Facebook and Twitter and other social media are good ways to create a buzz about your business but to really hook a customer, and to keep them coming back there's nothing better than a blog. A good well-written blog allows you to sell your business and services, it shows you mean business, and it's a great way to show customers that you understand them and the business you are in.
A good, well-written blog can help sell a business and help increase the profile of your business, but there's more to it than knocking off a couple of hundred words on something that came to you over breakfast: the first step is to find a good writer.
Wanted – a mean, keen, blog writer
If you want to be successful at blogging then you need some writing skills and some good genuinely held ideas. Unfortunately the ability to write clear, interesting copy is not usually one of the main skills held by many business owners, and it's not a skill that comes naturally to everyone.
It probably comes as no surprise that many blogs are not written by the people in the business. If they're not written by the marketing or PR department, then they're normally written by professional writers who ghost-write the pieces. While there's nothing wrong in doing this it does tend to turn the finished article into a bland piece written in double-speak and scattered with marketing clichés. If you want a good blog post then find someone in the business who wants to write about the business, and who has passion.
Chances are there's someone in your business who's passionate about writing and who is passionate about the business and that makes a killer-combination when it comes to blogging.
How to set up a business blog
Although your company might have a website, it may not have a blog or the software capable of publishing one. An obvious solution would be to install WordPress, along with a theme to match your business web design, and install the best WordPress plugins you may need. In many instances the process should be simple and painless to set up, especially when many business websites are now built using WordPress.
However, it may be a better idea to set up your blog on its own domain. Why? Well, for larger companies - who almost certainly aren't using WordPress - the idea of installing additional online software will set up security flags. After all, any vulnerability in the blog platform, theme, or plugins, could open up the entire business website and server to hacking. Not what anyone wants. So what should you do?
In such instances it's worth using a domain registrar to buy a related domain name - or even use an older domain your business might be using. For example, if your business address is .com, you might also have .org and .net to protect your brand. So consider using one of these. Alternatively, simply opt for [BusinessName]blog.com or similar.
Of course, you'll also want to use a different web hosting service to host your blog. Not only does it ensure there's no security risk in running it, it also means that if your business website does actually go down you can use your blog to keep customers updated.
If that's the case, while WordPress might be the obvious solution, don't overlook website builders which are especially useful the less technically-minded, and those who don't want to invest in coders to set everything up.
How to choose a subject for your blog
Once you're ready and setup, what then? Well, think carefully about the topics you want to blog about, and think especially about your audience.
Company blogs that just concentrate on the business can be very dull, if you're trying to raise your businesses profile the last thing you want to blog about is how great your iPhone is, or the problems you have had finding a good web designer.
Don't be afraid to talk about the issues that face your business, or the industry. Your customers want to know that you understand the business and that your industry inspires you. Customers also looking for honesty in your approach. Most people would much rather read an article that talks about the faults of the industry and what your business plans to do to fix them, than endless articles about how wonderful the business is.
If there's something newsworthy that has happened in your industry or there's something that is trending on Twitter or reaching the top of the search engines then exploit that buzz, and do it now while the trend is HOT. The motto for the great blogger should be, seize the day or carpe diem if you want to be all Latin.
In general if it's something that you feel strongly enough about, and you're qualified enough to write about it then don't be afraid to say what you think.
Mention as many people as possible
If you read any blog, column in a newspaper or magazine, you'll find that at least half of their writing is not about them, it's about other people. Newspapers learnt a long time ago that by including the community in their writing and photography paid dividends. If you write about other people, you're opening up your readership, so talk about how passionate your employees are and make sure you mention their names. Talk about other people in business you admire, and talk about your customers, and even talk about your competitors and other people and businesses that you admire or hate – although be careful about what you say, and don't just make the blog a list.
Most big businesses search for their names and products online, and by writing about them you'll get on their radar. If you're looking to sell your business, it will do no harm to get yourself on the radar of a bigger business with cash reserves.
Pause before you press publish
Once your blog is out there, there's no going back. You can retract an article and you can delete an article from your site, but you can't delete the article from Google or the Internet, especially if something you've written gets picked up by another website. If you're just starting out, then before you publish anything get a second opinion on your blog. It doesn't matter who you ask, someone in the business or a friend, ideally someone who's opinion you respect.
Keeping your blogs regular
If you want to maintain an audience then you should try and keep your blog regular, it doesn't have to be every day, or week, or to a precise timetable, but it shouldn't be so irregular that there are gaps of months between each one. Additionally, if there's a big event happening now, then write about it now. Don't wait for your regular blog slot.
Go with the flow
Make sure that you listen to your audience. A good way to work out what works and what doesn't in a blog is to look at your blogs' traffic. Your analytics will show you which blog has been read the most, you'll be able to see which blog people have spent longer reading. You will also be able to see where they're coming from, if your traffic is mostly US and you don't sell in the US, then perhaps there's a market there.
Blogs with comments
Lastly allowing comments to your blogs should be mandatory for any good blog. A blog with lots of comments underneath says to your reader that you are willing to listen to others. It also says that you're popular. Additionally try to answer some of the comments if you can, you don't have to answer all the comments, but in the early days it certainly helps to keep a blog post warm in the eyes of the search engines, when you're successful, then your readers will do this for you.
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