Small businesses looking to create a blog are in for a treat. A blog provides a platform to showcase both your knowledge and your brand, so it’s an essential asset to your marketing strategy. That said, starting a blog from scratch with no experience can be intimidating, especially when it comes to knowing what to do before you hit ‘Publish’. With so many boxes to check and details to refine for a single article, creating a blog requires a systematic, step-by-step approach. That’s why this blog post checklist will be your new best friend.
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Why start a blog?
Starting a blog for your small business has three main benefits:
It’s extremely helpful for SEO purposes. Search engines are always looking for fresh content, and a consistent blogging strategy is exactly what Google is seeking. As you produce a growing volume of content, search engines will index your website more often so they can display your latest posts in search results. More blog posts also equate to more pages on search engines, which means more potential traffic. Increased traffic to your website translates to more prospective customers. You can brush up on your skills and check out our SEO for bloggers tips.
Blogging helps establish you as an expert in your industry. Even if your business is within a niche market, you’ll undoubtedly have some competition that offers a similar product or service. Sure, there are ways to differentiate yourself in terms of marketing, but showing that your brand is knowledgeable says a lot to potential clients. Within your posts, you also have the opportunity to show off your personality, further differentiating your business from competition. If you're unsure where your blog might fit in, read up on blog niche ideas and popular types of blogs to find some inspiration.
A blog creates a path from your brand to your audience, allowing you to cultivate and connect with your community. Whether it’s first-time, long-time, or potential customers, having a place to join in on the conversation with a business helps build trust and encourages repeat buyers.
A blog is a great way to earn revenue. In fact, you can make money blogging as a full-time job, or as a way to earn extra cash on the side.
Looking to really get your blog off the ground? Take a look at our Build Your Own Blog online course to get you started.
Now that you know about the importance of creating a blog for your business, here’s a checklist with 21 tips to guide your blogging strategy.
1. Write with a clear purpose
The last thing someone wants to read is a blog post that either changes course halfway through or never communicates a clear message. Before you even start writing, create a list of blog post ideas with a clear purpose in mind. As you write, make it a habit to ask yourself if what you’ve written helps achieve that purpose.
2. Make an outline
To help you stay on track, create an outline for each blog post. You can make it as lengthy or short as you want, as long as it touches on the subjects you want to discuss. Creating an outline will also help ensure your writing communicates a clear and distinct message. If you need a little help to get started, you can use our downloadable blog post template to guide you.
3. Perform SEO research
You want your blog post to rank well, and there are several measures to make that happen. To start, you’ll need to determine the primary keyword you’re trying to rank for with the blog post. Place the keyword in the title and within the body of the post itself.
There are a variety of keyword research tools you can use to gain deep insights on the terms you’re trying to rank for. Some of the best blogging tools can also show you what type of content already exists for that particular keyword, which can help you sculpt and optimize your blog post.
4. Create an eye-catching title
The content you’ve written can be informative and engrossing, but few people will read it if your title is lifeless and dull. When thinking about how to write catchy blog titles, it is incredibly important to make sure that your title is enticing, descriptive, and incorporates a keyword. Keep in mind, though, that overpromising with your title and underdelivering with your content is 100% clickbait, which is not a good practice for your business blog.
For inspiration, take a look at these tips for writing a headline, as well as this title generator.
5. Give credit to sources
While much of the joy of blogging lies in the fact that you’re creating your own content, you’ll sometimes need content from others to inform your posts. Whether it’s a quote, a news scoop, or an image, always give credit to your source. Otherwise, you could end up in trouble with the law.
6. Provide internal links
Within each post, be sure to link to your other blog posts. Not only does this provide value to the user, but it also gives them more content to consume. In turn, this will keep them on your website longer. This practice is known as internal linking, and it’s an easy strategy that provides value to both your readers and your business.
7. Make external links open in a new window
Whether you’re giving credit to a source or even an Amazon product, you’re going to link to websites that aren’t your own. It’s inevitable. When you do this, make sure you make external links open in a new browser tab or window. Why? Because if you have external links open within the same window and a reader clicks on it, they will be taken away from your website. You certainly don’t want that.
8. Pass the 300 word mark
How long should a blog post be? First, let's say no one is telling you to write a novel, but search engines tend to rank posts with a word count of 300 or more higher. Don’t be tempted, though, to fill your posts with fluffy content that provides no value to the reader. Even if your point is simple, you can increase your word count by providing useful details and elaborating in ways that help your readers understand.
9. Break long posts into sections
Using large blocks of text is a sure-fire way to intimidate and bore people. So, if you have a lot to say in a blog post, break up your text into sections. Adding sections within your blog gives your text room to breathe and is more accessible for your readers.
Give each section a descriptive title that tells the reader what the following paragraphs will be about. Use keywords in the section title and don’t forget to format the text with the proper heading tag. Most likely, these subsections will be formatted with an H2 tag.
It’s also important to make sure any idea you’ve presented is wrapped up by the end of the section. Add a concluding sentence that ends each section with a clear point.
10. Use smaller paragraphs
In addition to breaking up your blog with sections, you can increase the appeal of your blog posts by writing in smaller paragraphs. to further avoid intimidation, write in smaller paragraphs. This bite-sized type of text block is easier to read for someone who just skims articles, and let’s face it, that’s what many people do.
11. Use bullet points and lists
In many cases, lengthy paragraphs can be summed up with bullet points or numbered lists. This breaks up the text and provides concise, easily digestible bits of information. It also brings visual diversity to your post, making it more readable and user friendly.
On top of that, bullet points and lists are great for SEO, since they increase your chances of getting a featured snippet on Google.
To see an example of a bulleted list, checkout the “Optimize your images” section below.
12. Get to the point
Have you ever searched for a simple recipe online only to see a 2000 word blog post talking about how the writer’s grandmother used to make it and it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy, so you have to keep scrolling to the bottom to get the 70 word recipe?
Don’t do that.
If you have a point to make, get right to it. While you should include context that provides value and helps you get to your point, adding fluff is a bore that will have readers clicking off your blog in no time.
13. Add a CTA at the end
While one purpose for writing a blog post is to empower and inform people about your industry, you should also aim to get readers to take action on your website. Encourage them to move through the sales funnel by adding a CTA (call to action) at the bottom of your blog.
14. Take a break from your post
If you’re having trouble completing a blog post, there’s nothing wrong with walking away from it for a while. In fact, it could be the best thing you could do. Being away from the post for a few hours or even a day will give you time to disconnect from it. From there, you’ll see it with a fresh pair of eyes, and you may be able to catch a mistake or two you hadn’t before.
15. Use your experience to bring value to the post
If photos can’t illustrate a point you’re trying to make, use an example instead. As an expert in your industry, you can use examples from your past professional experience to tell a story in your post. This further establishes you as an authority figure within your business sector and keeps your post interesting and engaging to read.
16. Optimize your images
Like white space, incorporating images into your blog makes your articles more accessible and visually pleasing. However, you’ll need to go beyond simply plopping in some photos. Here are a couple of image optimization tips:
Resize your photos so they load fast on your blog: The 40 megapixel photo you took with your Canon DSLR will never be displayed on your blog at its full resolution, but instead as small rectangle about one sixteenth of the size. Optimize your image by resizing it near the size it will show on your website.
Add your keywords to the title of the photo: Even if no one sees the file name of the image, Google search bots will, making this another SEO ranking opportunity.
Add alt-text to the image: Alternative text or alt text gives you the chance to describe what the image is about. This helps search engines rank images.
17. Don’t write like a scholar
When you’re tryting to sort out how to write a blog post, avoid using overly complex words. Instead, use language that is easy to understand for any audience. Of course, you may run into industry terms that are technical, but that’s okay if you can explain them in an easy way.
On the flipside, don’t write like you speak. While some may want to keep an informal, conversational tone, it’s best to tighten up your language a bit. No one wants to have to go to Urban Dictionary to understand your slang.
18. Write your introduction last
Consider writing the introduction to your blog post after you write the body and conclusion. Going through the writing process beforehand can help you introduce your ideas in a way that better reflects the content of the post. Sometimes a blog post takes a direction different from the one you originally intended. Of course, you shouldn’t completely disregard the first tip on this list. Make sure you write with a clear purpose, but don’t hesitate to adapt your post if your angle changes for the better.
19. Proofread proofread proofread
You may be incredibly proud of your blog post, but you probably won’t be very happy to re-read it a week after you published it only to find several glaring spelling or grammar mistakes.
Proofreading is an essential part of the blogging process that should be done often. Even if you proofread after you write each section, you’ll still want to do it again and again to make sure you catch every possible error.
A tip for every blogger is to read the blog aloud to yourself. This is an incredibly helpful way to catch mistakes, as it makes them easier to notice and correct.
20. Categorize and tag your post
When you’re finished writing your blog, you should always either tag or categorize your blog, if not both. This is not only an easy way to keep track of the content type you’re producing, but it also makes it easier for readers to find similar content after they’ve finished a particular blog post.
21. Proofread one last time
When you think you’re finally ready to publish your blog post, stop. Just for old times’ sake, proofread your blog one more time. This is also a good opportunity to make sure your headings are in order and to confirm you added alt text to your images. Make the final draft pass a proper inspection before sending it out to the world, and press ‘Publish.’