The decision to start a blog for your business can seem daunting, but if done properly it doesn’t have to be too difficult and the rewards can be tremendous. This article will help you understand the dos and don’ts of getting a blog off the ground and getting the results you’re looking for.
You can also download our free step-by-step guide “Business Blogging 101- How to Use Content to get Customers” to learn the fundamentals of blogging and get access to a list of free resources to help you with every step of blogging. We’ll help you pick the right business blogging software, come up with a process for generating ideas for your blog, and then serve up some business blogging tips that will ensure that your blog actually gets written, found by others, and then read. The benefits of blogging are immense and there’s no reason why your business should not be reaping its benefits and making it work for your business!
The first step when thinking about starting a business blog is to select the software that you will use to write the blog. There are many different options available when it comes to blogging software and it is important to pick a platform that is going to work for your business.
Some of the most popular platforms for blogging include: WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, SquareSpace, and Tumblr. Although we typically recommend WordPress to our customers due to the robust ecosystem of developers that support the platform and the fact that it is search engine friendly (meaning that it has a high level of search engine optimization built in), you should make your own decision based on your own criteria.
Some factors to consider when making a decision about which platform to consider are:
– Cost (WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr are free whereas SquareSpace and Typepad are not)
– Ease of integration with the rest of your website. We always recommend that you integrate a business blog with the rest of your website by at least ensuring that it’s hosted on your own domain (as opposed to having it hosted on blogger.com i.e.). Usually you also want the blog to feel as though it’s well integrated with the rest of your website so that you can switch between the blog and the main site without feeling a massive disruption.
– Support ecosystem. This might sound unimportant, but for platforms like WordPress that are huge and friendly to developers, it means that people and companies have developed what are called “plug-ins” for WordPress that you can install to do just about anything you can think of for your blog. If you choose a less well supported blogging platform, you might find yourself limited now or down the road when you try to implement some new functionality.
– Ease of use. You want to be sure that you’re fully able to create and update blog articles on your own without the cost of involving a web developer for each post. You might need a developer to help you get the site off the ground, but once it is off the ground you should be able to do the blogging on your own.
– Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendly. Some blogging software is better optimized for search engines than others. The benefit of a platform that is SEO friendly is that the content that you produce will do a better job of bringing in traffic. Be sure that you get a good sense of whether or not the blogging platform that you are considering is SEO friendly.
When you’re making your blogging software choice, rank the factors that are important to you and then do a little testing and research to see what will make the most sense for you. One other thing to keep in mind is that some blogging platforms, like WordPress, can be used for your blog as well as for the main website (although this isn’t a requirement). So, you may be considering the functionality of software both for blogging as well as for the rest of your website.
Now that you have chosen your blogging software and presumably gotten it setup on your website, you’ll need to generate some ideas for your business blog. For many small business owners, this is a real struggle and many people feel that there is nothing to write about or that their industry is too boring. Don’t despair, there is almost always a wealth of topics that you can write about for a business blog; even in a relatively unsexy industry.
In terms of the types of things that you should write about, try to focus on being primarily educational in nature. Write about information that a potential buyer might be looking for online as they are thinking about purchasing a product in your industry. Some more specific tips for coming up with ideas include:
– Setup a Google Alert to alert you to news that is related to your industry keywords. Reading these articles may give you ideas for your own blog articles.
– Get a few people in your company or some friends outside the company involved in a brainstorming session. It can be much easier to come up with ideas while talking to some other people as opposed to staring at a computer screen. You might be surprised by what your friends always wondered about your business.
– Use the Google AdWords keyword tool to generate some ideas from keywords that are related to your industry.
– Download our free guide that has 45 tools you can use to help promote your business (including tools to help you find ideas for your business blogging).
Once you go through this process you should be able come up with a list of ideas for blog articles. Keep the list next to your computer so that the next time you have a few minutes to write a blog article you have everything you need at your finger tips.
OK, so now that you have your business blog in place and some ideas for articles, it’s time to start writing and publishing. When you do that you want to be sure to keep a number of business blogging tips in mind. Here are a few to help keep you on track.
– Target some keywords that you would like your article to show up for when potential customers are searching online. In order to get some in depth guidance on how to pick those keywords download our local SEO guide.
– Follow SEO best practices when you write your articles, which includes: using the keywords in the title of the article, the alt tags of the images, and in the body of the article itself. For more details on what all of that jargon means, take a look at the on-page SEO section of that same local SEO guide.
– Make sure your articles are engaging. One of the ways that Google decides how much traffic to send to your article is by looking at the amount of time that people spend on the page itself. If the article isn’t engaging and people leave immediately then Google will think that the article is not very good.
– Write regularly. One of the most common scenarios that occurs with business blogging is that business owners start writing and then they stop after a short period of time. Stay consistent, you need to see business blogging as a long term commitment. If people stumble across a blog that hasn’t been updated in a couple of years they may see that as a negative signal for your business.
– Use images. Landing on a page that is just a huge block of text is a real turn-off. Make sure you use at least one image for each blog article and possibly more if the article needs them.
– Your blog articles need to be good, but not literary masterpieces. Blog articles shouldn’t take you all day to write. If they do, I can almost guarantee that you won’t stick with it because it will take too much time. Keep expectations realistic in order to be sure that the blog articles actually get written. Here are some other tips for making sure that your business blogging actually gets done.
– Understand that results will take time. Business blogs can help convert more visitors into leads almost immediately because they allow a business owner to show off their knowledge of the industry. However, in order to start bringing more traffic to the website you need to know that it takes months or years, not days or weeks to build up large amounts of traffic from a blog.
– Blog often. You probably want to be blogging at least once a month as a minimum, but it’s also important to recognize that there is essentially no limit to the maximum amount of blogging you can do. As long as the content is good quality, the more blog articles the better.
– Share your content. The great thing about writing blog articles is that they give you something to share in your email newsletters and in social media. Write a little introduction to your blog articles and then share with a link back to your blog.
There you have it, business blogging 101! For a guided approach to business blogging, download our free guide “Business Blogging 101: How to Use Content to Get Customers“.