This is a first of a three part series on blogging for business. It is such an important issue for small businesses today that I felt it important to dedicate some real time to the topic. The series will focus on getting started at blogging, the decision to have a blog and a website or just a blog, and 10 tips to get your blog noticed.
Great blogs stand out because the writer knows who their reader is and has great content. Getting your blog noticed takes strategy – planning, marketing know-how and good writing skills. You can use pay-per click advertising to get your brand known, but developing a successful blog is really the best way to get noticed on the web.
Let’s look at some of the basics of creating a small business blog:
Know who you are talking to. Don’t create a blog for you– create a blog for your readers and potential clients. You should not write a single word on a blog until you have researched your target audience and conducted a trends analysis on that audience. It’s not hard, just do it. Know who they are and what they need to know. Christina Katz, author of Get Known Before the Book Deal says you need to identify your niche market, and then break down your target into several submarkets. Then use your blog as a service to your target markets.
Create an editorial calendar. I am a former TV producer, so old habits die hard. It’s important to build an editorial calendar to keep track of your content. It will also help you brainstorm topics in advance. Read articles and blogs in your industry to get ideas. Sometimes I read articles, and just a sentence from it can seed an idea for a blog post. Avoid boring your readers to death with the same song, come at a subject from a different angle. A well-kept calendar will also keep your blog sharp, timely, and informative.
Start developing content 3-6 months before you start blogging. Good blogs have good content. Take the time to write well to make sure your content is excellent. Also, there will be days that you just do not have time to write. It’s best to develop a mini archive of articles that you can use as blog posts when you do not have the time to write a fresh piece. It is always good to get a timely piece that can tie-in a current event, but do yourself a favor – plan ahead.
Determine your blog strategy. Determine your blog publishing schedule. The key is to remain as consistent as possible. Some people post no more than two-to-three posts a week, but there are bloggers that put out new posts everyday. I post twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. While there is no specific formula for how many times a week you should post, just remember that readers appreciate consistency.
Choose the right blog platform. There are so many choices out there to establish your blog. Wordpress.org has a huge community, with many support resources including featured plug-ins and many customization options. You may need some help with set-up, but after that, posting is an easy process. My blog is a customized Wordpress blog. If you don’t want to buy a domain name and hosting package Wordpress.com, Typepad.com and Blogger.com might be just what you need. If you are doing business, I suggest spending the $150.00 and personally branding your blog site.
Develop a picture library. Adding an image to your blog posts adds a huge amount of depth to your blog. Ahead of time, pull images that might work for your blog posts. There are free sites such as www.Photobucket.com, www.openphoto.net, www.unprofound.com You can also use www.Flickr.com, but use the advanced search page and check “only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” to avoid copyright issues. There are also low cost photo sites such as www.istockphoto.com. Pulling pictures can be time consuming, so if you start out with a library of 50 or so, you’ll save time in the long run.
Write great headlines. Your headline can make or break your post, so choose your words carefully. It helps to think about what your reader would type into a search engine to find your information. Use active voice and as few words as possible. Throwing in key words is good too. You can also use lists, numbers, how-tos, compelling questions, and famous names to draw people in. It doesn’t matter how good your blog content is if no one will click on the link to read it. Would you read an article titled “Growing Your Online Marketing through Blogging” or one titled “Blogging for Business”? If you’re struggling with headlines, look at a few popular blogs to see how they do it.
With these tips, you’ll speak to your target audience and attract a wealth of new readers. If any of these points sound difficult or time consuming, remember, you don’t have to do it all alone. Get help from a social media coach or marketing consultant that can help you build your blog and position yourself as an industry expert in no time.
Did I miss any tips? Leave me a comment and let me know your secrets to blogging success.
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Melinda Emerson “SmallBizLady” is a Veteran Entrepreneur, Small Business Expert and Social Media Coach who hosts #SmallBizChat on Twitter. #Smallbizchat is the trusted resource on Twitter to discuss everything entrepreneurs need to know about launching and running a profitable small business. Melinda’s first book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 months! A Month-by-Month Guide to Start a Business that Works! is scheduled to be released by Adams Media in early 2010.
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog www.succeedasyourownboss.com.