A business blog is one of those things that is so easy start, and so easy to neglect. When you’re busy, blogging may seem like a less-than-productive use of time, but the truth is, an active blog is one of the most important things you can do for your business.
For one thing, between the frequent updates and the traffic your posts bring in, a blog will help your search engine ranking.
It will also put you on the map as an expert in your field, which will improve (or establish) your credibility.
In terms of marketing, a business blog is one of the most cost-effective tools you can utilize, effectively saving you money in marketing costs.
Those savings alone can count as money generated from the time you put into blogging — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
As your blog becomes more established, it will become a high-value lead generator, drawing people who have an established interest in the products or services you provide.
Whether you’ve already started a blog but haven’t kept it up as well as you should, or whether you haven’t yet started a business blog, this step-by-step guide will help you launch one into success.
13 Steps to Starting a Business Blog
1. Establish Your Brand
Ideally, before you put your business out there, you’ve established its brand. Branding is an entire topic in and of itself, but the short version is: Define your mission, your market, and the qualities you want to be associated with, and create a logo, look, and voice that reflects it.
Your branding will be used everywhere, not least of all on your blog. It has to be exceptional. It’s possible to do it yourself, but it’s worth the investment to have professionals create your logo and tag line.
2. Choose a Domain Name
Your domain name is a major part of your business and brand identity. If you’re lucky, you can get “yourbusinessname.com,” but if it isn’t available, you’ll have to get creative (but not too creative).
Your ideal name may only be available with unusual extensions such as .biz or .enterprise, which are unfamiliar to many and may come off as unprofessional.
The extension .org generally shouldn’t be used for a business (unless you’re a nonprofit), but there are no restrictions preventing you from using it.
If possible, find an easy to remember name that fits your business name and branding and is available as a .com.
3. Find a Web Platform
This might seem like the hardest part of the process (granted, there are lots of choices), but it’s really pretty simple. Unless you’re married to the idea of using another specific web platform, a CMS (content mangement system) is your best option, and the top one, powering a third of all websites is WordPress.
But not just any WordPress. As you may or may not be aware, WordPress has two platforms: The free-hosted WordPress.com, and the self-hosted WordPress.org.
You might be tempted to use the free version, which is certainly serviceable and customizable, but it has drawbacks for a business blog, not least of all that you have to use a WordPress domain (ie: “yourname.wordpress.com) instead of your own domain name.
Using your own domain is much more professional, and self-hosted WordPress.org is the one to select. Established web hosting companies that offer “Cpanel” will have one-click WordPress installation and a guide. Then you are hosting and in control of your own website.
4. Selecting a Theme
Before you can actually start blogging, you need to decide on a theme. Not as in topic, but as in the visual theme of your blog.
There are countless WordPress themes out there that are easy to install and customize.
To avoid a cookie-cutter look, avoid using a theme right “out of the box.” Instead, incorporate your branding into the theme. You can also integrate the blog into your existing website, which will negate the need to use a theme.
5. Know Your Purpose
Once your blog is all set up, it’s time to decide what, exactly, your blog is going to accomplish. Is it going to be used to communicate to deliver information and updates, in-depth content, or insights into your business and the industry?
Certainly, you can incorporate all of these things, but the purpose, whether you intend to educate, inform, or entertain, needs to be decided before you start blogging.
6. Know Your Market
When establishing your brand, you should have looked at your target demographics and set a tone and voice to appeal to them. That’s the same tone and voice you want to use in your blog.
Beyond that, think about what your market is likely to respond to. If you have an outdoorsy company, you should blog about buying hiking boots rather than televisions.
7. Set Goals
It’s always good to set goals, and your business blog is no different. Set a goal for posts per week, number of shares per week, and blog hits per week, keeping it realistic at first.
When you meet a goal, raise the bar. If you can’t seem to reach a goal, investigate why.
8. Create Quality Posts
The most important part of a successful business blog is the posts themselves. Quality is paramount. That doesn’t just mean you’ve crossed all your t’s and dotted your I’s and your grammar is impeccable (though that helps).
Blog posts should be relatable, easy to read (don’t raid the Thesaurus), and enjoyable. Write as if you’re talking, and don’t be afraid to throw in anecdotes and light humor here and there when appropriate.
Blogging is not academic writing — you should be making your readers comfortable, not confused.
All blog posts should also have a visual component to them. At the very minimum, they should have a nice descriptive graphic with the blog title and your logo (you can whip these up with Canva quickly). Without an image, your social media shares will be text only and much more likely to go unnoticed.
9. Be Interactive
Your blog should have a comment section, and you should encourage readers to leave their thoughts. Not only does it make readers feel more welcome at your blog, frequent commenters give your blog a sense of community.
When you do get comments, reply to them when possible, even get a conversation going. It’s a great way to build loyalty and trust.
10. Keep a Schedule
Ideally, you’ll blog something at least every day during the week. Keeping up with an active blog can be one of the biggest challenges for business owners, and one of the biggest reasons business blogs go virtually dormant.
You can make it easier by keeping a 5-day blog schedule each week. For example, on Mondays you post a new tutorial, on Tuesdays an in-depth article, Wednesdays something humorous related to your industry, etc.
If it’s too much for you to keep up with, enlist employees to contribute or hire contract writers to ghostwrite your ideas into blogs — and it is okay to just post once or twice a week. The key here is consistency.
11. Create an Email List
Whether you plan to send out a meaty monthly newsletter, sale announcements, or periodic recaps of your recent blogs, and email list is a must-have.
For one thing, it’s lead generation — and the leads, in the case of a blog, came to you and wanted more.
Maintaining an email list is easy, especially with a system like MailChimp, which simplifies emails to your list (including great-looking newsletters), and manages subscribers.
MailChimp’s call to action button is easy to put on your blog sidebar. Once it’s installed, all you have to do is track your subscribers and create periodic emails.
12. Promote Yourself
Readers aren’t going to just magically appear on your blog when you start publishing blog posts. You have to promote your posts like there’s no tomorrow.
Share your blog posts on all of your social media accounts. Don’t forget, all shares should have an eye-catching image attached. Images will generate automatically when the post is shared.
Aside from social media, you can quietly promote your blog by leaving comments on other blogs within your industry.
This is really more networking and relationship building than promotion, but every comment you make includes a link to your blog, giving it extra value.
Other ways to promote your blog include syndicating your best posts, guest posting on well-known blogs, and email marketing.
13. Keep Track of Your Stats
WordPress.org offers comprehensive analytics for your blog — use them. Tracking your stats tells you what works, and, even more importantly, what falls flat and isn’t worth putting time into.
You can get an idea of when your blog gets the most hits and from where, information that can be used in scheduling and demographics.
Review your stats once a week or so, and do a more in-depth investigation monthly.
Is a business blog a lot of work? Absolutely, but you can make it work for you and fit it into your schedule with organization, vision, and assistance.
Most smaller business owners I know wish they had more traction online, and in many cases aren’t utilizing their blog to the fullest (or worse, don’t have one).
A business blog is a relatively cheap and easy way to market yourself and create brand recognition.
Do you keep a blog for your business? Share your tips for keeping on top of it in the comments!
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