You’re a service-based business owner, and you want to add a blog to your website to attract new clients, build brand credibility, and generate revenue (or a combination of those), but you don’t know where to start. I just coached a client in my Entrepreneurs on the Rise program through the process of starting a blog, and while it’s fresh in my mind, I feel compelled to share it with you, too. As a blogger-turned-coach, I figured it would be RUDE not to let you in on the good stuff!
(psst: if you’re too busy to read this right now, listen instead!)
So let me slice right through the jungle of information out there and share what you need to know (and ONLY what you need to know) so you can avoid common mistakes that will leave you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated without anything to show for your hard work.
(And besides, it’s not like you’re trying to become a full-time blogger anyway. You just need this creative outlet to share your knowledge, attract potential clients to your website and set your business up for growth. I get it.)
This is my simple step-by-step guide.
4 Things to do before you add a blog to your website
Hold your horses. I know your keyboard is screaming, “use me!” but wait a hot second. Spend a few minutes on these four steps so you can save HOURS of confusion in the future. You’ll thank me later.
Step 1: Decide what your goal is
Why do you want to start a blog, exactly? Get crystal clear on the reason(s) before you do anything.
Some common goals for adding a blog to your service-based business might be:
- increasing brand awareness and credibility
- building an email list you can market to later on
- reaching prospective clients outside of your typical service area
- driving traffic to your site for future ad revenue
- attracting brand partnerships to diversify revenue streams
- blogging as a creative outlet, especially if you just love writing
It’s important to know why you’re doing the things you’re doing in your business—always—and that includes examining why blogging is important to you. Your goals might also influence the topics you cover and where you spend your time during the creative process. More on that below.
Step 2: Pick 5 content pillars
A “content pillar” is blogger-speak for “category”. These are the broad topics you will write about on your blog. Think of them as buckets of information you want to share with your readers.
Why they matter: Choosing pillars related to your niche makes it easier for you to decide what to write because you already know what categories you’re focusing on. It’s easy to get sucked in by trends or distractions (aka ‘shiny object syndrome’) when you don’t have your pillars solidified, which will confuse your readers and scatter your target audience. And we don’t want that.
If you’re over there thinking, “okay, but what do these actually look like?” here’s an example.
Let’s say you’re a photographer and you want to start a blog to attract other photographers because, in addition to shooting weddings and senior pictures, you’re creating an online course on wedding photography that other photographers can sign up for. If you add a blog to your website, you might decide to make your five content pillars:
- product reviews (cameras, lighting, equipment)
- shooting tips (settings, angles)
- editing tricks (presets, color theory, how-tos)
- time management (work/life balance, wedding timing)
- marketing (promoting your biz on social media, industry publications, paid ads)
See how handy this is? Now, when you sit down to write a new post, you have some direction!
Step 3: Decide on a posting schedule
There are two main questions you need to answer here: how often do you want to publish new posts, and when should those posts will go live?
How often you’ll publish: I know you’re excited to get going, but that enthusiasm will wane when the kids are home for summer break, or you get sick, or some other project takes over your plan. How prolific you are is totally up to you, but I don’t recommend more than one post per week (at least in the beginning). When you hit your stride with blogging and get into a routine, you might feel comfortable committing to more, but I wouldn’t jump into that right away.
When you’ll post new content: Since you’ll be working ahead and scheduling posts to publish in the future (more on that later), it’s best to choose a day and time for new content to “go live” each week. Readers like consistency.
Step 4: Design your blogging workflow (or download mine for free)
Whether you want to write multiple posts in one sitting or spread the work out over time, a workflow is essential. There are other tasks—besides the actual writing of the piece—that need to be done for every post. Things like choosing images to go with your text (whether you’ll be taking photos or using stock images), adding tags to your post, and marketing your content are all on the list, and you don’t want to be scrambling at the end to get them all done. We all love a good SOP, right?!
Designing a workflow also helps with consistency, so you know what to expect every time you sit down to write. Instead of winging it or recreating the wheel every time, you’re spending your time efficiently so you can get back to your core business as soon as possible. It also prevents you from missing steps in the process that you have to go back and correct later.
How to start writing your blog: do’s and don’ts
- Do build a stockpile of 8-10 posts before publishing anything. There will be weeks when life gets away from you, and you won’t get your blog post done. You’re building a buffer by working 8-10 weeks ahead (assuming you post once per week).
- Don’t write directly onto your website platform. If your site crashes or there’s a tech glitch, you could lose all your work if you haven’t hit save in a while. And websites don’t tend to catch typos and other grammar errors very effectively (if at all). I write in an app called Grammarly first and then copy/paste my work onto WordPress (my website platform).
- Do aim for 1,800-2,400 words per post (Grammarly automatically counts your words, FYI). The Google gods smile lovingly on this kind of “long-form” content and are more likely to nudge readers toward it in search results. If you can’t hit that word count, it’s okay. It’s much better to post a shorter blog entry than none at all!
- Don’t ignore SEO (search engine optimization). Don’t panic if you’ve never heard this term before. You’re on the right track if you’re writing valuable, error-free long-form content and including keywords in your articles. Fortunately, you can do basic keyword research for free. Google “free keyword research.” You’ll find plenty of sites that will help you for free, and they don’t even require signup! Look for a few words or phrases that people are likely to search for when looking for your content. Then weave those words and phrases into your blog posts. Try to include them in your title and headings, too.
- Don’t start a new website for your blog. If you’ve had your website up for months or even years, you’ve probably built up some credibility with the Google gods. It’s called domain authority, and it’s a search engine ranking score that goes up with website quality, content relevance, and a host of other factors. Why start over when you can essentially borrow the street cred and brand awareness you’ve already built online to boost your blog?
Side note: if you use WordPress and you’re on the Business plan or higher, you can install the Yoast SEO plugin to keep tabs on how well your posts are doing with regard to SEO.
How to market your blog posts
After you’ve spent valuable time writing your post, formatting it onto your web platform, and all the other things I’ve mentioned, it would be a shame if nobody read it, right? But it’s at this critical point when many entrepreneurs move on to a new post or project and fail to capitalize on their hard work. Don’t do that!
If you have time to spread the word about your new content by writing emails to your subscribers and crafting posts for social media channels (like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn) and social search engines (like Pinterest), great! That’s the best way to share your content. If you go this route, I recommend creating some good, branded templates in Canva to save time on graphics (and if you have Canva Pro, like I do, you can even schedule posts straight from the app).
How to use RSS feeds
While posting manually has its merits, if you’re really f–ing busy and this whole blogging thing has already taken up a lot of your time, I have three words for you: SYNDICATE THAT SHIT.
I’m talking about using an RSS feed to market each post you make. Emails sent to your subscribers, posts made on social, and even pins made on Pinterest—all without you having to do anything! Leveraging your RSS feed (which your web platform likely created for your blog automatically), you can share new posts without lifting a finger.
Pro tip: The RSS feed will usually pull the first image from your post, so make sure the image you use first is the one you want to be carried over to social media, emails, etc.
Another pro tip: The RSS feed will pull from the “excerpt” box when your content is shared, so make sure you fill it out by providing a summary of your blog post.
I use a blend of both strategies to market my writing. For example, when I hit “publish” on this blog entry (the one you’re reading right now), four things happened automatically:
- An email was sent to my subscribers
- An update was posted to my Facebook page
- This content was shared as a post on LinkedIn
- A pin was shared to my Pinterest account
I’ll share links to this piece a few more times manually when I have the time and energy to do so, but can we all agree that automation gave me a running start?!
If you’re thinking about adding a blog to your website, what questions do you have? Leave them in the comments and I’ll be sure to reply!