This is the first article of a three part series on blogging, which is a terrific way to promote your small business. It is such a low cost and effective way to market your business to your target customer and raise your thought leadership in your industry. The series will focus on How to Get Started Blogging, 9 Ways to Get Your Blog to Stand Out and How Professional Bloggers Make Money. Blogs are successful when the writer provides helpful content to a specific niche audience. Getting your blog noticed takes an integrated strategy — great headlines, good writing skills and social media marketing. Think of blogging as attraction marketing, if done well your target customer will come to you.
Here are some basics on how to get started blogging to promote your small business:
Know your audience: Create a blog for a specific niche audience. 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. Know who your readers are and what they need to know. Always write with them in mind. I find it’s always effective to develop content about customer pain points. Then your blog will be a service to your target customer.
Write great headlines: It doesn’t matter how good your blog content is if no one will click on the link to read it. Your headlines will 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 the information. Use active voice and as few words as possible. Using key words is always a good idea too. You can use lists, numbers, how-tos, compelling questions, current events and famous names to draw people in.
Start developing content early: Start developing articles for your blog two-to-three months before you plan on launching it. Start by creating a list of blog titles. Then, every week write two or three blog posts. The benefits of doing this are two-fold;
a) You get in the habit to writing on a regular basis
b) You will develop an archive of content that you can use once the blog gets rolling
Also, there will be days when you just do not have time to write. With an archive of articles you will not be stressed to create a fresh piece when you’re swamped. Do yourself a favor — plan ahead.
Determine your blog strategy: Determine how often you will publish content. The key is to remain as consistent as possible. You need to post two-to-three times a week to be taken seriously, but there are professional bloggers that put out new posts every day. I post three times a week on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. While there is no specific formula for blogging success, remember that readers appreciate consistency.
Create an editorial calendar: You will want to organize the content you plan to write. You should create an editorial calendar to keep track of your article themes and any significant industry dates. For example every May, when National Small Business Week comes around, I always write about it. It will also help you to 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. A well-kept calendar will also keep your blog sharp, timely, and informative.
Choose a blog platform you can control: WordPress.org has a huge community, with many support resources including free plug-ins and many customization options. You must purchase a theme for your blog. I have used thesis and woo themes for my blog in the past. You may need some help with the initial set-up of your WordPress blog, but after that, posting is an easy process. You can use the free blog platforms such as blogger or typepad, but if you are doing business, I suggest spending the $150.00-$300.00 to personally brand your blog site on your own url.
Develop a picture library: Adding an image to your blog posts adds a huge amount of depth to your blog. To save time, you’ll want to pull together an archive of images that might work for your blog posts. There are free sites such as www.Photobucket.com, www.openphoto.net, www.unprofound.com. There are also low cost photo sites such as www.istockphoto.com which charge $3.00-$5.00 per unit for web images. Try to start out with a library of 50 or so images to give yourself some options.
If you’re struggling with how to get started blogging, look at some blogs that you like to see how they do it. In no time you’ll be a blogging black-belt, attracting a wealth of customers. If any of these points sound difficult or time consuming, remember, you don’t have to do it all alone. You can always hire help. A social media coach or virtual assistant can help you build your blog. If you blog consistently with authoritative content, you will position yourself as an industry expert in no time.
Do you have any tips to add? Let me know your secrets to blogging success.
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.
Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is America’s #1 small business experts. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. She writes a weekly column on social media for The New York Times. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter.She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com Melinda is also the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works.