If you have your own business, you’ve undoubtedly heard that you need to have a blog. Not all business do, but if your business has a website, a blog can be a valuable content marketing tool to help you succeed online.
Once you’ve decided that you do want a blog, here are some tips that we hope will help you get started with blogging for your business.
If you’re an EarthLink Web Hosting customer, you may also want to look back at our earlier posts about how to publish a blog on your website and how to publish your first blog post using WordPress.
- Just Start Your Blog: Waiting for the perfect moment to start your blog may mean you never start it. Don’t think you need everything planned or that you need to make everything perfect. Don’t worry that you’re not a writer. Don’t think your business may not be interesting enough. Just (can’t remember where I heard this advice) do it. You can always refine and change as you go along.
- Make a Blog Plan: Yes, this really does make more sense as #1, but sometimes the need for a plan gets in the way of starting. If you know you can plan first without delaying too long, make the plan first. Your plan doesn’t need to be overly detailed. Decide how often you think you’ll be able to write. Give some thoughts to the types of posts you want to do. Map out some topics to cover. Think about your audience: what different types of customers (or site visitors) do you have and what sorts of things would they find helpful or interesting?
- Decide on Goals for Your Blog: This is an important enough part of your planning that I wanted to call it out separately. For your blog to be a success, you have to know what success will look like to you. You need to decide what your goals are. You may want to start blogging to build your company’s brand, to position yourself as an expert, to build customer loyalty, to solve customer issues and divert support calls, to increase site traffic, to build your social media presence, to increase sales or repeat sales. If you’re very good and very lucky, you may end up doing it all, but you should start with a few goals to focus on. And make sure the goals of your blog align with the goals of your business.
- Make an Editorial Calendar: Don’t let this scare you if it sounds too much like you need to be a publisher. You just need to map out a few things. Decide how often you think you’re going to write. Most successful blogs post at least 2 -3 times per week, and the more you post the faster you may reach your goals, but don’t worry if you have to start small with once-a-week posts. Decide about the different content categories relating to your business that you want to post about. Consider the different kinds of posts you could do. Will you be interviewing experts? Will you be doing product reviews or writing tutorials? Will you be answering customer questions? Are you going to have guest bloggers, a staff of other bloggers, or tackle it all yourself? You can always grow and change your editorial calendar, but try to develop one early.
- Be Yourself & Write with Passion: So you’re not a writer. But you are someone who’s passionate about your business. You are someone with a point of view and a voice. Let all those things shine through. Yes blogging is writing, but don’t think about the writing part too much. It’ll slow you down and lead to writer’s block. Write like you’d talk to a friend if you were trying to solve his problem. Yes, blogging should position you as an expert, but don’t worry about sounding like some abstract idea of an expert. Write like you talk to your friends who you share your interests. If possible, let your authentic voice and point of view shine through without editing it out because you think your blog should sound like something else.
- Don’t Only Focus on Your Business: A blog is not a place to write more and more sales copy. Nor is it a place for you to talk about how great your business is. Again and again. Sure, share what’s new and cool in your business. Don’t be afraid of promoting products when they fit into a post on a larger topic. But make sure you broaden your blog’s focus to help position either you or your company as an expert in your field. Tackle what’s new or noteworthy in your industry. Comment on larger trends. Provide unique insights and offer tips. This is one of the ways you bring value to your readers and grow your readership.
- Focus on Your Customers (and Potential Customers): This is the flip side to the last point. Don’t focus your blog only in; turn your focus out. Provide value by knowing who your customers (or audience) are and what they are interested in. Even better, know what their problems are and solve them. Help people make smarter decisions, save time, save money, etc. If your blog can do that regularly, you may strike gold.
- Don’t Expect Too Much: Yes, I just said “you may strike gold,” but don’t expect to. At least not in the short term. A blog is a medium-to-long-term investment that you need to be patient with. Unrealistic expectations are what’s most likely to make you quit blogging prematurely. First, you need to be patient with yourself. You will make mistakes. You will change your mind. You will miss deadlines. You will have to feel your way through the early going. And you also need to be patient on the audience/reader side. Even if you are on your A-game from Day 1, no one may read your blog on Day 1…or 2 or… Keep in mind that some of what you do early on will be of value to your business later even if nobody reads it when it’s written. It will have some SEO value when the pages are indexed. It will help build your brand when people do get around to reading early posts. And you can always update early posts later to give you more fresh content. So don’t worry…start writing.
If you already have a blog up and running, let us know how it’s going. Tell us what has worked or not worked for your blog.
We’ll be publishing more blog tips in the future. Good luck with your blog.