Have you been reading digital marketing articles for days on end and still been left wondering, “how do I start a blog for my business?” You’re not alone! It’s totally doable and within your reach as a business owner, but you will need to follow these steps if you’re going to build up your traffic. Acquiring traffic from scratch takes time, specialty tools, and consistency—and sometimes a content marketing agency, but I’m going to show you how to get started on your own instead.
If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably been staring at a blank screen for 30 minutes already, thinking:
- “Is blogging even worth my time?”
- “How do I start a blog that my customers want to read?”
- “How long should it be?”
- “How often do I need to sit down and write?”
- “How does it work?”
Blogging will definitely help your business if you commit to it. It’s a part of every leading company’s long-term customer acquisition strategy. But you should also know what constitutes a reasonable investment of your time and energy so you don’t overdo it or under-do it.
With that in mind…where do you start? That’s what we cover here.
Blogs Begin with Keyword Research
Each blog should focus on one keyword alone. Keywords let search engines know what your blog is about, in turn including it on search result pages when people type that phrase into Google. It connects people to your website, which is why marketing agencies create blogs according to popular key words—they want to capitalize on that search volume. In practice most blogs focus on a “longtail keyword” that speaks to a specific intent within a larger body of knowledge.
How do you come up with keywords? Small businesses can usually get by with common phrases paired with locations, such as “home electrician in Kitchener,” but medium and large businesses should try to find keywords with low competition levels.
Start With These Keyword Research Resources:
I would also suggest looking at Backlinko’s guide on keyword research if you’re set on learning all about blogging. It’s not so much about which software is the “best,” but rather which one suits your comfort level with online marketing and SEO. Some are for industry veterans who want deeper strategies while others help you get started with the basics.
Above all, keep in mind that you need to favour an organic written style over “keyword density” every time. Sophisticated search engines have long since penalized web pages for spamming key words as often as possible—that comes straight from Google employees.
How Often Should I Blog?
Don’t take on too much at once when you’re figuring out how to start a blog for your business, especially if you aren’t yet comfortable with writing blogs. Use this for a general guideline:
- Once per week is ideal for businesses that are committed to online marketing.
- Bi-weekly posting is the ideal tempo for businesses with limited resources but eager to get results.
- Monthly posting is a good starting pace for those new to content marketing.
The trick is to commit to the pace that works for you. Don’t start with four blogs per month if you don’t have the time or creative juices to write them all. Instead, start with one per month until you make it a part of your regular routine. That’s when you can graduate to bi-weekly blogs (and so on).
But what is the “best” pace for blogging? HubSpot’s (anonymous) customer data shows that companies posting 11+ blogs per month gain 4.5 times the amount of leads compared to blogging just once per month. There’s a caveat or two here, which we’ll explore in a moment—but think about that: 4.5 times the leads! If you can produce blogs economically, then the rewards are clearly worth your time.
Here’s a graph showing publishing behaviours that correlate to recurring monthly traffic figures.
There’s some fine print in that data, though: Hubspot’s data was gathered around 2014-16—a time period when companies saw success in publishing a high volume of low-quality blogs. That doesn’t really work anymore. The Internet is just too saturated with garbage content for the strategy to work anymore.
Content quality has become a huge factor for success as a result. 300-400 word fluff pieces just don’t cut it. When planning your content strategy you need to realize that you’re committing to writing well-researched, proofread, and formatted articles that often correlate to a certain length.
How Long Should My Blogs Be?
Hubspot says you should be writing 11-16 blog posts per month realistic for everyone? Probably not.
There is no perfect answer here. The truth is that with a certain amount of links or domain authority, any content can become prominent in Google’s search results… but that’s not a concern for someone just starting a blog. If you write effectively and with substance, then content length tends to figure itself out. Here are some general guidelines to give you an idea of what your word count should look like:
- 300-400 words is too short to cover topics in depth in most cases.
- 750-1,500 words is the optimal length for quality articles that can be produced on a regular basis.
- Anything over 2,000 words tends to be too dense or meandering for people to read.
It’s possible to build traffic without publishing regularly, but that takes a lot of link building (and seriously limits your domain’s keyword coverage). That’s advanced stuff, so just focus on producing high-quality content for now. The key to building a successful blog in the early steps is to focus on content quality and to stay consistent with your publishing (while targeting low-competition longtail keywords, as mentioned above).
If you follow Hubspot’s advice and publish 11-16 blogs per month, then you can bet that very few of them will be of a high enough quality to attract Google’s attention. The problem with that approach is that while Google does reward sites that publish frequently, content produced that way has a shelf life of a few weeks at best. There are a few issues there:
- High-quantity, low-quality content doesn’t work for you passively after you’ve published it.
- If you stop publishing content or scale it back after relying on quantity alone up to that point, your traffic will likely drop.
- Low-quality content makes you look like an amateur to your sales prospects, which defeats the point of content marketing.
Companies who post 16 blogs per month tend to produce shorter pieces around 300-400 words, and that just doesn’t work anymore. In contrast, those who post once per month will find success in creating longer pieces, anywhere from 750 to 1,500 words. That’s because longer (read: useful and thorough) content tends to reflect thorough research, deeper analysis, and legitimate value.
Simply writing to hit a certain word count doesn’t really work, either. Search engines can pick out signals like statistics, grammatically correct English, and the reliability of links used for sources. If you want to become known as a trusted industry veteran (or disruptor!) on a limited budget, then create thoughtful, data-driven pieces once per month. Consistency is still key as well—just adjust the dial to fit your existing schedule.
How Do I Actually Write a Blog?
Figure out what you want to say before starting anything—write down at least three topics to get the juices flowing. Empathizing with your clientele is the best approach here: what do they want to know, or what should they know? Don’t be afraid to answer questions your customers don’t even think to ask.
Make each blog scannable by using headers (H2 and H3 tags, mainly). Notice how this blog uses subtitles that ask key questions? Those are called headers, and they structure your blog post for search engines and humans alike. You want to divide up each post according to key subtopics so that your prospects can find what they need quickly—and if they don’t find it quickly, they’ll just start scanning somewhere else.
Consider These Technical Aspects of Every Blog:
- Title Tag: this tells search engines and people what your post is about.
- Meta Description: a blurb for people to really understand what you’re offering.
- Subheadings: these make your blog more accessible (people can scan it).
- Keywords: these let people discover your blog through search engines.
- Alt Text: this contains keywords for images in your post.
- Outbound Links: they build credibility by affiliating you with other websites.
- Call-to-Action: this guides your reader toward the next step, possible the sale!
These are the technical elements that should exist in every blog, and they don’t include the crucial “soft” elements such as research, hooks, structure, flow, or narrative arc (yes, even blogs contain compelling stories).
Wrapping Up How to Start a Blog for Your Business
Blogs are a lot more complicated than they used to be, but that shouldn’t stop you from producing them for your business. Start with genuinely valuable ideas and conduct keyword research to connect the dots between your message and your customers’ interests.
Commit to a schedule that works for you, then—and only then—increase your posting frequency incrementally. Once it’s drafted, make sure it checks off all of the technical boxes. You don’t want to miss out on long-term gains just because you forgot a call-to-action!