Old website just doesn’t cut it anymore?Don’t have a web designer on staff?Want clients to be able to get news from you via Email?Short on money?Need to reach out to your clients?
If you have problems like these in your organization, blogging for business can solve them.
What we’ll talk about…this is the 40,000 foot view of blogging. There’s just no way to cover every detail in our time here. But let’s touch on enough so you understant what having a blog involves.
These are common blogging platforms, from the venerable old-timers Blogger & Livejournal to the current darling WordPress, to new microblogging platforms like Posterous, meant more for sharing photos, video, and quick thoughts.
Trad blogs – the ones you started seeing about a decade agoModern blog platforms can even power web sites, replacing a traditional html/css based web site with a site powered by a blog.
A traditional blog is a two-way conversation with your readers—it makes you accessible to your clients. If you write honestly and often on topics that interest them, they will be more likely to feel engaged with you & give you money for stuff. Who would you rather do business with or donate to? A faceless corporation—or your pal Heather?
Ablog powered website can be all that and more…it can be easier to build, it’s more SEO friendly than a trad website, its easier to change the content if the information changes, and you can still reap the benefits of conversation if you choose to.
The setup process: I’m going to generalize here. Each blog platform’s are a bit different, but they all share the same principles & generally the same features.Goals: what are you trying to do? Replace your website? You’ll need to approach this a little differently than if you’re simply trying to reach out to people. You’ll need to give more thought to the setup than if you’re doing a more traditional blog.Who’s your blogger? Someone needs to take this as part of their job. It’s important to do it frequently, so you’ll want a reliable person (or people!) who can write well. It’s best to choose someone who you trust to be in charge of the blog & leave them alone to do it, but it is possible to set it up so a manager approves posts before they go out.
These decisions all interrelate:Domain name: hosted accounts – you can get away without out one. Self-hosted accounts require one. My recommendation is to purchase a domain name either way – your own .com, .net, or .org if you don’t already have one. It lends legitimacy to your organization, and ultimately you’re going to ask people to part with their money by giving it to you, so looking like a pro can matter here.Platform & hosted/self-hosted: Platform is the software or service you choose, like WP or Blogger, or Type Pad, or whatever. Sometimes, you can choose whether to go with the service hosting the blog, or whether to host it on your own web server space, as with WordPress. Sometimes, your choice of platform will dictate your hosting choice. Blogger or WP.com = they host for free. TypePad = they host, but you pay for it. Web hosting is not expensive unless you become the next Justin Bieber and get millions of website hits a month. I have web server space that I share with my husband for about $20.00 a quarter. Self-hosting gives you total autonomy from the company behind your blog software.It’ll be simpler from here on out to choose 1 platform for demonstration purposes. I choose….WordPress.Why WP? It seems to be the platform of choice among geeks and power users at the moment. You can choose WP.org for the most control, or go with WP.com for a quick, hosted solution. NOTE: WP.com runs ads unless you pay them not to. I didn’t realize that for a long, LONG time. I just try to ignore it because I have no budget for the Biz Center blog.
You don’t HAVE to use a host with 1-click WP installation, but it’s a time saver. If you don’t, you’ll need to go to WP.org, download the software, unZIP it, upload it your web host account, run the installation program on the server, answer a few questions, then set up an account to login to the dashboard – the administration backend of the blog. 1 click installs save you these steps.Whatever method you choose, install it.That’s the only steps you add when you choose a self-hosted blog over a hosted solution. From here on out, all the principles apply to either type of blog setup.
Put in fake posts & comments to test it. Easier to see problems, & you can delete them before you go live.
Updating can “break” your blog – often anincompatableplugin is to blame. You can always log in, disable all the extras, then enable them one at a time to find the one that’s breaking it. It’ll take the plugin’s maker a little while to fix it, but when they do, you can enable it again.
Add your blog to blog search engines…and to Google. A good one to consider:Technorati.
Social Media Club is another place to meet & talk with like minds.Online sites that let you search for coders: project4hire.com, freelancer.com,elance.com, etc.
WP just has a stronger community of users, IMHO, so you can find more help online there. Again, IMHO.
We can ILL stuff, so you can try it before you buy it!
Let’s talk about… How can a blog help me? How do you set up a blog? What does it take to maintain it? How do I make it a success? Where do I find help if I need it?
What’s a blog? “A type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material.” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog
What’s a blog? Traditional blog Blog-powered website
How can a blog help me? Traditional blog Easy to get started SEO friendly Easily post fresh content Turns your web presence into a conversation
How can a blog help me? Blog-powered website Can replace simple or complex traditional websites More SEO friendly than traditional web site Easier to update content, too.
How do I set up a blog? Set goals. What do you want your blog to do? What will you write about? How often will you post? Do you want to allow comments? Who will be your blogger(s)?
How do I set up a blog? Will you need a domain name? Self-hosting? You’ll need one. Hosted or self-hosted blog? Hosted: cheap to free, less knowledge, less control Self-hosted: cheap, more knowledge, more control Choose your platform:
How do I set up a blog? Set up an account with a web host offering 1-click WP installation. Install WP. Includes setting up user account for your blogger. (You can add more accounts for each blog user any time).
How do I set up a blog? Configure blog settings Lots of settings! General settings Writing settings Reading Discussion Get a good WP book & walk through each option.
How do I set up a blog? Choose a theme WP Theme Showcase? Custom theme? Install the theme Adjust theme settings Options vary Includes things like header image, sidebar content.
How do I set up a blog? Add some content Pages = static content, such as “About Us”. Posts = most common entries on a traditional blog. Categories = blog table of contents Tags = blog index Widgets = code that adds functionality
How do I set up a blog? Test your setup. Try to use it. Does everything look right & make sense? Test it using different computers, browsers, smart phones, etc. Address any problems & re-test. Go live!
How do I maintain the blog? Install updates. You’ll see a notice in the Administration Panel. Updates are usually done right from there. Back up the blog & test the backups. Crucial for self-hosting Off-site back ups protect you from disaster.
How do I make it a success? Spread the word Include blog address on your publicity pieces, press releases, etc. Link to the blog from all your web presences (Facebook , for example) Tell your current clients, customers, users, etc.
How do I make it a success? Join the blog community Comment thoughtfully on other blogs on your topic or in your community Post frequently Daily isn’t too often Write posts ahead of time Use autopost to schedule updates
How do I make it a success? Post on topics your clients care about Success stories Industry news Conference experiences How –tos New products/services White papers Human interest stories
How do I make it a success? Friendly, informal tone Be genuine & helpful Write clearly Embed media when it makes sense Presentations Photos/Video/TV spots
How do I make it a success? Comments Reply ASAP Opportunity to make unhappy users happy Nuke spam Do not feed the trolls Ask for interaction from users Make it easy for users to share
Where do I find help? People User Groups, like chswordpress.org Social Media Club Charleston smccharleston.org Nonprofit? palmettotechnologyhub.org TLC at the Library presents blogging tech talks Hire a local geek, or find one online
Where do I find help? Web sites WordPress Codex: codex.wordpress.org WordPress forums: wordpress.org/support Blogger Help Center: google.com/support/blogger Blogger Help Forums: google.com/support/forum/p/blogger
Where do I find help? Books Blogging for Dummies by Gardner & Birley WordPress for Dummies by Sabin-Wilson Check book stores for lots more titles.
805-6930 firstname.lastname@example.org Research consultations available by appointment http://bit.ly/askccpl ccplbusiness.wordpress.com Happy Blogging!