Written By: Julie Poland
The first time I heard of the term blog (short for weblog) was when a website designer recommended it about nine years ago as a way to keep the website for my coaching company fresh. She explained that when website content changes, search engine spiders find the site more easily. Even though most new clients find my business through personal contact and not through a web search, I was game to try it to see whether it would improve my visibility in a Google search. I finally wrote and posted my first blog entry in September of 2005, and now blogging has become an integral part of my marketing mix.
Why a Blog May Be Good for Your Business
Beyond boosting your search engine ranking, you can achieve a number of additional goals by writing a blog:
- Expand your visibility in various social media.
- Establish your expertise in your industry, differentiating yourself from your competition.
- Share information about new developments in products and services to attract new and repeat customers.
- Provide a platform through which you can find out what customers are thinking about your business. The engagement with customers is perhaps the ultimate goal, but not for the fainthearted. Be sure that you really want to know what they are saying before you ask the questions!
- Preserve your precious capital by engaging in a FREE form of marketing. You’ll invest sweat equity, but no dollars unless you choose to hire someone to help you execute it or bump your visibility by purchasing ads to promote it.
Getting Started with Blogging
The simplest method to get a blog going is to use one of the online platforms. Blogger (a Google product) and WordPress are two of the most commonly used blog platforms. You establish an account, name your blog and select a template for the appearance of your blog. Your blog will have its own URL (for example, thefriendlyplumber.blogspot.com) that you can link to your main company website so that every blog update you do will automatically show up there.
Content and Blog Frequency
Your selection of content will be one of the chief determiners of the frequency at which you post to your blog. If you are a news blogger, for instance, a once daily post will leave you in the dust behind bloggers who are online the moment after a story develops. Most likely, however, your posts will either be informational and educational or commentary and opinion. If there is not time sensitivity in your content you will determine your own posting frequency: daily, biweekly, weekly, etc. The goal is enough frequency to attract regular readers and search engines, but only enough that it is sustainable for you to do.
Posts don’t have to be lengthy to be effective. Many new bloggers write articles that could be split into a series of related posts. In addition, consider your audience when determining the length of your posts. If your audience isn’t oriented toward reading, a photo-oriented post or one with a brief concept could be your best approach.
Knowing Your Audience
When you know the audience to whom you are targeting your posts, it is much easier to select content and determine the tone of your writing. For instance, if you are addressing teenaged skateboarders in your blog, you’ll choose different language than if you are blogging to middle-aged businesspersons. What does your target audience want to know, and what is it that you’d like to know from them?
If you’re going to the effort of producing blog posts you want it to be read by more than you, your spouse and your mother. So how do you spread the reach of your blog?
- Your content – When you write about valuable information, people will share it and comment on it.
- Make your blog available in multiple venues. One post can appear in several places – as a matter of fact, you can even print a few and make them available in your business location, send them with invoices, or in other communication with customers. Always, always include the URL so people can look you up later if they want to see more posts.
- Check out group blogging sites, where different pools of people can find you. Your local newspaper may have an online community blogging section where you can automatically submit your blog posts. There are sites organized by genre (like MomBloggers) where you can share your posts. And Alltop is a site where dozens of blogs can be found by category (you have to apply and be selected to be accepted there).
- Announce your blog updates by including a link to your newest post in your status updates on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
- Help readers become regulars. Feedburner can help your regular readers to receive your updates in their email. People can also read your posts on GoogleReader, one spot where they can obtain feeds from all of their favorite blog sites. Google Reader is going away as of July 1, 2013, but you and your readers can migrate smoothly to the “heir” to Google Reader – Feedly.com.
- Interact with other bloggers in your industry. Bloggers form a community – they can guest post for one another, comment on posts, provide ideas for content and technical improvements, etc. This isn’t a journey you have to take by yourself.
About the Author:
Julie Poland – President & Mentor, York SCORE
Julie founded her coaching and results improvement firm Summit HRD in 1990, and has worked with peak performers from the board room to the front lines in more than 30 industries. She is author of the leadership field book “Changing Results by Changing Behavior.”
www.summithrd.com | SCORE Mentors | @JuliePoland