Want to make your blog work harder so you don’t have to? Your blog is a great tool for marketing and can easily turn your blogging efforts into a lead generating powerhouse. And the best part is, aside from writing amazing content, it doesn’t require a lot of extra time and it really does sell itself.

It will save you time by automating your lead-capturing efforts, freeing you up to work on other, high dollar activities. All it takes is a little extra investment of time to get started.

But you need a good marketing plan.

Without a marketing plan in place, your blog posts are little more than dust in the wind. You throw them out there hoping the wind will carry them to the right audience. But all people see is a grainy message, distorted by the cloud of dust.

Having a plan in place will focus your blogging efforts and increase your return on investment (ROI) for the time, energy, and money spent on creating content for your blog.

Don’t write another post until you answer these questions, find the true purpose of your blogging efforts, and get your blog to work hard so you don’t have to.

Who is my audience?

Moving your marketing online isn’t easy to do. In-person networking involves little more than walking up to a person and introducing yourself. When you’re online, you have to figure out who your perfect customer is and get them to come to you.

Blogs have that power. A study by Hubspot found that businesses that use blogs to target their audience get 67% more leads than those that don’t.

Figure out who your ideal customer is and write directly to them. Find out their pain points and where they’re looking for information now. Draw them out and into the wealth of information and opportunity that is your business.

By focusing your content, you have a huge opportunity to grow your business, expand your network, and generate interest in your products and services.

What keywords are they using?

In the online universe, your search engine rank is everything. It doesn’t do any good to have an amazing business product if people don’t know it exists. You could have created the best productivity-time-saving-solving-all-the-world’s-problems hack out there, but if people can’t find it online, it doesn’t help anyone.

The best way to get found online is through search engine ranking. And to increase how your website and blog posts rank in search results requires keyword research.

There are some great free tools available to use for keyword research. The most well-known of these is Google’s Keyword Planner through their AdWords platform. Another good option is the Keyword Research Database from SERP, a company designed to help and support SEOs.

Find out what keywords your target market is using to find information and then use them in your blog posts and on your website to get found online.

How can I solve their problem?

People love to have their questions answered and their problems solved. Once you figure out who your target audience is and what keywords they’re using, you’ll know what problems they face. Use your blog to show your target audience how to solve their problems by using your products and services .

Today knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.
– Peter Drucker

The quest for power is unending. Businesses and others who are highly motivated are never satisfied with the information they know. They’re always looking for new and better ways to get a higher return on investment of their time, money, and effort.

Use your blog to establish yourself as an expert in the problems they face. Showcase how your skills and experience will generate a better RIO for your customer.

Once you establish a solid marketing strategy and map out the answers to these questions, you’ll save time and increase the lead-generating efficiency of your blog. And once that is in place, you can focus your efforts on more important things – like closing the sale.