Visitors Welcome: A Primer for Getting a Business Blog Up and RunningMs. Allison Rice
December 4, 2013 — 1,949 views
It's not enough to have a brick-and-mortar storefront these days. Businesses both large and small are catching on to the fact that Web content pertaining to a company's expertise is what now cultivates a following of loyal clients. In short, you have to blog.
But many business owners, particularly those of small businesses, are uncertain of how to create blogs and find readers who will value their content and, thus, their product - particularly if they aren't tech-savvy and haven't used the Internet much.
If this describes you, don't despair. Publicizing your business on the web by starting a blog is easier than you might think. Follow these steps to starting and publicizing your blog, and you'll have a well-traveled address in no time.
Part One: The Steps to Starting a Blog
Step 1: Decide What Your Blog Will Be About
Congratulations - you have decided that your business needs a blog. You must decide, of course, what that blog will be about. If you start blindly posting whatever strikes your fancy on the Internet, your blog will not develop a devoted following - and your business will not gain a voice. Consider these points when determining your blog topic.
What does your business do? What is its mission?
Let's say that your business develops smartphone applications. If this is the case, you will probably want to have a healthy dose of technology-related topics within the blog.
Now, let's say that your business develops smartphone applications that are mainly related to women and mothers - such as apps about fashion, decorating and child care. This means you've narrowed down your focus to technology as it relates to women.
Does this focus speak to your desired client?
You'll need to make sure that whatever you decide to discuss on your blog is of interest to your customers. In the example we are using, if you recruit a following of tech-savvy women to follow your blog, you're certainly gathering potential clients to download your software.
Step 2: Decide where you will obtain content.
Yes, a blog should keep your clients and fans abreast of information about your company, such as new employees, new products and any news in general. But if you plan to blog every day, or even several times per week, you will need additional, relevant content.
It's a good idea to discover a few publications on the web that relate to your business and can provide interesting and relevant topics for your audience to read. Of course, any websites related to business and economy as a whole are helpful, but you'll also want to include topics related to your industry in particular. Check the following and make a short list of possible places to obtain content:
- Your local newspaper;
- National news sources such as Huffington Post and NPR;
- Business-related magazines such as Forbes and
- Magazines related to your particular industry, as we discussed in step 1.
Step 3: Make your first post live.
Once you have the idea for your first post and what your blog will be about, you can officially begin your blog venture.
- Pick a blog creation software that suits you. Wordpress and Blogger, both free and web-based, are popular, but you can also use blogging software and create posts even when you're offline. If you are uncertain, ask other business bloggers you trust.
- Add photos to your blog. Uploading a photo can make the post much more visually interesting. For the first post you could use something as simple as a photo of your team or your business.
- Either write the post yourself or write "teasers" to links you've suggested from elsewhere on the web. You'll want to introduce these outside sources, so your clients and readers trust reading them.
- Use posts in different formats. Some days, for example, you might want to post a video of a news clip. On others, you may want to post a "top 10" list format. This will keep things interesting for your fans and show the versatility of your company.
Part Two: The Steps to Publicizing a Blog
Now that you have content ready to roll, it's time to connect with your readers - and make sure readers are connecting with each other.
Step 1: Set up your blog properly so you'll note visitors.
Make sure that your blog is set up to collect your readers' comments on posts as well as other information such as keywords that bring readers to your blog. This information will help you figure out how people are discovering your blog and how they are responding to content. There are also free "tickers" or counters on the Internet that you can download to count each time your pages are viewed.
Step 2: Create a connection between your blog and your business website.
If no one who visits your regular website is reading your blog, it's of no use. Make sure to connect your blog to your regular site. Plug-ins, or widgets, often make it simple to display a feed from your blog on your website. And, of course, invite people who have stumbled upon your blog to visit your business site as well. You may even share links to your regular site in your blog posts.
Step 3: Use social media.
Social media is your best friend when it comes to getting the word out about your blog. Don't worry if you've never used it before; most platforms are user-friendly and can be learned in no time.
You've probably heard that a lot of businesses use Twitter these days. This is because it's easy to "follow" businesses and nonprofits that can repost (also called "retweeting") whatever links you display.
Take advantage of Twitter signing up your business for an account and then posting links to your blog. You can even post links to other Web articles that are pertinent to your industry. Just make sure that everything is relevant.
Facebook, which was once just a place for people to share personal photos of their toddlers, has become a powerful marketing tool for businesses. Create a fan page for your business and use it to publicize each new post on your blog. The great thing about Facebook is that you can count "likes" and views of each update. If you're willing to spend the cash, you can also "promote" posts so they show up in more places and are thus more widely read.
Social Media Timing Solutions
You don't have to actively post each time on social media sites. There are free software options, such as Hootsuite, which let businesses schedule their social media posts for certain days and times. Be aware that you may have to pay a fee for the premium accounts.
Offer subscriptions and incentives.
Most blog software nowadays offers your readers the chance to sign up for updates. Encourage your readers to subscribe to updates and keep in touch. You can even offer special discounts to loyal fans.
Step 4: Share the news in person.
Social media is great, but don't forget to let your in-person visitors know that you're on the Web. Encourage clients to read your blog and share your content with friends.
Appendix: Things to Avoid on Blogs and Social Media
Though we've made blogging sound simple and fun - and it is - there are still a few pitfalls you will want your business to avoid.
Copying word-for-word from another person's site and passing it off as original content was wrong in college and it still is. Make sure that if you use content from another site, you properly paraphrase, quote and document where you obtained the information.
Bashing other businesses.
Gossiping on the Internet might be popular amongst celebrities, but, in the business world, it is a definite no-no. Refrain from speaking poorly about another business' product or people on your blog. (However, if another business within your industry does something laudable, mentioning it on your blog may start a friendly dialogue with that company and they may do the same for you.)
Posting irrelevant "filler."
Having an off day regarding posts? It's best in this case to not post at all. If you begin to post "filler" on blogs and social media, your fans will tire of it quickly and your business and blog will lose credibility.
Remember, blogging is important for businesses in the 21st century, but you must develop a strategy. With a carefully planned blog and social media routine, your business will garnish new fans and no doubt prosper as a result.
Ms. Allison Rice
Allison Rice is the Marketing Director for Amsterdam Printing (www.amsterdamprinting.com), one of the nation's largest providers of promotional products for businesses large and small.