Since I started being involved with blogs back in 2006, a lot of people ask me questions about how their startup can add one to their website. When I was involved with a blog in the early days it was pretty easy to rank for a topic in Google if you had lots of keywords in your post. Whilst some of the concepts remain the same, it’s a lot harder in 2015.
The difficulties you now have are a blessing if you see it that way. It means that businesses that are not committed, and posting content for the sake of it won’t make it. Google will not look upon your blog favourably if it has out of date content with no sort of consistency – your customers won’t be interested either.
There is lots of competition for eyeballs in the online space nowadays so you have to stand out, be different and master your niche!
1. Tell your startups story
As they will teach you in sales, the thing that sells more than anything is your story. Decide what your startups story is and then tell it to the world via your blog. Don’t shy away from the failures either, make sure you tell them to because that shows your human and you have done the hard yards.
One of the best things you can do is talk about real life experiences that your startup faced with a particular product or service and how you overcame it. In some posts you could refer to why you started your business in the first place and why you want to continue to solve the problem that your business solves.
“When telling your story make sure to always be humble and don’t brag. No one likes a show-off!”
2. Write articles that have great content
Many blogs that I have seen just create content for the sake of creating it. Your startups blog should be a place to educate your customers and to give them hints to what your products and services are about. The content should compliment what your product or service does and be an extension of it. If your startup sells computers then your blog should talk about all the accessories you can buy for your computer and how to set it up.
Great content is usually written by someone who loves what they’re doing. The person that is writing the content would ideally be the founders (some of the time) because it’s their passion that helped them to create the startup in the first place. You want this to bleed through the content so it draws people in.
“Your blog is your startups identity and your place to make a mark.”
3. Add rich media
When you write articles for you startups blog make sure you include rich media. Things like photos can be really good especially if they are shot by you and include real life things that have happened in your startup. For example, if you meet the CEO of Walmart ask him if you can take a picture with him and then feature it in an upcoming article. This makes your blog feel genuine and not generic like a lot of startups blogs that are just trying to smash out keywords to rank in Google.
Whenever you’re posting images on your site keep in mind that Google is very sensitive to a blog’s page load time and so are users, yet 90% of websites (even the famous ones) put up rich media that is massive in file size. If you’re putting up images you need to crunch them down without making them look pixellated. If you just did this right you would be ahead of most of your competition.
The other thing to do is look at your blog on a smartphone. Does it look good? How quickly does it load? When sharing videos just use embedded Youtube videos because then they will be a good size and have the option of HD for those that want it. Videos are another obvious way to enhance your posts but remember that the words in a video can’t be searched by Google, so it’s always good to pull the best points from the video and include them in text form below the video.
4. Make your content social
What will help you rank in search engines the most is how shareable your content is on social media. There is no magic trick to this you just have to create the best content you can. Don’t worry about trying to post every day as long as you have a few updates a week that are really good quality.
When posting your content on different platforms remember that each one has a different method of consumption. If you post on LinkedIn make sure it has a business theme, if you post on Instagram then it’s all about the photo and if you post on Twitter it needs to be short, captivating and make people want to click the link and read the full article.
Don’t try and be on every social platform all at once otherwise you will risk becoming a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Whilst it’s good to be represented on the main ones you should focus your efforts on one or two. Keep in mind where your customers hang out and their age group, before you decide which ones to focus on.
When your blog is new, build up the content first before you tell everyone about your blog. There is nothing worse that when someone asks you to go to their blog and there are 3 articles on there that were written 6 months ago.
5. Make the layout clean and sexy
When you are writing your content make sure that it’s laid out nicely and your blog is not too busy. If you don’t have a great eye then get someone who does, to give you their opinion. Consider the colors of your photos, text and template, and make sure they match as much as possible. Avoid big chunks of text and remember to highlight great quotes or phrases. Don’t bombard Google with lots of tags either, pick the ones that are most relevant to the content and what you do and then mention those. Ten tags and ten keywords is more than enough. If you like clean layouts then I suggest using something like WordPress. You can pickup some great themes from sites like Envato’s ThemeForest.
We all know that subscribers to your startups blog is very important, but my advice to you would be to avoid putting pop up boxes that block the page. Anything that’s annoying like this will see users clicking away from your blog. You can encourage them by mentioning in your articles for users to subscribe, in your Youtube Videos, tweeting a subscribe request and by creating a subscribe form that is prominently featured on your blog.
6. Seek assistance from your raving fans
One person that knows your business as well as you (and sometimes better than you do) is your customers, more specifically, the ones that are raving fans. They are a great contact to have and could be useful to get as authors on your blog. If you approach them in this way you will probably find that they will be humbled and dying to contribute content to your startups blog.
The other raving fans are your employees who have given up their time to come and work for you and believe in the vision of your business. Each one of them has their own job function, which brings a different perspective to your product or service that could help prospective customers engage with your business. Consider interviewing them for a 3-minute video and posting that on your blog.
The other cool thing you could do is allow your customers or prospects to send in a question and then feature them on your blog with the answer. If you get a client that wants to give you a testimonial, ask them to write an article for your blog instead.
Whenever you get your raving fans or employees to write for your site you have to place one caveat and that is, they can only do it if they agree to share it on all their social media channels. The best way to find more customers is to find more who are just like the ones you have. Posting the article on the customer or employees social media is the best way to do this.
If you want to supercharge this, go one step further; tell them that they must also comment on any replies that are written on their content both on the blog and on social media. It’s the actual engagement with the content that helps to build the audience further. People will only engage if they see other people engaging. If your blog is new, ask your employees or friends to comment initially (it must be genuine though) until your audience builds.
You can even take it a step further, once you have established your startups blog, get your authors to guest write on other people’s blogs, just make sure they have a Gravatar account so that when people click their name they find your website. Obviously you need to choose other blogs who are in the same field as you and where there can be a sharing of value. This means that their audience will then have access to your vision and message, and hopefully your businesses solution as well.
A great example
All of this talk means nothing unless I can actually show you. Pixc were a startup just like you and they had another business that had issues removing backgrounds from product images. This then spawned the idea to start a business and solve this. As part of this they created a blog.
Their blog is simple, clean, sexy and has some great how-tos. If I was building an online store and needed their product, their how-tos would tell me exactly how to use their service. Their articles are short, sharp and to the point so you don’t need a lot of time to consume them either which is very important. The only area they are currently lacking in is having enough white space on their site.
Neil Patel, an SEO genius, often talks about the importance of creating white space on your site and that you should consider putting paragraphs in your words, even if it’s not technically a paragraph, to make it easy on the eye. Sometimes you just have to defy the rules, I know it’s hard considering the rules of the English language have been around for a very long time, but just do it!