business website, you’re in luck since the blog functionality is already there!
3. Invest in your blog user experience & design.
One of the most important blogging tips and tricks for beginners, is to spend time on the user experience for your readers.
You may have to hire a professional web designer to help you with this. Not all blogs need to look the same, or make use of the same features.
Do what’s right for your particular business.
Pay attention to these areas:
- Text size should be readable on all devices (a responsive web design will help with this).
- Design elements should be consistent with your brand identity.
- Your content needs to be the focus. Avoid clutter on the page.
The Harvest blog is simple, clean, and branded well. Content is the focus, but they also offer clear call-to-action in the global navigation and sidebar (Sign Up and Try It Free).
4. Install Google Analytics to measure results.
You want to know who is visiting the site, how, when, from where…right?
Then it all needs to be tracked!
Knowing which blog posts are bringing in the most traffic will be invaluable data for targeting the right content topics, keywords and audience.
Google Analytics also allows you to set up conversion goals that will measure how often visitors complete specific tasks (for example: if you offer opt-in for an e-book, or a newsletter sign up).
Some important web metrics to track:
- Visitors (new and return)
- Bounce rate
- Exit pages
- Conversion rate
- Top landing pages
5. Your blog posts should not be fluff.
Content on your blog may be the first touchpoint that a reader has with you, or your business.
Writing quality, relevant content which can inform your readers is key.
Wanting to share this information is important—don’t be afraid that you’re giving away something for free!
Your expertise will be perceived as valuable in the eyes of a customer or client that trusts you.
6. Make a list of topics you feel confident writing about.
Ideally, topics will focus on your niche keywords, since you’ll be writing about your industry.
Don’t worry too much about the actual title you’ll publish with, just write down the general idea.
Start with 50 topic ideas…that’s just about enough to cover a year’s worth of article content if you can post at least one per week.
If you can break topics up into high-level categories, even better. Set those categories up as your blog navigation, so that your readers can explore specific areas of content if they choose to.
7. Alleviate blog writer’s block by exploring these areas:
- Pain points for your customer, or problems can you help solve for them
- Answering a common question you hear from people about your industry
- Subject matter that you are interested in learning about yourself
8. Use a blog topic generator tool.
Inspiration is always good.
HubSpot offers a fun blog topic generator tool. It’s an interesting way to get ideas based on a few keywords that you type in.
The tool presents a list of topics for you to get the creative juices flowing. Keep in mind that results are not 100% accurate, so grammar and terminology may need to be tweaked.
9. Develop and use an editorial calendar for blogging.
Once you have a solid list of topics that you feel good about, put it on a schedule.
This is one step that you should not bypass!
You’ll come to rely on how helpful organizing a blogging process can be.
Some information that you may want to include on your editorial calendar:
- Publish Date
- Topic / Content details
- Headline / Title
- Link to working document (if your are using an online editor)
- Link to published post
- A column for each avenue you will promote on (social media networks, email blasts and outreach, etc.)
10. Find the right keyword phrase for your blog post.
After coming up with your mega list of topics, find out which keyword phrase is the most effective to use as a common thread throughout each piece of content.
This will help your post index and earn search engine ranking.
You can do this with Google Keyword Planner (under Tools). Research multiple combinations based on your topic, and review the related options they provide.
Look for long-tail keywords with low competition, which relate directly to your subject matter.
In the case of this article, we could have targeted a more general phrase “blogging tips“. But, the competition on that search from more established sources was likely insurmountable for a new blog like ours.
The best choice is an even longer-tail keyword for the exact search that a subset of target users would conduct: “blogging tips and tricks for beginners” (see image above).
Now, 110 searches per month might seem low. But imagine rising to Page 1 on Google for that…or better yet, the number one position on Page 1.
Multiply that by 10+ more successful posts targeting the right long-tail keywords for your audience. Then, you may be getting thousands of visitors starting to view your content!
By the numbers, the top ranking search results receive:
- Page rank position #1: 33% clicks
- Page rank position #2: 18% clicks
- Page rank position #3: 11.4% clicks
It only goes down from there. If you are on Page 2 or further, you may not be found by many with search.
Consider this step very important, if organic traffic is a goal for your website.
11. Create blog posts that are 1,500 words or more.
Now, this is a suggested guideline.
You may be able to convey your thoughts in a smaller amount of words.
Or, you may want to go in-depth and share a longer article with many details.
Typically, evergreen long form content gains more traction for SEO, comments, and sharing (around the 1,500-3,000 word range).
This article is about 3,500 words, because my goal was to provide a wealth of blogging tips and tricks for beginners to take advantage of.
The rule of thumb generally is: use as many words as it takes to explain something well…but not one more.Longer blog posts gain more traction for SEO, comments, and sharing (around the 1,500-3,000 word range).Click To Tweet
12. Write “how-to” blog posts, with ordered steps.
People love useful information that helps them DIY (do-it-yourself).
Especially if the how-to information is from an expert, and handed to them with carefully detailed steps moving through a process that can be put into practice.
13. Write blog posts focused on case studies.
People love learning how something worked to drive results.
When writing case study blog posts, include credible data, images and process.
Consider even adding important quotes and testimonials from people involved.
14. Write blog posts with numbered tips or guidelines.
People love to know they can take something that has worked for someone else, and use it as a best practice.
By adding the number of tips in your actual blog post title, it gives readers an expectation about the breadth of information they might receive.
15. Write blog posts that are long lists.
People love to understand things in more ways than one.
This post you are reading is a long list (and numbered tips). You can see how each nugget of information is as helpful as the next, together building a cohesive base of knowledge.
16. Deep dive into your blog content, to create more blog content.
Take articles with more general information, and create a separate article focusing on one specific area.
This further strengthens your thought leadership on a topic, and a reader’s perception of your expertise.
I could probably take many of the points in this post, and turn each one into another very focused post with detailed examples.
17. Break up blog content to increase readability.
Large blocks of text are difficult to get through on a small screen. And, a lot of blog readers are on their smartphones killing time.
Try to limit paragraphs to 2-3 sentences each.
Use sentences that are concise, and less than 20 words long.
Oftentimes, you can even leave one sentence on its own if it can carry a thought by itself.
18. Emphasize key points in a blockquote or italics/ bold.
To keep a reader’s attention (aside from imagery), you need to vary the treatment of some words and sentences.
Pull out impactful statements, and put emphasis on significant thoughts throughout your “conversation” with a reader. Like I just did.
19. Always add images that support your story.
There’s nothing more mundane than a page of screen text.Articles with images get 94% more total views. They are a great visual supplement to keep a reader's attention. Click To Tweet
For SEO purposes:
Name your image files properly–ideally describing exactly what it shows.
For example: blogging-tips-for-beginners-editorial-calendar.jpg.
Include keyword-specific alt tags for all images within a post.
For example: “blogging tips and tricks for beginners – keyword research”.
20. Use images and graphics that you have rights to, or are royalty-free.
If you cannot hire or contract a designer because of cost, it’s still better to source fresh imagery–rather than Google search and lift it from someone else.
Try Canva to create quick and unique graphics on your own.
Or purchase credits at paid stock photo libraries like:
You could also use free stock photo resources such as:
Always read the rules about photo use, before adding them to your content.
21. Create a unique image for your social media posts.
You’re going to be promoting your blog content heavily on social media, and adding an image will increase engagement.
Images added to Twitter show a 35% increase in engagement.
Images on Facebook posts can receive 106% more clicks than link posts.
Use your blog headline within an image so that it is a recognizable as a piece of interesting content, and grabs the reader.
— FreshSparks (@FreshSparks) June 2, 2016
22. End your blog post with a conclusion and a question.
Providing a summary is helpful for readers that may tend to scroll to the end of a post (by the way, only 25-50% of viewers reach the bottom).
Point out the main items within your content that will stick with readers.After the conclusion of your blog post, ask a question to start the conversation.Click To Tweet
Further prompt engagement with a call-to-action for leaving comments.
23. Don’t be boring with your headline, but keep it simple.
That may sound like an oxymoron, but you will only have a certain amount of characters before your title gets cuts off in Google search results (55 to be exact).
Be impactful with the message, and use your keyword phrase to support search engine optimization.
Readers should instantly understand the value of reading your content. Hook them with a great headline that is compelling and appeals to their needs.
This article’s headline could have gone in another direction, for example: “How to Blog Effectively for Beginners“.
See how different it comes across, with the formula of words I actually chose to use?
- a number (40)
- the keyword (blogging tips and tricks for beginners)
- the value provided (to grow blog traffic)
- a surprising metric (I could have added…”by 400%”)
Fun stat: headlines that use odd numbers may have a 20% higher click-through rate than headlines with even numbers.
24. Write your blog post headline, then analyze it!
Still wondering whether the title for your article is the right mix of words, or has a clear message?
Use CoSchedule’s blog post headline analyzer tool.
The results give you a rating and feedback on how you could improve based on:
- word balance
- headline type
It’s a neat way to gauge whether the blog post title will have impact for readers. We use it all the time, to help strengthen the appeal of our blog headlines!
25. Get Yoast installed, if your site uses a WordPress blog.
The Yoast WordPress SEO plug-in will help immensely with optimizing each of your posts for a focus keyword.
You’ll be given clear criteria to input for optimizing, and suggestions on how to improve (saving loads of time and effort).
26. Add social sharing buttons to your blog posts.
Social proof can drive readers to also share your content.
Put the recognizable social network buttons at the top and at the bottom of your post, giving multiple opportunities to share.
You’ll see that ours also float on the left side, for desktop users reading this.
Choose 3-4 social networks to increase the likelihood of a share, but not too many more or it can look cluttered.
Of course, you’ll base your social media network choices on where your target audience spends the most time.
27. Allow readers to tweet content within a blog post.
Use a tool like Click to Tweet, to add an icon/hyperlink after a key snippet of information from your post.
In the customized tweet, include title, link, hashtags, and your own Twitter handle.
These little bits of information can be an alternate way for readers to share information that resonates with them.
You’ll see little tweeting opportunities spread throughout this post (and please feel free to use them!).
28. Post one to two blog articles a week.
This may be difficult at the beginning, so you can ease into it.
Start by writing two articles a month, and increase the frequency to one article per week.
As you get into the groove, creating posts will become more natural and the process will be second nature.
You’ll see the most results if you can get it to that 2x per week sweet spot (we’re trying to get there, too).
29. Please spell check your blog posts!
Really. That is all.
30. Proofread and edit your blog post.
You don’t want to be too quick to hit publish. Even if you are running against your own deadline, do the due diligence to ensure your post is high quality.
Have a peer read your content through, to see if it is understandable and flows well.
When I finish writing a post, I step away for at least 24 hours, and come back to it. The break gives me a fresh look, and the ability to detect errors I may not have seen while in the thick of it.
Another exercise, is to read the entire text out loud and see how it “sounds”. Does it come across like a report?
Conversational blog posts perform better, by increasing readability and engaging readers.
31. Fact check your blog post to make sure all statements are true.
You’re sharing this with the public, and your reputation is at stake.
Go through your post and ensure it is accurate…100%.
Attribute any quotes or original content from another source, with a footnote or hyperlink back to them.
32. Post your blog on Monday or Thursday mornings.
Only you will know your target audience’s behaviors over time, by looking at your website’s traffic signals with analytics.
But these two days, and the timeframe, have been shown in studies as good timing to schedule a post for more inbound links.
33. Email your subscriber list with the latest blog post.
If your newsletter groups are segmented, send particular posts to each group.The best click-through results will come from your emailed blog posts.Click To Tweet
Use an image, headline, and interesting excerpt of your post that grabs people’s attention–enough for them to want to go read the full article.
34. Email your blog post to the people that are mentioned.
It’s always nice to hear that a quote, or original content has been included somewhere else on the web. Send a message or tweet to people that contributed to making your post a solid piece of work.
They might then share it to their circles, expanding your reach exponentially.
35. Submit your blog post to popular bookmarking sites.
Leverage these other websites to expose your blog to a much wider audience, and drive traffic to your website. The click-through rate can be low (0.1%), but your blog post has the opportunity to become viral!
36. Submit your blog post to niche bookmarking sites
With the same premise as above, try submitting to some of these sites if they are relevant to the subject matter of your content. You can also Google to find the ones that are best for your industry type.
37. Promote blog posts over time.
Depending on how news breaking a subject is, the life of good blog article content can be 2-3 years!
In contrast, the life of a Facebook post or Tweet can be 2-3 minutes.Recirculate your content by promoting it on social media, over a span of time.Click To Tweet
Change up headlines, call to action, and hashtags for variety—to grab viewers that may not have initially engaged.
38. Respond to blog comments and questions.
If your blog is crafted properly, you’ll have a user-friendly comments section.
Your reader’s thoughts should not fall on deaf ears!
Take the time to acknowledge a response to your content. Thank them for any compliments, and help them answer a question if they ask.
39. Repurpose your blog content.
Don’t stop with just an article! Turn this information into another format that is delivered online.
Think about video, audio, an infographic, an e-book, or a Slideshare presentation.
The key is to get exposure for the original content that you wrote, across many networks. Link back to the original article source on your website if you can.
40. Don’t give up on blogging!
You may not see immediate results.
You may get frustrated when your comments are at zero.
You may think your hard work is being pushed out into a field of crickets.
Shake it off, and keep going.
Consistency and commitment are incredibly important.
The results of a blog bringing you business will not be overnight. But I was able to show you the impact posting to our blog (and promoting it), made in just one month.
Set a goal to be consistent, and integrate blogging into your weekly workflow.
Don’t just try to find the time, purposefully make time.
Use these blogging tips and tricks for beginners as guidelines for your process of producing and promoting well-written, informative content. The ongoing efforts will pay off for your small business, it’s proven!
What other blogging tips and tricks can you share?
Leave your comments or questions below!
FreshSparks is a creative studio specializing in brand strategy, website design and digital marketing services. We can help you build a successful online presence, with a blog that brings in traffic and leads. Get a free consultation for your next project.
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