Everything goes to plan until you get punched in the face.
I’ve read this quote somewhere on Twitter and I can’t remember who said it.
But I’ve always liked it.
I’m a fan of having a plan, but a plan can only take you so far. You can take things step by step, but there will always be a few issues along the way. I’ve found that with blogging and with life that a plan is definitely something you need. It you don’t have one then you’re probably not going to accomplish what you want to accomplish.
I see it all the time with businesses and their blogging wishes. A lot of businesses want to start a blog. Some even publish a few posts, but most don’t follow through.
For these businesses, the missing piece of a business blogging plan.
Here are the main ingredients to a successful blogging plan.
1. Industry Understanding
The first thing we ask our new clients is to explain their business and the industry they’re in. This is key because we want to know what the company is selling and what the competitive landscape is like in the industry.
We also want to know what the potential audience is for the client. This can vary depending on the industry they’re in.
As the owner of your business, you probably have a very good understanding of your industry. If you don’t already, look around to see what competitors have blogs. Find forums your target audience is using. Look for industry news sites to see what they’re writing about.
This gives you a good overview of the landscape.
2. Industry-Level Customer Questions (Also: Keywords)
Once we have an understanding of the industry we start looking at the customer. We try to get a really detailed description of the target customer or in the case of blogging, the target reader.
From there we start looking on forums, blogs and other websites for the questions the target reader is asking online. Industry forums will have entire discussions about popular topics and questions. Popular industry blogs and news websites will have discussions in the blog comments. And those same sites will also have popular articles. Look at the popular topics on those sites and you’ll see what your target audience wants to read the most.
From our experience, answering common questions naturally adds industry keywords to your blog. You can do keyword research at this part using Google’s AdWords keyword tool or by typing in a potential keyword into Google and looking at other keywords it suggests.
You can also look at popular industry websites and their posts and look at their titles and URLs to see what keywords they are targeting.
Keywords are important, but focus first on providing the best possible answer to the most common customer questions.
And make sure those questions are industry-level questions.
For example, you don’t want to answer, “How much does your car cleaner cost?” on your blog.
You want to answer, “How do I fix the smell in my car?”. That’s an industry level questions.
3. Content Calendar
With every one of our clients we create a calendar. It’s nothing really in-depth, but it does have the necessary information for writing a post including the title, a few notes, a due date, a publish date and a list of requirements for every post.
We like to keep the titles and notes filled in at least 1-2 months in advance. This separates the brainstorm and the writing parts of blogging.
Now when you go to write a post you’ll have the title or idea and you can start researching and writing.
We also add in a few notes to help the writers get started in the right direction. Even one or two things can really get them on the same page and help direct their research so they can write a great article.
4. Person Responsible For Writing And Publishing
Someone needs to be responsible for the blog.
A business I worked for had a really good structure. They had an entrepreneur philosophy where someone was in charge of every business and someone was in charge of each task for that business.
This ownership structure made people feel responsible for the success of their business and their program. You didn’t want to go to a meeting with below budget sales or results for your responsibility.
Find a writer for the blog and make them the owner. Have them report back on the program. Make sure to put a set of expectations in place ahead of time and use those to check in on the progress of the blog as you.
Remember, a blog is a long-term strategy. It can take six months to start getting your first traffic unless you have someone to help promote it.
5. Person Responsible For Promotion
Finally, promotion is critical to the success of a blog.
The writer for your blog can also be in charge of promotion. These are two big jobs so don’t overload the person with work.
At GBW, we handle the writing. We look for the client to handle the promotion internally or we recommend people that we have in our network that can help with the promotion.
There has to be someone otherwise you’ll be waiting for organic search traffic, which won’t come for six months. That’s fine if you’re okay with it, but you can bring in more traffic with social media outreach and other outreach.
It’s a good idea to have a blogging plan, but things will change. You might get 10 great ideas for posts. And after those 10 go through you’ll find that 2 were really popular and 8 weren’t. This is good and bad. Obviously you want all 10 to be great, but that doesn’t happen very often.
Learn a lesson from the good and the bad and hone the type of posts you’re writing. Hone everything you do with your blog and tweak your plan over time.
This has resulted in the best success for our blog and for the blogs of our clients.