As we've discussed before, a blog can be a great way to drive traffic to your site, update your customers, and help you stretch your creative muscles in a fun and beneficial way. Once you have your blog up and running though, it's important to maintain and nurture it. Like a little garden of words, you need to regularly till the blogging soil, water your content, and seed the comments section, so to speak (that metaphor kind of got away from me there...)
In any case, if you want your blog to grow up healthy and strong, you have to work at it. It doesn't have to be difficult and you can still have fun with it, but there are a few rules you should follow (and pitfalls to avoid) to get the most of out of your blog.
Always be writing
Consistency is key for any blog. It doesn't matter how interesting or well-written your posts are, if your update schedule is on the same pace as sightings of Halley's Comet, people are going to tune out. You want to keep a nice, consistent blogging schedule that regularly produces content. Try to aim for a blog post a week, preferably on the same day. Getting into a regular flow will help make blogging a part of your routine, give you some structure to work around. If you just post whenever the mode strikes, or "when I have some free time,” you can quickly drift into astronomical territory.
If you're having trouble regularly coming up with ideas for your business' blog, try stepping out of your usual topics. Talk about something that interests you, or share a small story from the workplace, or a personal anecdote that taught you something. Don't feel like what you write about doesn't have to be 100% on brand at all times, it's good to share a bit of your personality! If you're really stuck, you can always try and secure a guest blogger for a week. Obviously a guest blog can be a nice emergency parachute when you're blocked, but more importantly, talking with someone else in the same field writing about the same topics can often help light the creative fire!
Keep things brisk and readable
Think about how your blog looks on the page. Do you typically have long blocks of text that read like an impenetrable wall of words? Do you tend to go on at length and reference example after example to make a point? That may be all well and good for a novel or an academic journal, but online, short is usually sweetest.
Unleash your inner-editor! Trim up your blogs and focus on nailing the most important and entertaining points without hanging around and wearing out your welcome. People read blogs in the little pockets of down-time in their lives - during a break at work, while waiting in a slow-moving line, when sipping on their morning coffee and trying to put-off getting dressed for another few minutes. Scale to that kind of time frame!
While your at it, break up your text. Ever notice how many blogs are arranged as lists or by sub-topics? That's no accident! You want your blogs to be easy to scan with a quick glance. Being mindful about how your blog will display on screen is an easy way to up your blogging game without a lot of effort!
Start a conversation
Your blog shouldn't be a one-way street. While business blogs don't typically generate massively active comment threads and discussions, you should always keep the opportunity open! Keep a comment section open and be sure to engage with anyone who takes the time to leave you feedback. This can be a great way to learn about your customers, build rapport with them, and increase your reputation. Being approachable and responsive can only make you look better in the eyes of potential customers.
Of course, having a comment section can involve a little custodial work. Don't be afraid to remove abusive or belligerent comments. Remember, you're looking for conversations, not shouting matches. You also need to keep an eye out for spam comments. Letting bots advertise in your comment section unchecked can actually damage your Google page rank score and even prevent you from showing up on search results if the problem gets bad enough.
Properly maintaining a blog can be a bit of work. But, if you put the time into it, the rewards can be well worth it!