How To Write a Business Blog (Even If You Think You Can’t)
Your company has a website, it contains a blog, and you know that you need to fill that blog with fresh monthly content to hit your SEO goals. But what if you have no idea how to write a business blog?
Writing can be challenging even for those of us who do it for a living. There are so many factors that can impact your ability to write: mental state, environment, time, and technical skill are among the biggest elements that can make or break a writing session.
At Forge and Smith we recommend business blogs to all of our clients, because it’s the best — and easiest — way to stay on top of your SEO. Regularly creating new, optimized content gives you more opportunity to improve your search rankings, and that’s good for business.
We want your blog to be another awesome piece of the Internet, and we’re happy to share our tips for making it a good one.
How to get over blocks and write your business blog
I don’t know about you, but I definitely feel like I can’t write when I’m not “in the mood”. Whether you’re stressed about something at work or at home, still mad about the idiot who cut you off during your commute, or experiencing another negative emotion, writing becomes a mission impossible.
Clearing an emotional block can be a huge hurdle. Here are some tips to getting past it:
- Listen to music that cheers you up. Music is a powerful mood influencer, so putting on a few favourite jams can get you into a positive headspace. If you can handle tunes while you’re writing without getting distracted by singing along or chair-dancing, keep it going when you start to write.
- Find someplace quiet to sit for a few minutes, shut your eyes, and focus on breathing. Sometimes just removing yourself from your regular environment can be enough to dislodge the block. If not, it will at least help you populate a list of grievances to use in the next step….
- Talk to someone about it. Quickly venting to a friend or co-worker is often what your brain needs to let it go. Alternatively, write out what’s bothering you. Draft a snarky email, then don’t send it.
- Just start writing the blog. If you’re angry or frustrated, that passion can fuel powerful and persuasive writing if channelled into your blog. Plan to revisit the piece when you’ve calmed down though, in case any unwanted f-bombs worked their way into your business blog!
- Don’t force yourself to write. If you’re anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed, forcing yourself to write can have two downsides: producing poor work, and making you less likely to want to write the next time. Give yourself a break and try again after lunch or tomorrow.
Need more help with your business blog? Check out 13 Tips to Improve Your Copywriting for Better Search Rankings.
There are tons of environmental writing blocks that can really mess with your ability to sit down and produce quality content. Understanding what you need to be your most efficient will help you quickly identify and remove any problems prior to writing.
Being too hot or cold not only makes you physically uncomfortable, but it creates distraction as your mind latches onto your discomfort. If you write in an office and can’t control the temperature or move to another space, dress for maximum comfort: bring a sweater, or sneakily kick off your shoes under your desk to cool down.
If fluorescent or dim lighting impacts your ability to write and you can’t relocate, make sure your laptop or monitor is adjusted to a brightness that helps combat the external light source.
Alternatively, build a little barricade out of dark poster board to put up behind your monitor while you write, and wear a baseball cap to block the light from above. I’ve actually put up an umbrella over my monitor to block sun glare through a skylight! Not only will this help your eyes, but you’ll gain an air of mystery.
Set yourself up for success. Pick a chair that’s comfortable enough to prevent constant body adjustments, but not so comfortable that you want a nap. Sit (or stand) at a desk or table that’s the right height for you. But don’t be so caught up in getting it bang-on that you refuse to write without an ergonomic chair; sometimes you just have to put some books under your keyboard, or your monitor, or even under yourself (I’m 5’1, I feel your pain.)
Ideally you’d move to a quiet area, but not every workplace affords this option. If you can’t think with noisy agency distractions, headphones are a necessary investment. Lyric-free music is a great way to drown out office conversations if that’s your trigger (YouTube, Spotify, and Google Play Music all offer free instrumental playlists and even white noise like ocean sounds).
Children, pets, and co-workers are huge roadblocks during writing time. When working from home, children and pets can often be distracted with toys, games, or snacks. Co-workers sometimes respond to the same, but if the sight of you furiously typing while wearing serious headphones isn’t enough of a conversation deterrent, a grown-up conversation will need to be had.
As much as it might hurt your soul, put your phone on silent and move it someplace out of sight. Close all other browsers and internal messaging systems on your machine, so that you don’t give in to temptation.
Sometimes your workspace is awesome, but the issue is that you literally never have time to write. Here are our team’s tips for creating time when you feel like you have none.
- Keep live documents full of notes. Our designer Damian writes for his own blog as well as ours, but blogging isn’t his priority at Forge and Smith — he’s got web designs to create! Damian keeps tons of live documents (like Google Docs and Evernote) and adds content when he thinks of it — at home, at work, or on the train. Often he’ll leave blanks or incomplete sentences to let the thoughts flow, and go back to fill them in later (or make me do it).
- Start writing by creating a bullet list of points you know you want to hit, and keep it at the top of the doc while you write as a point of reference. Deleting the points as you flesh them out is pretty satisfying.
- Keep lists of topics. We used to use a Trello board with stacks of cards for each writer, as well as a “holding stack” for brilliant ideas that no one has claimed. Now we keep a complete content calendar (you can find the template at the bottom of this content strategy blog) with a tab for topics. This way if you need to write but draw a blank, you can quickly access a list of ideas to drive value for your customers.
- Put writing time on the calendar. Shawn is our principal-head-honcho-master-websmith, and he’s exactly as busy as he sounds. If he doesn’t schedule weekly writing time, he won’t do it. The Shawn method is to put on those headphones, hide the phone, and bang it out. Hand it to someone else to edit and tweak for SEO when you’re done (or at least get a second set of eyes to give it a once-over), and never look back.
- Write the most important parts last. Never stare at a blinking cursor; that’s the death of a writing session. Your title and lead paragraph need to be engaging and catchy, so trying to write them first can be overwhelming. My best tip is to skip the intro and start writing the body of your blog. What you write will almost always inform the title and the lead, making it quick and easy to come up with later.
Is the biggest obstacle between you and your blog the fact that you’re not a writer? Aside from taking courses or looking for online tips, you can still put together a decent blog as long as you understand the elements it needs. I’ve created the following basic business blog post outline to help you build the components Tetris-style.
Formula for a solid business blog
Your title needs to accomplish two things. 1) Entice a person who finds it among search results into clicking and reading your blog. 2) Have SEO value by containing words that will make it turn up in organic search. For example: If your blog is about how to choose the best automotive shop, don’t call it “What To Look For In A Shop”. “10 Tips to Choose the Right Automotive Shop” is much better.
Your first paragraph should provide enough information up front to convince the reader that the rest of the blog will solve their problem. It should also contain words or phrases to help your blog come up in topical search results. Unless you have hundreds of regular subscribers, you can’t afford to ramble your way to the point; you need to land the plane.
For the aforementioned automotive blog, I’d write, “Choosing a trustworthy automotive shop in Vancouver can be intimidating. We’ve created this handy guide containing our top 10 tips for finding the best repair shop for you.” This contains a localized keyword, takes into consideration search intent, and a combination of both “automotive shop” and “repair shop” to catch both searches.
Back-story or set-up
This is where you can get a little more personal, colourful, or descriptive. In a couple of concise paragraphs, give the reader some information. Examples are why you wrote the blog, if this is a question you’re often asked, and how you learned this information (or why they should trust you on the subject).
Meat and Potatoes
Present your information and answer the question that led the reader to your blog. A few paragraphs or a list about the topic is sufficient to provide value for your reader.
A closing paragraph can sum up what you said, reassure the reader that they will be just fine now that they have your awesome information, or encourage them to go test it out (and even to let you know what they think).
Always give them the next move! Provide a link to another page on your site, such as a relevant service, another blog, or your contact page. Leading the reader to another page helps increase your “time on site” and “pages per visit” metrics in Google Analytics, and generates traffic to other important parts of your site — one step closer to conversion. The more valuable information the reader finds, the better your site will rank with Google.
Visual elements make blogs more appealing, and increase chances of them being read all the way through. A feature image is a must for social sharing, but you can also add images to break up text, highlight important points with bold text, use bullets to break up blocks of text, and keep paragraphs to two or three sentences for a less cumbersome overall look and feel.
I hope that you now feel empowered to go forth and write a business blog! If you’re still scratching your head and wondering why you even need a business blog, check out this handy article about how they drive value for your website. If there’s a writing block that I didn’t cover, feel free to tweet it to us @forgeandsmith! (See what I did there?)