When taking steps to build your brand, a blog may not seem like the most important item on your to-do list. But having a blog is a great way to not only reach out to your audience, but to also build connections with other entrepreneurs in the digital space. Read on for some simple pieces of advice you can follow to make your blog truly brilliant.
Utilize Google Analytics
We’ve already extensively covered how to use GA for your store, but it’s also a useful tool for keeping track of blog traffic. With Analytics, you can see not only where traffic is coming from, but also which articles people are reading.
Most importantly, you can use GA to track each post’s bounce rate. A bounce rate is the amount of average time readers spend on a certain page: in this case, the amount of time they spend reading a blog post. The lower the bounce rate, the better your post is doing. An average bounce rate for most pages is about 50%. This is a great piece of data to consider when deciding topics for future posts; stick to themes in line with articles that have a good bounce rate…and avoid topics that have had a bounce rate of 75% or higher.
I’m sure you have plenty of insightful, thought-provoking things to say. (If not, you probably wouldn’t be writing a blog!) However, it’s good to mix up the tone of your posts, especially if you’re writing a business-oriented — and not a personal — blog. Work those networking muscles and find experts in your industry to guest post for you, especially about topics that you may be a little rusty on. Not only will you reap the benefits of having fresh voices, but you’re also likely to get some social traction from guest posters.
It’s also important find blogs you can guest post for, not so much for variety, but for SEO purposes. SEO can be a tricky beast (and I won’t go into the nitty gritty here), but one great way to make your site rise in the search rankings is by getting links to your store on high quality sites. A simple way to do this is by writing informative guest posts for sites within your business niche, and getting them to include a link back to your store. Not only is this great for SEO, but it’s also a fantastic way to get your name out there and find future collaborators for your own blog.
When it comes to running a well-oiled blog, good organization is key. First, have a catchall document for post ideas that come to you while browsing the internet, taking a shower or doing whatever it is that gets your brain going. You may not be able to write about whatever comes to you that week, or even that month, but when you’re short on topics down the line, this doc full of fresh ideas will be your best friend.
This list will also come in handy when you’re setting up a monthly editorial calendar. (Yes, you need a monthly editorial calendar.) First, decide on a posting cadence that will work with your schedule. Are you only able to do two articles a week, or are you itching to write something new daily? Figure out what days you want to post on, and sit down at the beginning of each month to assign content (ideally from your handy catchall list) for each one. With calendar deadlines looking you in the face, it’s a lot harder to let blog duties fall through the cracks.
Read. A lot.
One of thing that often scares entrepreneurs away from blogging is a fear of writing. Not everyone is a natural Jonathan Franzen, and the sight of a blank Word document can have even the most determined person cowering in fear. But fear not: if your best friend’s 12-year-old sister can write a 1,200 word blog post about horses, you can figure out how to write about your business.
One of the best ways to become a better writer is simply by reading more. (And no, reading gossip sites doesn’t count.) Next time you’re in a waiting room or have some time to kill, put down your electronics and pick up a newspaper, or a classic novel. It may not be as fun as playing Pokémon Go, but it is a great workout for your writing muscle. Additionally, there are a ton of free resources out there to help you up your writing game.
Even if you feel like you have the basics of writing under wraps, actually sitting down and getting words on a screen can be the most difficult part of the process. If you’re feeling stuck, close out all other windows, open up a document and start writing. Even if it’s just “wow, I feel like such an idiot and have nothing to say about writing a blog post,” word vomit it all out there, and don’t stop until you have some kind of first draft. Writing takes a huge amount of mental fortitude, and you really need to be disciplined to stick to it in your least inspired moments. Here’s one of my favorite quotes on writing, which I have saved in my inbox so that I can easily read it when I’m feeling unmotivated:
Part one: Neglect everything else. Part two: Get disciplined. Learn to rush to your laptop and open it up. Open the file without asking yourself if you’re in the mood, without thinking about anything else. Just open the file: and then you’re safe. Once the words are on the screen, that becomes your distraction. — David Mitchell
If I’m being honest though, I definitely got distracted by about three tabs I had open when I went to find that quote. I need to follow my own advice! (But at least I got this post done!)
Do you have any great tips for running a blog? Tell us about them in the comments!