Let's look at five important qualities of a successful small business blog.
1. Be consistent.
Be consistent in how often you post. Readers quickly start getting into the habit of expecting a post at a certain time of day or on a particular day of the week or month. They'll abandon interest quickly if nothing is posted for months.
Also be consistent in the topics you blog about. In personal blogs, it's fine to be all over the place, blogging about whatever crosses your mind on any given day. But for small business blogs, you want to maintain a consistent set of topics because that's what your readers are seeking. They don't want a post about your company's widgets one week and then your personal thoughts on the NFL Draft the next week. Keep it about widgets and widget-related topics.
No, a blog isn't a term paper for school, so the occasional typo, misspelled word or missing comma isn't going to kill you. It happens to everyone.
However, nothing -- and I mean NOTHING -- kills the credibility of a blog faster than not being able to read it. You might be the world's leading expert in widgets, but it does no good to share your knowledge if it's typed in all lowercase letters or caps, words are written in text-speak, and you only use a period twice in a 500-word blog post. No one will care that you're an expert in your field because your blog post makes you look like a 12-year-old.
If writing is not a strong suit for you, have a friend, family member or one of your employees write your blog for you. Or secure the services of a writer. Or just don't write blogs.
3. Be conversational.
Blogs are great for putting a human touch on a business. Readers like being able to interact with business owners, get answers to their questions, acknowledgement of their ideas, etc. So write like the human being you are. Be yourself, not who you think a blogger should be. Share your expertise in your profession and share it in an engaging, conversational way.
Write from the first-person perspective: "I" and "we." Give it a personal touch. When I blog, I like to imagine myself speaking the very same words to a person, so I write what I would speak.
Read your blog post out loud before you post it. If it sounds like you're having a conversation with someone, you're in good shape. If it sounds like you're reading from a technical manual, add a little more personality to it to keep your readers engaged.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and readers would much rather look at a photo than read a thousand words.
Photos break up text, too, making blogs easier to read and more engaging. I generally like to use at least three photos in a blog post of about 500 words.
Some good ideas for photos include pictures of your employees creating your widgets (readers like "behind the scenes" stuff), your company involved in the community (people like companies that "give back"), photos of a new widget you just created (readers like previews of new stuff), and photos of a broken widget, a widget mid-repair, and a fixed widget (readers like to learn how to identify problems and solve them).
5. Tap into social media.
Make it really easy for readers to share your blog post via social media -- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. With each person who shares your post, all of their friends and followers are exposed to it, too. Write a particularly good post, and you'll be amazed by how many readers you pick up overnight.