This guest post is by Jennifer Brown Banks of Penandprosper.
A recent Google search in preparation for this piece revealed over 40 million entries for the term “business blog.“ That makes for a whole lot of niche competition. A compelling reason to seek strategies to stand out to stay in the game. Or as I like to put it, to break from the blahs!
Contrary to popular opinion, your business blog doesn’t have to be bland to be taken seriously.
It can be “professional” and still be entertaining, informative and engaging. In fact, this is one example of when you should “mix business with pleasure”. Because ideally you want readers to enjoy their experience when they visit, and to share your content via social media forums and link love. Regardless of your industry, tone, or target audience, injecting a little “personality” into the mix can make for great results and increased readership.
Here are four key reasons why:
- The more engaging your content, the longer readers are inclined to stay. The longer they stay, the lower your bounce rate, which enhances your Alexa ratings.
- The more engaged readers are when they visit your site, the greater the likelihood they’ll return.
- Repeat visitors often become loyal customers. Loyal customers often refer others.
- It’s a savvy way to be remembered and to distinguish yourself from the vast competition.
Now that you have the 4-1-1 on why, here’s how!
In addition to quality articles, consider placing polls, surveys, and study findings relative to your products or services. Some companies I’ve done business with even “entertain” customers with trivia questions or posts related to national observance days or “awareness themes. For example, “Women’s History Month” or “Poetry Month,” or even Mothers’ Day.
One site that epitomizes variety in terms of content, presentation, and approach is One Woman Marketing. Here you’ll discover video posts, pod casts, lively commentary, and provocative titles to boot! For certain, you’ll never leave bored.
Speak in a conversational tone
Talk “to” readers, not “at” them. Also, if you use acronyms, abbreviations, or tech terms, have a glossary for those who may not be in-the-know.
There’s no better example of this than Tia, over at Bizchickblogs.com Her style of expression, her distinct voice, and her warmth resonates with each post. When you read her words, it kinda feels as if she’s sitting in your living room having a one-on-one. She knows her stuff without being stuffy.
Don’t hide from humor
As long as it’s applicable and in good taste, it’s almost always acceptable. Humorous anecdotes can be a great technique to draw audiences in, illustrate a point, and hold them captive. A good example of this blogging technique would be Naomi at Ittybiz.com. She’s fabulously funny and fiercely popular for being herself. Heck, even popular pastor and best-selling author Joel Osteen starts every sermon with a joke.
Along the same lines as Naomi, when it comes to having a knack for humor and “working a (virtual) crowd”, is innovative blogger, Princess Jones, of Diaryofamadfreelancer.com She reigns supreme in this area! No matter what topic she tackles, she’ll tickle your funny bone and help you to see the lighter side of the freelancing life. Here’s a recent quote: “So what’s my point? Once again, I don’t have one. But this is my blog and the rule says I don’t have to have a point every time I sit down to write.”
Don’t neglect visual appeal
Sure, “content is king” in the blogging world, but looks are important as well. I like to compare it to a stimulating meal. If it’s not presented well in terms of colors, textures, and arrangement, it loses its “flavor.”
Aesthetics are important. Choose hues, fonts and graphics accordingly. This attention to detail is what makes the site Workawesome.com so awesome! Not only is the content engaging and well-written, every post is accentuated with just the right image to reinforce the message. Always clever and creative. They’ve actually won awards for their graphic design as well.
Provide case studies
Show how your company helped to solve a problem or save the day for a client in need. Testimonials speak volumes as well. In promoting her financial services and professional speaking business, expert Kembala Evans, allows the testimonials of former clients do the talking. Visit her site, and it’s clear that talk is not cheap when it comes to the recommendations of satisfied customers!
Toot your own horn
Have you achieved an important milestone? Won an industry award? Been recognized in the local paper? Share. Everybody loves a hero. Check out Jobacle.com, and on your visit you’ll likely see various awards and commendations from places where the site has been featured, linked to, or talked about. And the host’s periodic appearances at U.S. News and World Report and other prominent places.
Remember the K.I.S.S. principle
Know that, sometimes, less is more. Overkill can be the kiss of death. This philosophy is one that’s well observed at Vistaprint. Known by many entrepreneurs for its stationery and marketing products, it also has a blog that features useful tips and tools for maintaining a successful business. It’s brief, but substantive.
Follow these seven tips to enhance your business image, your following, and your bottom line. You’ll have more sizzle fo’ shizzle!
Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, relationship columnist, entrepreneur and pro blogger. Her work has appeared at Daily Blog Tips, Technorati, Search Engine Journal, Workawesome, and Being Single Magazine.
I think these are all good points. No one wants to go to a blog that is “all work and no play”. Personality really helps you stand out of the crowd.
Another thing I would add to this list is interacting with your readers. Whether its from social media or just comments. It makes the person seem more friendly and trustworthy.
I think the biggest point in this post is about the humor. Everyone likes to have a little humor here and there. It lightens the mood and makes reading more enjoyable.
Great post Jennifer!
Great feedback. I value your time and perspective. :-)
Really all things if you done welly then success is always there thanks for valuable post Jenni.
Great thoughts. I have found that not hiding from humor every once in a while is actually a really big help. Thanks.
I second your thought, Darrell!
Humour … and the right kind of it and in the right quantity is a key to bring back the reader to the blog in the future.
I appreciate your time and input.
How true. Thanks for your feedback today!
I agree, especially when it comes to business blogs. Business blogs can come off as kind of stuffy without a little humor amongst posts.
On certain topics, however, I think that a more neutral tone is appropriate.
I agree. Thanks for sharing.
There is another way to do this.
Talk about your failures.
People are saturated with success stories. Most aren’t believable, anyway.
Then tell how you learnt from these mistakes – which we call relate to – and point the reader in the right direction.
PS – don’t explain everything. Give the reader an angle to jump in.
You make some great points here. Thanks for sharing. I sometimes use failures as fodder too. ;-)
What wonderful tips, thanks so much.
I totally agree that showing your personality is a good thing and a little humour helps to make people feel at ease.
Building relationships are so important to any business and these two “tools” go along way to assist this procedure.
I’m glad you enjoyed the tips. Thanks for stopping by and weighing in!
Great tips. There are a lot of blogs out there. Speciifcally in the popular niches. It is easy to just be a face in the crowd. Your tips can certainly help a blog stand out an be noticed amongst the horde of similar blogs
I value your input and appreciate your thoughtful comments. Much thanks!
People don’t want to feel like they’re being lectured to. Instead, they want to feel as if they are part of the conversation. Therefore, by writing with a very relaxed, conversational tone, you are inviting the reader to become a part of what you’re saying. And, that is what promotes comments and things of that nature.
I think one of the most important things people can learn about blogging is that they should be comfortable. Be yourself and it’ll show. Don’t try to be someone else. If you blog as yourself, then people are going to want to be around you…In other words, they’ll want to read your blog.
I agree. Authenticity is important. Great feedback.
i think being more interactive with your viewers helps you connect with them.. may be polls, discussions, may be some competition , and of course which isn’t a pain to follow :) .
Thanks for sharing this.
Mix business with pleasure? I mix business with sheer insanity. Works for me.
Well said. :-)
The Blahs can be pretty hard to avoid… especially when blogging about dentistry:) However, your tips are very good, and I am going to make sure I start incorporating them into my blogging strategy.
One thing is for sure: blogging really has helped to build brand awareness in my local and increase search engine rankings!
Hi Dr. Peter,
Dentistry. Yep, that’s as tough as enamel. :-) But I’m sure you’re up to the task!
Thanks this has given me a load of advice as a new blogger – it is much appreciated!
You’re welcome, Moira.
you have listed great way to enhance buisness blogs. Interact with your readers what i can say is very important.
I appreciate the feedback. Good luck
I’ve decided to just start honor other people and the great things they do on my blogs. It takes away the blahs, adds variety and makes the other person feel good.
Great tips here! I am a big visual person, so I work hard to make sure my posts are visually pleasing. I am also a big proponent of being real and transparent. Of course, it does depend on your topic as to how much you would do so, but people to want to know that you are a real person and that you make mistakes too. I think it is much better than putting yourself on a pedestal and that you have it ALL figured out.
Thanks for sharing!
4 things to do slowly
Great input. Thanks for sharing your “words of wisdom.” B/T/W/ dropped by your site and loved it!
Excellent list. The two that jumped out to me the most were speaking in a conversational tone and not hiding from humor. A good tip: if you’re bored writing it, the reader is going to be five times as bored reading it.
Thanks for the plug for Princess Jones. I’ll be sure to check out her stuff!
I liked your boredom tip! And I’m sure you’ll like Princess Jones. Tell her I sent you. ;-) Thanks!
I think variety is key to the whole process. The number of webmasters who I see launching “how to make money online” blogs is unreal, and the majority of them simply rehash information they have read elsewhere online (without any real thought, or research, into the topic).
I’m probably being a bit harsh here, there are many, many successful, prominent and useful make money blogs out there, but the majority fail big time, IMO.
As they say, “variety is the spice of life.” And you’re right; fresh content is crucial. Thanks!
I agree, our blog personalty can represent us or our business in a unique and engaging way. Good tips, Jennifer, thanks!
Thanks for your thoughts here! Much appreciation.
I like the input I myself am in a very competitive industry.
And just maybe changing the way I write my blogs will make a difference
i will be checking your site for more tips thanks
CC BY David,
Good to hear. I hope you do stop by. :-)
I love the term ‘ the blahs’ really seems to help illustrate the point of this post. Visual appeal is always important, with good grammar, sub headings and styling.
Thanks for this post.
Glad you found the tips useful. Thank you as well.
Nice post Jeniffer, I agree that case studies are especially useful and effective in which it can demonstrate to others the knowledge and authority. Your tips will come to great use, thanks.
Glad you were able to glean useful stuff here. Thanks for reading and responding.
So true that blogs should contain a part of ourselves be it our voice, humor, graphic design savvy, whatever! The connection is part of what makes it memorable and worth revisiting. Nice post, Jennifer!
Thanks for sharing your insight!
There’s a lot to be said for visual appeal.
I think ambiance is important. A simple test is blink test. Another test is whether the first reaction makes you want to run away, or kick back and hang out a while, or explore for more.
Visual appeal is indeed important. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Thanks for the great post, Jennifer! I was actually doing this exact same search yesterday, and was disappointed by the “blahness” of many blogs that came up. It’s easy to slip in to the Ben Stein drone (“Bueller?”) when discussing business topics – you offer some great tips for shaking these out!
I really appreciate the links, too! One of my main blog focus areas is business success, and I’ve been looking for some high quality business blogs lately. Great information!
Barry, I’m so glad you liked it. I wish you much blogging success in the future!
My blog is still fairly new and I am developing my own unique writing style as I go. I like to read other blogs that are not necessarily in my own niche, so that I can study their writing style.
I love the KISS principle, it should be a mandatory principle taught in schools.
Great article Jennifer! I do a lot of videography across several sites that I help maintain and this certainly helps in attracting a lot of relevant traffic. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth a lot more. The one thing that I do notice is that no matter how flashy or interesting your videos are, if they are over the 5 minute mark, you seem to have a lot of readers lose interest and stop watching the videos. Have there been any good case studies done on video length or content with regards to business blogs? I’d like to be able to cut video length to a happy medium so that we still produce good video content, yet ensure that our readers stay on the page and watch the entire thing. Can you suggest any other articles on this topic? Thanks!
Good questions. Unfortunately I don’t have the answer. :-)
My suggestion? Try a little experimentation and measure the results over a given time period.
Often trial and error can be the greatest teacher in business and life. ;-) Hope this helps.
You are certainly on the “write” track by reading and studying other blogs. Not enough folks do. :-) Thanks for adding to the discussion.
Thank you for writing this guest post. I had a great time reading it. You ideas are spot on.
Most of the blogs I come across lack any personality. The bloggers write like mummies who have just walked out of an Egyptian cave. They copy the work of other people and claim it as their own. Sure, there are a few cosmetic changes, here and there, but you catch my drift?
These days, blogs are full of it: bloggers pretend they write original stuff, but Dave Barry they are not.
Moment I open an article, I’m like: hmmm….now how come this seems all too familiar–and dull and boring. When the Lord created our universe–and was distributing brains–these bloggers were doped up and went missing in Nam or El Dorado. Sorry, if that sounds too much like one of our leaders.
The KISS philosophy you have described is something that was invented in the 60s, when people actually believed any kind of change was possible. Now people know better, so they check their brain at the door and get married to a cubicle after earning an MBA from a prestige school. And then they are fool enough to boast about their chosen profession at the cocktail hour (surfing porn on the internet).
Yes, there are a few blogs out there that are different. You have provided us here with a few smart-aleck examples. I’m a wise guy, so if I started a blog, I am sure it would be a smash hit, but I am an under-achiever and too lazy to take any initiative. Your post made me feel like I had stepped into the ring with Mike Tyson or fathered a love child with a certain Arnold S. Hey, you asked for a little humour, no? Cheers.
Why don’t you tell me how you really feel? :-) Wow, I enjoyed your response, and appreciate how colorful and thorough it is. Three cheers to you!
What a well-researched and informative piece. Your points are relevant not only to business blogs, but also to loggers in general.
I would write more, but I am following the K.I.S.S. Principle:)
Absolutely, people enjoy information, but they are addicted to being entertained. Injecting voice, direction, and personality into your writing keeps it personal. That alone makes it stand out, because there is no other “you.”
I like this post, great writing. ;)
Short and sweet. Nuff said! :-) Thanks.
You’re right. “There’s only one you.” Thanks for adding to the mix. :-)
“Also, if you use acronyms, abbreviations, or tech terms, have a glossary for those who may not be in-the-know.”
“Remember the K.I.S.S. principle”
(You didn’t follow your own advice – not everyone knows what the “K.I.S.S. principle” means)…
Yeah, all these are good points. Did anyone notice the really odd “zombie apocalypse post” at the US govt CDC site? Instead of a bland and blah blog, this post managed to do the rounds and got a lot of people talking. Everyone was like, “WTH”?
I think the blogger, Ali Khan was just jesting, but the post itself does seem serious….That was one weird post, alright.
Thanks for weighing in here.
Great tips for making your blog readable. I know one of my struggles is getting too “long-winded”. I love to explain things & have to remember to keep to the point. My favorite is Speak in Conversational Tone. So important when engaging the reader, particularly when you are writing a How To post.
You’re quite welcome!
You might also consider that if you find yourself getting “too long winded” you can break your posts up into multiple posts. Just an idea… :-)
Glad you stopped by.
Hi Jennifer – Let me say first that I’m so grateful for you pointing to bizchickblogs here. That was a big surprise!
Secondly, I want to commend you for writing about business blogging. It’s tough, and it is easy to slip into blah-dome. I’m helping someone with a new social media launch that includes blogging, and one of the ways we are planning to avoid this is by connecting with our target readers and their interests as individual people and not as a group or even groups of people. In creating the editorial schedule, the big question is “What would Amy (or Karen or Deborah or Diane, etc.) want to read about today?”
That makes it so much easier to do the things that you wrote about – use conversational tones, use humor where appropriate, keep it simple, etc.
Business blogging is no piece of cake. Thanks for writing this; I know that it will help a ton of people out there who are struggling.
Thanks for your input. And you are quite welcome. Though I may not get to comment @ your site, I am a big fan. :-) Congrats too on making Technorati’s Top 100 Small Business Blogs. Keep on keepin’ on!
And I do hope my suggestions will prove successful for those seeking to take their biz blogs to the next level. :-)
Great post Jennifer! The biggest trap I think is looking too much at other blogs as guidance for what to do on your own blog. It’s good to get inspiration, but as soon as you start copying what other people are doing you’re losing your most powerful weapon: you OWN personality.
Great blog references too!
I dig where you’re coming from. And you’re right; it’s good to get inspiration, without duplication!
I appreciate your input.