How to Start a Blog in 5 Easy Steps
As a business, you probably already know why social media is important for marketing your business, but what about blogging? According to business2community, 60% of businesses do have blogs, but only 65% of those have updated their blogs in the last year. What does that mean? That means that not only can having blog for your business be a powerful and effective way to solidify your branding and set yourself apart in a competitive world, your blog has tremendous potential to contribute to your search results and SEO (search engine optimization) when updated consistently with high quality, relevant content.
Are you convinced yet that you need to be blogging? Good. In the spirit of keeping it simple, here’s is what I have learned about how to start a blog for your business in 5 steps using free (or mostly free) tools.
Step 1: Know Why You’re Blogging
Before we jump into how to blog, it’s best to first know what you are hoping to accomplish. Are you an expert at something and want to establish your reputation as such? Do you want to educate your potential customers with valuable information about your industry or company? Are you aspiring to grow an active community on a particular topic? Whatever your reason for blogging, knowing what that is will keep you focused and give you purpose.
Step 2: Make A Plan
So you know why you’re blogging, but how do you do it? Let’s start with some basic strategies.
- Know your target audience. Start by building personas to help you tailor your information- here is a great article from Hubspot on how to do that. It’s not realistic to think that you will appeal to everyone all the time, so it’s okay to be specific, just keep make sure it’s relevant.
- Know your keywords (here is my previous post to help you find those). Keywords are going to help your target audience find your blog.
- Create an editorial calendar for your blog. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet to help you know the topic you will be writing about and when you will publish it. These are great for keeping you focused and your thoughts organized. Here is a good example from AndyWibbels.com.
- Have a source for visual content. Photos, videos, and infographics are very popular and widely consumed. If you have your own photos or videos to use, be sure to optimize them using keywords. If not, Pagemodo offers a great list of sites offering free image downloads (just be sure to give proper credit)
- Choose your measuring tools. Google Analytics is a great one to help you analyze what’s working and what’s not. Also, most blogs offer visitor statistics for your blog, but these are typically less specific.
Step 3: Personalize Your Blog to Your Brand
Decide on the features, layout, colors and themes that are important to you and your target audience (and ideally include and align this with your logo). Make the feel, tone and graphics consistent with your website, FB, Twitter and/or any other social pages.
Step 4: Decide Where to Blog
There are many blogging platform sites to choose from, and most of them are free. The two most popular and user-friendly are Blogger and Wordress.org. Having used both, here is my opinion based on my experience:
Blogger is free and well-suited for beginners and personal blogs. It’s very easy to use, the gadgets are straightforward and cover the basic spectrum of things you might want to have displayed on your blog, and it’s integrated with all the Google sites (and is owned by Google).
WordPress is better suited for business in my opinion. It is important to note, however, that WordPress has two versions: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Here is a list of the of differences but essentially the .com version is similar to Blogger in that it is also free, comes with a limited number of standard widgets (plugins) and does not allow adding third-party plugins that you may eventually want to incorporate. WordPress.org is a little more technical, but it definitely has more options for customizing and optimizing your blog.
Whichever blogging site you choose, be sure to purchase the domain name for your business and host your blog through a third party host if you can (this is believed to give you more pagerank credit for your blog traffic). I found this third party host comparison from webmasterfaqs.org especially helpful in making my selection.
Step 5: Build your community!
Once you have your blog up and running, make sure to connect it with all your other social accounts (ie Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+) to build links and promote sharing, and be sure to add it to your business website.
But you’re not done…being a blogger means you also actively participate on others’ blogs. You will want to build relationships through complementary blogs that share your target audience by visiting those blogs and leaving thoughtful, insightful comments (and links when appropriate, but use good judgement on this).
If making some of these decisions seems overwhelming at first, then pick a few of your “competitor” blogs and study them- what do you like, what turns you off, what topics seem to get people commenting and engaging?
And, if this is a bit elementary for you, here is a more in depth guide from Marketingland on how to develop a content strategy for your blog.
So there you have it- I’ve shared some of the my favorite resources for learning how to start a business blog, but I’d love to hear about any awesome tools or suggestions you have! And, feel free to post a link to your blog if you’d like to share it.