“A blog is in many ways a continuing conversation.” ~Andrew Sullivan
THE BENEFITS OF BLOGGING
Think of your blog (web log) as a series of scheduled articles that speak directly to your audience and a valuable, online marketing tool for your business. In fact, these days it is difficult for any business with a web presence to have significant online success without one. Further, a successful blog can increase website traffic and SEO, enhance visibility and brand recognition, grow your prospective customer list and position your business as the ‘go-to’ source for information in your industry. There are even options for turning your blog into a significant source of revenue over time. Consider adding affiliate links, Google AdSense banners and individual ads where appropriate. Your income will grow with your blog’s success. RESOURCE: 25 Ways to Make Money With Your Blog
Before you take the first steps to creating your blog, you’ll need to answer a few basic questions:
YOUR BLOG NEEDS A HOME - WHERE WILL IT RESIDE?
There are many popular blogging platforms today, such as Blogger, Blogster, Wordpress.com and Tumbler to name just a few. Although these platforms are reputable and very user friendly, experts often recommend that blogs reside on the business’s main website to enhance visibility and SEO.
WHAT WILL YOU NAME YOUR BLOG?
Choosing the right name for your blog is one of the most important decisions you will make, as it will brand you efforts and help your readers recognize and remember you. It should describe your blog and mission and be easy to remember. Some suggest it is best to have a blog name equal to your domain name to make it easier for visitors to remember. Whatever you decide, this is a decision that should be given careful consideration.
WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?
“Readers subscribe to blogs when they provide an informational or entertainment value so great that it would be a loss to not subscribe to it.” ~Maki
The more you know about your target audience, the easier it will be to craft your message to speak directly to them. If you can make other people feel important, they will help do your marketing for you for free. For example, Salary.com did a study on how underpaid mothers were, and they received many high quality backlinks from mothers around the world.
CREATE AN OPT-IN AND DELIVERY SYSTEM
Most email services such as mailchimp.com (free) have everything you will need to create a sign-up form, design autoresponders and deliver each new post to your subscribers. This may take some time to work through, but once you do you’ll have a system that will assure your hard work reaches your audience in a reliable and professional manner each and every time.
HOW OFTEN TO POST
There’s is no ideal frequency for posting to your blog. Choose a schedule you can manage well, be it every day, once a week, or monthly. What’s most important is that you set a regular schedule and stick with it. This will help to build the trust and respect of your readers.
CHOOSE YOUR TOPIC
Try to assure that every post reflects your company's mission. I recommend keeping a running list of potential topics on hand to draw from. I use my RSS feed to gather article ideas on pertinent topics, then keep a list and details on Evernote. This makes it easy to use my phone to work on my blog whenever I have a few extra minutes throughout the day. Try to think several months in advance and create a schedule of post topics. Some ideas for post topics include:
- Interview an influential person in your industry.
- Choose evergreen, timeless topics, so when a visitor reads your post months or even years in the future there is a good chance that it will still be relevant.
- Review and discuss a pertinent article or publication.
- Provide information on a product or service you’ve found particularly helpful.
- Answer the question of a current issue in your industry, providing a solution or instructions for your readers.
"Becoming the reader is the essence of becoming a writer." ~John O'Hara
CREATING YOUR CONTENT
You’ve determined your blog’s home, name and target audience, created an opt-in and delivery system and created a list of topics; now it’s finally time to write your first post.
- TITLE - Create an intriguing title (and subtitle when appropriate). We all know that first impressions influence opinion, and this is true for blog and article titles as well. The title should convey the information contained in the post and draw the reader in with the promise of helpful and interesting information. It is best to be brief.
- OUTLINE - Once you’ve decided on a post topic, create an outline, and then use bullets, bold and italics to format for scanability. Most people won’t read every word, so this type of formatting will help them get the gist of your article.
- PROMISED INFORMATION - Assure that the information included clearly delivers what was promised in the title.
- CLOSING - Include a call to action, and reiterate the original idea or key element that drew your audience in at the start of the article.
- PROOF & EDIT - proofread, edit, proofread, edit & then find an outside proofreader.
Choose at least one lead image that will draw the reader in and clearly portray your message. There are several free, online image galleries that allow the unlimited use of photos when the proper credits are included.
Assure that you get the most from all your hard work by optimizing every blog post so they will appear prominently in search engines. “Being attentive to keywords and formatting will drive more traffic – and qualified traffic – to your blog by leveraging the search terms used by your target audience.” states Janet Aronica in her article: How to: Optimize Your Blog Posts for SEO
PROMOTE YOUR WORK
Share, Share, Share. My previous article "GROWING YOUR BUSINESS WITH BACKLINKS - Link Building Techniques Used by the Pros",
describes numerous tips for establishing wide-spread distribution for your blog posts. Adding social media share buttons and creating an ebook or giveaway are other highly successful methods of promoting your work and gathering subscribers.
The final consideration regarding the success of your blog is comments. Comments add a whole new valuable dimension to your blog by establishing a sense of community, and providing the opportunity for you to interact with your readers on an individual basis. It’s important to encourage comments from your audience and respond to each one promptly. You will build a level of trust and respect that will further enhance your reputation in the industry, increase your leads and ultimately grow your business.
If you’re just starting out in the world of blogging this might seem like a bit much. However, if you stick with it, you’ll soon come to realize that the benefits quickly outweigh the effort. If you’ve had particular blogging successes or challenges, please let us know by commenting below. We can all learn from the experiences we share with each other.
(Blog image by renjith krishnan)
This article was originally published as a guest post by Progressive Business Solutions for the Bluegrass Small Business Development Center's website: www.uksmallbiz.wordpress.com