Everyone says you need to have a blog for your business these days (including me). That’s because it can be rewarding for your business. Do it right, and you’ll bring attention to your business, attract new customers, and bring a personal, human touch to your company’s image.
Business blogging isn’t easy though. It requires hard work, dedication, and creativity. As a Geek, you’ve already got those covered, so why aren’t you writing? Avoid these 9 mistakes, and you’ll have a successful business blog.
Mistake 1 – Why are you blogging?
Congratulations on having a business blog. Not everyone does. But do you know why you have one? Answering this question will focus your blog’s post, and make content creation much easier. Answer this one question, and you’ll be a step ahead: What do you hope to accomplish with the blog?
- Trying to boost brand awareness?
- Trying to sell something?
- Looking to connect with customers?
- Looking to build a community?
- Gathering customer feedback?
Once you’ve answered this, stick to that vision. Create content that supports it and furthers it. Readers will keep coming back if you do that.
Mistake 2 – Your Blog is Not For Press
Your press releases should not appear on your business blog. Period. Remember, blogs are more personal and conversational, while a press release is not. They should be separate. Republishing your press releases on your blog will likely drive readers away, and they won’t trust your content even when you’re not talking about press releases.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean you can’t reference your news, or link to any press releases, just make sure to do it in a conversational voice. With original content. No copying & pasting here.
Mistake 3 – Not Blogging Regularly
I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating: a blog is a conversation, which means you have to do it regularly. This gets your readers coming back repeatedly, and it creates a community. They want to hear what you have to say next.
Create a schedule and stick to it. It may be hard at first, but once you get into the rhythm, it’s much easier. If you use an editorial calendar, it’s even easier, because you can gather information far in advance, and let the ideas percolate in your brain for a while first. Don’t write the post the morning you’re supposed to publish it on your blog.
Get other people in your company involved too. This spreads the writing load around, as well as gets different voices involved in the blog.
Mistake 4 – Not Enabling Comments
Think of the blogs you read. Do any of them have comments turned off? They shouldn’t. If they do, you may want to ask why.
Remember how I said that blogging is a conversation? Well, you can’t talk to anyone if the comments are turned off. You want people to bring their perspective to the topic. You want to hear what they think. Engagement like this means you’re connecting with your readership, creating relationships, as well as a community. Sure, it can lead to criticism, but that still means you’re connecting with your readers. Plus it also may give you ideas for new posts or even product enhancements.
Respond to any feedback you get on your posts, and keep the conversation going. This also applies to the blogs you read. Start leaving comments on those too, as that can bring new readers to your blog, as well as create visibility for you and your business.
Mistake 5 – Bad Writing
This covers a lot of ground, but I’m specifically referring to spelling mistakes, grammar errors, hard-to-read presentation on-screen, no images, etc. I covered a lot of this info in a previous blog post, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Making sure everything looks good builds trust with your readers, and creates loyalty with your content.
Mistake 6 – Horrible Post Titles
You may wonder why this is separate from the Mistake 5, but that’s because headlines are a very important element in your post. The headline is often what gets people to open the post, click your tweet, or open your email, so it’s got to be good.
For software marketing, these headline categories work best:
- Direct – These headlines are straight and to the point, without being clever. Free Webinar this Thursday, or Meet Us at Booth 124!
- Indirect – These are subtle headlines that use curiosity to raise questions in the reader’s mind. You can be clever here, as you want people to read the post. Marching with Penguins is a great post title that could talk about the latest Google search algorithm update, codenamed Penguin.
- How-To – Explain to your readers how to do something. Simple. Especially useful when you’re talking about your own products. Interview one of your Professional Services people and get them to help.
- Reason Why – Aka the List post. These are popular for a reason. We love to see a list of items gathered together, as they’re easier to read. This post is an example.
- Testimonial – This headline type offers social proof that you offer great value. Look through your case studies and see if there are any quotes you can leverage. Talk to your sales staff to create some new ones. Don’t forget to use quotes around it. “We use Acme Widgets in space, and they’re great!” gushes Commander Chris Hadfield.
Mistake 7 – Not Sharing Your Expertise
You are the expert on your products and services, so why don’t you talk about it? If you only talk about your industry, the latest trade show, or your new product launch, you’re not telling your readers much. They’re not getting any value out of your blog, and will probably stop reading after a while.
To create that connection and community, you’ve got to talk about how you help your customers. Create content that shows how your products help solve problems they face. Ask for input on an emergency you noticed in the market. Build trust with your readers before you sell them anything, and they’ll become advocates for you.
Mistake 8 – Not Promoting Your Content
You’ve been carefully writing regularly on your blog, but you’re still not getting many visitors. What gives?
Well, have you been promoting your content? This is a vital part of your blogging strategy. You need to get the word out there that you have a blog, and that it’s got great content! Three easy ways to promote your blog are:
- Use social media and send out links to it. Use Twitter and Reddit and send out links to your posts. You can do this manually, or install plugins like the Share This plugin that allow your readers to do it for you.
- When leaving comments on other blogs, there’s often space for a URL. So put in your blog’s URL and get some free advertising. There are even commenting plugins like CommentLuv that pull in your blog’s feed, and link to your latest post.
- Link to your blog in your email signature, your social media profiles, and anywhere else you can think of. The email signature is an old idea that’s making a comeback. Even put it in your tablet and smartphone signature.
Mistake 8 – Hosting Your Blog on Another Domain
This is fine for a personal blog, but as an enterprise software company, you should really be hosting it on your own domain. Either as blog.yourdomainname.com or yourdomainname.com/blog. I use the latter option for this blog, but either option is fine. This shows that you’re a serious company, and worthy of the trust your readers put in you. Which then flows over to your products and services. Trust in your blog, and you readers will trust in your content and products.
Mistake 9 – Writing for yourself and not your audience
In Mistake 7, I talked about creating content that shows how your products help your customers solve problems they face. It’s a good example of how you’ve combined talking about YOURSELF as you look outward at your CUSTOMERS. It shows that you understand them, and can help.
If you were to just talk about your products alone, explaining how the features work, without mentioning any of the benefits, you lose readers and customers. Remember, they’re coming to your blog for a conversation, not to be spoken to. If they want to know the features of your product, they’ll read the product spec sheet. They want to hear about how you can solve their problem with your product.
But how can you turn your writing around? You want to make it a conversation, but are having difficulty doing so. Try these ideas:
- See what your industry is talking about. Is there a new idea everyone’s talking about? Write a post about it. Give your opinion on it.
- Did you hear of a problem your customers are having while attending your last convention? Write a post about how your product helps them with it.
- Give a personal account of a big society event, like a natural disaster. I’m a big space Geek, so I often talk about things going on at the ISS or with the Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield. Relate those items to your products, or not.
- Dig into your products and see how they help your customers. Don’t talk about the features (it’s fast, it’s small, it’s blue), but rather, what benefits it has (because it’s fast, customers will save time, or the small size of it means you can use it on the go & not be chained to a desk.)
If I had to choose one of these mistakes as my Number 1, it would be “Not blogging regularly”. If you’re serious about connecting with your customers, then just get writing. The rest will all work itself out.