Blogging and content marketing is so crucial for building brand presence, but maybe you haven't gotten started on your first blog post, as it too overwhelming.
As a small business owner who has already put a basic website together and is getting started with your content marketing and blogging, especially one who doesn’t have a big team, you may have read a lot of information online about how to do write blogs, do SEO, SEM, inbound marketing, etc. I follow marketing gurus like Neil Patel a lot. Also Hubspot, Moz, etc.
But even though I read, I put off starting my blog for months as I wanted to be perfect when I did it! However, perfection only comes by doing.
So in this post, I will lay out 3 simple steps, fully explained in details, so you can get over your fears and procrastination and finally create your first blog post.
For the full tutorial, please see this video below. You can also choose to read the post, but the video is more detailed.
Let's start with a simple question:
Why should you write a blog for your small business?
To get back to the basics, you write a blog for primarily 2 reasons
1. You have ideas and advice you want to share.
That’s why you wanted to start your business, isn’t it? Whether you’re selling products or services, you're a person who's trying to do something in the world, trying to make an impact. So you need to share your thoughts, and maybe ways that you can actually help people and give them some advice.
Notice that I never said, 'because you want to sell'.
Because if you write a blog with that intent, people somehow see through you. They figure you’re all about money. The harsh truth is that people want to buy, but they don’t want to be sold to. The whole essence of content marketing, or at least marketing concepts today, is based on providing value to people, making their lives better in some way. Eventually they understand your expertise and seek you and your business out.
Of course then you can create a whole digital marketing strategy, build email lists and do email marketing, but writing a blog is one of the first steps.
2. To build your brand presence online and connect with others
If you can just start writing and sharing your ideas through your blog, it can also help you in your website, spreading your message, and building engagement with others.
The only thing is, you may not be sure what topics exactly to write on. So you may think of getting a copywriter.
But this is why you shouldn’t do that:
You're still framing and clarifying your brand positioning and messaging. You’re not even sure what to say! How will you even evaluate, and give suggestions for improvement, to copywriters? And it's also an extra cost, right?
So I would suggest the first few blogs you write yourself, or at least come up with ideas for it. After you are clear, you can ask others to keep writing for you.
Even if you think you're not a writer, don't worry. I have laid out 3 steps with complete details, so it will be easy for you to get started with writing your first post for your small business blog!
- Get specific ideas
- Find target keywords
- Structure the content
And just start writing!
But we just need a couple of steps before that which is the part of your branding actually, a part of your brand plan:
- Brand purpose
- Buyer persona
This something you should have worked on already while starting your business, so it’s not related to writing your first blog post specifically, but you need to know this to start writing your small business blog and doing your content marketing.
a. Your brand purpose
Simply put, your why.
Why do you want to do your business? What is your mission? What will you help specific people of the world with, on things that they need help? The chart below explains it better.
Now let’s say, for the sake of an example, that you are a nutritionist. You specialize in helping pregnant women get the best nutrition tips, and women can consult you for sessions or sign up for your meal plans.
Yes they can go to doctors and yes they might have their family to counsel but they still need proper advice from a nutrition professional. Something that is simple to follow and that they can do by themselves.
And all your content ideas for your blog should then help make their pregnancy journey easier in terms of food and diet plans or diet. Then the above chart could look like this.
b. Your brand's buyer persona
Now, you need to understand your target audience in as much detail as possible. And most importantly, find a niche category of people you want to help. Let’s say you want to help pregnant women or new moms. You can also make it very specific and say you only work with either new mothers OR pregnant women.
But I know that as a small business owner you don't want to eliminate people and still want to keep a broader scope. You can also make your audience all adult women. But at least in the beginning, it’s very important to have a niche.
So based on what you already know about them, you can fill in more details, like the questions they have, the challenges they face, etc. Once you have this filled out as much as possible, it can give you ideas for what they're looking for, and hence, your first blog post.
You can download the buyer template for free below. You can also refer to my video above for an explanation of how to fill it up, or just refer to the template. It’s quite self-explanatory.
Now let’s get started with the 3 easy steps!
Note: For the full, detailed, tutorial, again, please refer to the video at the top of the page. This is just a snapshot.
1. Get specific ideas
So the first question is, what will you write on? here can be 2 ways to decide this by:
- A simple Google search
- Using a SEO/ Keyword tool
a. How to get ideas: A simple Google search
Let’s start with something simple, say ‘easy diet plan for new moms’. If you put this in Google, you will see loads of blogs and these posts.
They have probably been written a while ago, and have a lot of visibility already, which is why they're on the first page of Google. And they could be quite generic about easy diet plans.
So it's possible that in the beginning, you will not be able to compete with them. You need to look for something more specific which is a new topic, or which has probably not been covered in so much detail. Let’s say we keep searching and get some questions like this:
- What foods can cause colic in babies
- Can you eat pizza while breastfeeding
- Diet to increase breast milk
But we have to understand the potential of these. How many people really want to know about this? Is this really worth writing about? For that we need to do a bit of keyword research and a bit of topic research which is what I will go into next. But before that, let's look at the more specific way of getting ideas.
b. How to get ideas: Using a SEO/ Keyword tool
There are plenty of such software in the market. I personally like a tool called SEMRush. As a person who started blogging not long ago, I find it quite handy. Again, you can use other tools, but I use this one as I find the Topic Research tool very useful, especially when I am blank about what to write.
Just create a free account, and you get a free trial for 30 days. Now go to Content Marketing Toolkit, and then Topic Research. Just put in the same broad topic, ‘easy diet plan for new moms’.
Remember to specify the country where your audience is (this should come from your buyer persona). We take the US here as an example.
And it generates a whole list of topic ideas for you. So we go to the bottom of the Overview page and then we see something like gestational diabetes meal plan. That looks specific, so we click on that again in Topic Research.Then it gets even more specific. Like protein snacks for gestational diabetes.
So we have 5 specific ideas for now, under a broad topic of ‘easy diet plan for new moms’.
- What foods can cause colic in babies
- Can you eat pizza while breastfeeding
- Diet to increase breast milk
- Easy gestational diabetes meal plan
- Protein snacks for gestational diabetes
You can continue like this till you find more and more ideas, but the point is also to get started. So we move to the next step.
2. Find target keywords
Let's start with one topic to see the potential and find the right keywords. You can of course skip the keyword research step, but what's the point writing a detailed blog post and not even having the chance to rank for any search? So I would recommend to do at least a bit of work on this.
In the SEMRush tool, go to the SEO toolkit, and to Keyword Overview. And type any of the above 5 topics. I typed in ‘protein snacks for gestational diabetes’.
- For keywords, as you may know, it is always good to target a specific country, for you to get the best results.
- And in the beginning of your blogging journey, just focus on the monthly volume. Ideally target something between 100 - 1000.
For the search of ‘protein snacks for gestational diabetes’, it says there are not much searches. So it prompts me an alternative: ‘good snacks for gestational diabetes
But still, the keyword volume seems to be only about 40. Not so much.
So we go to Related Keywords. There we see something like:
- ‘gestational diabetes breakfast’ with a keyword volume of about 720.
- ‘gestational diabetes grocery list’ with volume of about 390.
These could be a good way to start.
Please ignore all other metrics like Keyword Difficulty, CPC, etc., for now. As you’re just starting, you don’t have to get into that right now. Otherwise you just get confused.
So there you go! You have 2 specific ideas and keyword analysis to start writing!
|BROAD IDEA||TOPIC||RELATED SEARCHES||KEYWORD VOLUME|
|Easy diet plan for new moms||Protein snacks for gestational diabetes||Gestational diabetes breakfast||720|
|Gestational diabetes grocery list||390|
|Easy gestational diabetes meal plan|
|Diet to increase breast milk|
|Can you eat pizza while breastfeeding|
|What food can cause colic in babies|
You can repeat the same exercises with the other ideas we found, to get specific ideas with good potential.
This is good because marketing gurus also tells you that you should target long-tail keywords (basically keywords with at least 3 words), which is what you have here.
Note: You don’t have to restrict your blog post to only one keyword. You can target other relevant keywords as well, in the same post, by doing this process repeatedly. But again, remember, you’re just getting started. As you get more familiar with the process and the tools, you can do a lot more.
Now we move to the final step.
2. Structure your content
There are 2 parts to this step:
a. Build sub-topics on what to include in the content
b. Structure the sub-topics and start writing
a. Build sub-topics
Now of course you know what to include in the blog post. You are the expert on your topic! But what if you want to get more ideas? Or want to know what people are asking, and how to write what you want to say, using words that people are typing on Google?
You can know this in 4 ways:
A. Get ideas from Google results
Read the top 10 posts that show up in Google for your target keyword to understand their content, and decide how you want to write your post differently or better. How to add more points, or cover something in more details, or provide a different perspective.
But if say you are based in Mexico, and you want to target consumers from another country, say the US, then it doesn’t work. For that you can do Keyword research using software like SEMRush, Ahrefs, Moz, etc.
Note: You can also try using Google Adwords, but I find it very difficult to use it without directly paying for an ad, so I avoid it. Usually the free trials of SEO tools work sufficiently for this part of the exercise.
B. Analyze top ranking URLs in SEO/ Keyword tools
You have the top 10 Google posts for your target keyword?
Put the URLs in your SEO tool and see what other keywords they also rank for (in SEMRush, go to SEO Toolkit, Organic Research, put the URL in the search field and instead of search as Root Domain, right next to it, search as URL).
You don’t have to target the same keywords that these articles rank for, but they could help you understand the questions that people are asking, so you can provide answers.
C. Review the questions in the Cards, Questions, and Mind Map section of the Topic Research Tool.
Just put in your keyword, and you can find plenty of questions that people are asking.
D. Get recommended keywords from the SEO Content Template.
In my opinion, this tool, in SEMRush, mostly for beginners, sets it apart from Ahrefs or Moz, etc., It provides you semantically related recommended keywords, which are keywords related to the topic, but not exactly it.
For example, diet and nutrition are semantically related. You can use these suggestions to get ideas for sub topics within your main specific idea, and use it in your content.
So just go to Content Marketing Toolkit, put in your first keyword, and click Create new template.
You can also download it as a Word document. It actually also includes overall recommendations for your SEO:
- It gives you a recommended length of words for your blog. While your actual number of words can be much higher than this number, I would recommend it to not be lower. Long posts, with full information, is what provides real value.
- It gives you ideas on how to optimize your content for SEO. I will cover this in a second article, first you have to write the post! So let’s focus on that for now.
But if this tool is not available in the trial plan you can always skip it and do it the manual way, by taking the individual keywords and questions from Google like point A above, and including them in your content.
2. Structure the sub-topics
My blogging platform is my site on WordPress (you can have any that you choose, of course). But I usually start putting my thoughts on a blog together by creating a Google Docs document first. Click on View, and then click Show Document Outline. So on the left, it shows you the structure. You will have paragraph text, and subtopics.
You can start by writing your initial ideas in the document. Don't worry too much about editing, that you can do after you finish writing. You can put your initial ideas in a heading format (click on Normal Text and choose a Heading Style). Then it shows this to you as a subtopic. You can make as many heading styles you want, to create subtopics and sub-sub topics.
Then you can put all the details and answers below them, in Normal Text.
You can also use another fantastic tool from SEMRush called SEO Writing Assistant (to find it, go to the Content Marketing Toolkit). And then you get an add-on for it on Google Docs.
So it imports the tool directly into your Google Docs document, and you don’t have to go back and forth from Google Docs and WordPress or the SEMRush dashboard to keep writing.
In Google Docs, just click on Add-ons and then SEMRush Writing Assistant.
So as you write your content, on the right you can see your progress and what you can do better. With Word Count, Readability, Overall Score (I am not explaining this, as it’s quite self-explanatory).
As you then write your content, make sure you follow the basic rules of writing a clear document:
- Write short paragraphs
- Use simple language
- Use bullet points whenever applicable
- Highlight the key points
It needs to be clear, and visually engaging to read quickly through
So there you go! You have your first blog post all written and sorted out! Let’s do a quick summary then.
First, make sure you have your brand purpose and persona sorted out. Then, follow these steps:
- Retain your brand’s communication style and tone of voice in your writing (this is also a part of your brand plan. to be already set before you begin writing)
- Be careful not to do keyword stuffing. Which is basically, repeating the exact keywords very often in your post. Because Google may detect that and penalize you for it. Just focus on writing good content.
- Write a powerful headline. One tool you can use to test your headline is the free analyzer Coschedule. Try different versions of the headlines, but it takes a while to craft the perfect one, so don't let that hold you back from writing.
- After you finish writing the full post, don't forget to edit your blog for language and grammar.
- Find nice images and videos to substantiate your point and make your blog look better
- Link to other sources if applicable, for additional, supportive information, so that your readers can have the most amount of information
There you go! You're all set with your first blog post.
Additional reading, if you promise not to get distracted by them, and still commit to writing your post:
In the end, remember, that a blog is all about helping others. The more value you give people the more information and help they can get out of this, the more it benefits them. And the more they read your blog, the more they trust you and come and buy your services.
The next part that we will cover is what to do after you’ve written your first blog post. Like sharing on social media, etc. Meanwhile, happy writing! Remember, there is nothing you can't do if you put your mind to it. Be #PowerfullyYOU.
Need help getting started with your first blog post?