I’m going to start this post with a bit of advice that is perhaps a bit unexpected: If you are only writing a blog because you feel like you should, but you don’t actually enjoy it, then don’t do a blog! A blog is not a key ingredient to business success, it’s simply one of many great tools you can use to engage with your community. If writing is painful for you, or you simply don’t have the time or energy to keep a blog up to date, I encourage you to set blogging aside for now and instead ask yourself what marketing tool might be a better fit for your skills & resources?
Why write a blog? There are lots of great reasons, but perhaps the best one is that it provides ongoing new content on your website that helps readers get to know you as a valuable resource to your community. Well-crafted content that resonates with your readers will help establish you as an expert voice, building your reputation as a great resource to your clients and encouraging readers to share your posts with their circles.
Here are some helpful tips to get you started with a blog:
1) Keep your Content in One Place
Perhaps the most important tip is to have your website and your blog in the same place. Allow all the great content you are creating to support your business and create flow between your blog posts and your services.
2) Gather Ideas that you Love
It is easy to get overwhelmed with the question of “what to write” and get stuck in procrastination mode. Cruise social media pages on pregnancy, birth and parenting to see what kinds of questions parents are asking to give you a sense of valuable topics for your ideal client. Take care to choose topics that are interesting to your readers, but also something that you love writing about.
If you’re writing a 101 Type of post, be sure to include ideas that are unexpected or one step beyond the “usual”. For example, if you’re writing about self-care for new mothers include a fun recipe for raw truffles instead of simply saying “when you need a snack, pick something healthy”.
It’s ok to offer a blend of professional and personal posts such as recipes you love, personal reflections on birth or parenthood, or why you became a doula. I like to keep a folder of blog ideas ready to go, so it’s easy to find inspiration when I do make the time to write.
3) Establish Categories
When you first begin your blog select perhaps 4 - 6 core themes that you would like to write about. In selecting these, consider the interests of your ideal clients, and the “voice” you want to establish for your practice. While you may be a birth doula, perhaps you want your blog voice to focus on self-care in pregnancy and new motherhood, or holistic nutrition, or practical tips. Consider including favourite recipes, a section on family traditions, or other topics that might give readers a broader sense of who you are.
4) Keep it Up
If you’re going to blog, it will serve you best if you are committed to your blog with at least weekly postings if not several times per week. That’s not realistic for many of us, including myself, but if you’re really wanting to build regular readership it will make a big difference if you actively contribute to your blog. A great way to build content is to invite friends and colleagues to write guest posts, minimizing your work load and increasing your reach in one simple post!
5) Keep it Simple
Posts don’t have to be long, even 150 - 300 words is plenty if you’re sharing something simple. If you find yourself writing a long and detailed post, consider breaking it up into several different posts. You can even share a favorite quote about birth or passage from a favorite book (giving credit of course) with a few of your thoughts about their writing. Consider taking a quiet afternoon at a favorite cafe and writing 4 or 5 posts at a time and schedule them to be posted over the next month.
6) Find your Voice
Don’t just write standard 101 pieces about baby care or nutrition. Try to infuse everything you write with your voice so that your blog can help readers get to know you. If your core practice values include playfulness, creativity, compassion, or non-judgment, let your blog posts reflect how you work with the families you support. A well-written blog is a great way to build connection with potential clients and colleagues, and stay connected with your existing community.
7) Use Beautiful Photos
Admittedly this is not a strong point for me - I have trouble imagining what kind of photo would fit, don’t want to take the time to find one in the creative commons, and frankly I barely get photos downloaded off my camera, let alone manage to sort them. I write this with a voice of encouragement, and a decent measure of personal inadequacy… If you can, include beautiful photos that bring your content to life. Consider partnering with a local birth photographer to feature her work.
8) Be Gentle on Yourself
If it feels like you’re putting yourself out there, and nobody is reading or commenting on your writing, don’t let that keep you from sharing more. It takes time to build readers, and your blog may never have a thousands or even hundreds of readers, but the impact of your words cannot always be measured. I’ve had many birth professionals contact me for business coaching or website care and bring up how something I wrote allowed them to take the next step or make a big change in their practice. Focus on the message you want to share, and trust that if your words benefit even only a few people, it is worth it.