start a business blog

You’d love to have a blog that pulled in new leads and website traffic everyday, wouldn’t you?

You’d love to have a blog that supercharged your social media presence. A blog that got attention from industry influencers. A blog that showcased your irresistible brand for all the right people to see.

But let’s be realistic, please. You just don’t have the time. You’re running a business. That means you already have a to-do list with items squeezed into the margins because you ran out of room and a schedule that keeps you occupied (read: hair-on-fire busy) from open til’ close.

Blogging just isn’t for you. It can’t be. It’s too big of a commitment.

I hope you picked up on my subtle sarcasm at the end – but there’s really no way to be sure of that over the internet. So let me clarify that if what’s written above sounds a lot like a conversation you’ve had with yourself: you’re wrong.

A business-building, client-snagging blog can be a part of your marketing plan, and it doesn’t have to mean tacking on hours of extra work to your daily schedule.

With the right tools and a savvy plan, you can fit blogging into your schedule without breaking (too much) of a sweat. Plus, with a great blogging plan in place, you could drop some of the less effective marketing activities you’ve already packed into your schedule (like chasing after stale leads or banging your head against the desk trying to figure out where your next client will come from).

Why you don’t need a ton of spare time to blog

It used to be that if you were going to blog, you had to publish fresh stuff every day or at least several times a week.

Some people have toned that down a bit and deemed it acceptable to update things once a week. In fact, the once-a-week model is very popular among business blogs and it’s the schedule I use here on my blog.

But here’s a dirty little secret: you do not have to publish a new post every day or every week to be successful.

To be honest, if you’re just starting out with blogging, you really shouldn’t be publishing content that often.

When you start a blog, you don’t have a lot of traction yet. You might have some friends who will read every post, and you might even have a healthy social media following that will come check things out. But generally speaking, new blogs don’t get much attention. So publishing new content week after week means you’re working your butt off and no one even knows it.

So I’m giving you permission (not that you actually needed it) to slowwww down. If you think you can commit to writing a new blog post twice – or even once – a month, that’s plenty. Take your time writing something really great, and then use the rest of your time to promote it so people actually get the chance to read what you’ve put out there.

You don’t have to stay at this slow pace forever. Two things will likely happen. 1) people will start to discover and share your blog, which means you’ll build an audience which merits more content, if you decide to give it to them and 2) you’ll get the hang of this blogging thing. It won’t feel so overwhelming. You’ll have had time to practice and find your rhythm. You will probably find that it won’t take you nearly as long to write a blog post anymore.

My secret weapon for taking the stress out of blogging

After you’ve relieved yourself of the pressure to publish content to your blog ALL THE TIME, you still need one more trick up your sleeve before you are fully prepared to take on blogging for business.

And that, my friend, is an editorial calendar.

I know, it doesn’t sound very exciting. In my mind, when I dropped the words “editorial calendar” a symphony played and people cheered in the background, because that’s how incredible I think this thing is. But to you…an editorial calendar probably just sounds…well, boring.

But get ready to change your mind. Because if you want to tackle blogging – or any content marketing activity: social media, guest posting, email marketing, etc. – an editorial calendar is going to make your life so much happier and so much simpler.

Your calendar will be your plan. It will take the guess work out of blogging. It will keep you on track so you don’t fall behind. It will remove all stress when you sit down to work one morning and think “crap, I was supposed to publish a blog post today. What in the world do I write about?”

So here’s what you need to do: dedicate a calendar to your blogging (and other content marketing activities, if you have them). You can use a paper calendar or a Google calendar (like me). Sit down and plan out when you are going to write each post for the next 6 months and what you are going to write about (we’ll talk about coming up with ideas in a minute). Write out a title or short description for each post in the date box that corresponds with when you plan to publish it.

If you are on a roll and want to plan past 6 months – go for it. If you’re thinking “yeah right, I’ll never even be able to make it to 6 months worth of post ideas,” calm down. It isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. Now that I’ve been using an editorial calendar for a while, it only takes me 20 minutes to plan out half a year’s worth of content.

How to fill you calendar with ideas – effortlessly

Ideas. There everywhere but somehow manage to elude us when we need them most: when we want to write a blog post.

Idea generation, just like blogging and editorial-calendar-planning, gets a lot easier with practice. To get you started, here’s a list of my favorite (and I like to think fail-proof) ways to come up with great topics to write about.

  • Read other blogs. I get the huge majority of my inspiration from reading other blogs, both within and outside of my topic. What questions did that blog post leave unanswered? What different opinion could you add to the topic? What spin could you put on it?
  • Hang out on Twitter. People are asking questions on Twitter all the time. Could you answer them with a blog post?
  • Cash in a trends. What things, people, or events are popular right now? Could you connect them with your topic and write a blog post about it?
  • FAQ’s. I get the same questions over and over again, and you probably get a lot of common questions to. Turn them into inspiration for blog posts.
  • Read books. This works a lot like tip #1.
  • Ask people. Sometimes, I just go right out and ask people “what would you love to read about on my blog?
  • Interview someone. When I really don’t know what to say, I let someone else say it for me. Plus, interviewing other smart people brings a new angle to your content.

Let’s get this show on the road

I hear the phrase “blogging isn’t for everyone” all the time. I’ve even given out that advice myself many times. But I’m beginning to reform my opinion. While there are some reasons why blogging wouldn’t be the right move for your business – such as not being able to publish quality content or any of the other blunders I outline here – I honestly believe that  every committed business owner can avoid making these mistakes.

Blogging has turned into the central mouthpiece for brands – it’s even important for social networking. It gives you a place to establish your voice, your mission, and your offering. If you’re building a business on the web, you need a place to establish who you are as a brand and a blog (attached to your branded website) is such a natural, effective place to do it.

Convinced? Here are you next action steps to get started with (or reboot) your blogging plan:

  1. If you don’t already have a blogging function on your website, get one set up ASAP. This is super easy if you’re using WordPress. If you’re not, contact your webmaster for details.
  2. Create your editorial calendar and fill it with scheduled posts for the next 3-6 months (remember, you can spread your posts out as much as once a week, twice a month, or even once a month if that is what makes sense for your schedule).
  3. Start writing! Get a jump on your first post – you’ll probably feel more confident if you’re not scrambling to write it at the last minute.