7 Traits of a Great Business Blog

Filed in Blogging, MY BEST POSTS by Matt McGee on February 10, 2013 12 Comments

I don’t think there’s a formula or recipe for business blogging success, but I do think there are some traits that are common to great company blogs.

You don’t need to have all of these things, but I think your chances of having a successful business blog will be better if at least several of these things describe your blog.

I’ll also share a couple things that I think are unnecessary.

And, please, add to my list in the comments — I value your wisdom and contributions.

7 Traits of a Great Business Blog

1) Problem-Solving

A great company blog solves people’s problems. It sells through helping and education. People don’t read company blogs because they want a high-pressure sales pitch; they read company blogs to learn, get answers and find solutions.

When you’re looking for blog content ideas, the best and easiest way to generate ideas is to think about all the questions you ever get asked about your products and services and turn those into blog posts. (Click that link for several more ways to find blog post ideas.)

If you solve people’s problems, your blog will pre-sell your products or services.

2) Openness

There are two things I’m trying to describe here, and I think that “openness” is the best word:

  • Desire to be authentic.
  • Ability to share freely.

If all you can (or want to) publish is articles that are glorified press releases, you may want to rethink the idea of having a company blog.

This isn’t to say that you have to blog about every mistake or bad day you have, but I think you do need to be able and willing to have real conversations with prospects and customers. Your blog should be real. It should read like it’s written by real people, not a team or lawyers or PR people.

3) Personality

Think of it this way: Nobody likes a stuffy company blog. We connect with people who are interesting, who have personality. We’re drawn to people with viewpoints, even if they’re not the same as ours.

A company blog can have personality, too. This can come through via a relaxed writing style, the use of fun images and photos, telling fun and interesting stories, and — maybe most of all — not taking yourself too seriously.

plan-goals4) A Plan

But this trait is serious. :-)

Blogging isn’t easy. If your business success is relying in some part on building an effective blog, you need a plan that answers some or all of these questions (for starters):

  • How often will you publish?
  • What types of articles will you publish?
  • Who all in your company will be charged with writing for the blog?
  • If you have multiple authors, who’s going to manage them?
  • What will your comment policy be?

All of those questions can be answered with planning. And an editorial calendar is a great way to help put the editorial part of the plan into action.

5) Persistence

I’ll say it again: Building a successful business blog isn’t easy.

That’s especially true if you’re starting from scratch. In most cases, it’ll take a long time to build an audience; a long time before you’ll start getting comments on your posts; a long time before Google will start to reward your content with the kind of trust that leads to visibility in search results.

Heck, it may take a long time just to write that first blog post! Patience and persistence are really important.

6) Passion

If you don’t really love and believe in the products or services you offer, it’ll be difficult to convert blog readers into customers. If you don’t believe in the value of having a company blog and being able to talk with your customers, rather than market to them, it’ll be tough to succeed.

But your passion can’t come through in the form of sales pitches and self-promotion, it has to come through in the process of solving people’s problems and educating them.

7) Variety

Your blog posts shouldn’t all read like news releases. They shouldn’t all be designed to sell. They shouldn’t all be the same length. They shouldn’t stick to a company formula. Variety is a great way to keep readers’ interested.

2 Traits You Don’t Need for a Great Business Blog

paper-trashcan1) Perfect Writing

Repeat after me: MY BLOG POSTS DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT.

MY BLOG POSTS DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT.

MY BLOG POSTS DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT.

MY BLOG POSTS DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT.

MY BLOG POSTS DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT.

Say that to yourself. Then say it again. Write it down 100 times if you need to. Do whatever it takes until you start believing it. So many bloggers get hung up on a quest for perfection that completely strangles their ability to hit the “Publish” button.

Here’s the good news: It’s okay if you’re not Ernest Hemingway. No one that visits a company blog expects to find him writing there.

2) Technical Skills and/or Money

There are almost no barriers to starting a business blog. Blogging used to be the realm of geeks and early adopters, but today anyone can do it.

WordPress is free to download and use. It comes with installation instructions, and many web hosting companies make it as easy as using a “one-click install” feature. You could have a blog installed on your domain in the next hour. (Here are some thoughts on how and where to setup your blog.)

WordPress comes with a few free themes (designs) pre-installed. If you don’t like those, most professional themes cost less than $100 (and you often get 2-for-1 offers).

If your blog needs to look like an existing website for branding consistency, your web developer should be able to customize the blog theme without charging you a ton of money. (If you have a sophisticated design, it might be more time-consuming.)

But, for the most part, it’s very easy to get started with a new company blog. So what are you waiting for?

Your Turn: What did I miss? What do you agree or disagree with? Comments are open.

(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)

Comments (12)

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  1. mike bayes says:

    Great points. I might only add, they need to be visually acceptable. Add a few graphics.

  2. Don’t necessarily rely on insiders. Hiring a ghost blogger who knows how to interview insiders and then write in a natural, conversational tone as the voice of the company can take the pressure off execs. Retain editorial rights and get a pro with a track record to build a solid, accessible blog fast.

  3. Brittany J says:

    I agree with Mike, people are more likely to stay on a blog if they like what they see. After they accept what they see, they are more likely to read what you’ve written.

  4. Mike Zaremba says:

    Great post, Matt.

    I would add the promotion of your content. Most people publish, share on a couple of Social Media sites and then abandon the article (I am guilty of this).

    Find like minded bloggers who are writing about the same vertical you are, build a relationship with them over time, and then ask them to take a look at your article to see what they think and if their community might be interested in it also.

    P.S. – I love the “Perfect Writing” tip. I was so nervous to publish something when I first started that it eventually halted my production for a year. The great thing about blogs is that you can always go back and edit!

    Thanks again!

  5. I agree with all of your points and the first comment. The images also have great SEO potential and look good when you add your blog to social networks. Overall though, I think you completely hit the nail on the head.

    Thanks again for the great post!

  6. Hello Matt,
    Your post is very good indeed. I strongly agree with you when you say “People don’t read company blogs because they want a high-pressure sales pitch…”in fact, people want to learn, and find answers.
    It is amazing to think that on a blog you can actually speak freely, as you were talking live to people. Through history that was not possible on newspapers or magazine. Today everything is different, and better I would add.
    And yes, blogging is not easy at all. It is hard work, however the best thing I have never done in my life so far (apart from that time when I was in Naples, and I ate half a kilo buffalo mozzarella with 5 beers on the side – that was a good time!)
    Cheers

  7. This is good stuff, but I would love if you would go into a little more depth about how to add more personality to your blog. Also, how do you compare the need for professionalism when communicating with customers vs. a desire to come off as friendly and fun?

    • Matt McGee says:

      Thx for all the comments, everyone. Glad the post resonated and thanks for the additional ideas you’ve shared. Very cool.

      Simeon, there’s probably an entire separate post that could be done about adding personality to a blog, but I’d say this — having a personality doesn’t mean you’re not professional. For some companies, the personality should be more serious, not “friendly and fun.” Law firms are one obvious example, I think. Medical professionals might also want their blog personality to be a bit more serious, though that depends on the type of medical practice. A pediatrician might want to have more fun on their blog talking about kids’ health than, say, an internal medicinist.

      Don’t assume that “personality” = having fun. That’s not always going to be the case, and I should’ve done a better job of saying this in the post itself.

  8. One thing that I love reading on the internet and even on business blogs, is humor. If you can create post or articles with humor then I am all in. I tried this on my sites but found that I am not very humorous so I took silly photos and used them as a prop in the articles. I might not be able to be funny but I can take funny photos.

  9. Jeff Reglin says:

    Matt, you had some great ideas. I am getting ready to start a blog for our residential construction business and been searching for the right way to set it up. The info you provided was very helpful. One of the first steps in building a house is the foundation, I am trying to learn the “foundation items” for a business blog and this was good stuff.

  10. Sean Gardner says:

    I agree with Mike above. “Promotion is so very key. A lot of bloggers are told that you shouldn’t dabble in self-promotion, and to let others do that. I don’t understand that. When you have something you want to share, email it, tweet it, and go all out to let people know what you have.

    Otherwise, very solid post, and good tips, Thanks!

    SG

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