Thinking of starting a business blog? Creating a blog is a fabulous way to drive traffic to your website – either through social media or the SEO benefit of regular blogging – and it’s a great way to show your expertise in your industry, building trust and loyalty over time. On top of that, research shows that you’re 67% more likely to get new lew leads if you regularly blog.
Blogging is a great way to walk people down the sales funnel – some blog posts are designed to help people hear about you, while others pieces of content are you encourage people that you’re the right person for the job. Consistently publishing content and having both these kinds of content in the mix is the key to getting people to convert.
Your first thoughts which might hold you back from writing content might be the big question: “What do I write about?”. In this blog, I’ve got some thought starters to get you clacking away on that keyboard.
Planning your business blog
Before we get started, it’s worth acknowledging that a business blog is not a personal blog – the content needs to be about what your potential customers need to know in order to buy from you. This might be that they need to see that you have the same values as them or have expertise in a specific area, or your company is driven by a specific mission. Your content planning should have your audience needs at its heart.
And, being a business blog, your blog should have your brand tone-of-voice. It’s professional or approachable? Formal or fun? Consider how you want your business to be seen and ensure your blog tone matches that.
Your blog publishing schedule can be impacted by a few things – you could write about breaking news, in order to be seen as a thought leader in your industry or your content could be evergreen (i.e. content which is relevant now, and in five years).
The breaking news approach can be great to help you be seen as an industry expert, but it relies on you dropping everything to cover breaking news. On the flipside, one of the benefits of evergreen content is that you can write a post that works on your schedule, it’s consistently attracting people to your site over years. Both approaches are valid – and you can do a mix of both – it’s just a choice around how you’d like your business to be seen, and, of course, your resources to execute either approach.
So; once you’ve thought about your brand tone of voice and the best publishing schedule for you – let’s start mapping out ideas!
Here are some places to start…
What do customers ask you about?
One of the simplest ways to get started is to write down all the frequently asked questions you get about your business. What do people ask you all the time? What do you think people should be asking you? Think about a specific customer you’ve got and reflect on the questions they have about your industry and use this as a prompt for ideas.
This content could transform into something like a collated article like “We answer the top 5 ways to start your zero waste journey”, or alternatively, for a common question, go into depth around one question like “The 7 expert-recommended ways to cut plastic from your pantry”.
This kind of content is great to help your business get found when researching your industry or product.
Size up the competition
Benchmarking competitors can be a really useful way to understand what others in your industry are writing about. This isn’t to say that you need to copy them, because it’s likely they have different goals and objectives, but it’s useful to see what’s happening in your industry. It’s also useful as a guide to reflect on if those are the sorts of topics you would – or wouldn’t – cover.
Google your industry locally, and in a different country just to get out of your pond. Check out the companies in the top ten results and see what their blogs talk about over the past year. What do they cover? What are topics you know about, too? What are they not writing? What could you write about better than they did?
When reviewing competitors, you can keep a note of the topics they cover in general (i.e. dog care tips) and also the way they execute these blog posts (i.e. 5 questions you asked about xyz). Both can be useful to reflect on as thought starters as you can use either of these as launching points for your own brainstorming session.
What do people want to know?
If you are focussing on a particular industry or topic, one of the best ways you can find out what people want to read about is to see what they are asking about.
One of the simplest ways is to simply see what people are Googling. Google Ads Keyword Planner is a great way to see what words people are searching for and Answer The Public is also another great tool to gain insight into customer questions.
You might also dive into old-school forums, Quora posts, Facebook Groups or Reddit to see what people are asking about your industry. Look for questions that are asked frequently or posts that have a lot of comments to reflect that this is a hot topic.
You might find that in your industry, a specific topic is searched a lot. For example, you might sell houseplants and you might notice that a specific houseplant is being searched a lot. From here, creating a blog that is ‘5 tips to keep your xxxx alive this summer‘ or even a deepdive like ‘Explainer: how to keep xxx alive‘ would be a great way to tap into this research.
Even if your blog isn’t covering the latest news, being aware of what discussions are trending can be really useful for inspiration. You might see that a new season of Stranger Things is back on tv – so your recipe website company could write about the ‘Top 5 meals for your essential Stranger Things viewing party’.
Check out the trending section of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram each day to see if those topics tie in with your industry. Or, you can look at Google Trends. You might find it’s only once a week you can use these topics to your advantage, but it’s worth being across for fresh perspectives.
Plan for the future
Some blog posts can be planned well in advance. Great examples of this are tapping into special days or weeks – International Women’s Day, Star Wars Day or Valentine’s Day may all be days that your company can use to craft content. And, this content can be planned written weeks in advance and scheduled to launch around that day. One article could be ’15 last-minute date night tips for the calendar-challenged‘ (which features several of your products or services).
Of course, you might even want to leverage upcoming events – awards shows or conferences and craft relevant articles which can be tweaked based on the events that year. For example, this could be, ‘The 5 Lessons Learned From XXXXXX Annual Conference in 2022′.
Deep dive into research
You can also get serious about your research and use tools like BuzzSumo to see what’s being shared across the web, or what’s trending now. You can also check out the industry-based reports that Facebook has created around specific consumer groups or Google’s annual Year In Review.
You might have an industry organisation that is also a useful reference point. In the end, you’re looking to find out what are the key questions your audiences are interested in answering, as a place to start your ideas.
Your blog post might be ‘Explainer: how to leverage teal in this winter’s wardrobe’ or ’15 TikTokers who are going zero waste to follow’ – leveraging a trending theme or topic for the year.
Creating blog content can be a powerful way for people to find your business, get to know you and convert. But coming up with blog content angles can be a tough step to get started.
Some ways to get some ideas are:
- Talk to your customers or pick one and reflect on their needs. Are there angles that can help them?
- Audit your industry or competitors. What topics or angles do they take?
- What are the key topics people are Googling when it comes to your industry?
- What’s trending in news and pop culture? Can you tie anything into your blog?
- What’s coming up in your industry calendar? Can you write ahead any content to launch for the future?
- Is there an industry or consumer research you can leverage to help craft content ideas?
Now that you’ve done the hard work of coming up with topics – make a sustainable schedule and commit to writing, whether it’s once a month, once a week or every day. And don’t forget to analyse your blog’s success to get even more ideas for content!
And, if you’re looking for a hand with your blogging or content marketing – feel free to get in touch. I’d love to help!
Originally written in 2016, updated in 2022.
Want to work with Rachel?Rachel Beaney is a writer and social media content specialist, helping businesses connect with their audiences.
She’s worked with local, national and global companies, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping businesses tell their stories with creative and data-driven solutions.
She is based in Sydney, Australia.
Want to work together? Rachel would love to hear from you. Get in touch today.