ITC started blogging in 2008. Our first post? It was about getting your website listed on local searches.
Since then, we've written 749 posts (include this one, number 750!) and covered a lot of topics. We've written about insurance websites, agency marketing, email marketing, social media, branding, blogging, and SEO. And that's just on our marketing blog.
We've also blogged about comparative rating, sales, insuretech, insurance agency software, agency management, and training. We started doing monthly videos.
Several years ago, we committed to a publication schedule. Last year we started a blog series profiling people in the industry. And then we started another series focused on technology, leadership, management and marketing strategy.
From the beginning our intention has been to make our blog a resource for you. A place where we can share our expertise and help you compete and succeed.
Our process has changed from what it was in the beginning, but that intention is still the same. We've made mistakes and have learned a lot. We wanted to share the lessons we've learned with you.
Here are 75 blogging lessons we've learned from 750 blog posts.
1. Getting started is the most difficult part.
2. Blog to share your expertise with people who are looking for help or information.
3. People care about your opinion. They want your expertise.
4. There are no rules. What works for one agent may not work for you. Experiment. Try new tools or techniques. Find what works best for you and your insurance website.
5. Create a publishing schedule you're comfortable keeping and stick to it.
6. A successful blog is a consistent blog.
7. Too busy is not an excuse. Blogging is the most important thing you can do for your insurance website.
8. Schedule time on your calendar to write your blog post. Hold yourself accountable to it.
9. Read blogs. To become a better blogger, pay attention to what others are doing. You'll find it helps with your style and voice. It can also be a source of inspiration.
10. You don't have to do it all yourself. Get help from other people in your agency. Ask your referral partners to guest post.
11. A neglected blog says you don't care, you're out of touch, or you're going out of business. Don't blog unless you commit to it. Otherwise you hurt your credibility.
12. Set a goal. Something specific and measurable so you can track progress.
13. Hire outside help if you need it.
14. Writer's block is real.
15. When you don't know what to write, curate.
16. Know your audience. Know what they want to read. Write about those topics.
17. Places to look for blogging inspiration: your hobbies, your clients, Google search recommendations, local events, industry news, the ITC monthly 10 topic ideas post.
18. Keep a document to write down blog topics as you think of them. Then, you'll always have something to write about.
19. Use an editorial calendar to track topics and when you plan to write about them. It will help you stick to your publishing schedule and know what you need to write before you actually write.
20. Focus on topics your audience finds valuable.
21. Great topic idea: Answer a frequently asked question.
22. Before you do any writing, research. Next, create an outline. Don't write until you've done those two things first.
23. Write like you talk.
24. Use logic and emotion to create high-quality content.
25. Average attention span is 140 characters. Get to the point and write clearly.
26. Use easy-to-understand language instead of industry jargon to explain your point.
27. Turn off distractions while writing a blog post.
28. Use first- and second-person pronouns (I and you). It helps start a conversation between you and your readers.
29. Write short blog posts (400 words or less). They do just as well at engaging readers as long posts.
30. Write long blog posts (more than 1,000 words). They help with long tail keywords and help you get targeted traffic.
31. Personal stories and experiences do well.
32. There's a story in everything, even in what might be a more technical post. Tell the story.
33. Make the introduction short and engaging.
34. Write a conclusion. It's a great place to summarize your blog and provide key takeaways.
35. Don't be afraid of the ugly first draft.
36. Take a break between finishing the ugly first draft and editing it.
37. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Use spellcheck. Poor grammar and typos hurt your insurance website.
38. Don't ramble. Keep your blog post on focus. Make sure every word in your post is relevant to your main idea and your audience.
39. Remove unnecessary words, sentences or sections.
40. Get a second set of eyes to review your blog post. Another person can help catch things you might miss otherwise.
41. Read it out loud. You will find where you need to expand more and what you can cut. Plus, you'll catch grammatical errors when you hear it versus read it.
Headlines and Formatting
42. Your headline is the most important part of your blog. It will attract attention and get people to click and read your content.
43. Make it clear in the headline what a person can expect to learn by clicking.
44. Keep the headline tweetable. In other words, shorter than 140 characters.
45. When writing a headline, use magazines or Buzzfeed as inspiration. They know how to write headlines that get people to read.
46. If it's a large block of text, people won't read your blog post.
47. Use sub-headings, lists, bullet points, call out quotes, and images to break up the text.
48. Use blog tags so people can find related posts in your archives.
49. Mix up your blog formats so you don't get stuck in a rut.
50. Use short paragraphs.
51. Include a strong call to action at the end.
52. We're visual creatures. Include images!
53. DON'T use an image you found on Google. If you can't get your own photography, use stock image providers. They don't cost a lot and are worth avoiding the fines.
54. Animated GIFs can add visual interest and fun. People love them. Use them where relevant.
55. Write for people, not search engines.
56. Search engines like websites that update their content. How do you add new content? Blog.
57. Every blog post needs to include links to other pages on your website and other blog posts.
58. Use keywords in your posts sparingly. You don't want to force it. Use keywords where it sounds the most natural.
59. Blogging can increase awareness, drive website traffic, build loyalty, and influence buying decisions.
60. Use Google Analytics. Look at what posts get the most traffic. Write more of those. Stop writing about topics that don't get attention.
61. Include an alt tag for every image you use.
62. Write some evergreen blog posts (posts that are not time specific and that can stand up years from now). They continue to bring in traffic for years to come. (Like this one I wrote three years ago. It is still one of our most popular blog posts.)
63. A quality blog post gets more shares and backlinks than a keyword rich one.
64. Promote your blog. Share links to your posts on social media. Include snippets in your newsletter and on your home page. Mention it as a resource when hosting an event or talking to a client.
65. When sharing a blog post on Twitter, don't be afraid to share it more than once. Just make sure it's not back to back, and you change the commentary with the link each time.
66. Allow comments on your blog and respond to every commenter. Encourage conversation as it strengthens a relationship.
67. Add an RSS feed to your blog, and ask your clients to subscribe so they always see your new posts.
68. Repurpose blog content in social media posts, newsletters, images, tips, etc.
69. Guest blog on other people's websites. It helps to promote you and your website.
70. Great bloggers are not born in a single blog post. It takes time and practice.
71. Don't be sales-y. Your goal with blog should not be self-promotion. It should be to help your readers and build trust.
72. Once you get comfortable blogging, try something new - a new format, a new topic - and push yourself.
73. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. I hate to make them, but mistakes happen. Learn from them and see them as an opportunity to improve yourself and your blogging.
74. Push through the uncomfortable stage. It will be hard when you first start blogging. It gets easier the more you do it.
75. Have fun!
76. Blogging is hard work. But it's worth it.
In eight years, we've written a lot of words on our blog. We've tried new things and learned a lot of lessons along the way. I hope you've learned something new today you can apply to your own blog.
What lessons have you learned from blogging? Leave yours in the comments below.
About the Author
As vice president of marketing, Becky Schroeder oversees ITC’s growth through marketing and drives the overall marketing strategy for the company and its products. Her specialties include advertising, social media, email marketing, content marketing and public relations. Becky has a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. Becky is a big Texas A&M football fan and enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her husband and their two daughters.Follow on Twitter More Content by Becky Schroeder