You’re ready to launch a business. But first, you’ve got to build an audience. Establishing yourself with a base of potential customers is how to lay the foundation for sales. By consistently offering value to a targeted group, you can earn the trust and respect necessary to make conversions. And the first bit of value you can offer is a great blog. An engaging blog is key to building both your credibility and your website’s SEO.
So what should you write about first? It’s crucial that the first few blogs hit home and establish momentum. The effort you put into these early offerings will have a drastic impact on whether (and how quickly) you can build your audience. Fortunately, there are some specific, tried-and-true types of blogs that make for the best possible openers.
By crafting quality examples of the three following types of blogs, you can give readers something to get excited about. You can inspire them to spread the word. You can keep them coming back. And eventually, you can convince them that what you’re selling is worth buying.
Blog #1: The Principled Stand
Your first blog should be a statement. It shouldn’t be neutral. It shouldn’t be safe. It should be bold, assertive, maybe even controversial. It should articulate your take on an issue in your industry, and it should pull no punches. The passion, the daring, and the uniqueness of your point of view are what will make you and your blog stand out from the crowd.
For example, my first blog for the $100 MBA established the philosophy behind our business: that formal business schools aren’t always worth it. The 6 Biggest Lies Business Schools Love To Tell wasn’t just an introduction to our program. It was a statement of belief that caused some real disagreement. Of course business schools have their role, and they can be the right choice for some. But I refused to hold back when describing the false promises that lead so many to choose business school when it’s wrong for them.
Going out on that limb is what established my take on the whole field. It had to be unequivocal. It had to be unique. It had to say something that most wouldn’t. Otherwise, why would anyone read it?
Blog #2: The Personal Portrait
Once you’ve established a defining vision for your industry, it’s time to get personal. Your audience needs to get to know you in order to trust you. To make that happen, you’ll have to offer a different kind of value— you’ll have to offer some of yourself. Show them your personality, your past, and the things that make you you. All of this has basically zero monetary value, but the sense of intimacy you create will go a long way with your readers.
This blog, ironically, will have very little to do with business. It’s simply an act of sharing that allows your readers just far enough into your inner space for them to see you as a person. The kind of niche market customers small businesses aim for don’t want a faceless, anonymous corporate customer experience. They want to know how the sausage made, and they want to know exactly who is making it.
For example, another early blog of mine (and one of the most popular) was 16 Things You Don’t Know About Me…But Should. It had nothing to do with business education. It had everything to do with me. By the time readers were finished with it, many of them saw me differently. I was no longer a random stranger trying to open their wallets, but a genuine person with a backstory who just might mean what he says. Then, when I say that my product is worth their money, they’re much more likely to find out for themselves.
Blog #3: The Competence Post
If your principled stand is a jab, and your personality post is a right cross, this is your knockout punch. This is the moment you reach through the Internet and give your readers something tangible, a takeaway that seals the deal. With this post, you offer a “how-to,” an actionable set of instructions that allows the reader to accomplish something they couldn’t before.
You’re giving the reader a win. By teaching them something they can really use, you demonstrate your ability, your competence and— most importantly— your value. You prove to your audience that access to you is something worth having…maybe even something worth paying for. Make it instructional. Use supporting graphics, charts or videos as needed. When you create it, treat it like something you’d charge money for, even though you won’t. If it’s effective, the word of mouth will be more than worth it.
One of my biggest regrets as an entrepreneur is not getting into blogging earlier. By making yourself into a consistently good writer and providing quality posts from day one, you can build a reputation that drives sales. By producing relevant blogs on a regular basis, your website attracts the attention of search engines like Google and climbs the rankings.
Of all the different forms of free content, the simple, old-fashioned blog might be the best way to shine a light on what you have to offer. Start strong, and watch the momentum carry your business forward.