Blogging the right way can make or break a new business. A powerful blog positions you as an authority and brings in new customers.

But effective business blogging takes work. Lose focus, and you’ll waste years on blogging with nothing to show for it.

To get started with blogging, here are my top 17 tips for creating content. I’ve organized them into six major categories. One: Systematize your content creation. Two: Use outlines. Three: Write compelling content. Four: Know your audience. Five: Make your blog a must-read. Six: Spread your ideas.

1. Systematize your content creation.

Be consistent. To build and keep an audience, you need to set expectations around the quantity and frequency of articles.

Commit to a publishing schedule. Plan it so that it works for you and for your readers. Seth Godin blogs daily. But not everyone is Seth Grodin. Don’t overstretch yourself. A Moz study found that daily blogging had little added benefit.

2. Use outlines.

Commit to outlines. Using outlines for your blog posts prevents you from writing aimlessly and speeds up your editing. Instead, follow proven blueprints. Don’t waste your time reinventing the wheel. Most blog posts follow straightforward structures.

Remember that questions = blog posts. Smart bloggers begin by answering questions. Questions are a huge opportunity to help solve immediate problems. When a customer asks a question, add it to your list of blog post ideas.

Embrace the tomato. Use a timer to work in short sprints. This is known as the Pomodoro Technique: Studies show that you’re most productive when working in short bursts of 30-to-40 minutes, with short breaks in between.

3. Write compelling content.

People aren’t interested in your sales pitches and recycled listicles. If you’re ready to build a business blog, then start by publishing great stuff. Like really, really great stuff.

Write seductive headlines. Your headlines should be so good that people can’t help but click through them. Great headlines have some of the following characteristics:

  • Have emotional wording.
  • Use numbers.
  • Incite curiosity.

Visit popular blogs. Check their top content to see which headlines perform best.

4. Know your audience.

What are they proud of? What are their burning desires? What makes them tick? Know your readers’ pain points and offer solutions.

What is the purpose of your blog? Once you know your audience, think about what you’re helping them to achieve (big picture). A blog is not just about you or your business. It’s a way to get exposure for your business, and connect with your audience. Blog posts should be top of the funnel content, generating brand awareness without directly selling.

Open strong. From the start, you must captivate the reader. Follow these steps to write killer first paragraphs:

  1. Empathize.
  2. Promise to make life better.
  3. Reassure your reader that your tips are easy.

Focus on your niche. Be okay with stepping on toes. To blog effectively, focus on your audience and no one else.

Be proud of the audience you don’t write for as much as the audience you serve. You’ll turn some people away, but strengthen the bond with the ones that count.

5. Create a must-read blog.

To create a blog that people love, take a stand for what you believe in. Rehashing content won’t cut it. Follow these tips for creating a must-read blog:

Use your own (personal) name. Blogging under your name is about more than sharing your personal musings -- it can support your core business. Consider what Kristi Hines said: If I started from scratch, I would build all of my profiles and main blog using my real name instead of my blog name.

Or follow the lead of Jordan Fried, founder of Buffered VPN, who blogs in virtual private network (VPN) space on his personal and business blogs. Fried has created a strong sphere of influence in the VPN industry.

Case in point: Whether on my personal blog or my business blogs, I’m always writing about marketing.

Eliminate the fluff. Keep things simple. The best business bloggers write with clarity. Why? When you write clearly, people listen. Prune the fluff from your content garden. Cut out ifs, buts and maybes. Scrap jargon. Quit stating the obvious. Start adding value with every word you write.

Quote experts. Beyond simply showcasing your industry knowledge using expert quotes builds social proof: Edward Hallen of Buffer said: If [an influencer has a] positive reputation, anything else they are involved with is seen more positively by association. This is why influencer testimonials work.

Tell your story. Headlines get clicks; stories get shares. Open up to your readers and share stories about your life. Peter Gruber said: Telling purposeful stories to win is a game-changing business proposition that anyone can do and start seeing results immediately. -

It’s okay to be a little vulnerable, even on a business blog.

6. Spread your ideas.

To spread your ideas, stop selling. Stop selling yourself and your product. Instead, start connecting. Use these tactics to connect with your readers and spread your ideas:

Build your list. Regardless of your blog’s purpose, you need to build an email list. It’s not an option. It’s a must. Start building your list from day one. It’s the best way to share content with your audience. Your list is your direct line of communication with your readers, and as such it’s your most valuable asset.

Optimize your posts. Use SEO to your advantage. Don’t get stuck in the weeds of SEO tactics and updates; just hit the basics. Follow a simple SEO checklist so that search engines can quickly find and index your posts.

Guest blog. If you’re just getting started, guest blogging is the quickest way to get more traffic and new customers. Guest blogging is simple. Here’s my process:

  1. Contact sites in your industry.
  2. Write guest posts.
  3. Pitch to stronger sites.
  4. Repeat.

Create a sharing army. When connecting with readers and other bloggers, keep track of your relationships in a spreadsheet or CRM tool. This is your “sharing army.” When you publish new content, let everyone know about it. As your army grows, more people will link to and share your new content, creating a snowball effect.

Conclusion

You can follow all these tips, checking every last box and creating the “perfect” blog posts. Ultimately, business blogging success boils down to one thing: Have ideas worth spreading. I’m sure there are lots more business blogging tips for entrepreneurs. What’s your favorite?