Top 5 things to decide BEFORE you start writing a blog
1. What do you call it?
If you don’t have a domain name for your business yet, check available domain names at places like Dotster.com or GoDaddy.com and select one that either matches your business name or describes what you do. Adding geographic info to the domain name is a plus. For example: smithbrothersplumbing.com or dallasplumbers.com
Don’t stress over the domain name though. If your business name or all variations of your service and location are already taken, go with the next best choice that makes sense to you. And select a .com file extension. Don’t be tempted to go for a .biz or a .org (unless you’re a non-profit) and none of the rest are popular enough to choose.
2. Where do you host it?
It’s tempting to take advantage of free blogging platforms like WordPress.com or Blogger.com, but why would you want to send your readers away from your own website and add more traffic to those mega sites?
Host your small business blog on your own domain. It’s easy and inexpensive. If you already have a domain, check with your hosting provider to see if they support a WordPress blog installation. Most do. Most can even set it up for you so you just log in to the admin dashboard and get started.
- If you have a website already…
When you install a blog on an already existing website, you have the option to choose which page to “point” it to as the blog’s home page. Just create a page named “blog” and install your blog there.
- If you don’t have a website yet…
You have the option of making the blog home page be the home page for your whole website, or you can have a static home page and have the blog be a sub-page. Either option is fine.
3. What kind of blogging platform or software should I use?
There are several software platforms for self-hosted blogs but the most popular and most commonly used are WordPress, Drupal, and Moveable Type. The number of self-hosted WordPress blogs far outnumbers any other blogging software, but you should take a look at all of them. (This is a WordPress blog.)
4. What is your purpose in having a small business blog?
Are you trying to increase traffic to your website? Are you selling products online? Are you trying to get foot traffic to your retail location? Are you a service provider who needs the phone to ring?
Decide what you need your blog to do for you and then make sure that all of the content you add to it is geared to that purpose. And remember, content is text, photos, graphics and videos.
Whatever you publish should be closely related to your area of expertise so you can:
- establish yourself as an authority in that area, and
- help manage your online reputation
5. Who is your target audience?
Closely related to the purpose for having a small business blog, determining your blog’s audience is helpful in deciding what to publish.
Are you a B2B kind of business? If so, is your audience a certain niche of professionals? Are you selling products/services to consumers? Do you know the demographics of your ideal customer?
Knowing whom you are writing to helps you craft your message and increases the likelihood that your blog will accomplish your goals.