Your planning stage needs to address three important aspects of your business blog.
Voice and Style – How do you want your brand to be conveyed?
Strategy – Who are you trying to reach, what content will you provide, and how will you hit your objectives?
Resources – How much time and how many people can you invest in building and maintaining your blog?
Voice and Style
Your brand’s voice is a vital component of your business blog. But your voice is not about what you say.
Your voice is about how you say it. And that can leave a big impression on your readers.
There is no right or wrong voice for you to use in your business blog. Rather, the primary focus should be authenticity.
To ensure you develop the best voice for your business blog, follow these steps.
1. Find the You You Are.
In Dr. Seuss’s 1959 book, Happy Birthday to You!, Dr. Seuss highlights the importance of being genuine to true to yourself:
“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you. Shout aloud, I am glad to be what I am. Thank goodness I'm not a ham, or a clam, or a dusty old jar of gooseberry jam. I am what I am, what a great thing to be. If I say so myself, happy everyday to me!” – Dr. Seuss
The best way to tap into finding your brand’s true identity is to dissect what makes your company stand out from the crowd. If you’re a cybersecurity company, you should be able to tell me what makes you different from “the other guys.”
This is a fun exercise for your team to reconnect with your brand. The best way to accomplish this is by brushing up on the following:
- Mission – What is your mission statement? How does it differ from your competitors’?
- Culture – Describe your company culture. What is the rapport like in the office between your employees?
- Value – Why are your products or services so important in your industry? How are they different from others?
Your answers need to be honest, accurate, and descriptive. This way, you have a good snapshot of your the brand identity you want to convey in your blog content.
2. Translate Your Identity to Style.
Don’t run away just yet, but at this stage, before diving into blogging, you need to create a company style guide.
I know this is daunting and sounds like a drag, but every aspect of your branding, like your logo and your design, require style guides.
Blogging is no different.
There are many benefits to creating a blog style guide:
Streamline your writing and optimization process.
Ensure consistency in all blog content.
Maintain quality standards for each article.
Simplify training for new contributors as you scale your blogging team.
Your blog style guide needs to address colors, images, font information, language and tone, and grammar.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to creating your blog style guide:
1. Establish Your Buyer Personas to Understand Your Target Audience.
Your blog is built for a specific kind of reader. So keep your buyer personas in mind as you start establishing your style. We will cover how to build buyer personas in the next section.
2. Keep Your Company Identity in Mind Before You Start Writing Your Style Guide.
After answering your questions about your mission, culture, and value, you have a clear idea of your company identity, which should inform your style guide.
For example, if your culture is informal and fun, the voice and language you use should emulate that. A stuffy, dry corporate voice would not align with your identity and could misrepresent your brand to your target audience.
3. Start With Formatting for Your Blog Content.
When it comes to formatting, you need to select your font style and size, header tags, header tag colors, use of images, sizes of images, and all other relevant format options.
4. Write Content Style to Cover Everything.
Your content consists of language, punctuation, and grammar. Identify what style you want to follow for this.
For example, you could default to common style and usage guides, like the AP Stylebook, the Chicago Manual of Style, and the MLA Style Manual.
You can also build your own style manual with your own preferences. When you’re writing your own style guide, address everything you will face when creating content, including the following:
Spelling – American English, British English, etc.
Punctuation – Use of the Oxford comma, dashes and hyphens, semicolons, etc.
Numbers – How to use numerals to identify numbers in your copy.
Acronyms and abbreviations – How to effectively communicate with industry-specific acronyms and abbreviations.
5. Address the Finishing Touches of Your Blog Content.
You will likely need to add sections to your style guide to address elements of blogging outside of copywriting and formatting. This includes:
Sourcing and citing other articles, research, and images.
Categorizing and tagging each article.
Hyperlinking best practices, for both internal and external linking.
Writing meta descriptions.
Including author information in the bio section.
Handling social linking and other social elements.
When you have your blog style guide ready, you can educate your team and potential guest contributors.
But keep in mind, your style guide isn’t set in stone. It will evolve over time as you find what works and what doesn’t.