In part two of our Q&A interview with award-winning blogger Donna Moritz, we learn about the keys to her blogging success with Socially Sorted and how you can measure the return on investment for your own business blog.
In part one of our two-part Q&A with Donna Moritz, the social media strategist, visual marketing specialist and author of Socially Sorted’s blog outlined the most common blogging mistakes. In part two, Moritz talks about how she built her blogging success and how other businesses can measure the success of their own blogs.
Why can a blog be an important marketing tool for a business that is selling a product or service online?
A blog can be one of the most powerful marketing tools a business can have. For that matter, any platform where you can publish your own original content – be it a blog, podcast website or video show – can be effective for your business.
Not only does a blog establish you as an expert authority in your industry, by publishing content that is helpful to your ideal audience, but it gets you noticed by Google. If you produce helpful, relevant information in context that answers the questions being asked by your ideal customer on your website, then you are more likely to be rewarded by Google in the search results. Remember that people are often searching in questions: “How do I xyz” or “what is the best xyz”. Give them the answers!
There are obviously other SEO factors at play, but by starting with great content, you will be off on the right foot. Bear in mind that your blog or website is the only platform, along with your subscriber email list, that you “own”. You don’t own Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram, but you do own your website. The content that you produce on your website – most likely via your blog – should be a big focus of any business – even local businesses looking to be found on search.
I always say: build your content castle on your blog, not the shifting sands of social media. Share that content out to social media, but all roads should lead back to your blog or website.
What is the main thing that a business owner needs to understand before they start a blog?
Understand your target audience – who are they and what are you trying to teach them? How are you hoping to inspire them? How will you help them or entertain them? What are their challenges and what do they need help with? What questions are they asking?
When you understand the answers to those questions, you can start creating content on your blog that achieves one or more of those goals. It may be that you start out with a more general blog or blog topics, then niche down into something specific later. For me, it was finding what resonated with my readers but also lit up a spark with me (visual social media and content strategy). Blogs can evolve. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but start out by thinking about your audience.
One of the easiest ways to get started is to write out the most frequently asked questions [FAQs] that clients ask. These are often the key phrases or questions that they will type into Google. Other things – like the structure of your posts, using keywords, how to use your blogging platform, guest posting on other blogs, building a community – will come, but start by writing the posts that come naturally to answer your customers’ questions.
What has been the key to your own blogging success?
I have been consistent, but I only really post once a week, which I think is a great message for all businesses: you don’t have to post daily to have a successful blog, but you do have to post about content that resonates with your ideal audience. I also pivoted my blog to focus more on visual social media and content strategy, which really helped to get more relevant readers, rather than posting about social media in general. Initially I was writing for everyone, but then started to focus in on what was resonating with my readers – it was the posts about visual content and visual social media, and, fortunately, they were the posts I loved writing the most, too! Highly successful Australian blogger Darren Rowse (founder of Problogger) talks about this as “finding the sparks” and then following them. It’s much easier to write about a niche than a broad topic.
I have also met up with other bloggers, learned from them and formed strong networks in my industry. It helps when you have friends to share content with and to turn to when you need input for posts that feature a number of experts or contributors.
I use a lot of visual content to drive traffic back to my blog – great images, infographics and SlideShare presentations. I think about every image as being a doorway to great content. I want my readers to see an image of mine and want to click on it, as they know they are more than likely to arrive at even more great content, whether it is a blog post, webinar, article or another social media site.
Don’t forget guest blogging – I guest blogged for a number of smaller sites before writing for sites like Entrepreneur and Social Media Examiner. It’s a powerful way to get noticed by other blogs, readers and potential customers and for them to discover your blog and business.
How can a business evaluate the ROI of their blog?
Get to know Google Analytics and find out how to track your traffic. Then learn a little about Google Webmaster Tools. Look at where your traffic is coming from and what influences it, and learn how to track it better. I don’t necessarily do this extremely well, so it is a goal of mine this year to get better at it, and I will be working with one of my web consultants to understand it better. You can definitely track ROI – visitors, readers, subscribers and sales. There is nothing more powerful than a subscriber; always value them more than any other type of fan or follower, as they are the ones most likely to convert from a blog reader to a customer.
Learn a bit about how SEO and optimisation works, but don’t obsess over it. Google loves relevant content, so that’s a great place to start, but then get to know more about keywords, metadata, how to optimise your images and how to optimise your website for the keywords you want to be found for. Sites like Yoast can really help to explain this in language that you understand.