Blog, one of the first webslang terms (along with email) to crash our collective lexicon party, is now a trite word. 2005 called, and it asked for it’s...(oh get it already).
But blogging hasn’t actually gone out of style. In fact, it guides nearly all of your Google searches. Remember, when you couldn’t remember how long it takes to hard boil an egg (vs. soft boil vs. just gross mush), and you searched Google for the answer? Well, where did you read the answer? On a stone engraving? No, you read it on a blog.
Blogs (short for “web log”) are all those written articles you read on the internet. “How to know if your first date went well,” “How to spot poison ivy,” “How does health insurance work,” and “Is breaking up after just one date a rash decision” are all blog posts (sometimes called web articles - or just articles or just “you know I was reading the other day about..”).
The term blog may have gone out of style, but blogs haven’t gone anywhere. In fact, they’ve spread all over the place. So, here’s how to start a blog and why you definitely should start a blog.
Before we get to “how,” let’s start with “why.”
Why should you start a blog?
So people can find you on the internet. Seriously, it’s that simple.
Of course, if you don’t want people to find you on the internet then you should not blog, but if you do want to be found, blogging is one of your best bets. Why?
Because, Google gets its search results from words. Now, these words could be the Alt Text on an image file. These words could be the name of the file itself. Or they could be the title of your website plus all the words in the bio page of your website.
But, well, what are blogs? They’re logs, journals, articles, essays, reviews, interviews, op-eds, instructions, lectures, how-to’s. They’re a bunch of words typed out and put out onto the internet.
So, if you want to be found online and Google uses words to find things online, then, well, a blog is one of your best chances of finally getting that Google hunk to notice you at the search bar.
And if you run a business, a non-profit, a church, a personal brand, or a hard rock band, you really want people to find you. So, you need to write a trail of words (like a trail of breadcrumbs) to lead people through the interwebs to you, to your business, to your non-profit, to your etc.
In short, you need to blog.
Now that we get the “why,” let’s unpack the “how.” How to blog is also really simple. To blog, you have to be strategic and systematic. So, let me show you the strategy and system that we’ve found to work the best.
You may be an award winning writer (we’ll talk about writing skill in just a second). But - if you don’t know what your customers’ and clients’ questions are, if you don’t know what they’re looking for, if you don’t know what they need - all the scintillating prose in the world won’t save you.
I trust that you are a smart, thoughtful person and that you care about your customers and clients, that you look out for them and provide them with great service. But, sometimes, turning your knowledge about your customers and clients, turning your intuition into words can be difficult and can get overlooked. But to blog, you must spell everything out.
Let’s use a broad brush stroke example to unpack this. For example, you would think that people go to Starbucks because they need coffee. You would think that Starbucks should then blog about what their customers want: coffee. So, it would make sense for Starbucks to write blog post after blog post about the history of coffee, the science of coffee, the agriculture of coffee. But, if you’ve ever worked at Starbucks or at any coffee shop or any service/retail job, you know people don’t really go there for the obvious product.
For instance, a lot of people go to Starbucks to feel a part of a community, to hear “Good Morning” from the barista they’ve gotten to know, the barista who remembers their order and already has their drink ready when they walk in. They go to Starbucks because they like bumping into their old classmate every other morning or seeing their old coworker or the neighbor from down the street.
So, if Starbucks only blogged about coffee, they would miss the actual need their customers have: the need to be seen, the need to belong. Starbucks could write the most masterful prose about the difference between light roast and dark roast coffee, but it wouldn’t matter because their customer says, “Who cares? It all tastes the same.” Now, if Starbucks wrote about how their cafes partner with local non-profits to volunteer in the community and how you could join your local cafe and volunteer too, the customer would probably say, “Whoa, that’s awesome! When and where do I sign up?”
Understanding and spelling out what your customers and clients need at this level of detail takes a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of skill (if you don’t already have a background in psychology, years of marketing experience, and room to add on another full-time job, don’t worry. We can do all of this for you, just give us a call. Schedule your free consultation here).
But to start your blog, you can make an extremely simplified customer/client profile by answering these questions:
1. WHAT DO YOUR CUSTOMERS/CLIENTS WANT MORE OF IN THEIR DAILY LIFE?
2. WHAT DO THEY WANT LESS OF IN THEIR DAILY LIFE?
3. HOW DO YOU HELP THEM ACCOMPLISH 1. & 2.?
For example, here’s ours:
1. WHAT DO YOUR CUSTOMERS/CLIENTS WANT MORE OF IN THEIR DAILY LIFE?
- More money
- More recognition/validation/pride/feelings of self-worth
- More peace of mind
- More satisfaction with life/better quality of life
2. WHAT DO YOUR CUSTOMERS/CLIENTS WANT LESS OF IN THEIR DAILY LIFE?
- Less insecurity (in every sense of the word): income, self-esteem, social standing, Etc.
3. HOW DO YOU HELP THEM ACCOMPLISH 1. & 2.?
- By providing them access to marketing and graphic design services through our: skill, knowledge, and pricing.
So, wrapping it all together, every topic you write about, every blog post you publish must meet your customers’ and clients’ needs.
Yes, this very blog post is about how to start a blog. But, a blog will help grow your business and organization because a blog leads more people through Google to you. More people equals more growth. And that growth provides you with more security by removing insecurity. More people to your website equals more orders, more subscribers, more money. All of that equals less fear of “how am I going to pay my bills?!”; it equals less fear of the future, less fear of the unknown. It equals less insecurity.
Now, even if you know all the inner workings for your customers’ and clients’ minds, even if you know all of their inner motivations, if you can’t write well, none of it will matter.
Thankfully, writing is just like any other skill. No one is born with or without it. Everyone has to learn it, practice it, mess it up, and rinse/repeat the process over and over and over again to become a great writer (or even just a decent one).
So, first things first, get up and get practicing, and read The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. That book that will teach you everything you need to practice.
Even if you’re already a great writer, if your prose is totally off brand it won’t matter.
So, just like an old-school periodical, you should have a brand styleguide, a rubric for your writing. The styleguide should explain your brand’s tone of voice and emotions, explain how the brand should sound and how it should feel.
For a brand to gain trust with clients and customers, the brand must be consistent (read more about that here). A brand should be cohesive, should be consistent, should sound the same and feel the same everywhere it goes. I don’t mean the brand should literally say the same thing, like a broken record or a dimwitted politician. I mean the brand should have a distinct personality that shines through no matter what situation it’s in, just like a person of high integrity does in the real world. For instance, Starbucks sounds like Starbucks when you see a Starbucks billboard, watch a Starbucks commercial, and read a Starbucks Instagram post.
So, how do you make a brand styleguide? Well, it takes a lot of time, a lot of research, and a lot of thought to make a high-quality, highly effective and compelling brand styleguide (And, if you really want to make one and don’t have time to become a professional, full-time brand strategist - you guessed it - just give us a call. Schedule your free consultation here).
But to start your blog, you can make a simple version of a styleguide by making a list like this.
First, make a list of what emotions you want your brand to evoke, a list of how you want your brand to feel to others and how you want your brand to make people feel.
- Creative Confidence
Next, make a list of words to describe your brand’s tone of voice, a list of how you want your brand to sound.
TONE OF VOICE:
These two lists work hand-in-hand. Just remember: List 1: how it feels | List 2: how it sounds.
1. You need to know your customers’ and clients’ needs,
2. You need to know how to write,
3. You need to know your brand’s emotions and tone of voice,
And 4. you need to know what the heck you’re going to talk about.
There’s literally endless things you could talk about, write about, blog about. But, remember, the purpose of blogging is to help people find you on the internet. So, to find your way through the endless maze of topics, you must find the topics that will most effectively guide people through Google to you. And how do you do that? Simple: make a list.
To find what you should blog about: make a list of all the topics related to you, to your business, to your non-profit, to your etc. We like to break this list into different categories.
The first category is the big, broad topics that most directly, most obviously relate to you. For example, for us here at Owl Street Studio, this first category looks like this:
- Graphic Design
- Web Design
From here, make a second category that lists the narrowed topics within each of the broad ones like:
- Graphic Design
- Web design
-----HOW TO CREATE A WEBSITE
Finally, to actually write a blog post, pick one of the topics from the narrowed list, then zoom in on that topic one more time, and thennnn write about one specific aspect of that narrowed, zoomed-in topic like this:
-------------- HOW TO START A BLOG
Once you’ve got your topic:
1. apply your writing skill to it,
2. use that skill to evoke your brand’s emotions and embody your brand’s tone of voice,
3. channel those emotions and tone of voice into meeting your customers and clients true needs.
(game show voice) “But wait...There’s more!”
Remember, blogging helps people find you online by putting out a trail of wordcrumbs for Google to find (so Google can lead their searchers straight to you).
So, you need to know what crumbs to throw out there. You have to know your Google KEYWORDS.
Keywords are the actual words people type into the Google Search bar to find stuff. To blog effectively, you have to reverse engineering these keywords. You need to know what people are looking for; what questions they’re asking; and what skills they’re trying to learn.
For instance, what did you type in to get to this very blog post?
You’d think that finding keywords would be as simple as using some empathetic imagination, “If I was them, mmmm...I’d type in:”, but alas it’s not that simple.
Often, what you think people type and what they actually type are very different; so to find the right keywords, don’t guess. Use a search engine. Go to: Google Keyword Planner.
Google Keyword Planner lets you type in any word or phrase; and then shows you how many times people actually typed your guess into the search bar (it also shows how many times they used other closely related keywords).
Looking at this list, you can find the most effective wordcrumbs to throw out there.
For example, for this very blog post, here’s what we found using the Keyword Planner:
1. SEARCHED 100K-1MILLION PER MONTH:
2. SEARCHED 10K-100K PER MONTH:
- How to start a blog
- Starting a blog
3. SEARCHED 1K-10K PER MONTH:
- How to blog
- How to make a blog
- How to write a blog
- How to write a blog post
- How to write an article
- Blog post
- Blog writing
Did you catch the subtle difference between the words in the list? Did you see “How to Start a Blog” was searched on average 10k-100k times? And did you see that “How to Make a Blog” was only searched for on average 1k-10k times?
As far as words go, there’s not really a big difference between “start” and “make.” But, when it comes to keywords, there’s a 10x difference, which seems pretty big to us. So, if we just went with our guess, which was “make,” we would have lost by 10x.
Good thing we checked.
Of course, we could go into more detail for each one of these blogging steps like
- how to use outlines to structure your writing, or
- how to research topics to become an expert, or
- how to use just a few psychology principles to truly understand your customers and clients, or
- how to wrangle all that code on the backend of your website to actually post that dang blog
- (spoiler: we will talk about those details later, so you should keep coming back and stay tuned).
But this is it for today. Again, to blog:
1. Know your customer
2. Know your writing
3. Know your brand
4. Know your topic
5. Know your keywords
And, if all that sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is a lot of work.
We know you’re used to wearing many hats and superhumanly doing all the things.
But, if you ever get overwhelmed, if you ever need a break, if you ever finally want to get caught up on that new Netflix show, then give us a call.
We’ve been blogging and writing and writing about blogging for a long time, and we’ve worked with many companies, such as Barnes and Noble and Starbucks. And, we don’t charge you anything to talk with us, and we charge what you can actually pay when you do more than talk with us.
But let’s take things on step at a time, take less than one minute to schedule your free consultation.