People say your website should have a blog, but your business keeps you busy so you struggle to find the time to write. And if you find the time, you aren’t sure you’re saying the right things.

These are common problems – even professional writers are sometimes temporarily stuck for words – so I’ve created a ‘5WH’ approach to blogging that we can all benefit from.

For those who don’t know, 5WH is the formula trained journalists use to cover the most basic elements of every story. I’m using it in a slightly different way, but the ultimate aim is still good copy.

WHY blog?

There are two main reasons for business blogging. The first is to provide a stream of new material for the website, thus providing welcome fodder for the search engines and helping to get you nearer the top of the list so people can find you more easily. The second is an important strand in your public relations effort, underpinning your reputation by demonstrating your subject knowledge, expertise and ability to deliver what customers want.

WHAT to blog

Things are happening in your business, your town, your industry all the time. If anything is enough to make you react, it could be the basis of a blog. If prices are going up, tell customers how to avoid the increase. If you are moving to better premises or employing more staff, tell customers how these changes benefit them. Seize opportunities to transmit relevant news or comment – help customers make informed decisions to buy from you.

WHEN to blog

News is called just that for a good reason. I once worked for an afternoon newspaper that had the slogan “Today’s news today”. I think that’s a good target for a business blogger. It’s no good commenting on something long after the event: you gain ground in the public mind by being among the first to react, not the last. If you are blogging a backgrounder to an announcement by your company, get it out quickly, adding to the excitement.

WHERE to blog

Naturally, the blog is posted on your website. But after the effort of creating it, why not use it more widely? This one is on my website, but you might be reading modified versions posted on my local Chamber of Commerce site and globally on LinkedIn. You may see links to the other two! I’m told it’s important to use slightly different versions for each site so that the post does not incur spam penalties from the search engines.

WHO to blog

If it’s a business blog, nominally it’s perceived to be the head of the organisation who is writing. That may be the case, but it could easily be anyone else in company – or outside it – who puts the words together. It may also be beneficial to have a ‘fun’ blog contributed by a junior employee. But in every instance, remember that the blog is there to enhance the company’s reputation – and that a few words out of place could damage it severely.

HOW to blog

Decide the best way to generate a fairly steady flow of material. You may think of topics, but lack the time or experience to write them in suitable style. Unless you can afford to give the task to a competent employee, it’s best to find an experienced professional – preferably one with good knowledge of your industry, or the keenness to develop such insight. Then simply issue the brief, review the draft, approve it and get it into cyberspace.