It can be argued that there are three types of blogs in the online world. The first kind is that in which the blogger is using the blog itself to generate income. This can be done in several ways. Links that lead to purchasable items (affiliate links) and site advertisements are two ways that a blogger can create revenue. Then there are the blogs that are just for personal interest and/or fun. In these cases, the blogger has free reign, and often it doesn’t even matter to the blogger how many comments they get or what their traffic is. The third kind of blog is a business blog – a blog designed to help your company in some way. An example is this blog, which we use to share knowledge and increase awareness of our company.
Today’s five fundamentals are only in regards to the third kind of blog. There is a lot of information available regarding profit-making blogs and blogging as a hobby, so do not fear if you are interested in that topic. However, today’s tips are exclusively for those of you who want to use your blog for your business.
1. Have a readily accessible, very visible “about” statement
When people visit your blog, the first question they are going to have is, “Well, who are you and why should I care what you say?” Having an “about” page on your blog can be helpful, but even better is to offer a short tagline introducing your readers to who you are and, more importantly, to what you hope they will gain from your content. People are pressed for time and there are millions of blogs from which to choose. Don’t make visitors to your site question whether they are in the right place. Show them right away that they are visiting a site that will prove useful to them.
2. Create a consistent schedule
One of the biggest obstacles companies face when starting a blog is “How am I going to have time to create enough content?” Before word one goes onto your site, determine how often you want to publish a post. Discuss with all content creators what you feel is realistic. If you think you can publish one post a week, try to pick one day of the week, and one consistent time, when those posts will go live. If you think you can post three times a week, create a consistent schedule. Not only does this assist you in planning when to work on new content, this will also create a sense of expectation for your readers. They will begin to expect new content from you on those specific days, which will make your job of promoting the blog that much easier.
3. Create an editorial calendar
Another thing we hear quite often when discussing blogging is, “How will I come up with that many new ideas?” Before you start typing on your new blog site, create an editorial calendar. This does not have to be anything more than a few notes to help you record ideas, but it can be a real help over the first couple of months to know in advance what you want to write about and when. Mapping out an editorial calendar for your blog can also force you to integrate your blogging schedule with other facets of your marketing. For example, if you are going to be exhibiting at a trade show a month from today, you will know that you will probably want a post or two focused on that show during that time period. Best practice suggests that starting with at least 20 topics works best.
4. Write with the intent of being helpful
Often, companies start blogging simply by copying and pasting their press releases into their site. Not only does this appear lazy, but it also is not going to be of particular interest to many readers. People visit blogs because they are looking for information that will help them in some way. No matter what your occupation, we would bet you have a vast store of knowledge that would be helpful to your customers and prospects. That is the foundation on which your blog should rest.
5. Incorporate calls-to-action into your posts
You might be skeptical as to whether a blog can actually help your business in any meaningful way. Like any marketing tactic, blogs are only as helpful to you as you make them. Do not make your readers guess what you want them to do next. There are too many options to choose from – leaving a comment, sharing the post via social media channels, visiting your website, and more. Tell your readers what you want them to do. Offer them guidance. If you want them to visit a page where you’re offering a discounted service, include that at the tail end of your posts. If you want them to leave a comment, invite comments. The chances are good that if you leave the choice up to the reader, you will not see the results you are after.
We leave you with one bonus tip. Blogging of any kind is extremely difficult in the beginning. There is a lot of work that goes into it and it might take up to six months for your blog to start accumulating regular readers. That can be very frustrating and discouraging. Hang in there. The key is consistency – both in terms of scheduling and quality content. If you continue to work at it, it will be worth your time.
If you have any questions, please let us know. If you are contemplating starting your own business blog but don’t really know where to begin, email us about our ClayComm 2.0 Content Creation Suite!
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/barnett/2836828090/ via Creative Commons