Lots of people can teach you how to start a business blog. But most will simply explain how to set up a website.
That’s the easy part. We’ll leave the technical aspects to you and assume you have a website and need to fill it.
Filling a business blog with content is more challenging—but we can help.
Here’s how you start and fill a blog, from start-up to thriving enterprise.
How to Start a Business Blog—Do This First!
Your business needs a blog, but let’s be real about priorities in a small business:
A blog is not more important than staffing, creating roles and responsibilities, budgeting and so on. You should create content from Day 1, but it would be silly to prioritize it over setting budgets, tracking average client value, evaluating staff members and so on.
In the Two-Brain Business Incubator, new business owners learn the exact steps to reach profitability fast. But you won’t find detailed instructions on blogging because it’s not going to move the profitability needle right away.
Entrepreneurs are encouraged to prioritize profitability, client retention and staffing over blogging because sound structures will allow you time to blog. You can’t create content when you’re struggling to make payroll or wearing every single hat in your business.
That doesn’t mean blogging isn’t important. Content creation is critical to success, and blogging is part of a long-term marketing, retention and branding strategy. The payoff is great, but it’s not instantaneous. So get the critical elements of your business in order first, then devote increasingly more time to content creation.
Start-Ups: How to Start a Business Blog
New businesses—in what we call the Founder Stage—need to produce content because empty websites don’t get page views or return visits.
When it’s promoted properly, content produces daily traffic spikes on websites every single time, and regular content production visibly increases overall traffic. Every person who sees your business’ name or visits your site becomes more likely to purchase your product or service.
At this stage, you need to create blogs and social media posts just to start raising awareness, building your audience, establishing expertise and warming up potential clients.
Here’s the key: You can’t spend a lot of time doing it.
An example of how not to do it: A busy new entrepreneur works 11-hour days performing every task in her business. Then she comes home and works two more hours to write a blog.
Don’t do that. Use the two hours to figure out how to hire a staff member who can turn 11 hours of frontline work for the owner into six. Then you’ll have more time to create.
Early Output: Publish Something Daily
In the early stages, content creation should look like this: A busy new entrepreneur puts in long hours but always finds 10-20 minutes a day to post a few quick thoughts to a blog or social media.
At first, consistent output is most important. For now, get something out on some platform and do it fast. Your first target is to publish something daily for 30 days. It doesn’t have to be a blog; it can be a short social media post. Just get something out daily to build momentum.
When you hit that milestone, evaluate your time. If your business structures allow you to spend more time, add a weekly blog to your existing output. If you don’t have that much time, scale back social media from daily posts to three to four per week plus a blog. And you should absolutely make one of those posts about your blog. Tell people how to find it.
At this stage, keep everything very basic. Your goal is increased output through efficiency, along with ever-increasing quality. But you can’t spend 10 hours on a masterpiece right now. Balance quality against time and put out the best content you can in the time allowed.
To make it all happen, create a basic content plan when you start your business. But allocate only a set amount of time to that plan and not one second more.
You have other things to do as well.
When you have a bit more time, scale up your media output. The next section with tell you how to do it.
The Business Blog as You Grow
In one-man or one-woman shows, content creation falls to the owner. But owners need to offload roles quickly so they can build their businesses. When this happens, businesses move into the Growth Stage.
At Two-Brain, owners are advised to hire cleaners first because it’s a low-value role. Paying someone to do it will buy the owner time to spend working on other aspects of the business.
Content creation can definitely be farmed out. You need a blog, but you don’t need to write it.
First, you need to decide if you want to create the content. And if you don’t, you can use a formula to help you figure out how to get someone else to do it for you.
DIY or Delegate: The Business of Blogging
Some people love to write and only need a little guidance to improve their skills. Practice will help, and so will reading and research.
If all that excites you, you should consider carving out time in your busy schedule to create content.
On the other hand, if blogging makes you feel intimidated, overwhelmed or disinterested, it’s a job you need to offload sooner rather than later.
You’re reading this because you know you need a blog. But if the thought of doing so isn’t motivating, or if you won’t enjoy the process, your valuable time is better spent elsewhere.
Think about looking at a blinking cursor on a blank page. Does the thought inspire you? Then start writing.
If it makes your stomach churn, hire someone. If you choose to hire, here’s how to do it.
Blogging: By the Numbers
Two-Brain clients are encouraged to look at data when making decisions. They’re also taught to spend their time wisely and move to higher-value roles.
Two-Brain Business founder Chris Cooper wrote extensively about that in the book “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief,” and you can read an article by certified mentor Jeff Burlingame here.
Here’s the short version: Figure out how much your time is worth per hour. We recommend you use Dan Martell’s formula to figure out your Effective Hourly Rate:
Take the gross revenue of your business and divide by 2,000 (the average number of hours a person works per year). That’s your hourly rate—and you should always try to increase it. Early on, it will be low. Eventually, we want you to earn $500 or more per hour. At any stage, apply your hourly rate to the task of writing and determine if it’s worth your time to blog.
If you have some basic skills, you might be able to write and publish a blog in an hour—and you might even enjoy it. In that case, you should probably keep writing.
Chris does that. He has a very high hourly rate, but he likes writing and sees a return on investment for content creation. He’s also prolific and very good at writing. In short, it’s worth his time to write, and he enjoys it. But not everyone is like that.
What’s more common is for business owners to know they need content but struggle to create it—especially as the business grows.
Do the Math and Make the Call
If grinding out a blog takes three uncomfortable hours and your hourly rate is $33, you should pass the job to a staff member with writing talent and a lower hourly rate. Instead of spending $100 worth of your time writing and hating it, you could pay a staff member $15 an hour to create a blog. He or she might even like doing it.
If your hourly rate is $500 an hour and blogging takes you two tedious hours, you’re in a great spot. You can afford to hire a high-end pro who can give you two precious hours back. You can use those hours on growth activities or duties you enjoy.
In every case, apply your hourly rate to the time you spend creating content—and every other job your do. Then start offloading low-value roles and tasks you dislike, freeing up your time.
The key to it all: Make sure you spend your free time generating more revenue. For example, a business owner who buys back five hours per week of cleaning might spend that time perfecting a retention system that increases his client length of engagement. Or the owner might learn how to market and set up a sales funnel with clear ROI.
To see the concept of leveling up detailed for the fitness industry, read the article “Starting a Gym: Adding Staff.”
Small-Business Blogging: The Early Offload
After you’ve done the calculations above, you have two options for offloading: Get a staff member to create content or hire a pro.
For staff members, basic content creation can often be tacked onto other duties. In some industries, content creation should actually be part of the job description.
For example, fitness contractors who work in gyms need to establish expertise, so they should be creating content as part of their duties. Similarly, hairstylists should maintain social media accounts in a salon. And so on.
With staff, results will vary, and you get what you pay for. You can’t expect a staff member to create amazing content unless you get lucky and he or she is a very gifted, creative person who doesn’t mind writing blogs at the rate you’re offering.
Some staff members will fail miserably at content creation. Some are bad on camera. A few won’t be able to take an in-focus photo. And some can’t write coherently. Others will thrive.
You must balance your budget against the need for quality. We aren’t after perfection, but bad blog full of spelling mistakes doesn’t help anyone.
What to Pay Your Staff for Content
In general, you can ask a staff member to create content for $12-$20 an hour—about what you’d pay for general admin work.
If you don’t want to create content, first find a staff member who’s handy with a camera and keyboard. Pay him or her to generate content for two to five hours a week.
You won’t build a media empire this way, but you’ll start the process and won’t break the bank.
When you find a staff person to create content, he or she should produce the weekly blog, while the owner creates larger pieces of feature content every eight weeks. That role can also be offloaded if the owner wants to. But growing businesses should produce increasingly meatier content that sets them apart as true experts, and that role often falls to the owner, who is still the face of the business at this stage.
Eventually, businesses in this growth stage should aim to produce daily social-media posts and three other pieces of content per week: blogs, podcasts, newsletters, videos. That’s an ambitious level of output, but many Two-Brain Business clients achieve it.
Bigger Business, Better Blogging
As your business evolves, your content needs will evolve, too.
In the early stages, casual blogs written by staff members will work just fine. But as you grow and reach what we call the Tinker Stage, your media should improve. You need high-quality writing that’s tied to your brand, your marketing and your social media.
At that point, you need a strong in-house media team or the assistance of a pro.
The good news: If you’ve followed the right path, you’ve put all the structures in place to create a stable business. Now it’s time to 10X that business, and you have resources to do so. You have time to plan, predictable income, a media/marketing budget and capital to invest.
That’s when you increase the quality and volume demands on your in-house writers or hire a professional writer for your blog. If you’re using an in-house team, now is the time to increase the amount of time and money spent on media. One word of warning: Unless you get lucky, your team members will run up against the limits of their talent and interest.
An outside pro should work with you to create a long-term strategy that helps build your brand and engage your audience. The process should start with a conversation about your brand, your products and services, and your goals.
From there, the writer will help you make a plan for a cohesive stream of regular high-quality output that represents your business. That output should be usable in several places. For example, the writer should create several social-media posts from the blog so you can fill all those channels.
Business Blog Rates
How much does business blogging cost? Rates vary widely, and you can find blog services for $15 to well more than $1,000 per piece. If you pay more, expect more.
A $25 blog might be about 200 words, and it would have little depth—no real research, no quotes, no social-media snippets, no greater purpose and no link to your brand. For some businesses, blogs like this work just fine. Example: A general blog that explains why people should work out.
A more expensive blog would explain why people should work out at your facility. It would be tied to your brand and products/services, and it would include quotes and specific details.
A blog that costs closer to $1,000 will likely be a meaty, authoritative piece containing quotes from interviews and details from extensive research. It would connect with your brand strategy and contain elements of search engine optimization (SEO). Example: A fully referenced, data-filled article with quotes from experts, clear links between their opinion and your services, and quotes from your satisfied customers.
At Two-Brain Media, we charge $300 per blog with a six-month commitment because we want a professional writer to build your brand. That process takes time. We link businesses up with trained pros who have extensive experience—writers whose work would not be out of place in newspapers and magazines—and they plan output by determining how a business can best connect with its clients through writing.
These blogs are about 500 words long and can include an interview or a source. We’ll write for SEO. They’ll be formatted so you can simply drop them into your website and hit “publish.” No typos, no grammatical errors. We include a minimum of two social-media snippets per blog—key lines or paragraphs you can simply copy onto a social media platform and publish with a photo.
We also offer premium services that involve longer feature blogs with more research, and we can provide photography, website inputting, editing and social media distribution. Rates vary depending on needs.
In short, the world of blogging is buyer beware, and quality varies. If you pay a low rate, expect generic work. If you pay a premium rate, you should expect premium service tailored to your needs.
More Data on Dollars
And what’s the return on investment for content production?
A sporadic commitment to content is worth $0. But a strong commitment to quality content will help a business grow over time.
For example, Chris Cooper’s first book, a bestseller, was a collection of blog posts. When published, it generated well over $4.5 million because it became the foundation of his company, Two-Brain Business.
Similarly, content connects you to people and raises the status of your brand. It’s part of the lead-warming process, and it can push a person to call you or walk into your business.
To track that ROI, you’re looking beyond dollars. You have to monitor website and social-media stats instead. You should also have conversations with new clients about how they found you, and you should ask current clients if they see and enjoy your media.
At the 2019 Two-Brain Business Summit, we asked a number of clients why they started working with Two-Brain. A very common answer: “We had been reading Chris’ stuff for years, and when we needed a mentor, we knew whom to call.”
The ROI on Chris’ blogging was immediately obvious.
It would be impossible to attribute an exact dollar value to the good will and expertise that Chris built up through his blog, but it’s clear that it has value.
Review Metrics Regularly
To track ROI, we encourage you to evaluate web traffic, social-media interaction and client length of engagement. Ask current clients if they’re reading and enjoying what you produce. Are they sharing it with friends? Do they find it helpful or inspiring? If they do, your blog is helping add value to your service and increasing retention.
When talking to new clients, ask them if they’ve seen your blogs and social channels. If they did, what did they think of the content? Did it help them, solve a problem or motivate them to contact you?
When you start to track how people find your business, you’ll quickly find that content connects and is a very important part of sales funnels and lead warming.
Use Web Data
You can also see ROI in your performance on the web. When local people ask questions in your field, do your answers show up? If you’re on Page 1 of the Google rankings—a difficult feat to achieve—you’re going to get a lot of interest.
Climbing the search rankings is a long-term project that takes skill, but here’s a simple example of the return on investment for content: A person uses Google to find out if his or her tires need to be replaced. One local shop has an article on exactly that topic; another does not. The client will obviously click on the site with the article and be more likely to buy new tires from that shop.
Content that connects with people should increase general website traffic.
Measurably Building Authority
Content should also drive up web stats called domain authority, page authority and links. The first measures the status of a site in total, the second measures the weight of an individual page, and the last stat measures the number of sites linking to your content. In all cases, higher numbers are better.
You can use tools such as Moz to check these numbers.
For perspective, newer sites without a lot of content have single-digit authority numbers and few links. More robust sites have much higher numbers—WebMd.com has a page authority of 78, a domain authority of 93 and millions of links. And some older sites with no content have a domain authority of 1. Had they published more content, that number would certainly be higher.
If you’re producing content and your domain and page authority are rising, you’re more likely to be found.
Similarly, if your website bounce rates are decreasing, people are staying on your site longer. This is a good thing. It means you’ve created a rich experience for the user and content that makes the reader want more. The person who reads two or three blog posts is much more likely to purchase than the person who reads one.
More ROI Resources
Here are three more articles that will help you get a handle on the value of content:
How to Start a Business Blog: Build Momentum
The key to starting a business blog: developing a “publishing habit.”
You have to get content out on social media and your website, and you need to do it regularly. It’s just part of owning a business now—an operational cost. Customers expect blogs and social media platforms. They aren’t reading flyers inserted in newspapers. When they want info, they head to the web, Instagram or Facebook.
Will they find you when they do? Will they like what they see?
In the early stages, you need to get something out—and fast. As your business grows, your content output should grow, and staff should assist the owner. Eventually, strong businesses should use pros to create excellent content that helps them stand out from their competitors.
At Two-Brain Business, we’ve broken the stages of entrepreneurship down into four categories: Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief.
In the Founder stage, you need to produce something—anything—consistently. In the Farmer stage, you scale up and produce more content yourself and with the help of your staff. When you reach Tinker stage, you likely need the assistance of a pro as you work to grow your business exponentially through podcasts, books, videos and more.
If you reach Thief phase, you’re building a true legacy, and no media project is too big—but at that point, people will likely want to write about you!
So where are you at? Take this short test to find out.
And if you need help, contact us here.