You’re convinced that your business needs a blog, but now what? Here’s what you need to get started blogging the right way.
Decide on a blogging platform
This is the first decision you need to make, and I would argue that it’s your most important. If you’re blogging for a hobby or for family or fun, you could consider using any of the popular free blogging platforms like WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr, LiveJournal, Posterous Spaces, etc.
But for your business, DON’T be tempted by the free and easy solution. When you use a free service and post all of your great content on their website, you’re not helping your website or your business at all. You’re sending all of the traffic, all of the links and all of the authority to someone else’s site. Remember, when you get a service for free, you’re not the customer, you’re the product. See my post on digital sharecropping.
So check with your web hosting company to see which blogging applications they support. Most hosts support self-hosted WordPress blogs (which are different from the free blogging you can do on WordPress.com), and that is my recommendation.
Decide on a domain name for your blog
It may seem like a good idea to buy a new domain name and host your blog there. Maybe your main website domain is your business name, like jonesandsons.com. No keywords there. No indication of what your business does or where. So you might be tempted to buy dallasplumberblog.com since it’s got your location and type of business and the word “blog” in it. And maybe someone told you it has “seo value”.
Resist the urge.
Go with your already-established website and domain name and add your blog there. It’s as easy as creating a subdirectory named “blog”. Your web hosting company can help with this, or your web developer. So, using the example above, your new blog would be located at jonesandsons.com/blog
Why, you ask? All of the traffic, all of the links and all of the authority that your shiny new blog will create can benefit your existing website. And it can’t do that if you host it using another domain name.
The exception to this recommendation is if you don’t have a website at all. Then, by all means, think about using a domain name that can help identify what you do and where. Then build your website there, along with your blog.
Identify your audience – Create a list of topics
You will most likely be writing for your customers and potential customers. Decide on exactly who that is and then begin listing topics that you believe will be of interest to them. You may find that the first few blog posts practically write themselves. But after you’ve exhausted your obvious first topics, then what?
Check out these blog ideas for things to write about.
Don’t use your blog for self-promotion
Your goal should be to increase leads, right? So why wouldn’t you want to tell people how great your company is and why they should do business with you? Save that marketing stuff for your website pages. Let your blog be the place where you show your knowledge and expertise and don’t brag about it.
Nothing dissolves a reader’s confidence in you as an authority faster than sprinkling your blog posts with phrases like “Call us” or “We’re the experts” or “Here at Jones and Sons, we…”
Make sure your phone number and other contact info is on all of your pages, including your blog. But don’t use your blog posts to advertise your business or you’ll diminish its effectiveness.