Start Blogging for Your Service-Based Business
There was a time when almost everyone seemed to have a blog. At the very least, they were seriously considering starting a blog. In recent years, it may seem as though the blog craze has died down. After all, with the various social media platforms available, there are plenty of places for people to share their thoughts, ideas, and adventures.
If you think that no one is reading these posts, you’re wrong. 77% of internet users read blog posts. In fact, they read blog posts three times more than they read emails. For businesses, this is great news. After all, blogging doesn’t require you to gather contact information, pay for email lists, or build up a strong social media following.
Simply start creating relevant content, and search engines will start bringing people to you.
Google has become the most popular place for people to find solutions to their problems and answers for their questions. More often than not, the answers to these search engine queries are pulled straight from blog posts. Even when there are paid ads listed at the top of search results, only 15% of people click them. The remaining 85% go to the “organic” search results listed below.
This creates an amazing opportunity for businesses, as this organic space can’t be earned through payment, making it equally accessible to anyone with a website. Even if you’re a small, service-based business, you can show up at the top of results for searches relevant to your services and industry. This, in turn, can result in new customers for your business.
To get there, however, you’ll first have to create the content. This brings us to the main point of this post: how can a service-based business start blogging?
Your first thought might be…
Can’t I Just Pay Someone to Blog for Me?
The internet is full of freelance writers and marketing companies ready to offer you on-going blogging services. Some of them are quite good. Many, however, aren’t so great. Arguably most sit in the middle, creating generic filler content. While this might get you some traffic, it won’t necessarily result in actual leads or establish you as an authority in your field.
As a service-provider, you know more about your industry than any outside writer likely ever will. That means you can provide knowledge and insight that’s superior to most of what else is out there on the internet. This is where the true value of blogging is for businesses like yours. Creating unique, accurate, and insightful content is the best way to get both traffic to your website and leads for your business.
If you are going to pay someone to write blog posts for your service-based business, you should ensure they’re capable of accurately capturing the specifics of what you do, how you do it, and who you serve. Additionally, it’s best to work in tandem with them, providing knowledge and wisdom that they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Alternatively, you can create rough drafts of blog posts and then have a professional writer polish it up.
What you definitely should not do is reuse content that’s already on other websites. You may find companies out there that offer libraries of “pre-written” content that you can use, or they’ll “write” blog posts for you that are identical to posts shared on 100 other websites they’ve “written” for. Whatever the situation is, you should avoid these people. Not only will they fill your blog with mediocre content that’s useless to visitors, but these posts could actually hurt your rankings in search engines like Google.
Original content is king.
How to Blog for Yourself
Paying someone else to market or write for you can get very pricey very quickly. For those who are just getting started and/or are working on tight budgets, it’s probably best to handle blog writing internally. In other words, you’ll need to do it yourself.
“But I’m not a writer,” you say.
The truth is, virtually all of us have to write in our day-to-day lives in some capacity. We write emails, text messages, social media posts, etc. Additionally, we’ve all written research papers, term papers, essays, stories, and more throughout our education. You might not be a professional writer or even a college educated writer, but to some degree, we’re all writers.
Best of all, when it comes to blogging, there aren’t any hard or fast rules. The medium is largely informal, allowing you to write in the same way you would talk. You don’t have to worry about the grammar police busting down your door because you started a sentence with a conjunction.
That said, there are some things to keep in mind when writing a blog post to ensure that it’s actually read. For starters, you’ll want to space things out a bit. It’s best to avoid overly long sentences and massive paragraphs. These are intimidating to people looking for answers and insight on the internet. 43% of people admit to skimming blog posts.
Don’t be afraid to put a single sentence on a line by itself if it’s important.
This helps a person to continue reading through your post. It’s not enough for someone to simply get to your blog. Anyone can get someone’s attention for a moment. It’s keeping the person’s attention that’s hard, especially on the internet. The internet is like an endless room filled with shiny, sparkly objects ready to distract all who enter.
YOU HAVE TO KEEP YOUR READERS’ ATTENTION!
Make words bigger.
Make them bold.
Throw in some italics to emphasize them.
And once you’ve made a point, move on to the next. This isn’t a school paper where your grade depends on the number of words you use. Don’t stretch things out. Don’t repeat yourself. Be concise. Tell us what we need to know, highlight the main points, give us a cute little quote or “power sentence” to remember, and be done.
Think of a blog post as Kool-Aid.
Your message is the flavored mix. Your words are the water. Your style is the stirrer.
The message by itself is too dry and overpowering. So, you use words to dilute it and make it easier to digest. If you use too many words, the message is lost; the reader will miss the full flavor. And if you don’t mix it up with style, the message all just sinks beneath the words and gets lost.
It’s a balance.
But What Do I Write About?
One of the biggest hurdles for starting a blog (besides the actual writing) is thinking of a topic to write about. The best thing you can do is to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers. What questions are they asking? What words or phrases might they use?
For example, let’s say you’re a flooring contractor who provides concrete finishing. Your potential customers are likely thinking things like…
- What’s the best option for bathroom flooring?
- What are alternatives to wood flooring?
- Should I build a patio or a deck?
- Can I stain my own concrete?
These aren’t just great topic ideas, but they can be the actual titles. Headlines that are 6-8 words are proven to perform better.
That’s not to say all of your blog posts should be FAQ-based, but it can be a good starting point. “How-to” and list-based posts are two of the most popular types of blog posts on the internet, though it’s always good to have a variety of styles. For example, before-and-after posts are a great way to show off your work while creating wholly original content.
Once you get into the swing of things, you’ll likely find that blog topics are coming to your mind with little-to-no effort.
Additional Writing Tips
Though blog writing is informal, you still want to maintain a certain level of quality. You can bend the rules of grammar, but you can’t completely break them. Obvious mistakes and poor word flow will distract your readers and cause them to doubt your credibility.
Here are a few simple things that anyone can do to improve the quality of their writing. Whether you’re creating a blog post, or you’re simply writing an email, these are just good habits to form.
1. Read It Out Loud
Once you’ve completed your post, you should obviously read through it to ensure it makes sense, and there are no glaring errors. The best way to do this is to read it out loud. You don’t have to do this in front of anyone. Just read it to yourself. It’s amazing how many more errors you can catch simply by vocalizing your words rather than saying them in your head.
2. Change or Remove Overly Repeated Words
We truly hope that you grasp the true meaning of what we are truly attempting to say here.
See how some form of “true” was crammed into that sentence three times? Don’t do that. Avoiding word repetition is one of the easiest things people can do to make their writing better.
When you overuse a word, you…
- Lessen the impact of that word
- Make your writing feel repetitive
- Give the impression that their vocabulary is small
- Leave the reader with an odd sense of déjà-vu
You’d be surprised how often you repeat things like “suddenly”, “in fact”, “however”, “of course”, etc. When you finish writing something, scan through it and make note of certain words (especially descriptors) you used multiple times.
Once you’ve done that, go ahead and change or remove those words.
3. “Talk” Like a Real Person
You won’t impress anyone by trying to sound smarter than you are. It’s obvious, awkward, and it usually makes your writing feel fake, if not completely nonsensical. Still, you do want to write like an adult. Don’t start a sentence with something like “Um, so like, I guess you should totally…”
4. Keep Your Sentences Short
It’s easy to ramble when you talk. When writing, however, you need to stay focused and cut away the excess ramblings. Like we said before, make your point and move on. If you have a sentence that is really long, read over it, single out every word that is not needed, and remove those words.
Speaking of removal…
5. Remove Unnecessary Jokes and References
Everyone wants to be funny and relevant, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to insert random jokes and references into your writing that have nothing to do with the subject you are writing about. It’s great that you love Star Wars, but that doesn’t mean you have to talk about it in the middle of a blog post about lawncare.
As for irrelevant jokes, just remove them. They probably weren’t that funny to begin with.
6. Avoid Excessive Punctuation (Mostly Just Commas)
Nothing, throws off a sentence like, the odd placement of commas (see what we did there?).
For some reason, people like to throw in commas just about everywhere. Most likely, they’re not sure if a comma is needed, so they put one in just to be safe. This generally isn’t a great idea. If you have a hard time remembering what sort of clauses and phrases get commas placed after them, think of it this way:
A comma is simply a moment of pause, a breathing spot for the reader.
If you have a comma placed in a spot where it feels completely unnatural to pause at, get rid of the comma. This is one of those areas where reading out loud really helps.
7. Don’t Confuse Words
There are a lot of words that are pronounced the same but are NOT actually the same. These are called homophones. When you mix these up, it can make your writing come off amateurish. For example, writing a sentence such as “This is are house” instead of “This is our house.”
So, in case you aren’t clear about which words are which….
- “Your” is a possessive. “You’re” means “you are”.
- “There” is a place. “Their” is a possessive. “They’re” means “they are”.
- “Its” is a possessive form of “it”. “It’s” is a contraction of “it is”.
- “Affect” is typically used as a verb. “Effect” is typically used as a noun.
That last example can get a bit tricky, as there are situations where “affect” can be a noun and “effect” can be a verb. The English language as a whole is known for having a lot of weird rules, which brings us to our final tip:
8. When in Doubt, Google It
This solution works for pretty much everything these days, but it’s especially great for grammar. Any question you might have has almost certainly been Googled by thousands of people. Go type “Affect vs. Effect” into Google, and you will find countless answers that should set you on your way.
Before You Start Blogging, You’ll Need a Website
If you’re going to blog for your business, you need to have a website to host your blog. A blog is a great tool for your website, bringing in potential leads from relevant Google searches. Once they’re on your website, they’ll often dig deeper into your services. If you provide what they need, they can then contact you directly from there.
That is, as long as you have a well-designed website that works on all devices and has clear calls-to-action (CTAs). We can help with that.
Our Torrch Local team provides web design, hosting, and management services specifically designed for service-based businesses and startups. Rather than charging thousands of dollars upfront, we offer our web services at an affordable monthly rate. In addition to creating and customizing the website itself, we also take care of hosting, maintenance, and general security for all of our clients.
If you need on-going content management and support, we can provide that as well.
All of our websites are built on WordPress, the most popular website platform on the internet. WordPress is not only light, fast, and SEO friendly, but it comes with blogging functionality built right into its core. If you want to blog, WordPress makes it incredibly easy. Once your website is live, we’ll set you up with access so that you can get to blogging right away.
Even if you don’t plan to blog, our service-based websites provide a great value. To learn more about our Torrch Local services, click here. To get started on your future website, simply fill out the form below.