Inspired Blogging on A Schedule

Blogging regularly and sticking to a schedule are the trickiest parts of the platform, but coming up with fresh, new ideas is also hard. A big part of our business is creating blog posts and informative articles for clients who need to keep their websites fresh. After a point, everyone runs out of fresh ideas and inspiration. What do you do then? Don’t worry. We have a plan.

Lists

Coming up with fresh ideas is as simple as starting a list. While working for a law firm, we had to come up with 50 unique titles for a series of informative articles. After about 35 topics, things get a little harder, but consider this. Fifty blog posts could mean weekly updates for your site for the whole year. Not so bad, eh? Make sure to look at the comments that your blog is getting. Reader questions are a great jumping off point. If someone is asking, others are bound to be wondering too. You could also check out your competition and look for news topics related to your industry or client base. As you come up with topics, you may even see a potential blog series. That is pure gold.

Then what?

When you create a long list of potential titles, some will be better than others. If your title sounds too iffy or obscure, just cross it off the list. There will be plenty of other ideas. Just start narrowing it down. You don’t need to come up with a year’s worth of blog posts at one time. That would be way too daunting, even for us! Just try to come up with eight or 10 solid topics.

Create a Spreadsheet

Start a spreadsheet that outlines topics for the next two months. List any major events relevant to your business, seasonal sales or promotions, and think of relevant evergreen or seasonal topics that will keep your site current. Creating just four blog topics for each month is a great schedule to stick to. Looking a month or two ahead is a good way to make sure that you stay current without getting bogged down.

Schedule Your Posts

Once you have ideas and fresh content, it’s time to post it. We really like the schedule a post feature that WordPress has. It’s an easy way to give yourself some breathing room. We’ve found that staying a few weeks ahead is the best way to make sure that your website stays fresh. If you’re committed to posting every Wednesday but don’t have an article when hump day rolls around, it’s not going to get done.

So, we hope that you find these tips useful. You can also check out our blogging schedule template, which can be downloaded from Google Drive Do you have tips for generating new blog topics or sticking to a regular schedule?

Tips and Strategies for Keeping Your Website Fresh

fresh web contentThe New Year is a logical time to evaluate your web page. What isn’t performing well? What could be done better? What is working well? Most of us are also thinking about how we want to blog more and update our web pages more frequently. We all know that starting a blog or a webpage and investing time initially is easier than committing time on a regular basis to keep your blog alive.

1. Updates

How frequently is your home page or blog updated? Is your last blog post from June 2010? Nothing turns off customers more than a home page or blog that hasn’t been updated in a racoon’s age. This can hurt your business. We live in a fast paced society. Only current information is relevant. Google knows this too.

2. Upgrades

There’s no need to make major design changes on a regular basis. However, you should make sure that your homepage is user friendly. Augment a static home page by adding rotational features. Link to your latest news, feature new products and rotate current resources.

3. Uploads

Add fresh photos, post a video snippet on your home page and create new multimedia features or downloadable white papers. If you publish newsletters, blogs or educational articles, make sure the latest items are featured prominently. Adding a press room or news area is fabulous too. Customers and search engines love these features. Post them, promote them and make sure they are accessible.

4. Upkeep

This is a critical question. Strategies for this depend on your personality and the structure of your website. If you’re using a done-for-you service, make sure that you invest in regular maintenance. Have your web people add posts, check links and make sure that nothing is outdated. If you work with a company that allows you to tweak your website and add content as needed, you can go ahead and make small updates without calling your developer or web designer.

5. Keep it going!

Create a schedule, and do your best to stick to it. This is even more important if you have microsites or multiple web properties. In the digital age, you have to be looking one or two months ahead. Generate new blog ideas, and plan content well in advance. This is an important step. If needed, have brainstorming sessions based on what your business will be doing in the next few months. Is there a major sale, are there new products, is there a major trade show or important industry news? Once you start looking, you’ll come up with even more ideas for keeping your website fresh. Remember: freshness is essential.

What are your  strategies for or struggles with keeping your web properties up-to-date?

Five Reasons Every Company Needs a Blog

blog 101 iconNow that most businesses have blogs, everyone is focused on increasing the value of their posts. Here are five reasons why every company needs to have an exceptional blog. These topics apply to business-to-business and business-to-consumer entities.

1. The Competition

Positive differentiators are like bread and butter in commerce. Companies are always looking for ways to gain an edge over the competition. Your blog can do this for you. Don’t give your competitors a chance to become the definitive industry blog. If stay competitive, you’ve got to be blogging too.

2. The Credibility

Credibility is a huge factor. By establishing credibility on your blog, you can foster trust. This is the key to generating sales and attracting new customers. People buy things from companies or other people that they trust. Many thought leaders are born on blogs. Use your blog like a soapbox to reach consumers and to get your ideas and thoughts heard by the world.

3. Search Engines

The things businesses do to please search engines are incredible. Most of us spend a lot of time and money on SEO campaigns and creating keyword-rich content. Well, blogs are a pretty awesome way to attract real consumers AND search engines at the same time. Search engines love fresh web content, and your blog is a great way to get their attention by adding new information even if your home page is fairly static.

4. The Customers

Fifty-seven percent of business owners who were surveyed by HubSpot said that they have acquired at least one customer from their blog. Customers are the primary target when you blog. Your readers are your customers. By providing tips, tutorials and valuable information, you’ll attract new customers and generate new leads. A ceramic tile company, for example, might post a great project tutorial or buying guide that helps consumers make the right purchase.

5. The Cost

Although businesses are spending more on blogs, they are still the most cost effective marketing channel. Your blog is one of your most powerful inbound marketing tools. Due to the low cost, blogs are very valuable for small businesses. Not just valuable but accessible. The best marketing strategies are accessible for companies creating them and consumers viewing them. Remember: The more you blog, the more customers you’ll bring in. While daily bloggers have the highest success rate, most people can’t blog that much. Weekly and monthly schedules are the most common, and that’s a great pace to star with.

The opportunity to blog is something that you must take advantage of. You can release news, promote special offers and educate your customers, so they can make informed purchases. These blog posts can also be cross promoted through social media sites and your own readers. If you think about the potential, a company blog really is exciting. How is your blog performing?

What Can a Blog Do For You?

Ask not what you can do for your blog; ask what your blog can do for you.

Okay, I’m pretty sure that’s not what JFK meant at his legendary inaugural address, but I am sure that a blog is part of a mutually beneficial relationship.

Blog authors only get out what they put in, which means that the better the content of your blog, the better your results will be. While quality content requires a significant investment in time or money spent to pay a professional writer, the rewards are overwhelming. When compared to traditional advertising channels, blogs are one of the best and most cost-effective marketing options.

HubSpot is a massive proponent of inbound marketing, and the company’s 2012 report on the state of inbound marketing reveals several surprising statistics. Before I mention these numbers, it’s important to realize why inbound marketing is so effective.

The main principle at work here is that it’s far easier to bring Muhammad to the mountain instead of trying to schlep that same mountain across Arabia. If you can get visitors to come to you (your blog), your chances for success are much better, and there is much less work involved. Here are a few important statistics about the marketing value of blogs.

Companies that have blogs generate 55 percent more traffic and 70 percent more leads.

Once visitors arrive on your blog, they are ready to stay as long as they find valuable information.

Inbound leads cost 61 percent less than outbound leads.

If blogging isn’t on your list of great ways to get affordable leads, it’s time to rethink your marketing strategy.

More than half of all companies with blogs have gained at least one customer through this channel. To top that, 92 percent of companies that blog several times per day have acquired at least one new customer from their posts.

If you’ve been blogging once a week or once every other week, it’s time to set a new goal!

According to the Demand Gen Report, following up on web leads creates 20 percent more sales.

Rule number one: Act quickly. One in every five leads can become a new customer. Don’t alienate potential clients. Make one person responsible for following up on inquiries, converting leads and tracking referral data.

The web is a marketing and research platform. Even customers who receive a word-of-mouth referral will use your online presence to make an educated decision.

Remember: What you aren’t doing is very important. Oh, and one more thing. It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is. A blog will make your marketing strategy better.