There are many reasons why launching a blog on your web site is a good idea, perhaps chief among them is that it cements your status as an expert in the industry. Beyond that, blogging also promotes your business and engages current and potential clients. Creating a blog is a daunting task, but we’re here to spell out exactly what you need to do in order to make this latest business endeavor a success.
First thing’s first: You need to spend some time identifying what need you’re trying to fulfill with your blog. What purpose is it serving your readers (a.k.a. your clients)? How do you want the content to sound? How is this blog going to be different than others out there? What is your niche angle?
Once you’ve wrapped your head around these points, it’s time to come up with a list of topics that you want to cover on the blog. Consider subjects both big and small—for example, hyper-focused stories like the best socks for barre classes and more expansive pieces about weight loss or how fitness impacts health. You can’t have too many ideas on this list, and it’s a good idea to jot story ideas down on you’re a notepad or on your phone when you’re on the go.
CREATE A CALENDAR
Now that you’ve got a vault of story ideas ready to be tackled, you need to come up with an editorial calendar. This calendar is what will make or break you—after all, consistency is key to any blog’s success. Before you create the calendar, however, you need to determine how often you’ll be posting stories, on what day and time you’ll be posting them, and who will be writing them. Next up: Assign all those topics on your list to the days, times and writers you’ve chosen. You’ll want both deadlines and publish dates in the calendar, and be sure to give yourself a few days between so that you have time to edit the content before it’s published. (For example, if you’re going to publish stories every Monday and Wednesday, have those stories due Friday and Monday, respectively.)
All of this information should be put into an actual document. We recommend a sharable Google doc (like this one), but even a spreadsheet that you email around works as well.
During this phase you should also identify how you will be promoting your blog’s content once it is published. Will you be including the stories in an email newsletter? Via your social channels? On the homepage of your site? All or some of these will bring in traffic, but we recommend having an action plan in place prior to launching the blog to avoid any confusion.
DEFINE YOUR STYLE
Every blog, magazine and newspaper in existence has a style guide, and this is what your authors and editors will adhere to when writing or editing a piece for your blog. Do you want your blog’s stories to be casual and written in the first person? Or more business-like with hard reporting and expert quotes? There’s no wrong answers here; you just need to determine what is the best fit for your audience and your business, and then make sure every piece you publish sticks to that style. The guide can be as granular as you want it be—feel free to add in exactly how you want dates written (August 10, 2016 vs 8.10.16) or numbers (eight or 8) or headings (10 Minutes to Great Abs versus 10 minutes to great abs).
DOLE OUT RESPONSIBILITIES
This is important: You can’t shoulder this endeavor on your own. You’re managing your business, likely teaching classes, paying bills and salaries—running the entire blog on your own is impossible. You’ll need to enlist writers to contribute to the blog, and also a team to help edit, find photography, publish and promote the stories and also to reply to any commenters.
First determine what your budget is for this blog, and then you can divvy it up amongst the above tasks. You’ll want to devote the bulk of your money to writing and the rule of thumb in the industry is that you get what you pay for. Yes, there are content farms that charge only $15 a story, but those pieces aren’t likely to be perfectly in-line (and in-tone) with your audience. One of the best places to look for writers is in-house—do you have trainers or staffers who’d be interested in contributing? This is a great way to motivate your team, demonstrate your faith in them and also get content from writers who know your business inside and out. Hiring a freelance editor would be a way to clean up any copy that isn’t perfect.
Another way to find writers would be to post that you’re looking for fitness/health freelancers on your social pages. Or you can check out competitors’ blogs and reach out to the freelancers who are writing for them.
Tapping your front desk staff or marketing team to handle publishing, promoting and responding to comments is a smart idea. Again, new priority tasks will embolden your employees, and it will be save you money to keep those jobs in-house. Remember that engagement is a big reason to start this blog, so responding to comments both negative and positive is crucial to the process.
THE GAME PLAN
The quickest way to kill is a blog is to stop publishing content. If a reader stops by and sees a story hasn’t been posted in 10 days, they’re not likely to stop by again. It’s a good idea to stockpile evergreen stories—assign and edit them in advance—for busier times of the year, like the holidays or when you’re attending a conference. By doing this you’re ensuring there will never be a lull in publishing.
You’ll also want to measure your success. Google Analytics is the cheapest and easiest way to assess how much traffic your blog is getting, and where it’s coming from. Pay attention to weekly reports, and re-jigger your editorial calendar—and the way you’re promoting content—via any wins you experience. For example, if a story about a 10-minute ab workout garners you five times more pageviews than anything else that week, with the majority of traffic coming from Facebook, consider assigning similar stories (i.e. 7-minute arms) and always posting to Facebook in the future.
Want even more insights on how to build an amazing blog for your business that will bring in clients and cement you as a thought-leader in your industry? Check out our webinar, Best Practices for Building a Blog.