Maintaining a blog allows you to create valuable content that is directly targeted at the people you want to connect with. And the only real investment a blog requires is your time.
However, that’s easier said than done because, of course, time is a precious resource - and, as the saying goes, time is money. With various calls on your time during the working day, it can be a challenge to keep on top of your blogging schedule - and that can make the whole endeavour start to feel stressful.
But there are ways to restore calm to proceedings. The processes we will consider in this post can help to streamline and focus your efforts so that you can ensure you are creating the valuable content that your audience hungers for.
1. Plan ahead
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail" (Benjamin Franklin). It may seem obvious but planning ahead really is one of the best steps you can take if blogging is leaving you feeling a little frazzled.
Staring at a blank computer screen or sheet of paper can be daunting. And if you’re writing from a standing start it’s even harder. Where do you begin? What should your focus be? How can you make sure the right people see your content?
By investing a few hours into carefully constructing an editorial calendar that outlines the topics you plan to cover over a set period, and the keywords you will focus on, you will make the job of writing far easier. It’s also well worth jotting down a few bullet points for each idea - for example, you could plan which subheads you will include and note any useful links to refer to.
One way to approach this is to hold a meeting between the relevant people on your team. The individuals that make up this group will vary from business to business, but might include a writer or writers, a marketing strategist, and people with particular expertise about your organisation and the wider industry - among others.
Often, it may be necessary to hold more than one meeting. For example, in the initial one, you might bounce ideas off one another and identify the most common questions your customers ask and the kinds of problems they regularly face. Perhaps you will also need to spend time clarifying who your buyer personas are - who are the key people you should be addressing with your content? Who do you want to connect with?
Then, in the second meeting, you might come up with a series of blog titles based on your findings. And, in the third, you might identify keywords for each post and work out what to include in the copy.
All of this sounds like a lengthy process. However, a handful of well-orchestrated and productive meetings can result in a year’s worth of informative and useful blog ideas. You may not want to plan this far ahead, but the potential is there!
And so, the next time you’re sat in front of a blank computer screen or sheet of paper, you will know exactly where to begin; what your focus should be; and how to ensure the right people will see your content.
2. Choose the right blogging platform
Depending on how you work best, you may initially write your blog post in Word, in a notebook or straight into the blogging platform your company uses. Whatever approach you use, the copy will eventually end up in the latter.
The blogging platform you use will have a significant impact on the ease of your blog management. There is a wide range to choose from, ranging from simple plugins to comprehensive marketing automation software. Your specific needs will influence what you use. At a minimum, you should be able to format your posts, add images and optimise your content without difficulty.
Once you have this ability, it’s also worth implementing an "in-house style", to ensure consistency across your blog posts. This will not only make your posts more aesthetically appealing, but it will prevent stress creeping in because you have a step-by-step guide to follow when uploading each piece of content into your particular system.
And remember not to leave images as an afterthought. Looking for pictures to add to your posts can be a time-drain, which can make you feel anxious about any other tasks you need to complete. There are free resources out there, such as Flickr Creative Commons and Wikipedia Commons, but why not consider purchasing a solution, such as ThinkStock or Shutterstock. While these offer stock images, there is a wide to selection to choose from, so you can easily avoid visual clichés and anything corny.
The right image can add another dimension to your post and is vital for capturing attention when you share your content on social media.
3. Pick a team of writers
Relying on one or two people to create all your content can be a source of stress - particularly if that is not their only job. If something else comes up, blogging is often the first task to be pushed aside.
If this is the scenario you find yourself in, then perhaps it’s time to broaden your net and expand your team of writers. For example, you might assign people in different departments to create one blog post a month. Don't worry too much about how good individuals' writing skills are. Your best writers can edit any grammatical errors or clumsy sentences, but this is a far less laborious process than crafting an entire post. You can also mix up the mediums. So, for instance, if you have someone who is brilliant on camera they could create a video post instead of a written one.
By adopting this approach, you can spread out the burden when blog management becomes a little too much. And you're less likely to have gaps in your content pipeline because you have more people to offer insights and suggestions.
The value of a B2B blog to your company cannot be underestimated. By creating blog posts that answer your audience's questions and solve their problems, you increase the likelihood of forming a relationship with them. But blog management is not always an easy task.
However, by planning ahead, investing in good blogging tools and resources, and creating a pool of writers, you can wave goodbye to stress and enjoy the process - and benefits - of blogging.