Let’s not pussyfoot around it.

Blogging is a lot of work. Hard work.

Generate new blog post ideas. Write weekly content. Promote posts via social media and email.

At times, we all wonder whether our blogging efforts are paying off. Do we need to keep plugging away? Write more? Promote more?

The thought of quitting might even creep up now and then. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop worrying about your next blog post? And have some extra time to go out with friends? Or to read a book?

But the benefits of writing a business blog can be tremendous. Career-changing.

A blog can generate search traffic, help build your authority, and generate leads. Your blog forms the nerve center of your social media activities.

Many case studies exist of companies and solo-entrepreneurs whose blogs fuel their businesses. In my case, blog posts generate almost all of my business leads.

So how can you make your business blog a raving success? How can you engage your readers? And win business? Without working yourself to death?

In today’s blog post, I’ve collected the best advice to streamline your content creation, to engage your readers, and charm potential clients so that they come begging to work with you.

Sound good?

Let’s start with eight quick tips to save you time by speeding up your blog writing process.

How to streamline your content creation

  1. Commit to a publishing schedule. Plan it so that it works for you and for your readers. Don’t overstretch yourself. You don’t have to publish daily.
  2. Keep a list of blog post ideas. Whenever clients ask you questions, add them to your list.
  3. Outline your posts. Because it prevents you going into myriad irrelevant directions, and speeds up your writing and editing.
  4. Follow proven blueprints. Don’t waste your time reinventing the wheel. Most blog posts follow straightforward structures.
  5. Start writing early. The best content evolves over time.
  6. Have a spare post ready for publication. For when life overtakes.
  7. Use a kitchen timer. It will help you focus. Write for 30 minutes before rewarding yourself with a brief walk or a cup of tea.

Streamlining your content is good (of course!).

But don’t make blogging a speedwriting match. Blog to help and delight your readers.

Shall we have a look at how?

How to woo readers with your content

When you use your blog to spread your sales messages, you may struggle to find readers. You might not win the clients you’re looking for. And your blog may remain a lonely voice whispering quietly into the wind with no one paying attention.

Most people aren’t interested in your sales messages. Most people aren’t even interested in your business. They want to know what’s in it for them.

To gain business with your blog, stop thinking like a salesman and start acting like your reader’s mentor …

  1. Know your audience. Understand their desires, their secret wishes, and their dreams. Learn about what they’re struggling with, so you can help.
  2. Define your blog’s purpose. Decide who you want to help to achieve what. On my blog, for instance, I teach small business owners to create persuasive content so they can win business.
  3. Don’t chase clicks with hyperbolic headlines. Write for your clients and prospects, not for faceless clicks. In the words of Tom Martin, “Chase customers, not clicks.”
  4. Don’t be afraid to alienate some. Develop a stronger bond with the people who are right for your business.
  5. Study the masters. Learn what makes content boring or riveting by analyzing other blog posts.
  6. Write when you feel enthusiastic. Because your energy is contagious.

A salesman wonders how to get his next sale. A mentor cares about his students. He wants to help them get ahead and live a more fulfilled life.

Your reader will immediately notice whether you’re an eager salesman or a mentor-style blogger.

Take the mentor’s role on your blog and you’ll win more business.

How to create a must-read blog

The web is full of bland content.

Yawn-inducing blog posts that keep rambling on.

Stock photography soooo unbelievably boring that you prefer the relaxing nothingness of white space.

To create a must-read blog, you need to stand for something. You need to become an authority in your field. You can’t simply rehash content and join the giant echo chamber of the web.

The following are the eight most important points to remember when building your authority:

  1. Have a strong opinion. True leaders aren’t afraid to tell you what they think.
  2. Cross out the buts, ifs, and maybes. Eliminate the phrase in my opinion — because it’s obvious it’s your opinion as you’ve written the post.
  3. Skip common sense and shallow list posts. Always add value. With every blog post you publish. With every paragraph you write.
  4. Stop worrying about giving stuff away for free. Write in-depth, tantalizing tutorials to give away your most valuable ideas — because that’s how you gain leads and win clients.
  5. Quote industry experts in your posts. It shows you know your field.
  6. Scrap jargon. Explain your ideas in simple words.
  7. Use examples and case studies. They show your in-depth understanding of a topic, and they liven up your content.
  8. Show up. Regularly. With quality content.

When you generously share your advice, potential clients will find your blog and buy your products.

How to keep your readers hooked week after week

Authority can be a little boring. It can even — when mishandled — bring on disaster. You don’t make friends by standing on a pedestal, lecturing people.

When you do that, you’re increasing the distance between you and your audience.

Keep readers captivated by energizing, motivating, and inspiring them. Be a good mentor.

  1. Empathize with your readers. Understand what they’re struggling with, and promise a solution to their problems.
  2. Don’t waste your most valuable tips with drab subheads. Write strong subheads that arouse curiosity, or promise a benefit to reading the next section.
  3. Allow readers to get to know you. Share tidbits of your life, but always remain focused on helping your readers.
  4. Sprinkle questions over your content. Because it makes readers feel you’re having a conversation.
  5. Inspire your readers with your close. Your final paragraph should overcome their objections to implementing your ideas.
  6. Treat your readers like dogs. (In a nice way!) Reward them with a cookie — or useful tip — in each of your blog posts. Be generous.
  7. Learn how to get your ideas humming around in your reader’s head. You do this by writing memorable sound bites.
  8. Create a unique voice. You want readers to come back to “hear” you … and they should miss you when you’re not there.

When your posts lack personality, you become a me-too blogger. You become easily interchangeable with any other blogger in your field.

Seduce your blog readers with your unique voice. That’s how you gain a raving audience.

How to spread your ideas

Creating a blog to win customers is not like traditional selling.

You’re not asking for a sale; you’re starting a conversation. Your blog can help you win customers, but don’t expect to win sales just by writing a few posts.

Use these six tactics to grow your readership and spread your ideas:

  1. Start an email list. Over time, your email list will drive the most traffic to your blog.
  2. Warm up new subscribers. You do this with an autoresponder series. Build relationships and bond with your readers by emailing more frequently when they sign up.
  3. Write short emails. Encourage readers to click through to your posts. Highlight a problem they recognize, and promise a solution in your blog post.
  4. Optimize your posts for SEO. Said another way, optimize your content for discovery and conversion. That’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?
  5. Create a social sharing checklist. Here’s how. Engage your audience on your favorite social platforms. Don’t try to be everywhere.
  6. Guest blog to grow your audience. Because it’s the quickest way to raise your profile and gain an audience.

The truth about business blogging

You can work hard to polish your blog posts. To drive people to your blog. To generate SEO traffic. To boost social media shares.

But the key to your business blogging success remains: Have ideas that are worth spreading.

Don’t be afraid to be different.

Don’t be afraid to be opinionated.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Let your personality shine through and write with passion. That’s how you woo your readers and win business.

Let’s discuss …

While you were reading this article, which of these 35 tips jumped out at you as something you should start doing right away?

Have any of these tips been particularly effective for you in the past?

We want to hear from you. Join us over at Google+ to discuss.


About the author:
Special thanks to Henneke Duistermaat of Copyblogger.com