No Longer A Slog, How To Blog
Welcome to our Business Takeover Week. As many of you know, here at And so to Wed, we love small businesses. Most of our suppliers are one-woman/man affairs or small teams of creatives. Part of our ethos is to help these fantastically talented people to grow and develop their businesses. Over the next week we will be bringing you a series of posts from a range of industry experts who will give you inside knowledge about how to perfect your brand, nail your next photo shoot, unravel the mysteries of social media and make your business a success.
Today's post is written by the fabulous Jess Collins, who in her own words is a 'wild woman and writer crafting courageous content for authentic brands'. Having worked with Love My Dress, Fal River Knot Magazine and a plethora of unique British businesses, Jess is an expert in all things writing. So without further ado...
No Longer A Slog, How To Blog
What am I supposed to write about?
How will I find the time?
Does anyone even read it?
I don’t understand how telling my customers this is going to help me win work?
These are just some of the concerns raised whenever I bring up the topic of blogging. I’m Jess by the way, I’m a copywriter and ghost blogger specialising in the wedding industry and so I’m used to answering these questions on a daily basis.
Many people either aren’t comfortable or simply cannot financially justify outsourcing their blog writing but even if this is the case, it’s something you should be making time for yourselves. I highly recommend blogging for all businesses but the effect of it in the wedding industry speaks for itself. You only have to look at leading blogs such as Rock My Wedding, Love My Dress, Rock n Roll Bride and of course, And So To Wed, to see that wedding blogging in itself is massive.
More and more brides are turning away from the magazines to be inspired by their online counterparts. And with good reason… an abundance of real weddings, little known boutique businesses that can’t compete to be in the big glossies can be found online, offering something less mainstream and more unique.
If you appear in a magazine it’s great PR but once that issue is off the shelves (approximate 4-8 week lifespan) that’s your window closed. When you feature on a blog it has what we call ‘stickiness’ factor. This means that if you’re writing about something that will remain relevant – seasonal flowers, proposal spots, a honeymoon hotel, dress styles to suit body shapes etc, then you will be found forever and still remain relevant.
Therefore someone might read your blog this month but also in 5 years time. A blog post I wrote for a client 4 years ago is still one of her biggest referrers because when someone Googles that topic they find her blog. They then click on the blog, read it and if they like it and it engages with them, they check out her website and potentially turn into a client.
It’s been proven that blogging 15 times per month or more results in 5 times more traffic to your website. I know that’s a bit intense but it’s just to illustrate the effects. If you were to blog once per week you would see a difference in traffic to your website, dwell time and lead generation with a whopping 97% more leads reported for companies with an active blog.
But if I spend all my time blogging, when am I supposed to be working? A common concern. You really need to view blogging as a type of working, it’s part of your marketing time. It’s no different to having a stall at a wedding fair or putting an advert in a magazine – except, it’s actually more effective than probably both of these put together, especially since it will still be garnering results further down the line, long after you’ve packed down your trestle table.
So to help you on your way I’ve put together my top tips on blogging for beginners. Here’s what I recommend:
Keep it consistent – posting out regularly is key. Way too often companies start out with the right intentions, then slowly the blogs start to become once a fortnight instead of once a week, then once per month… it needs to be consistent to see results and also your audience will start to rely on when your content comes out and look for it.
Make a plan – a content calendar really helps with this, it keeps you on track so you’re not always looking at a blank page thinking ‘what should I write about?’ I suggest mind mapping loads of blog content topics to begin with – anything relevant to your industry (take a cue from the questions customers ask you most) then map out how many blog posts you are going to commit to writing each month and put them into an actual content calendar or plan. When will you write it? When will it go live? Where will your images come from and have you allowed time for this? When will you promote in on your social platforms? When can you re-post it or cross-promote it etc?
Know your keywords – content creation has been ranked as the single most effective SEO tactic by 53%. Without being spammy, it helps to know your key words and integrate these where you can. Use the Google Ad Words tool to help gauge the search volume on different terms
Don’t just sell – make sure you’re not just talking at your audience and selling all of the time. Add authentic value, tell them about stuff of interest. The premise of content marketing is to be open – instead of selling them a vase, teach them tips on flower arranging. Be open and build trust, often a potential client will be following your content for a while before they book you.
Track the results – once your blog is up and running, make sure you use Google Analytics to track the results of your posts. Which posts are most popular? Which do people spend longest reading? What can you learn from this? Adapt your content plan to give your readers more of what they like.
Promote your posts – don’t forget, once you’ve put it live, don’t leave it. You have to share it with your audience. Share through social platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc and make sure it’s promoted across the year if it’s topical, not just the once. Link to it in your email newsletter and share it in Facebook group discussion boards if it’s relevant, your content can keep getting mileage for a while!
Look outside of your own blog – don’t forget to tap into other audiences than your own. Post for complementary companies or guest post for wedding blogs or magazines. Get in touch if you have an idea worth writing about and ask if you can collaborate? This gives them some great content and gives you exposure to an audience that don’t already know you exist.
Keep it sticky – lastly, remember to keep the content long-lasting. It doesn’t always have to be timeless but it sure helps when someone finds you on Google. Think about the biggest questions in your industry – Can I get peonies in winter? How much is a wedding photographer? Where can I elope in the South West? then build content around topics that will always spark interest and generate traffic.
Don’t forget to have fun with it, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be true to you. There’s no time like the present – perhaps see if you can do an idea mind map of your blog ideas – make it messy, make it fun, keep it open minded and think about things that will be interesting or useful to your customers. And don’t tell yourself you can’t afford to “waste time” on blogging, it’s an investment of time that will pay dividends in the future.
Let me know how you get on, tag me in your content mind maps @theferalwriter or share your blog links in the comments box below.
Written by Jess Collins