Senior copywriter and content enthusiast Dan MacKenzie helps lay out the reasons for having a business blog and provides us with the best ways to go about filling it with information.
English majors are having a good decade. This is finally our time. Content is king. Everyone wants to have a blog and produce their own content. But as we find here at Happy Medium, not many people know how to make it happen. English majors to the rescue!
Writing a blog is easy if you have writers on staff. But for the rest of the world that can’t hire people with questionably useful college degrees, finding content for your blog can seem intimidating. Here are some strategies to help you do it right.
Wondering How to Start a Blog?
First, I want to make it clear that not everyone needs a blog. But it can be helpful for a lot of organizations. If you start a blog, it’s important to maintain it with regular updates. It can look bad if the last post you have is from 4 years ago.
You should have a purpose or a goal for running your blog.
If you’re considering it, here are four possible reasons you would put forth the effort to maintain one.
Regularly updating your website shows search engines that you are invested in keeping your information relevant for users. While changing your home page or service pages every month probably doesn’t make sense, adding a new blog each month is a relatively easy task.
It also gives you a chance to build up your keyword relevance. If your blogs begin to rank on search engines for certain words, it helps raise the SEO profile for your domain overall.
Your blog is an excellent way to help frame conversations that sales or other external teams are having with users.
If your industry is changing quickly, is difficult to understand for outsiders, or involves complicated products, creating blog posts that clarify or answer common questions can be a great support for those teams.
Thought Leadership or Information Source
Thought leadership is really a subset of SEO and sales support, but your blog is a good place to demonstrate your company’s vision or opinion on developing issues. By staking an early claim on hot topics, your users, clients, or customers may come to see you as the leader in your field (and come to you for help on complex issues).
Likewise, if there is a lot of news in your industry, you can establish your blog as a single source for otherwise disparate information. Acting as an aggregator of varied news can be a valuable service for certain users.
If content is a foundation of your business model, you can use advertising on your blog to drive revenue. This requires a pretty strong dedication to content creation as users will only visit your site if you’re constantly producing worthwhile content.
Once you have your strategy laid out, the next obvious question is how do you create blog content?
The Best Ways to Write a Blog, Ranked
You, your marketing team, or the full team can all pitch in on writing blogs.
1. Creating blogs from scratch
This is the absolute best option. It takes the most effort, but you gain the most from the work.
Filling your blog with original, relevant content establishes your organization as a leader in your industry—it helps establish a reputation as a knowledgeable source for information.
And as stated, it will also help increase your SEO rankings. The more new, varied content you have on industry-related topics, the stronger your site will look to search engines like Google.
You don’t necessarily have to have a writer on staff. You can crowdsource ideas from your team and take turns writing blogs. They can be as short as 300 words or so, and it’s easier when you do it as a team.
2. Hiring freelancers to write blogs
This is nearly as good as writing your own blogs, but it comes with the upfront cost of hiring and “training” freelancers. In addition to finding writers, you’ll likely need to talk with your accounting department regarding tax forms needed for reporting freelance work.
Finding writers can be done through services like Upwork or Fiverr. These services are sort of like professional Craigslist sites. You can browse freelancers by skill set, location, and specialty. The freelancers have reviews from past clients, and some feature examples of work.
Once a writer is located and hired, you’ll need to brief them on the ins and outs of your industry. A good freelancer will know what questions to ask, but there will be a slight learning curve.
Once you develop a relationship with one or more writers, the effort drops significantly. You now have a resource for writing blogs whenever you want.
3. Creating commentary or analysis of existing news articles
If the primary purpose of your blog is to inform your users about industry news, this may be a good option for you.
This is a fairly common format where you link to external sources, but add a paragraph or two that helps explain why the article is important or the key takeaways.
The key to success for this format is to add valuable insight beyond the article itself—give your users a reason to go through you rather than straight to the source.
You can provide value through analysis of other articles.
4. Quoting other articles as part of a blog
This is really just an extended form of #3. Rather than linking off to another site, you quote the relevant part of the article in your own blog. The idea is that you create a little “conversation” within your post or react to the main points of the other article.
This format can get tricky, though, as the rules for Fair Use in copyright law are complex. Because you would presumably be reusing the content for commercial purposes—to try and drive businesses to your blog—the bar for Fair Use is a bit higher.
Generally speaking, as long as you aren’t reproducing “significant portions” of the original article and you are adding meaningful insight or commentary, you’re in the clear. (This does not constitute legal advice, I am not a lawyer.)
5. Linking directly to a third-party article
In this instance, you would have an entry on your blog landing page, but instead of adding any of your own commentary for an article, you would link directly to that site. This allows you to fill your blog page but is not strongly recommended because it actively drives traffic away from your site.
This is an acceptable option if your goal is to act as a new aggregator for your audience.
6. Using a licensing service to buy blog content
Services like Written will connect you with existing high-performing content to post on your site. Essentially the company finds content related to the topics you want to talk about, then pays the original author for the rights to place the content on your site instead.
This, of course, comes with a cost. However, you also may see disproportionate benefits from SEO. If Written is able to find a high-performing article for you to license, it can generate a significant amount of traffic for your site.
We cannot recommend under any circumstance that you repost articles in their entirety. As discussed in #4, Fair Use is generally working against you in any type of commercial endeavor, exposing you to the chance of lawsuits. If you really want to use existing articles, use #3 or #4 above.
You’re a Blogger Now
That’s it. By using these strategies, you have all of the pieces you need to start creating a blog. If you need help creating space on your site for your blogs (or you need a new site altogether), let us know. Our team would love to help you create something.