Some of the most frequently asked questions from small businesses involve blogging.
- Should I have a business blog? YES!
- How do I start? SEE BELOW
- How often should I publish new content? REGULARLY. AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK
- What should I write about? WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW
- How do I get people to read my blog? PROMOTE YOURSELF (SEE BELOW)
Setting up a blog
If you already have a website for your business, there are several ways you can add a blog to it. Resist the temptation to use a free blogging platform like WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr and the like. Why? Because when you publish your great original content on their platforms, they reap the benefits of the traffic.
Instead, add a blog to your own domain and begin building your own traffic and authority as an expert in your niche. WordPress has a free blog product that most web hosting companies will actually set up for you, on your own domain name. If your web host doesn’t offer this service, you can download the files you need from WordPress and install them on your existing web server. This is called a self-hosted blog. You or your web developer will need to add a link on your existing website that connects to your blog so visitors to your site can get to your blog from any page.
If you don’t have a business website yet, it’s even easier. Select a web hosting company, making sure that they also allow you to register your domain name, and make sure they can install your WordPress blog on your site so you can log in and begin customizing your website immediately. You can choose to have your blog be the home page of your site, or you can choose to have a separate page that is the home page. There are many free themes to choose from to create exactly the look and feel you want.
How often to publish on your blog
It’s a good idea to get at least 5-10 blog posts ready to publish when you launch your blog. You could start with just one blog post, but if you lay down a good foundation of content that shows your readers that you know what you’re talking about, you can build credibility faster. On day one, make sure your readers have more to browse than just one post.
Once your blog launches with your first offerings, be ready to publish new content at least once a week. More frequent blog posts are great, if you have something of value to say, but don’t let more than a week go by without adding fresh insights.
Set up your blog so that you get notified via email every time someone leaves a comment. Be sure to approve the legitimate comments and send the rest to your blog’s spam folder, and respond quickly to comments. Remember that comments and your responses are additional fresh content!
If your goal is to outperform your competition in search results, take a look at your competition’s websites. Are they blogging? If so, how often? This information can help you decide how frequently you need to publish in order to outperform them. Here’s a tip, though: quantity isn’t the only factor. If you write better quality content than your competitors, and you are more effective at promoting it, you can outperform someone who daily publishes mediocre or copied content.
What should I write about?
This is often asked along with “How do I come up with interesting topics?” and “Can I reprint other interesting stuff I see online?”
First, put yourself in your reader’s place. Who are the people you are writing for? What are they interested in learning from you? Before you worry about turning your readers into customers, you need to find out what they need. What problem do they have that you can solve?
Keep in mind that this is a representation of your business, and don’t stray into topics that aren’t relevant. Quoting other resources online is a great idea, and writing about what others have written is okay, but copying content from others is not. Be sure you are creating original content.
Here are 10 Blog Ideas to Kickstart Your Writing.
- Common problems your customers have that you can resolve
- Frequently Asked Questions is always a great idea
- Definitions of terms used in your industry
- Expert tips that show your experience
- News and trends in your industry
- New services/products you offer
- A Top 10 List. About anything. (Or Top 5, or The 8 Best…)
- Before and After photos and stories
- Short videos of your business or of you answering a question
- Ask a question and/or set up a poll to encourage interaction
And here are 7 Things You Should Never Do on a Small Business Blog.
How do I get people to read my blog?
- Announce your blog with an email to your customer list
- Use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to publish links to your blog posts
- Link to other relevant blogs in your industry
- Quote experts in your industry, linking to their Twitter and/or Facebook pages
- Interview an expert in your industry and ask them to help promote the interview
- Invite colleagues and experts in your field to submit a guest post
- Be sure to allow comments on your blog posts
- Use offline and online resources to promote your website/blog
Building a successful business blog that brings targeted traffic to your website is not an overnight project. Give your blog time to get established. The more content you publish, the more you will be building a resource that is useful to your audience and is an asset to your business. And don’t give up! Once you have some momentum built up, it becomes easier to keep going and growing.
From time to time we update and republish some of our popular blog posts that are still relevant. The original version of this post, which was written by Marion Jacobson, appeared on August 25, 2014 under the title, “How to Start a Business Blog.”