Look around the Internet, and you will quickly realize that essentially every business, regardless of the size or product, now features a business blog (or at least, they should!). Smart business owners realize that creating a positive online presence can prove vital to the survival of a small business, but if you’re behind the curve, don’t panic! Check out this guide to setting up a business blog to help get you started.

But blogging for your business isn’t like having a personal blog, because business blogging is all getting blog traffic that will hopefully grow your bottom line. What does that even mean? Well, you need to position your business blog as an authoritative resource in your market niche, which will give your brand credibility and attract a larger audience, and thereby grow your bottom line. And how exactly do you become an authoritative resource? By creating awesome and relevant content.

To create great, authoritative content follow these steps to a content strategy plan.

1. Get to Know Your Audience

You need to know and love your audience if you’re going to become a go-to resource for them. It’s not enough to just know that 61 percent of your audience is female. You need to know their influencers, likes, fears, hobbies, needs and desires. You can figure this out by:

  • Interviewing a section of your audience. You can set up a poll on your blog, or you can go the more informal route by responding to readers’ comments on your blog, and engaging in a conversation with them.
  • Check out what your competition knows about their audience. Have they published any case studies or questionnaire responses?
  • Hang out with your readers. Host a networking even and chat with your audience a bit to get to know them better.

2. Determine What Questions Are Being Asked

One of the most important pieces of information to figure out about your audience is the questions they’re asking. To do this you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves a bit and do some keyword research.

Don’t let the technical terms scare you away; keyword research isn’t all that complicated. For example, if a lot of people are finding your construction business blog by Googling “cost to remodel a home,” then your readers are obviously interested in cost. You can tailor your content to answer that need,  by writing a blog post that breaks down the cost of popular remodels. By tailoring your content to answer popular questions, you are effectively becoming a go-to resource for your readers.

3. Check Out Your Competitors

You need to know what topics in your business niche are being covered and to what extent, which means it’s time to size up your competition. Check out similar business blogs and do a thorough analysis of what they’re writing about, how much, how often, and to what degree of technicality.

By doing a thorough market analysis, you will be able to see the content holes in your niche. If you see a topic that no one is talking about, then jump in and cover it. You might also discover that your competitors are either covering topics in your niche without enough depth, or are overly technical (thus alienating newbies to your market).

If your niche is pretty well covered, then you need to figure out how to stand out from the crowd. You can jump start this process by:

  • Conducting a thorough product/service comparison (or product review)
  • Translate technical issues into language your audience gets
  • Give your opinion
  • Use humor
  •  Extend your post by breaking down future impacts of the issue/product/service

4. Make Your Content Useful

Writing for the web is different than writing for other mediums. People go online to get their questions answered quickly, so keep your blog posts straightforward and save the fluff for other mediums.

But most importantly, make your content really useful and actionable by giving your readers something to do. Your blog posts should always thoroughly answer a question or cover a topic, so your readers gain something every time they read your blog.

By using the steps in this content strategy plan, you can start to get the most out of your business blog. Don’t forget that the most important part of your blog is the content you put out there, because ultimately great content will position your brand as an authoritative resource.