6 steps for how to start a blog for your business

how to start a blog for businessIn my last post, I discussed the three reasons why you should start a blog for your business. Now let's talk about the preliminary steps required to launch a successful blog.
Think about your blog like any other major marketing initiative - or think about it like you are producing a magazine. The time you invest up front with thoughtful research and planning will help you stay focused and committed to creating consistent, valuable content that will support your marketing goals.

1.  Determine where to host your blog and who will manage it


There are many advantages to integrating your blog with your website, including SEO, branding and combined analytics. If you have a good web developer or if you're "one with your website" yourself, then you're probably comfortable with the mechanics and cost of building and managing a blog on your site with Wordpress or any other system. However, if you're a smaller operation with a limited budget, if you're not particularly tech-savvy, or if you don't already have a website, then you may prefer to set up a free, basic blog on Blogger.


2.  Decide which end-user audience(s) you want to appeal to  


By appealing directly to the end-users of your product or service, you will also appeal to the media, your colleagues, influencers and resellers (if applicable). Make a list of each type of end-user you want to target and write down their basic demographics. Think about their needs and interests, even those that fall outside of the scope of your business offerings. Consider what voice or tone you want to use in your blog posts that will convey not what you want to sell them, but rather what kind of long-term relationship you want to build with them.

3.  Make a list of all your keywords and possible search phrases


Pull from your product/service features and benefits, industry terminology, topics of expertise, types of problems you solve for clients, what they're currently passionate about, trends you want to capitalize on, etc. Having a brainstorming session to list and test these keywords and search phrases is important for developing the best content that builds SEO and is authentic and valuable for your readers.

4.  Design a blog header and template

 

Decide how to set it up so it's in line with your business identity and graphic standards, but clearly distinguished as an educational place, an inspiring place, a fun place, but NOT a selling place. It should appeal to the audience you identified and it should be easy for readers to navigate and enjoy. Review the blogs of your colleagues, competitors and key customers for comparison.

5.  Create an editorial calendar for the first 3-6 months


Using what you developed in steps 2 and 3, decide on the types of posts, topics, frequency, authors and images. Once a broad monthly calendar is created, then you can drill it down to specific action steps for getting each post developed, written, edited, published, propagated and/or repurposed on a weekly or daily basis. Try starting with a posting frequency of twice a week. Launch the blog publicly with 3-5 posts already published during the week(s) leading up to the launch date. Continue planning your content in advance as much as possible.

6.  Establish your measurements and analytics


Based on your goals for how your blog will fit within your overall marketing plan, decide on the measurements you want to track each month - visitor traffic, search rankings, engagement, etc. Set up a free Google Analytics account to review and analyze yourself each month, or enlist the help of someone else to create a regular report with recommendations for you.


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As you continue your blogging, be sure to continue listening to your audience - not only from the direct feedback or traffic you might get on your posts, but also through general social media and personal interactions. 

Adjust your content according to their needs, look for opportunities to address issues they care about and find creative ways to celebrate THEM, rather than yourself. You also want to continue watching the blogs of your colleagues, competitors and key customers.

Maintaining a blog does take a real commitment in order to develop real results. But soon it will become a natural extension of yourself and your business, and you'll undoubtedly find it to be one of your most important business communication tools.

2 comments:

  1. What -and how- do you use and recommend for creating a editorial calandra? Are there any good apps out there? I've seen lots of people using excel, but this seems a bit overkill...

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    Replies
    1. There are lots of apps out there, but I work with a simple Word doc for brainstorming ideas, and I make an easy visual calendar with Excel for plotting. Put these docs on Google drive if it's a team effort. Doesn't have to be overkill - even if you handwrite things in a journal or day planner, the important thing is that you use a tool you enjoy using, otherwise you won't use it. :-)

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Questions and comments are welcome!