Remember the ‘90s? Who knew that amid the fads of chokers, platform jellies, and tube tops, the whole blogger craze would transform into something like what we see today: a valuable and necessary element of your company's content marketing.
That transformation is important. Treating a business blog like an online diary and publishing company updates only every few weeks isn’t what modern blogging should look like. If you’re a competitive business today, then your blog strategy needs to speak to your audience, reinforce your expertise, and capture leads for your company — not just work to share cool new things you’re doing.
At Influence & Co., we give our own blog a lot of focus and effort, and from helping us generate leads to serving as a resource for our team, clients, partners, and peers, The Knowledge Bank has been integral to accomplishing our business goals.
Now, there isn’t one clear path alone to begin blogging. Based on our successes, though, here are 10 steps you can take to launch, maintain, and grow your company blog:
Your blog needs a home, so first and foremost, you’ve got to find software to help you house your content. This software can be as simple or advanced as you want; the key is selecting a marketing tool that’s intuitive and meets your needs.
WordPress is a popular option for a lot of brands to start blogging, and its various plug-ins can help amp up your efforts from simple publishing to lead capture. Our marketing team uses HubSpot for our website and blog to help us manage content, measure its performance, and monitor how leads interact with us. HubSpot also offers a CRM system that’s valuable for our sales team, and together, the two help us align our marketing and sales efforts. Whatever program you choose, make sure it sets up your team for success.
If you want to actually brand your blog and help it stand apart as more than simply a bulletin board for company updates, give it a name — don’t let it simply default to “The Company Blog.”
Your blog’s name can be anything you want, but don’t go crazy; its name should ultimately reflect its purpose. Our blog is called The Knowledge Bank because we see it as just that: a bank of valuable knowledge, advice, and insight on all things content.
Before you start pumping out articles, you have to establish some guidelines so you know what you’re doing and so your content stays cohesive. This can take the form of a fully fleshed-out blog strategy, or it can simply be a list of blog guidelines.
Regardless, these guidelines should work within and boost your documented content marketing strategy. That means you’ve got to think about what your goals are, who your audience is, and what your readers need from you so you can narrow down specific guidelines like categories, tone, length, and more in a custom content style guide.
Inspiration for blog content ideas can come from pretty much anywhere. When those ideas come to you, don’t forget to write them down in an ongoing blog topic Google Doc so your content marketing team can develop those ideas when it’s time.
To keep everyone on the same page, go ahead and add regular meetings for everyone to present and pitch their content ideas. Because our editorial workflow is pretty mature, we typically stick to quarterly content brainstorms, but if monthly meetings make more sense, then you do you.
Now that you have your blog content ideas, you need a schedule to prioritize those ideas and keep your publishing consistent. Your team should commit to sticking to your blog’s editorial calendar because without some consistency and organization, you might as well flush your blog efforts down the toilet.
Your company’s calendar will depend on a lot of considerations, from your team’s capacity to when your audience is most engaged. At Influence & Co., we publish content to our blog at least twice a week, with an occasional third when we want to highlight a more newsworthy and timely event in our industry. To start putting together a schedule of your own, check out our customizable editorial calendar template.
... or your fingers to the keyboard. After your calendar is squared away, it’s time to start bringing those ideas to life to meet your publishing deadlines. Remember the goals and guidelines you set earlier as you begin your content creation process.
If you think your post is ready to publish the moment it’s written, think again. A professional editor needs to comb through and clean up your work before you upload it into the software you’ve chosen to house your content.
In fact, when we surveyed editors at leading online publications for The State of Digital Media, 71 percent of them said a lack of professionally editing is one of the biggest problems with the content they receive.
While your blog isn’t exactly Harvard Business Review or Fast Company, quality should remain a priority. An editor should review your content to make sure your ideas are clear and free of any plagiarism and to optimize your content for search, if possible.
Once your post is written, edited, and ready to go, upload it into your marketing automation software. This is usually as simple as copy and paste, but you’ll still want to format the post to make it appealing, easy to read, and enticing to share.
Add a relevant header image or any other graphics to make your content engaging; our team relies on Pexels for most header images and an internal designer for custom images. Lastly, don’t forget to include a related call to action in your blog post. Most standard posts feature CTAs at the end, but you can run tests on other placements to optimize your blog over time.
You’re almost done — how exciting! Now that everything looks good and you’ve double-checked the format in a preview to make sure your readers see what you want them to, you can schedule your post to go live on the dates you’ve outlined in your editorial calendar.
Congratulations on your published article! Now, it’s time to get that article into the hands of your audience members and leverage it as a tool for your company.
Share blog content through your company account on all your major social channels; for us, that’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Take it a step further, and encourage company employees to share content from their own accounts and in emails to clients or partners. You can even put that content in the hands of your sales team as sales enablement content. There really isn’t a wrong way to share content, so get creative.
Blogging has come a long way, from personal confessionals on Live Journal and MySpace to educational pieces on company websites. Unlike wearing platform jellies, creating a successful company blog is not just a passing fad. Now that you know the ins and outs of launching and maintaining a blog for your company, you have no excuse not to get started!
Natalie Slyman is a content marketing and social media professional. She enjoys reading her favorite blogs, perusing Instagram, and talking about her cats (even when no one is listening).