It’s impossible to say with any certainty how many blogs – personal or corporate – are on the internet, but realistic estimates put it at around 150 million. People sure do like to share. Apparently somebody somewhere is starting a blog every half a second – that’s a sobering thought…
If you are running a small business now and particularly if you have a website for your business, you will probably have been advised at one time or another that you need a blog in order to keep content on your site fresh and to get your personal message out to your prospective customers. But many small business owners flinch at the prospect of this. How on earth do you even go about blogging, knowing what to write and then publicising it?
There are many articles that go into this subject in a lot more detail, but for a very quick summary please read on. I hope to show you that starting a blog does not have to be scary – you can easily do the things that you are good at and outsource the bits that you are not so confident about.
Setting up your blog
If you have a WordPress website already then setting up a blog is a piece of cake, and the person who handles your IT will probably be able to get you going in a very short time.
If you are starting a blog from scratch it can still be pretty easy. i usually recommend self-hosted WordPress blogs to anybody, whether they are starting a personal blog or a business blog. If nothing else, there is a huge community of IT specialists out there who know WordPress, and it is very easy to access technical help when you need it.
When it comes to building the blog you can use a specialist software package like WordPress Website Builder from UK2, If you feel like you can’t manage the software yourself, then take a look on a site like Fiverr and you will probably find somebody very reasonable that can come to your rescue.
Take a look at other people’s blogs to find the style that you like – then you have something that you can show your developer and base your blog on. If you have a corporate style already then this will be easier – you can build your blog using the colours and fonts that you already use elsewhere.
Starting to Write
The first few weeks of a new blog can be absolutely terrifying. You stare at the blank page and don’t really know where to begin.
Posting a couple of blog posts every day may make you feel productive, but there’s not a lot of point if there’s no engagement. You need to be focusing on relevancy to your target audience if you want your content to be shared online, and bring regular visitors to your website.
Think about the people you’re writing for – what problems do they have that your blog might be able to solve; what questions might you be able to answer? think of the products you sell or services you provide and then write How to posts around the areas your customers might be interested in. Study the comments people leave on your articles for future topic ideas.
Tone Of Voice
Who is going to be writing your blog posts? In some companies it is delegated to the marketing team, whereas in others people from different departments all the way up to senior management take turns. You need to have guidelines in place for the type of content that is being posted, such as maintaining a clear tone of voice, and to ensure that whoever is in charge of writing actually has the time and skills available to do so.
Type Of Content
While the majority of blogs are text-heavy, there are many different types of post that you may find better engage your visitors, or at least give your blog a bit of variety.
Unquestionably, visual content tends to have the biggest impact, whether that’s images, videos or infographics. A picture speaks a thousand words as they say, so if you have the time and resources, putting together something original, or embedding and crediting something that someone else has created, is likely to have more of an impact than a bland 1,000 word essay.
If you are going with a mainly text-based format for one of your posts or the whole blog, you need to make it punchy, humorous, and break it up with sub-headings so that it’s easy to read.
Take every opportunity to add people to your mailing list. A pop-up on each page of your site asking visitors if they’d like to provide an email address in order to receive regular updates whenever a new blog post is published is a good technique, as is requiring an email address before someone can read a full post.
Try creating exclusive content purely for those on your mailing list to increase the appeal. Once you have that mailing list, of course, it can be used for more than just your blog, such as to alert people to new promotions and products.
Consider how you are going to integrate your blog into your company’s total marketing efforts.
Let’s say you have a start-up dating agency, for example.
Your blog might consist of articles on ‘How to know if she’s The One’, or ‘What your partner’s eye colour says about them’, or ‘The 15 types of men you should never introduce to your parents’.
Where will you be sharing these online, beyond your own site? Facebook and Twitter, sure, and maybe other social media as well, depending on who you are trying to market to and where they hang out. You should also consider contributing guest posts to other blogs in related fields, or inviting guest writers onto your own site, to reach a wider audience or build authority.
Engagement With Your Audience
If you’re posting high-quality content on a regular basis, and sharing it in the right places, then after a while you should start getting comments left on your blog.
Take the time to study each comment, and respond personally where possible, thanking people for giving their thoughts, and see if there is anything of value you can take away from them such as suggestions for new articles. Positive engagement is vital to building a loyal and involved community around your blog.
These are just a few pointers to bear in mind when you are starting a blog. The best suggestion is to jump in and give it a try. The worst thing that will happen is that nobody will see it at all, but on the upside, it could be the thing that launches your business to the next level.