If you want to learn about blogging, contact someone who does it for a living.
One such person is Leslie Samuel. He owns Become a Blogger, hosts the Blogging with Leslie podcast, heads training at Social Media Examiner and co-stars on Science Channel’s “Strange Evidence.” Samuel knows whereof he speaks, literally and visually.
Digital marketing expert Madalyn Sklar talked with him about blogging for business growth — a natural fit because Samuel himself is a growing business.
A successful blog delivers useful information, is well written, timely and dependable.
“Be a knowledgeable content creator,” Samuel said. “Whether it’s one person or a team, it’s important to be on top of things in your niche or industry.
“Content must consistently deliver on the value your audience is looking for,” he said. “There’s a clear path to a monetization strategy that provides value to your customers — if you’re doing it as a business.”
Given a choice, Samuel noted that quality trumps quantity over the long term.
Selecting blog topics should not be difficult. Actively listen to and assess your audience’s wants, needs and pain points. Then blog to show how you can fulfill those desires.
“If your products and services don’t fill all the gaps, be real about that,” Samuel said. “You’d be surprised at how much that can help your business.
“Know what topics your audience wants to hear about,” he said. “What questions are they asking? What are they struggling with?”
Looking outward instead of inward sets winning blogs apart from their competition.
“Lots of people focus on what content they want to create,” Samuel said. “That’s OK as long as it lines up with what your audience wants to know about.
“Do your research,” he said. “Get to know your audience. Find out about their needs. Then deliver content to suit those things. Remember, it ain’t about us. It’s about them. How well are we listening? Listen, then create.”
By any other name …
Having a particular name for a blog gives it an identity.
“With a specific blog name, your audience knows exactly what they’re in for,” Samuel said. “It helps to optimize for search engine optimization — to a certain extent. It’s easier to sell, if that’s in your plan.
“The con to having a particular blog name is that it locks you in to a specific topic — although that might be a good thing,” he said. “That name might make it harder to pivot if necessary.”
Marketers can manage technical aspects of blogs, but that’s not their main job. When possible, get tech types to do tech stuff.
“That’s how I started,” Samuel said. “However, it takes your time away from more valuable parts of your business such as creating content and marketing.
“While doing everything yourself is possible, I recommend getting help ASAP,” he said. “It’s all about focus in my book. The more you can focus on high-value tasks, the better.”
Samuel favors leaving the designing to the designers.
“Whenever I designed something for my blog, my wife would always say, ‘You designed that, didn’t you?’” he recalled. “And that wasn’t a compliment.”
Bloggers’ Prime Directive is to keep their target audience engaged. They also need to measure their success. This includes gauging reader reactions by recording their comments or text that they highlighted.
“Pay attention to Google analytics,” Samuel said. “As you create content, see what resonates with your audience. Create more of that.”
His blog goals are lower bounce rates, longer time on page and more visits to certain content.
“All of these are indicators that something’s working,” Samuel said. “Do more of what gets results, less of what doesn’t.
“Also, ask your audience what they want,” he said. “It’s such a simple — yet powerful strategy — that too many bloggers overlook.”
Sklar enthusiastically concurred.
“Asking is the smartest thing,” she said. I wish more marketers would adopt this strategy.”
Good content rules the day
It takes dedication to craft good content and keep blogs fresh and engaging. One approach is to make what was old new again. Write blogs with evergreen content in mind. If written more broadly from the start, just a few tweaks will revive vintage posts.
“Be dedicated to crafting good content,” Samuel said. “Be a consumer of content so that you can have fresh ideas.
“Once your content is created, use social media to start conversations around that content and engage people,” he said. “Go live, share stories, reach out to your community.”
That mandates involvement and not taking anyone for granted.
“Focus on building a community around your content,” Samuel said. “That’s becoming more important these days. Don’t just publish. Engage!”
In most cases, bloggers don’t blog for charity. Lead magnets are one way to entice customers and monetize blogs. Some blog sites also offer monetary rewards for submitting content.
“My favorite monetization strategy to start with is affiliate marketing,” Samuel said. “Find a valuable product or service that can help your audience tremendously. Then create content to help them with it.
“If you want to take it to the next level, create your own product — eBook, course, membership site — or provide your own service,” he said. “Then there are other ways like using ads, creating sponsored content and so on.”
Samuels added a key point: “Figure out what products or services provide tons of value and expose your audience to those solutions to their problems.”
He and Sklar continued their discussion on Facebook Live.