In a talk with small business owners about blogging for business, I railed against several misconceptions. Several thought they should use their blog as an alternate income source — like they were a (circa 2002) lifestyle blogger or media outlet. A few believed they should be able to post whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted — little rants about what was on their mind. Most felt that blogging for business was a complete waste of time. They posted and never got any new business.
Those scattered myths revealed a common flaw in how people are blogging for business. A business blog should be part of your content marketing strategy — not an extra chore that you do occasionally because you once heard something about ROI.
And as part of a content marketing strategy, a business blog requires the same thoughtful content creation as any other medium.
In this Article
1. How to Create a Content Plan
2. How to Prioritize Quality Content
3. How to Hire Someone to Write Your Blog Posts
The elements of any blog post are essentially the same: text, graphics or video, keywords, links and call-to-action. But, not all blog posts are equal. Taken together as a string of posts, your blog (and your business) develops a reputation for a particular quality-level of content.
To get value from your business blog, you need to create a content plan, keep a focus on quality, and hire the right people.
Create a Content Plan
Before you decide who will be writing the blog posts for your business, you need to develop a content plan. This can be simple or detailed, depending on your expectations and management style.
Ideally, every content plan will include the following items:
- A schedule for publishing dates helps you determine appropriate deadlines.
- A list of the posts with any assets you need helps you find resources and plan workflow.
- A total budget for creating the posts, with details about how much goes to each post.
- An outline of goals or expectations for performance starts the discussion about the call-to-action for each post.
To put these together, move through the following planning steps.
Step 1: Start with your Products or Services
List out your product categories or services. Then, note how each one is represented on your website. Do you have a page for each one that you offer?
If not, you need to hold off on your blogging project.
Make sure that each service or product you wish to promote has a digital presence — preferably on their own page with strong content and a way for your prospective customer to take action (like a lead-generating form or purchase button).
Once you have all of your products or services represented on your website, make a note on your list. This is an essential part of building out your content calendar.
Step 2: Create categories of content based on your Call to Action
Now that you have a list of products or services, you need to list what you want your prospective customer to do. Do you want them to buy something online? Do you want them to contact a sales representative?
Those are all examples of a call-to-action.
That’s the biggest end goal of blogging for a business. You want someone to take that “next step” after they read your post.
Use that to create categories for your types of blog posts.
For example, if you have a plumbing business, you could choose 2 categories. First, you could have a category where the call-to-action is “Follow my Facebook page for plumbing tips.” Second, you could have a category where the call-to-action is “Schedule an Appointment.”
PRO TIP: Since blog posts are a “soft sell,” it’s important to keep the customer’s needs in mind. They are looking for a solution. The blog post should offer the answer.
That first group of posts will be focused on maintaining a long-term relationship with prospective and current clients. The second will be focused on immediate needs, like setting an appointment.
When you think about your business, for products or services, a few goals should come to mind.
- Following a social media account
- Subscribing for email blasts or newsletters
- Downloading an offer
- Contact a sales representative
- Purchasing online
- Visiting a location
- RSVP for an event
Just pick 2 or 3 to start the process.
Step 3: Brainstorm a List of Topics
Based on your business, you should be able to build a list of topics that would be relevant to your customers. Think of them as subcategories related to your products or services. Many of them might even take the form of frequently asked questions.
PRO TIP: If you review your existing marketing materials and talk to your sales team, you may find topics that should be addressed on your blog.
You don’t need to know a lot of search engine optimization (SEO) to build this list. That is the content creator’s job. You just need to know your industry and your customer.
Step 4: Build a Schedule Around Your Business Cycle
Finally, you need to decide when you want your prospective customers to take that action. For example, if you work in retail, you may plan your posts around when new inventory comes into the store. Similarly, if you offer a specific, seasonal service, you want to make sure the appropriate technicians are available to take appointments.
Use these insights to estimate when you want the leads or sales to come in. It will help you work backwards and assess the deadlines.
Prioritizing Quality Content
Online audiences crave content, constantly. They consume lists, roundups, interviews, tutorials, and infographics at an alarming rate. Clickbait draws them in. Clunky galleries drive them away. But, the urge to take in all that information and entertainment remains.
For organizations, creating content on this competitive cycle requires a vision for blog post quality. Below are a few things to consider when selecting someone to generate content for your website’s blog.
The Two Types of Content Creators
Common blogging misconceptions stem from old statistics, misunderstood trends, and overwhelmed marketers.
First, old statistics encourage businesses to post short, shallow posts. Many business owners read something years ago about keeping posts to less than 500 words because of short attention spans. That’s simply incorrect.
Second, misunderstanding trends causes businesses to build content strategies around irrelevant, yet popular, keywords and clickbait. This actually leads to wasting money on clicks without conversions.
Third, overwhelmed marketers crank out mediocre posts to meet content contracts with less effort. They grab onto an easy idea, write it without research, and slap in a few fast graphics to stay on deadline and budget.
All of these elements created an industry full of poorly-performing content with a low price tag but a similarly low return.
PRO TIP: Look for someone who talks about blogging in terms of how it will benefit your overall business goals.
To leave audiences enriched and satisfied, business blogging requires storytelling fundamentals, research with integrity, and innovative professionalism.
First, storytelling fundamentals provide posts with the full range of elements required to build an engaging, memorable post. The post construction starts with a key message, that can be outlined for flow. Then, the writer can add meaty information and tasty creative flourishes.
Second, research with integrity develops posts that hold up to scrutiny. The post uses reliable, and often original, sources. With those valuable sources, readers discover meaningful, fresh information that moves them to action.
Third, innovative professionalism uses a disciplined approach to writing posts. These posts are part of a larger initiative to help a business reach marketing goals. Also, the posts are punchy. Something about them stands out from the massive white noise of meaningless media.
Taken together, these three blogging principles actually generate new business. It’s more than satisfactory. It’s an enriched experience that readers find useful.
How to Hire Someone to Write Your Blog Posts
To fulfill your content plan, you can hire someone to write (or edit) the blog posts for your business. This can happen in-house or be outsourced. Ideally, you’ll find a solution that both maintains a high quality and sticks to your content schedule.
Option 1: Employ Staff Members
I’ve worked with several businesses who chose to employ staff members to write their blog posts. Sometimes, the team member created the post and I finished it by optimizing the content. Other times, I just provided the initial strategy and they managed the blog themselves.
- Employees often have niche knowledge and are already subject matter experts.
- They are familiar with the company’s mindset.
- They already know industry lingo.
- Other aspects of their job may superseded blogging and delay the project.
- They may not have experience with writing to an online audience.
- They may struggle to separate their preconceptions from the innovation needed for the project.
This plan is ideal when team members have the availability and the passion for creating content. Otherwise, it becomes a burden and honestly, never gets done. In the past, I’ve found that pairing a subject matter expert with a skilled content creator can blend niche knowledge with creative storytelling.
Option 2: Use a Service
There are several services that broker blog posts between your business and a content creator. Typically, they have a database of people, divided by their skills. Often, they even have experience in a specific subject area from working in that field. They function as a ghostwriter and most of the “terms of service” allow you to claim the final product as your original work. The person you hire is not allowed to use it in their portfolio or publish it elsewhere.
- The cost for these services stay competitive.
- You can “try” several different content creators without a contract or commitment.
- Most of these services promise a quick turn time.
- It can take a while to find a content creator you want to use consistently.
- Some of the cost goes to the service for managing the transaction.
- The content creator may not be available on your schedule.
If you use one of these services, look at the writing samples carefully and consider the ranking of the person you select. Often, a cheaper rate means a lower quality post.
Option 3: Find a Freelancer
Similar to using a service, hiring a freelancer allows you to use a ghostwriter to produce quality content that you can claim as your own. Some work on retainer, contract, or on a project-by-project basis.
- Once you establish a solid relationship with a freelancer, it’s like having a part-time employee. They can produce on your schedule as you have need.
- The turn time on projects can be faster than doing them in house.
- You can get some high-quality content creators who can produce a much better post than in-house capabilities. Some freelancers have other jobs, or an established professional history that makes them capable of creating valuable posts.
- These relationships tend to function like a partnership and require resources (phone calls, meetings, and emails) on your end to get the best results.
- It can take time to find the best freelancer for your content needs. You could go through several before you find someone you want to use consistently.
The best way to find a freelancer is through word of mouth. Look for people who are great storytellers and inquire if they ever ghostwrite. Also, you can ask other businesses who helps with their content.
Option 4: Create Guest Post Relationships
Asking others in your industry to write guest posts yields valuable content. Not only are they subject matter experts, but also, you benefit from the overlap of audiences. Their reputation and your reputations both get a boost from the partnership.
- The “trust” on these kinds of posts are very high if the guest poster already has a good reputation in the industry.
- Often, you can adapt or preview existing thoughts into blog content (like a speech or pitch.)
- The tit-for-tat relationship will require you to show the mutual benefit of a guest post.
- You’ll need to spend some time developing and maintaining the professional relationship.
- You only have some control over what a guest poster writes. Ultimately, they decide what they want to say.
If you do decide to work with someone in your industry for a guest post, it can lead to some valuable cross-promotion.
Option 5: Partner with an Agency
Similar to working with a freelancer, you can hire a whole agency on a contract or retainer basis. Instead of working with one person, you are usually assigned an account manager. That person coordinates your project and subs out all of the aspects to a team of people.
- You get the experience and resources of a marketing team without bringing employees in house.
- They can offer an outside perspective, leading to more innovation.
- Depending on how much you’re willing to pay, you can get a lot of content quickly. They have more people and can produce on a tight schedule.
- The cost can be highest compared to the other options. They have more overhead.
- They often need a long-term commitment, like a retainer, to make room for your project in their workflow.
If you decide to work with an agency, ask for a list of references. Those groups can let you know what it’s like to work with their preferred agency.
The Goal: Consistent Posting
As you consider hiring someone to help with your business blog remember the goal: you want to stick to a schedule. A mix of in-house and outside resources will help you post consistently.
What is best for your business blogging plan?
I have actually worked in all of these roles to blog for business websites.
First, I’ve been a staff member at a company who was assigned to write blog posts in addition to my other duties. It was challenging at times to balance the posts with other projects. However, I liked the opportunity to express my own thoughts about our particular business niche.
Second, I’ve worked as a freelancer, at an agency and through a service. All of these are solid options for a variety of business blogging plans.
- I get projects through this website, as a freelancer. Much of this work comes from word of mouth when people see my projects.
- I work part time with an agency that found my work. They’ve been generous in allowing me the freedom to keep my own freelance business.
- I also get projects through a service that brokers relationships between businesses and content creators. They take a cut of the profit but, I also don’t have to go out and find my own clients.
Third, I’ve created (and solicited) guest posts for other people in my particular industry.
Finding the right person to create content for your business blog depends on your unique situation. Often, business owners find that a mix of in-house and out-sourced content helps them stick to a blogging schedule.
As an example, I enjoyed working on a post paired classic sweaters with current trends. Because of the timely and visual nature of the post, it worked well on several platforms and channels including social media and email. The call-to-action pushed to a selection of sweaters available for purchase.
Similarly, I have worked on countless blog posts for clients based on topics relevant to their audience’s interests. I’ve written about everything from pulled pork recipes to infant car seat safety regulations to EPA regulations to cataract surgery.