What I adore about blogging is that anyone can do it! The question is though, should everyone be blogging? Blogs have been around since 2003 and over the years easy to use blogging applications like WordPress, Blogger and Typepad have emerged to make it so much easier. Easy to use blogging platforms don’t make blogging a complete smooth ride though. Why?
First off, you need to stop and think about why you need to start a blog. Is it to drive an existing website? Introduce a new product or service? Get consumers to buy that product? You really need to stop and consider why and how you will be doing the blogging. Are you going to dedicate hours of your time to ensure that the content is relevant and of value? Will you be posting yourself? Would you rather hire someone to run it for you?
Unfortunately many people start a blog and abandon it within the first few weeks and this damages your business profile and branding. How can you gain trust from an audience if you’re not talking to them on an ongoing basis? You need to set the parameters and goals you intend to achieve with your blog, much like any other marketing programme. To do that you need to understand the basics about blogging.
Do you really know what a blog is? What it does?
A blog is a publishing application of social media and it works as the hub or control panel for all your inbound marketing activity. Blogs are a perfect way to develop online visibility because they are not costly and yet, with the right input, the reach of a well developed business blog is akin to that of a million pound advertising campaign. Business blogging suits most business types including writers, small businesses, marketing consultants, financial advisors, event managers, speakers and others allowing them to establish their online visibility and be seen as market leaders in their arena.
Blogs allow you to build a dialogue with your readers/potential customers as they can post comments, email you and – if you want them to – add value to your blog as guest authors which means you get more than one point of view for your readers. In this way you build conversations and trust with your readers and develop online relationships where your reader begins to trust your input and advice and is more likely to recommend you to a friend, pass your message along or simply buy from you directly.
Blogs are easy to use and update and, with a bit of social media activity to support it, you can get your message out there instantly. Perfect for busy entrepreneurs!
You do need to post a couple of times a week though and I’d stress that you must post unique and fresh content! Your content needs to be useful, informative or entertaining and you need to make sure that search engines like it too. Remember that your blog is an interactive site, not a static website. It’s where you allow visitors to engage with you and your business on a one to one and where you can show the ‘human’ side of your business.
Why is this so important?
Like every business meeting you have in the real world, the meetings and conversations you have on your blog allow you the opportunity to build credibility in your audiences eyes. It’s not a hard sell. You engage your audience to gain trust and increase visibility of your business online in a natural way.
Blogs don’t stand alone though. It serves as the main cog in the works – the hub – for all your social media activity and forms a considerable part of the marketing mix these days. Most blogs are used in conjunction with a static website (like your company brochure), a regular communication like an ezine (newsletter) or eshot (shortened version) and a database management and ecommerce system.
So, let’s recap: You need to do your homework.
1. Ask yourself the reasons you feel you need a business blog. What do you have to tell your audience?
2. What goals to you want to achieve with the blog? More sales leads? More visibility? Imparting information?
3. Who are you going to be talking to? i.e. who is your ideal client? Make sure that you address their needs.
4. What action do you require from your audience? Just an emotive response? A call? An email? A click through? You must have clear directives to ensure that their action fulfils your goals of the blog overall.
5. What tone should you deliver your blog in? This relates back to the audience type, who you are talking to.
6. How do you want your audience to relate to your blog? What emotions should it induce?
7. What is the core message that you’re trying to promote/establish with the blog. Be clear and concise. Ask yourself why would your audience subscribe to your blog or recommend it to another?
8. Are you going to run it yourself? Do you have time to devote to it for regular updates?
9. Establish your building blocks. Draft a series of initial posts that cement your message in place to your readers and that are inter related.
10. Plan ahead. Know what each week’s content will contain based on your keyword list and categories. Ensure you do your homework. Check out your competition and learn from them or dominate if you are alone in your niche. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to search sites like Technorati.com for blogs using your keywords.
Once you’ve done all this, build your blog! Applications from WordPress, Typepad or Blogger are easy to use and develop. Doing the homework is necessary to ensure that your business blog works correctly from day one. Once your blog is up and running you’ll have a powerful marketing tool at your fingertips to create your online visibility and reap the rewards of your online credibility.
Deciding to employ someone to do it on your behalf is a good way to ensure that your business blog gets the best treatment from it’s inception. Blogging is time consuming – more so when you’ve added the necessary social media to the mix!
If you prefer not to do this yourself, there are freelance business bloggers, like myself, in most areas. Get in touch!
Jane van Velsen – The Right Writer is a business blogger and social media manager for a variety of clients within finance, legal, property, women’s interest, travel and FMCG.