There is no universal method to launch and run a successful business blog. In fact, without proper guidance, learning and direction successful execution is far too often out of reach. There are countless levers that need to be pulled, prodded and released simultaneously for your blog to rise to the top. And only a small fraction of blogs ever make it to the top. But the ones that do, the ones that persist, the ones that grind away even when it feels like the wheels are spinning; they reap the rewards.

The rewards of a successful business blog are endless. If you are at the top of the pops you command authority in your field, and your audience waits with baited breath to hear what you have to say every day. That is why you have to have a business blog. Otherwise you would always wonder ‘what if’.

What if you were the out and out leader of thought in your industry?

The good news is that you are just as well equipped as anyone else to do it. There is no magic potion, just hard work and determination. The tips to make a successful business blog I offer in this post are not the perfect solution, but they will help. They will help you understand what really matters, and what really works.

But are you up for it?

Let’s find out.

Disclaimer: This is an EPIC blog post. All up it is close to 7000 words. My suggestion for reading it is to first skim through the 30 headings and decide which topics interest you the most. To make it easier for you to navigate I have included a contents list below. Enjoy!

1. Have a clear purpose

2. Be authentic

3. Define your target audience

4. Make your blog design professional

5. Become a storyteller

6. Get buy-in from those that count

7. Write for sustainability not virality

8. Own your niche

9. Create a personality for your blog

10. Learn from other people’s success (and mistakes)

11. Clearly document your strategy

12. Link metrics and goals to meaningful outcomes

13. Conduct keyword research

14. Know your keyword competitors

15. Post consistently

16. Build an influencer network and leverage it in your copy

17. Actively seek backlinks from authoritative sites

18. In the start leverage other platforms

19. Integrate your blog with other tactics

20. Define roles and responsibilities

21. Have a common editorial calendar for your whole team

22. Maintain high quality content

23. Research each blog post

24. Don’t forget visuals

25. Optimize your blog posts for search engines

26. Optimize posts for unique CTA’s

27. Make sharing content super-easy for your readers

28. Squeeze every bit of value out of your content

29. Promote strategically and deliberately

30. Be patient

1. Have a clear purpose

Create a community. That should be the ultimate goal of your business blog.

A successful business blog is clear and unapologetic about WHY it exists. The people you attract to that blog are passionate about the cause you are progressing, and they become part of your tribe. This is how you build a community.

“Only when the WHY is clear and people believe what you believe can a truly loyal relationship exist.” – Simon Sinek

Are you a little unsure about what the purpose of your blog is? Ask yourself these questions;

What is the purpose of your business?

Do your staff understand their role in pursuing this purpose?

Do you have a compelling story that highlights your purpose?

Once you have landed on a succinct statement to articulate your purpose you should use it as an anchor for all blog content.

Darren Rowse from ProBlogger offers a simple 3-step process for creating a blog purpose statement.

2. Be authentic

“Making isn’t hard any more… where you actually tell your stories and authentically live up to what you say you’re going to do – that is where leverage is now” – Seth Godin

The era of digital marketing has given us an opportunity to connect with customers, on a more personal level than ever. Sadly many of us are missing out on this opportunity and persisting with outbound, direct marketing tactics.

Marketers that are extracting true value from this era of opportunity are those that are having an authentic conversation with their customers and aligning their message to a core purpose. Creating this alignment and delivering an authentic message should greatly influence your blog strategy.

If you are dedicated to fulfilling your purpose and anchor all of your blog content to that cause, your message will sound authentic. Authenticity will create trust with those that believe what you believe, and your community will begin to grow.

3. Define your target audience

Who are the people that share your purpose? Where do they consume information online?

Defining your target audience is a step that many marketers overlook when it comes to running a successful blog. But it’s not just good enough to ‘think you know’ who your customers are and what information they seek to read. This mentality is riddled with assumptions and potential risks.

Instead you need to document exactly who you are targeting, and discover exactly what makes them tick. Here is a general guide for the information you may like to collect on your ideal blog readers;

Where are they from?

What level of education have they achieved?

What does their employment history look like?

Are any current events having a great effect on their lives?

Economically, where do they fit in society?

How would you describe their personality if you had to group them?

What choices do they make from an ethical standpoint?

Do they have any common hobbies or habits?

What makes them tick?

How do they like to consume information online?

On what websites do they consume information online?

What other products and services do they use?

What challenges do they face every day?

What are their biggest dreams?

There are loads of great resources out there about creating a buyer persona and understanding your target audience. One of my favorite blogs on the topic appeared on the Single Grain blog and it was called ‘The Complete Guide to Developing and Using Buyer Personas’.

4. Make your blog design professional

“46.1% of people say a website’s design is the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the company.” (Source: HubSpot Marketing Blog)

The design of your blog is vital. An ugly looking blog can diminish the perception of your brand and discourage people from returning to your site.

So what makes for a sleek looking business blog?

Here are some things to keep in mind when designing your blog;

Use lots of white space and keep the colors basic

Create consistency with your branding, images and design

Make navigation easy for the reader – model your navigation design on other successful blogs in your industry

Use snippets – On the main blog page show a preview of your blog rather than the whole thing

Include social sharing buttons on every post

Make sure your font is at least 12-point in size, and easy on the eye

Include a sidebar to the right of your blogs with call-to-actions, previous posts and relevant internal links (You may like to use some ‘social proof’ in this section too)

Nail your ‘About’ page – This page is often the most visited page on your site, make it compelling and interesting

Optimize every page on your site to collect emails for your subscriber list

Optimize copy for SEO purposes (A helpful plugin for WordPress is WordPress SEO by Yoast)

Include images in every blog post

I have included a screenshot of the Blogging Wizard blog below. Adam Connell the mastermind behind Blogging Wizard has ticked pretty much every one of these factors off! You will see below how pastel colors, white space and consistent branding can influence the look and feel of a blog.

Neil Patel wrote a great post about the key elements of blog design on his Quick Sprout blog, here it is if you want to keep reading on the topic.

5. Become a storyteller

We engage more with content that tells a story. It’s natural. We have grown up with stories, our ancestors have shared history through story, and the most successful modern marketers are expert storytellers.

Seth Godin, one of the world’s most prolific writers, marketers and entrepreneurs wrote a book called; “All Marketers Are Liars”. (If you haven’t read it yet, I would highly recommend it!)

In his book, Seth tells us that great stories are;

True because they are consistent and authentic

Make a promise to the reader

Are trusted and subtle

Appeal to our senses and experience

Are rarely aimed at everyone (Pick your audience)

Don’t contradict themselves

Agree with the readers worldview

So how do you tell a great story?

You may like to use the “5C’s of Storytelling” as a story structure. This is something I came up with after collating a whole bunch of content from thought leaders such as Nancy Duarte, Seth Godin and Peter Guber.

Connect: Create an emotional connection with your audience

Challenge: Highlight a common pain point or challenge your audience is facing

Conflict: Establish the opposing forces that contribute to a less than favorable outcome. Use vivid details at this stage so the audience connects with your characters

Conquer: Show the audience how the characters overcome the struggle presented from this conflict. Give them the hope and belief that a positive outcome is possible

Conclude: Provide a resolution to the challenge, ending on a positive message the audience can take away. This is usually one part, of one part. A small cog in a bigger solution.

6. Get buy-in from those that count

Does your boss see the value in blogging?

It appears this is a common sticking point for many marketers. Managers want results, and they perceive results as immediate clicks or traffic to their site. What many of them don’t realize is that buying clicks and traffic is a short term approach to business growth. It doesn’t create sustainability.

Seeing you have made it this far through the blog post, I’m guessing you believe in blogging and the power of content in building a sustainable audience. But what if your boss doesn’t?

Getting the buy-in of your budget holder is essential in running a successful business blog. The more buy-in you have the less pressure you will feel, and the more you can concentrate on the tactics that work in the long-term.

Here are 3 ways you can sell blogging to your boss.

Get their input and stroke their ego!

Engage them openly in the planning phase, and ask them for suggestions to improve your strategy

Ask them if they would see some benefit in growing their personal brand by contributing to the blog

Build momentum for your strategy by leveraging their resources and support

Fly under the radar until you get results

Get clear on how your boss measures the success of your online marketing presence

Negotiate a subsequent set of goals

Report back to your boss only what is required along the journey, until you are seeing results

Buy time for any lag in tangible results

Once the results start flowing, your boss will want to know more about how you are getting them. This is when you engage them.

Sell your strategy up front

Get clear about how your boss measures success, and understand their most important goals and targets,

Jot down a set of potential objections to your blogging strategy

Use your knowledge, research and case studies to prepare for all of these objections

Create a clear connection between your strategy and the outcomes or objectives your boss wants to achieve

Collaborate on milestones and measures, and then develop a rhythm for reporting progress

There are any number of ways you can approach this, you will find the way that best suits your skills and personality. Just remember blogging can have a great ROI for businesses of all shapes and sizes, so when you are selling it to your boss be confident.

HubSpot offer a page jam packed full of statistics you may like to use as leverage. Check it out here.

7. Write for sustainability not virality

Viral content is everywhere. Videos, images, graphics and blog posts all of a sudden catch fire and spread to an audience much greater than the creator could ever imagine. But we are becoming too obsessed with it.

If you want to create viral content, film a cat jumping into a wall don’t blog!

If you want to create viral content, film a cat jumping into a wall don't blog!
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Blogging isn’t about creating content that goes viral, it is about creating content that will help your customers. It is about fueling the fire of a unique group of followers that believe in what you have to say and nurturing them into advocates for your work. If you write content with the sole purpose of sending it viral, you will start to forget about your core group of readers and slowly whittle your audience away to nothing.

Instead of writing content for virality, write content to build a sustainable audience.

Here are a few tips on writing content with a long-term mindset;

Write evergreen content. Evergreen content is as relevant today as it will be in 6, 12 or even 18 months.

Make your content useful. Useful content helps your readers overcome a very specific problem or challenge they face.

Don’t let your quality slip. Consistently high quality blog content will keep your readers coming back for more, don’t sacrifice this for quantity.

Attract influential guest contributors to your blog. A diverse set of authors makes your audience feel like they are gaining a different perspective on topics.

Create different forms of content. Try and use video, presentations, infographics or podcasts on your blog. A diverse portfolio of content will keep your readers engaged.

Note: Guest contributors and a diversified style of content works for some blogs, but not for others. For example If you have established a reputation on the back of a specific style of writing, your readers come to expect that style and may not appreciate other authors or forms of content.

8. Own your niche

If you are going to run a business blog you want it to be the best in your industry. When potential customers seek information about making a purchase decision, or solving a problem they have, you want them to come to your blog.

But how do you make this happen?

The key to out-blogging your competitors is all in the planning and strategy phase. Here is a step-by-step process you may like to apply to your blog planning, it will help you knock the competition out of the park!

Step 1 – Conduct keyword research to uncover long-tail phrases you want to target within your blog copy

Tip: KWFinder.com or Google Adwords Keyword Planner are helpful tools for this step

Step 2 – List out your next 5-10 blog topics and the keyword phrases you will target based on your research

Step 3 – Find out what other content has already been written by other sources including these keyword phrases

Tip: Search BuzzSumo and Google, using combinations of the keyword phrase you are targeting. Document the best performing articles for each topic.

Step 4 – Audit the other blog content. What information have the other authors included? What gaps are there in the content? What authoritative domains have linked to this blog content? Document your findings.

Tip: Majestic SEO or Moz Open Site Explorer are two tools that will help you determine the backlinks for specific blog posts

Step 5 – Research each topic looking for cool stats, images, case studies and examples. Jot down a basic structure for each potential blog post based on this research.

Step 6 – Write and publish your blog posts. Make them in depth, engaging and better than anything else you have found on that topic!

Step 7 – Conduct an email outreach program. Contact people or domains that have linked to those other blog posts and let them have a read of your epic post. Hopefully they will link to your post, resulting in a bump up Google’s search rankings.

Note: You may like to focus on one blog topic at a time rather than complicating things with 5 or 10.

That is how you own your niche!

9. Create a personality for your blog

Much like your corporate brand has a personality, so too does your blog. People want to connect with something or someone that feels real, authentic and human.

Your blog’s personality is the perception of a combination of factors. Think about the impression readers will get when they first experience your blog. Subconscious or not they will be looking at your writing style, website design, choice of imagery, willingness to engage with comments – they want to see who YOU are.

How do you create a unique blog personality?

Be authentic. Let the real you shine through in your posts.

Stick to your brand. Your corporate brand should influence everything your blog represents.

Write the way you speak. Communicating the way you would through conversation is found to be more engaging. Don’t write your blog like a textbook.

Use imagery that tells a story. The images you use tell readers a lot about who you are as a company.

Talk to one person. Make the reader feel like you wrote that blog only for them.

Elicit emotion in your reader. Use humor, fear, joy or redemption to engage your readers.

Tell your story. Don’t shy away from corporate examples that exemplify the point you are trying to make. You want to make the reader feel like they are a part of it.

Make employees the face of your blog. Typically humans engage with humans, not brands. So make your employees the face of your blog and let them leverage your brand to foster their personal growth.

10. Learn from other people’s success (and mistakes)

There is no secret that the best marketers of our time are all die hard learners. I strongly believe that to truly succeed at anything you need to embrace obstacles, learn from them, adapt and keep on fighting. Some of the most awe inspiring entrepreneurs of our time had failures in their corporate lives that would have stalled many less passionate people. Steve Jobs is a key example. He was fired from the company he built from the ground up and was later re-instated.

Let’s look at a blogging example. Alex Turnbull from Groove HQ shared stories and tactics on their way to 100k in monthly revenue through blog posts. This was ridiculously effective for growing their website traffic and subscriber growth. But after a while these vanity metrics became irrelevant. Most of their blog subscribers weren’t converting into customers. They were writing content and attracting an audience based on topics unrelated to their product. As soon as they flipped that mindset and started their ‘Customer Support‘ blog, conversions skyrocketed. Groove learnt a valuable lesson, but its because they were ready and willing to learn and pivot. Don’t get stuck in your ways.

A couple of principles I like to live by when it comes to learning from others;

Surround yourself with high achievers, people that know more than you and have already achieved a great deal.

Play like a novice. Always assume you don’t know everything (because you most likely don’t), and be inquisitive.

Embrace failure. Stare obstacles, failure and loss square in the eyes and learn from them.

Be an explorer. Go above and beyond to research, read and consume knowledge on your topics of interest. But don’t do it so you can sound smart at your next meeting, do it so you genuinely know and understand the content.

These principles are somewhat individual in nature. But when applied to business blogging they can teach you a lot. Take some risks, don’t be afraid, and whatever you do learn from others. Those others are the ones who can accelerate your journey.

Toby Jenkins from Bluewire Media wrote an awesome blog post on The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin, it is worth a read.

11. Clearly document your strategy

Just having a blog doesn’t cut it. To create a successful business blog you need to spend time documenting a strategy.

Do you have a documented blog strategy?

Many businesses fail to document their blog strategy, and it is a common reason for the gap between positive intention and successful execution.

The gap between positive intention and successful execution lies with the blog strategy.
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To help you document your blog strategy we created the Blog Strategy Canvas as a free download. There are 9 sections on the blog strategy canvas, with each of them playing a vital role in the success of your business blog. They are;

Purpose – Why does your blog exist?

Customers – Who are your ideal readers?

Competitors – Which of your competitors have blogs?

Keywords – What keyword groups will you be targeting?

Platform – Where will you distribute your blog content?

Promotion – How will you promote your blog content?

Resources – Who is accountable for executing your blog strategy?

Rhythm – How many blogs can you commit to scheduling every week?

Metrics and Goals – How will you measure success for your blog?

If you want further guidance I wrote a blog post for HubSpot that works through each of the 9 sections of the Blog Strategy Canvas in sequential order.

12. Link metrics and goals to meaningful outcomes

Setting goals and tracking those goals with the appropriate metrics allows you to stay on a positive trajectory with your marketing efforts. But metrics are only helpful if they link back to meaningful business outcomes.

Metrics are only helpful if they link back to meaningful business outcomes
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Start with these questions.

What outcome do you want to achieve?

Why do you want to achieve that outcome?

What incremental goals will help you get to that outcome?

Now, what metrics are appropriate for measuring those individual goals?

If you work from the top down, you will start to make sense of all the marketing metrics that blogging can throw at you.

So next time you say you want more ‘web traffic’ or more ‘inbound links’, ask yourself why? How does this progress the purpose of your business as a whole?

Set goals over a 60-day period. This allows you to test out your strategy and course correct where necessary.

This post on the Codeless Interactive blog by Brad Smith talks about 5 key metrics for measuring your blogging success, and is worthwhile as some extra reading.

13. Conduct keyword research

Stuffing keywords into your blog copy, alt tags and meta descriptions is NOT OK! Google will penalize you for this tactic and you’ll see your site dropping further and further down the search rankings. Marketers need to write content that engages humans, tells stories and helps people overcome challenges. Inevitably search engine algorithms will favour this type of content.

Marketers need to write content that engages humans, tells stories and helps people overcome challenges.
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However, keywords are still important when it comes to blogging. They let search engines understand what your content is all about. When one of your customers search for a specific phrase you want to make it as easy as possible for the search algorithm to pick up your content and show it to them. Understanding the language and phrases your customers use when searching content is the real key. These phrases are known as long-tail keywords.

So how do you find long-tail keywords to include in your blog content?

Step 1 – List out 5-10 keyword groups you are targeting. For example ‘business blogging’ is a keyword group that I target.

Step 2 – Type that broad term into KWFinder.com like I have in the screenshot below

Step 3 – Document as many long-tail phrases you want that may suit your business and blogging goals. For example, long-tail examples that stem from ‘business blogging’ include ‘starting a business blog’ and ‘business blogging plan’. Pay close attention to the search volumes of each term, you want to make sure the terms you choose are attracting enough consistent searches but are not too competitive.

Step 4 – Use your long-tail keywords to brainstorm blog ideas

Note: Once you know your keywords, make sure you use them when they are relevant. Don’t load up your content with keywords that don’t make sense.

SEO Nick wrote an epic post about keyword research you may like to read.

14. Know your keyword competitors

Who are your competitors?

That question is not as black and white as it appears. Most people when asked who they consider competitors would list out a group of companies that compete for market share in their niche. But from a blogging perspective, your ‘competitors’ can sometimes take a different form.

When it comes to blogging, your competitors are the websites and other blogs that attract traffic based on the same keywords as you. Therefore keywords are an effective way to create a competitive comparison.

After defining a set of keywords you can begin to analyze the performance of your keyword competitors. You may like to adapt the below process to your own business;

Search Google, starting with fairly generic keyword terms you are targeting. Document the top 3 or 4 pages for each search you conduct.

Now use BuzzSumo to discover the top 3 or 4 pages in terms of social shares for each associated keyword.

Document the 3 or 4 sites that appear the most in your searches, these are your keyword competitors

Conduct a content audit of your keyword competitors using a tool such as Moz Open Site Explorer. Document where they are getting inbound links, and note any gaps in their content.

You should now have a bunch of blog ideas. Come up with headlines and put these into your editorial calendar.

15. Post consistently

Consistent blog content appears to be a major problem for most businesses. But some people get consistency confused with quantity. The key is to commit to a blog schedule that is achievable. If you have the capacity to blog every day, great, but most of us don’t. For those of us that can’t commit to such an overwhelming amount of writing, look to publish better quality content at consistent intervals; for example every week or even every two weeks.

If you still aren’t confident you can maintain a consistent stream of blog content, here are a few tools and tactics to help you out;

Use an editorial calendar that your whole team has access to

Create ownership within your team for writing blog content. To do this link key performance indicators and employee reviews to the creation of blog content

Attract guest contributors to write content for your blog

Create a link between blogging and business outcomes. Once people within your team see the tangible value in blogging they will want to contribute to the efforts.

Do things in bursts – come up with lots of ideas at once and create accountability by placing them into your editorial calendar

Interview influential people in your industry and post it to your blog

Write a list post (just like this one) and periodically explore each of its components in subsequent blog posts

Research blog content that has performed well in your industry and improve on it

Make employees the face of your brand. Encourage ambitious employees to boost their own profile with your blog as a stepping stone.

Conduct long-tail keyword research and document ideas for blog posts

Garrett Moon the co-founder of CoSchedule wrote a post about creating more consistent content using an editorial calendar.

Additional resources: I found this step-by-step guide for generating hundreds of blog ideas. It’s put together by an up and coming blogger by the name of Adrian Cordiner. Well worth a read and bookmark!

16. Build an influencer network and leverage it in your copy

Building an influencer network is a core component of inbound marketing and running a successful business blog. If you have strong relationships with a group of people who greatly influence your customers, promoting your blog content becomes much easier. But creating such a group requires a lot of upfront effort.

There is no perfect science to developing this network but this step-by-step process is a good starting point.

Step 1 – Make a list of key influencers in your industry. Influencers are people that are perceived as authorities. They are trustworthy and credible in the eyes of your customer. They may have a large network of their own, or have access to authoritative sources.

Step 2 – Begin placing deposits with this list of influencers by being outrageously generous. Are they a blogger? If so, read their blog, share it to your network and sign up to their email list. Do they have a product? Buy it, review it and encourage others to do the same.

Step 3 – Maintain regular contact with these influencers. You want to continue placing deposits at consistent intervals in the future. These deposits may be as simple as a short email message suggesting a blog article they might find helpful, or sharing their content on social media. Sometimes you may like to place a bigger deposit, such as a new product purchase or direct client referral.

Step 4 – Leverage this network sparingly. Don’t be afraid to ask your new influencer network for a blog comment or a social share, but don’t overdo it. The key is to make them always feel like they are indebted to you, not the other way around.

17. Actively seek backlinks from authoritative sites

Backlinks from authoritative sites are one of the top SEO ranking factors. So if you want your content to appear on page one of Google, you should actively seek them out. But be careful, there are lots of SEO consultants out there preaching link building strategies that will in the end do more damage than good for your site.

Here are some effective ways for gaining backlinks that won’t damage your search engine ranking;

Create epic content. Long-form content that blows anything else out of the water will attract more interest and more backlinks.

Create evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that is just as applicable today as it will be in 6 or even 12 months. The longer the lifespan of your content, the more chance it has to build credible links.

Build meaningful relationships. Start to nurture those that influence authoritative sites in your industry. Social media is a great platform to initiate this. But make sure you build trust and share generously before asking for anything in return.

Conduct expert interviews on your blog. If you’re lucky, these experts may link back to your content!

Start guest posting. Writing high quality content for authoritative sites gets you appropriate links back to your site. But don’t do this purely for links. Use their platform to build your credibility and help their audience.

Conduct an email outreach program. In section 8 ‘Own your niche’ of this post you will see I mentioned researching specific inbound links based on the keywords you choose to target. Try and contact the sources that are linking to other content on the same topic.

Brian Dean from Backlinko offers a free downloadable checklist for tapping into backlink sources you may not have thought of.

18. In the start leverage other platforms

There is some confusion within marketing circles about guest blogging. Once upon a time posting your content all over the internet to credible (or not so credible) sites was a back linkers dream. Links were links, and guest posting gave you lots and lots of them. More links used to equal a higher search ranking.

But things have changed. Matt Cutts (Google’s algorithmic spokesperson) has openly shunned duplicate content and hinted that guest posting will no longer benefit search rankings. With that in mind, one of the world’s most respected and successful search engine marketers is Neil Patel. Neil uses guest posting as a cornerstone to his content strategy and has considerable success in driving revenue to his numerous businesses with the tactic.

Guest posting from a pure link building perspective is dead, but from a business growth perspective it is just kicking into gear. The great thing is most people are still stuck in the link building era, so the opportunity is all yours. The sooner you change your mindset about guest posting the more success you will have.

Guest posting from a link building perspective is dead, but from a business growth perspective it is just kicking into gear.
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Here are seven reasons guest blogging still matters to your business;

Inbound links – If you post on other sites purely for links it will destroy your SEO rankings. But if you post for thought leadership and avoid the temptation to stuff your content with links, you will organically attract more visitors to your site.

Thought leadership – All of us want to be perceived as a thought leader, someone on the cutting edge of our industry. Guest blogging is a great tactic for creating that perception in your customers’ minds.

Brand awareness – The more exposure you or your staff get on high traffic websites, the greater exposure your brand has to the world.

PR Opportunities – Establishing yourself as a thought leader leads to further PR opportunities. Once journalists or bloggers notice you, the requests for further exposure will start flowing.

Social proof for landing pages and web copy – Attracting social shares (and nice commentary) is a lot easier when you are blogging on a well-established platform. You can leverage social shares in your web copy by embedding Tweets or comments as social proof.

Grow your social following – Guest blogging provides access to a massive audience and can subsequently explode your social media following

Expand your influencer network – Thought leaders want to be friends with thought leaders. By guest posting you develop more credibility and leverage to approach new influencers in your industry.

Don’t believe in the power of guest blogging to grow your business? Buffer and Groove HQ will prove its value for you. Check out these two great business blogs and their case studies below;

How We’ve Reached 1 Million People by Guest Blogging – Alex Turnbull

How Guest Posting Propelled One Site from 0 to 100,000 Customers – Eric Siu

Here is an extra bit of reading on the benefits of guest blogging from Barry Feldman at Feldman Creative.

19. Integrate your blog with other tactics

Having a blog alone is not enough. It needs to integrate with other levers in your inbound marketing strategy so it contributes to the growth of your business.

So what are some other tactics you should be integrating with your blog strategy?

High impact web design – Your website design is a little bit like the décor in your house. First impressions are often harsh and can be lasting. Make it sleek, professional and simple to understand.

Landing pages – The call-to-actions in your blogs should lead to well-designed landing pages.

Email marketing – It’s important you don’t just capture people’s emails and then let them forget about you. Regular contact over email is still a fantastic tactic for nurturing your readers into customers.

Social media marketing – Blogging and social media are the perfect couple. It’s very rare to see one succeed without the other.

Free resources – Give away free stuff to your readers, they’ll love you for it and be more inclined to share!

Other forms of content marketing – Don’t spread yourself too thin, but creating different forms of content is important to growing an online audience. Many of your customers may not like reading blogs but they would watch video, or click through a SlideShare presentation.

Perhaps the most important element of these other tactics is email marketing. You not only have to attract people to subscribe to your list with amazing offers and great content, but you need to nurture them into advocates over time. Ana Hoffman from Traffic Generation Cafe offers an amazing free resource on email list building.

20. Define roles and responsibilities

There are many one man bands that rule the blogosphere, but if you have the resources available to you… Use them! Build an unbeatable blog team. There are lots of moving parts when it comes to running a successful blog which create risk. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities help mitigate that risk.

What roles do you need to define accountability for?

Strategy and editorial calendar governance

Keyword research

Facts, stats and examples research

Copywriting; Actually writing the blog content

Editing and quality assurance

Creative; The visual stuff

Promoting and community building

Repurposing blogs into other forms of content

Resource development; The downloads and resources you giveaway to build your email list

Email marketing

Note: It is common for one person to be accountable for several of these roles, but still important to clearly define who that is.

21. Have a common editorial calendar for your whole team

You’d be surprised how few companies have an editorial calendar for their blog. Even if they do, often it isn’t available to the whole content team for collaboration purposes.

A strategy without the governance of an editorial calendar is like a yacht with no mast.

A strategy without the governance of an editorial calendar is like a yacht with no mast.
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Have you ever said; “We’re in the process of making one now”. That shouldn’t be an excuse.

Here is why you need an editorial calendar that your whole team can access;

It forces you to plan ahead and write content that is aligned to your overall strategy

You create accountability for the whole team by having your future blog post titles documented

It helps maintain a consistent flow of blog content on your site (As mentioned in point 15 of this post)

You can plan promotional tactics well in advance, refining the processes that accompany your blog content

Here is a free editorial calendar download offered by Bluewire Media.

Alternatively if you use WordPress the ‘WordPress Editorial Calendar’ or CoSchedule plugins are great options.

22. Maintain high quality content

“I don’t have enough time to create consistently high quality blog content.”

The ongoing dilemma that all bloggers face is the dread of having to repeat the creation process over and over again. There is no respite, you need to dedicate lots of time and energy to blogging if you want to make it work for your business. As soon as you hit publish on a post, you need to promote that post and start working on your next one. But you need to change your mindset about blogging, and think of it as a business growth tactic NOT just a marketing tactic.

Blogging is a very effective business growth tactic, but only if done well. Your blog content needs to be optimized to engage readers, social networks and search engines. This is what writing high quality blog content is all about.

So what are the elements of a quality blog post?

Compelling headline – Draw the reader in and get them to click on the post

Eye-catching header image

Connection/hook – Highlighting a pain point of the reader

Ace – One overarching point the blog is anchored to

Keyword optimized – You have included relevant keywords where necessary in the post

Jargon free – Sentences are short, sharp and easy to digest

Text is broken up – Use sub-headings, dot points, screenshots and whatever else you can to break up the text

Helpful – Inform the reader before promoting yourself

Call-to-action – It is clear what you want the reader to act on after reading the post

I find it helpful to create a checklist to use as quality assurance when editing blogs. You may like to use the Blog Post Checklist I created.

23. Research each blog post

Researching each blog post is essential if you want to run a successful business blog. Effective research has a direct influence on the quality of each post, and its perceived credibility.

Before sitting down to write a blog post I like to research for at least an hour. After determining your keywords it is time to start researching.

Here are some examples of the type of content you should be looking for when researching those keywords;

Popular content created by others

Images and infographics

Podcasts or webinars

Social chatter

Video content on YouTube or Vimeo

SlideShare and Prezi presentations

Tools and templates that will help your readers

Competitor blogs on the same topic

Apps or widgets that will help your reader

There is no need to research all of these elements every time you write a post. However, by diversifying the way you research posts over time people will start to  see you as well researched and credible.

24. Don’t forget visuals

“90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text.” (Source: HubSpot)

Visuals increase engagement with your blog content. They break up the text and create a more complete experience for the reader by tapping into different emotional cues in their brains.

Some examples of visuals you can use within your blog content;

Feature images appearing with the snippet of the blog

Header images on the blog page at the beginning of the text

Screenshots throughout the text, informing the reader in more depth what the text is referring to


Embedded videos

Visual call-to-action buttons

Embedded SlideShare presentations

Block quotes with different font size and styling than the blog text

Moving images such as GIFs

Embedded Tweets

Buffer included this epic list of free image sources on their blog you may find helpful.

25. Optimize your blog posts for search engines

Getting found more regularly by customers using search engines is a common reason for blogging. But Google are constantly updating and improving their search algorithm. For the average marketer and business owner who has no aspirations to be an SEO expert, this can be quite daunting.

To mitigate this risk I like to read the blogs of search experts and keep up to date with SEO news on Twitter. If you are looking for a couple of worthwhile people to follow I would suggest Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin and Matt Cutts.

In the meantime here are a few principles you may like to stick to when writing your blog copy. If you write content that ticks most of these boxes, your site will quickly become close friends with the Google algorithm.

Use storytelling to engage your audience

Break your copy up into helpful sub-headings, lists or dot points

Remove any jargon from your posts

Use short, sharp sentences that have a big impact

Include both internal web links as well as outbound links to authoritative sites

Include descriptive alt tags for the images you use within the blog post

Write content over 1500 words for best results

Include your keywords in the heading, sub-headings, image alt tags, meta description and copy of your blog

With all of these suggestions, moderation is the key to success. Don’t include too many links and don’t pack your copy full of keywords. If you write highly engaging content with your audience in mind, eventually search engines will reward you with well-placed search rankings.

If you use WordPress I would recommend downloading the plugin ‘WordPress SEO by Yoast’. It will help you write blog content that is SEO optimized.

Or if you’d like to read a helpful blog post on the topic try this one from Neil Patel; The Ultimate SEO Checklist

26. Optimize posts for unique CTA’s

Your blog should be the hub of your website. If run well, a business blog will attract a large percentage of your web traffic. Whether that traffic is coming directly from search engines, social media, email or other third party applications.

But what good is attracting people to a blog article on your website if they ‘bounce’ straight off and don’t explore further what you have to offer?

This is why optimizing each and every blog post for a unique call-to-action is integral to your business growth. Essentially a call-to-action or ‘CTA’ is a very specific thing you want your readers to do as a result of reading your blog.

Here are some examples of CTA’s you could be using in your blog content;

Capture an email subscriber

Encourage a resource download such as;




Get the reader to share on social media

Offer a free trial for a product or service

Include an affiliate link

Ask readers to comment on the blog

Link to another post on your site

Link to the site of an influencer in your industry

Request feedback on something you are doing

Get readers to participate in a survey

Tip: I would recommend using only one CTA for every blog post. Write your copy with that CTA in mind and don’t give your readers too many options. This increases the chance they will take action.

Below you will see a screenshot of a CTA example from Gorilla SEO. I have highlighted some of the core components of a good CTA such as social proof, a compelling ‘why’, the use of buttons and a preview of the goods.

Of course a CTA is useless at the bottom of a poor quality blog post, but Gorilla SEO are lucky enough to have the writing prowess of James Dillon to attract leads on their blog!

If you use WordPress the Inbound Now Call To Action Plugin is fantastic. It helps you set up A/B testing and track your results.

27. Make sharing content super-easy for your readers

Writing quality blog content is by no way the hardest part about running a successful blog. Getting that content discovered by the right people is far more challenging. But when you do manage to attract visitors to your website you want to make sure there is every chance that they will share your content on social media. This way, you are accessing their networks as well.

You may like to follow these principles to attract more social shares for your blog content;

Nail the headline – Many people won’t even go beyond reading your headline before they decide if they will share the blog post. So nail it!

Use sub-headings and dot points – If they do decide to read beyond the headline, make it easy for them to scan the content and decide if it is going to add value to their day. Sub-headings and dot points achieve this.

Give readers lots of opportunity to share the blog – Add floating or scrolling sharing buttons to your blog, embed Click-To-Tweet links and include your Twitter feed in the right sidebar.

Add sharing links into your email newsletter

I use the free SumoMe sharing app, it is really customizable and looks great.

28. Squeeze every bit of value out of your content

Maintaining a steady stream of blog content is hard, and extremely time consuming. So let’s talk about a few ways you can milk every blog post for what it’s worth!

Squeeze every bit of value out of the blog content you create by re-purposing it in different forms. Here are some examples of how to re-purpose your blog content;

Social Media – Use quotes, statements and questions from the body of your blog across social media platforms; not just the headline!

Video – Turn your how-to post or expert interview into a video for exposure across different platforms.

E-Book – Write a string of blog posts on the same topic and turn them into an e-book

Infographics – Turn a list post into an infographic using a tool like Piktochart

SlideShare – Use PowerPoint to create a SlideShare presentation from your blog content

Email Newsletter – Send an email to your network with a short sharp message about how your most recent blog post will benefit them and a link back to the post

Template or Checklist – Turn a checklist post into a downloadable PDF for your readers

I wrote a blog post for HubSpot that went into these with more depth if you are interested; 9 Ways to Recycle Your Blog Posts Into Other Content Formats

29. Promote strategically and deliberately

Getting your blog content discovered is one of the biggest challenges we face. Therefore understanding how to effectively promote that content is essential to running a business blog. Unfortunately there is no perfect formula.

The good news is I’ve had lots of success promoting some of my own content, not to mention the loads of tactics I have tried that have failed. (I’ll leave them out for now) I’ve also read almost everything available online about gaining exposure for your content!

Here are some tactics I have found work when it comes to getting more blog readers;

Schedule at least 10 snippets of your post to your chosen social networks in the week following its publication.

Email your subscriber list mentioning the blog post and why it can make their life easier

Add blog content to blog aggregators, an example is All Top

Share your post within LinkedIn Groups and Google+ Communities

Post a summary of your blog to forums such as Quora

Suggest your content to popular pages on Scoop.it

Contact influencers you have identified via email or social media asking them to comment or share the post

Share your content to SubReddits


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