Let’s be clear – I really dislike the word “blog.”
Note, I love the concept of blogging: creating relevant content that your audience cares about. But that word, “blog,” tends to conjure images of high school students sharing the latest teenage angst and drama on their personal web blog. It sounds like a made up word (it is), and doesn’t strike many in-house marketers as professional. The struggle is real.
Here’s the thing, regardless of how I feel about the term, the reality is the concept is inherently valuable to organizations, regardless of industry. You work for a company. Your company has customers. These customers, and people like them, are your audience. This audience has questions, challenges, and goals. They are interested in what you have to say. Are these fragmented sentences making that clear?
Since you are reading this post (thanks, by the way), I’m willing to bet you’d like to start a company blog, and are at least somewhat familiar with the benefits of content creation. If you’re faced with a team or manager who is less enthusiastic about blogging, chances are they are picturing the scenario I mentioned above. If that’s the case, gently remind them that a blog is simply a collection of articles or posts that will help drive people to your website.
Alright, here are 5 steps to launching a company blog.
1) Discover Your Audience
Rule No. 1 about a company blog – it is not about you.
There is definitely a time and place to share interesting news about your organization, like new staff, awards, and community involvement, but your blog should be less about you and more about them. In this case, them being your audience.
- Ask your sales team to tell you about current clients and prospects – what questions do they ask, what challenges do they face, what are their biggest objections, etc.
- Interview an actual customer – hear directly from the source about what your audience thinks and care about.
- Build the personas – usually a slide deck or PDF summarizing your findings.
2) Conduct Your Research
Now that you know who you are speaking to, consider the general topics they would be interested in, and narrow those general topics down into specifics. For example, our agency blog revolves around four general topics we know our audience cares about: Strategy, Design, Development, and Marketing.
Under each of these general topics, we write about specific topics or questions. So, under “Marketing,” you may read about PPC advertising strategies, social media marketing tools, and marketing automation.
Once you have a solid foundation of topics to write about, you need to make sure those posts are written with SEO best practices in mind. That could be a post by itself, but the main takeaway would be to use a tool like Moz to discover the right keywords to target. Then, you’d map those keywords to specific topics your audience cares about, and create blog titles from there.
At the end of this step, you should have a significant list of topics and keywords (say, 50 topics and 25 keywords, for example).
3) Build Your Writer Pool
The hardest part of starting and maintaining a company blog is often not the strategy in the first two steps; it is actually getting your staff and coworkers to commit to creating the content. That’s not to say strategy is simple (it actually requires significant time and energy) – but getting a group of not-professional-writers to commit to deadlines is always an adventure.
The amount of people you’ll need for a successfully run blog is going to depend on your goals and the size of your organization. If you’d like to post one article per week, you may be able to handle this with just two or three people, for example.
Put out a “call for writers” throughout your organization, and see who responds. While a company blog could be managed and maintained by a single person, the blog is infinitely more interesting and valuable if you have multiple writers discussing a variety of topics.
4) Create a Content Calendar
Managing content can be a bit like juggling four balls with a blindfold – really difficult. To make it easier, you need to instill a clear process for your writers to follow, and use a content calendar to keep track of everything. Note: here are three totally free ways to create a content calendar – you may want to check those out!
- At the beginning of each month, assign blog topics to your team for the next month (so in November, you assign topics for December – this gives them anywhere from 3-8 weeks to write)
- Have writers submit their post no later than 1 week before it is scheduled it go live (leaving plenty of time for revisions)
- Have a single person responsible for editing and posting the content
5) Get Writing
A crucial part of starting a company blog? Writing the content. Sure, it’s obvious, but it needs to be said.
- Tone of Voice: Your company blog should (usually) be more personal than your other marketing or brand materials. Don’t worry about writing like a corporate press release – relax, and write your post how you would speak it.
- SEO: Keep the keywords in mind when writing a post; don’t stuff them all over the place, but when it makes sense you should include the words / phrase you are targeting.
- Personas: Consider a real person reading your post. It helps to picture a real customer, and ask yourself if they would find this content interesting.
- Environment – Set yourself of for success. For me, this means playing the Lord of The Rings soundtrack whenever I write (who knew writing about digital marketing could sound so epic?). Find a quiet space, head to a coffee shop, or just plug in headphones; whatever you need to do to write effectively.
Starting a company blog can be a challenge, as with all things digital marketing. But, if done right, you can generate high volumes of quality traffic to your website. Sounds good, right?