by Jenna Kutcher
Is blogging dead? A woman in my mastermind asked me the question at my mastermind retreat last fall. It wasn’t the first time, and over the years I tend to hear this question more and more.
As a girl who started this entire business simply by launching a free WordPress blog over eight years ago, it’s safe to say that I’m kind of hooked on blogging, and I get a little defensive over it because it was my baby for all of these years.
Have you questioned if blogging is even relevant anymore? Or are you just starting a business and wondering if starting a blog is where your focus should be?
You’re not alone in wondering. Today I am sharing why blogging can have a place in your business and why it should be a priority. I’ll walk you through how to get started, how to actually make money blogging, and what goes into writing the perfect blog post that will benefit your business for years to come.
Content Lives Longer
I launched my entire business with nothing more than a blog. She’s like an old friend at this point. But I have never gone more than 3 days without posting. Not once in eight years, so here’s why blogging matters.
Instead of thinking of my blog as a journal where the posts are read and then forgotten or each builds off of the last, I think about each post as an opportunity to attract new people to my site that may be interested in a very specific topic, serve them up great content and ultimately, invite them to go deeper with me and my brand.
Maybe it’s my “How to Start an Airbnb” or my capsule wardrobe posts that attracted someone to my site initially. Perhaps they were searching for how to set up Google Analytics or what apps I use to grow my Instagram. It’s possible they found me when searching about how to write a better bio or googled to find resources on how to price their services.
Because I have over a thousand posts that took years to write, I have very specific topics to offer my audience and attract them whether it’s through a pin on Pinterest, SEO – search engine optimization, a Facebook post or guest posts. I recently checked out my top 10 all-time blog posts and some were from all the way back in 2015! That means, work that I did 3 years ago is still attracting new people to my site each and every day. To me, it says that blogging is alive and well.
More Control Over Experience
Besides attracting this new audience to your site with your specific content, once they are there, you are better able to control their experience than anywhere else online. What journey do you want to take them on? What do you want them to feel as they visit your site? How do you want to connect with them beyond the post they are currently reading?
These are all things that are in your control on your blog that you can’t control on social media. I always teach that social media should be the handshake, the introduction and then the invitation is where I invite people to land on my corner of the web like to my blog or website where we can go deeper and continue the conversation.
I don’t have to worry about pesky algorithms not getting my work seen or the reader getting distracted by other things vying for their attention. I get to be in charge of that user experience and how someone interacts with me and my brand!
Blogging Gives You Data
I’m a numbers girl, I LOVE numbers because they give me certainty and help guide me in business decisions and one of the best ways I decide what my audience wants from me is by looking at what posts they are clicking on most, what excites them, or what they are needing the most.
Every single month I pull my top posts and see how I can serve up content in a new way, build on previous popular content, share posts that attract more people to my page, and how I can continue to give people more on the topics they are most interested in!
I dig into the data: What were the most popular topics? How can I create more of that type of material for them? Do I see any trends that would offer insights into future podcast episodes, products, services courses or free content I should create? This information helps me serve my target audience even better with concrete data to back it up.
Pick a Platform
Maybe you’re just starting out and don’t have a blog yet, or perhaps you had one but haven’t used it in years. Here are the exact steps I would take today if I was just starting out with a blog.
Popular blogging platforms include WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Blogger, and Tumblr. Here are the things I want you to think about when making this decision: how easy is it to set up? Is there a big learning curve? Would the set-up need to be outsourced? Where do you want to take your blog in the future and does the platform have the functionality to support that? It can be difficult to transfer a blog, so it’s best to really weigh these things now and make the best choice for your business. My personal recommendation and experience? WordPress.
A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites
If you go with a WordPress blog, you’ll want to get some plug-ins installed right off the bat. To add them, simply go to the plug-ins tab of your WordPress site and click “add new”. These are the plug-ins I’d recommend starting with out of the gates and these will all show up if you search for them within your WordPress blog.
Opt-in Monster: The best way to convert your blog traffic onto your email list? A pop-up. We love Opt-in monster because it allows us to designate a pop-up that is unique to each post. We get to choose a pop up that correlates with the topic. For example, if I’m talking about skincare, a pop-up generates for my Primally Pure skincare page. If I’m talking about getting help in your business, a pop-up for my guide to outsourcing shows. This plug-in makes setting this up super simple.
Monster Analytics: I wish I knew about this plug-in when we were first setting up my google analytics because it makes it super simple. Like I explained in the beginning of this episode, if you’re going to be blogging and spending the time creating content, we also need to be tracking how well that content is doing to direct our future content creation. This plug-in is the solution to that! If you need more help with google analytics check out my blog post on the 5 Google analytics #’s you should know in your business.
Your Email Service Provider: Most of the common ones all have wordpress plug-ins so you can seamlessly collect email addresses from your blog traffic. Which one do we love the most? ConvertKit.
Insert headers and footers plug-in: Allows you to act like you know how to code (without actually knowing how!) If you’re just starting a blog, this might be a little next level, but make a note of this because I’m going to bet you’ll be at this stage soon! Reasons you might need to add a header or footer code to your site include enabling rich pins in Pinterest or installing Google Analytics or installing a Facebook pixel code for ad tracking purposes. This plug-in allows you to enter it into a plug-in instead of manipulating the actual code on your site page.
jQuery Pin It Button for Images: This is a plug-in we teach in The Pinterest Lab because it allows you to have control over what the “Pin It” button looks like on your site. Instead of having the Pinterest branded “P”, you can match the pin it hover button with your own branding and make it super simple for people to pin your content to their boards!
Grammarly: This just might be my favorite plug-in! It finds and corrects errors as you write your posts and also kicks out report cards each week which will tell you how many words you wrote which can be weirdly satisfying!
Your content calendar
Ok, so you’ve got your blog platform. You’ve worked through the design. You’ve got plug-ins to help you be successful. What’s left? Writing the actual content! The content you write is going to be what makes people come back for more and more and helps grow that relationship and trust between you and the reader. First, commit to creating new content just ONE day during the week. Of course you can do more than that and rock out a few posts a week BUT let’s start small, work big.
You want the content you are sharing to align with YOU, what you are an expert in, and what your ideal client is needing. Make sure what you are creating checks those boxes off. Keeping your tone of voice consistent with the way you would speak if you were sipping coffee across from a friend helps your followers relate to you more. If you need to read your posts out loud to a loved one to make sure it’s how you talk, DO IT.
And don’t forget to have the end goal in sight. Ask yourself what the destination is and how do you plan to get your readers there.
Personal Blog Post Ideas
I’ve compiled some of my best blog series and article topic ideas to get you started in creating your editorial calendar. If you need to actually sit down with a calendar and write these in week by week, DO IT.
- 10 Things Most People Don’t Know About Me
- How I Prepare For (MY JOB)
- Share a Tour of your Workspace
- A “What’s in My Bag” post
- Share you 5 “can’t live without” products
- Why I Love Being a (INSERT TITLE)
- How I became a (INSERT TITLE)
- What I bring to (SERVICE YOU PREFORM)
- Behind the Scenes – A look into life beyond your work
- Top 10 of My Favorite Images for Summer/Fall/Winter/Spring
- The last 5 books you read and your review of them
- Vacation images
- Your go-to recipe for a dish you’re most known for
Product Centered Blog Ideas
- 10 Reasons to Fall in Love with [Product You Offer]
- How to Pick the Right [Product/Service You Offer]
- Things to Consider When Planning [Product You Offer]
- Featuring a client using your product or service
- Spotlight a New Product You’re Selling
- 5 Creative Ways to Display/Use/Enjoy Your [Product]
FAQ Blog Ideas
Even if you have a FAQ section on your website, these are potential topics that your customers care about most. There are probably a handful of questions people ask you all the time and your blog can be an amazing place to answer those common questions. Turning questions into blog posts can provide valuable answers and drive more traffic because people are curious about the answer. Try these ideas as inspiration for your FAQ based blog posts.
- Top 10 Questions I Get Asked
- What’s Your Process?
- Interview Your Clients
- What common barriers to sales do you face and how can you tackle them in a blog?
Blog Anatomy and Standards
As we continue to grow my team, we have more hands in the process helping me with the blog and so I actually sat down and wrote a “Blog Standards” guide to help keep us all on the same page and thought it would be perfect to share here to give you an idea of all the components that go into a blog post and what I’m thinking as we publish each piece.
Title: Is the title something that will make people want to click? Does it share the promise of the post or tell people what to expect if they open it? Think clickable paired with a promise you deliver on.
Photo: Is the featured photo either the same or aligned with the post? I want this to feel cohesive so if someone clicks on the post from Facebook, they feel like they landed on the right page! Opt for color images that are clean and compelling, either a stock photo or a photo of yourself.
Introduction: Does the introduction inspire someone to keep reading? Those first few lines can make or break the entire post. Is there a compelling question? A relatable sentiment? You want to pack a punch because this line can show up as the preview on Facebook when the post is shared, so don’t neglect the importance of this line and then use this first paragraph to give readers a ruler of the “promise” of the post.
Post Headings: Are all of the headings formatted the same? Do they contain the same punctuation and approximately the same word length? Do they stay on one line? Make sure these headings are like a roadmap for the reader so that they can find the info they need quickly and that they are formatted correctly.
Break Up Paragraphs: The number one way to make a post more readable is to not have super blocky paragraphs. There’s been visual studies that people will keep reading if paragraphs are all similar sized and not super long. Look at making even-ish paragraphs so that under each heading the amount of content is similar to the others to give a clear map for the reader.
External Links: All of the external links, so anything that would pull people away from your post, need to open up in a new window. Remember, you want as few external links as possible, because the goal is to keep people on your own page, so include only necessary links and save a running list of them for the bottom section of the post!
Affiliate Links: Are you an affiliate for anything that is hyperlinked? If so, are you using your affiliate link to collect commissions? You want to make sure to take advantage of any opportunity to use links that provide results (and still make sure they open link in new tab!)
SEO Ready: Is the post SEO formatted correctly? Are the images loaded with the correct keywords? Is the slug something that makes sense for the post?
Pop Up Enabled: Was strategy applied to what pop up will perform the best or add value to the content? Was thought put into the time of the pop-up and the call to action? Are you choosing pop-ups that will lead people in the path of becoming a customer?
Credit Sources: Are any sources that were used to create the post referenced and linked?
Run Grammarly: Ensure that Grammarly is on and run on the post so that you aren’t in the red in any areas. Check any errors that are coming up, correct punctuation and grammar before publishing!
Whew, I know that sounds like a lot, but this is the checkpoints my team runs things through before I proof a post or we hit publish.
More from This Episode
Blogging has been a pivotal piece of my business since day one. I still publish 3-5 posts every single week and we are even revving up our blogging strategy because we see it paying off in many different ways. Not only are we focusing on content that serves to our audience, we’re being strategic in using that content to connect people to resources we have created, and the blog continues to be a place where I share my journey and a peek into my life.
It’s not too late to start a blog, you’re not behind the curve. Follow the steps I shared, map out your next four posts, and sit down and create. Something tells me you’ll have a lot to share and say, so carve out some time to create and get posting. The world needs what you have to share.