With apologies to Marc Andreessen, blogs are eating the world.
It’s a pretty safe assumption that any company or service you currently use has a blog. But that begs the question: do you read it?
Just because you may be a loyal user of the product or service doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll visit their blog. For example, take Uber and Flywheel, two prominent e-hailing companies in the Bay Area. Did you know that they both have blogs? And if so, do you read them?
Blogging is a relatively easy way to publicize and promote your company, and it can have a substantial impact on cultivating a community that’s mobilized by your vision or product. But in order for a blog to be successful, here are five factors you need to consider.
1. Fresh, unique content
Before you put up a new post, ask yourself:
- Is this topic covered elsewhere online?
- Is this article going to engage my users/customers?
- Is this post going to make them want to come back and read more like it?
Your first few posts should be killer. (Well, every post should be, but you get the point.) You should aim to have some “featured” posts that knock it out of the park in terms of compelling, shareable content. It’s ideal if these posts get picked up and shared among your industry, which will not only get your company’s name out there, but help establish your blog as a prominent voice.
2. Strategy and vision
What’s your blog going to do? Will it provide short and sweet updates about your product or service? Longer-form posts with an informative angle? Story-telling pieces meant to engage your community? All of the above?
It’s not enough to just write posts as ideas come to you. That may work at first, but it most likely won’t be sustainable over time unless you’re already a blogosphere leader.
Your blog is an opportunity to give your users a casual yet effective “sales pitch” and to communicate your broader vision for the company. If you’re the founder and you enjoy writing, it might make the most sense for you to be the primary blogger. Otherwise, you’re going to need a person or a team to curate and manage the blog. Either way, you’ll want to make sure your blog features the following elements:
- A selection of categories readers can choose from to learn more about certain topics.
- Clear headlines to indicate what the post is about.
- Interviews with or posts written by people who have traction in your industry.
- Opinion pieces on trending topics in your industry to gather followers toward your point of view.
3. Location, Location, Location.
It’s relatively simple to hang your blog from your company website. Maybe people will see the link, and hopefully they’ll click on it. But gathering a following is also about how you promote your blog.
If you’re linking to blog posts from social media, it may help that the blog is hosted on your website, as it could facilitate more traffic on your site, which could lead to more users or customers. But if it’s external, it gives you the opportunity to curate the blog to be its own thing—a product in and of itself—and you can also have a little more flexibility with design, advertising, etc. Figure out what works best for what you’re hoping to gain from having a blog.
Too often, companies launch their blog, have a good succession of posts, and then … peter out. It’s not ideal for a user to visit your blog and see that the last post was 1, 3, maybe 6 months ago. Creating an editorial calendar, establishing a managing editor (if possible), and always thinking ahead to the next season, the next event, etc. will help drive content and readers. They won’t come back unless they know they’ll see something new.
Commenting is a big part of the blogging process from both sides of the spectrum. As a blogger, you want people to comment. You want to create conversation and discourse; you want people to be engaged with your company and brand, as well as with each other. On the other side, commenting gives the reader the opportunity to speak their mind, give their opinion, and offer feedback.
The question is: Are you listening? It’s smart to monitor the comments on your posts and respond to them. Answering their questions, explaining any concerns that may arise, and even just saying “hi” or “thank you” makes them feel that you care, which will likely keep them coming back.
For more ideas and advice, check out 10 startup founder blogs every entrepreneur should read and 12 startup blogs that are killing the game.