The Right Way to Start Business Blogging
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The Right Way to Start Business Blogging

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How do you best prepare before starting a business blog? Stockholm-based communications strategist Jon Buscall offers some quick tips to get you started.

How do you best prepare before starting a business blog? Stockholm-based communications strategist Jon Buscall offers some quick tips to get you started.

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The Right Way to Start Business Blogging The Right Way to Start Business Blogging Document Transcript

  • The Right Way to Start Business Blogging Jon Buscall
  • Introduction So you’re thinking of starting a business blog? Excellent. I know from experience that customers increasingly want businesses to show them what they do, how they think, and who they are. Blogs are a great way of doing that. Getting started with a blog can be as easy as the click of a button what with the existence of a stack of free blog-hosting services out there. But by taking a few minutes to read this E-book you will know how to give yourself the best platform to build your success on. I know you’re busy so my aim is to get you quickly up to speed with the essentials. You can find out plenty more about business blogging by doing a bit of research. But this E-book will tell you some of the practical things you need to know to get started. If you have any questions, or want to know more about how a business blog can help your company communicate more effectively, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Very best wishes, Jon Jon Buscall, PhD Tel: +00 46 - (0) 758 68 79 Email: jon@jontusmedia.com Web: www.jontusmedia.com Twitter: @jonbuscall
  • The Right Domain Name Before you do anything, purchase a domain name that will suit your purposes. If your company already has a website consider not just setting your blog up in a subdirectory: e.g. www.yourdomain.com/blog/ Instead, purchase a domain name that reflects what your business does. For example, if you’re a canine behaviorist you could select something along the lines of www.dog-training-tips-com to complement your established website at www.yourdomain.com. Or if you’re, say, an psychoeducational assessor who helps kids go with something like www.help4students.org. If you’re a freelancer, it might be better to just A good domain use your own name if people already know name is an that. important part of your overall No matter what, make sure you host your blog design on a server rather than using a free service (such as Blogger.com). This means you retain control of your site and build the value of the domain, rather than helping someone else build theirs. You can buy your domain at GoDaddy or 000domains For hosting I recommend MediaTemple and Enginehosting
  • The Right Blog Software Choose WordPress. It’s free and very easy to use. More significantly, there is a wealth of plugins and information to help your site perform well in Google’s search results. You want your blog to do well in Google because it will be one of the main ways new customers will find your website. The other great thing about WordPress is that it lets you concentrate on ideas and expressing yourself instead of worrying about the tools of running a blog. Believe me, use WordPress. Link: For the very best in WordPress tips check out Lorelle on WordPress.
  • The Right Blog Theme Even if you can afford the skills of a designer, I would personally recommend you use Chris Person’s Thesis Theme as a framework (no affiliate link, just a recommendation!). Thesis is easy to tweak for Search Engine Optimisation and there’s excellent support and resources available from the Thesis community. It’s not free but the minimal cost will benefit your business blog no end. Tip: Bookmark Matt Files 100 Resources for Thesis. You’ll find a lot of these links useful.
  • The Right Permalink Structure Google likes friendly urls (web addresses). Out of the box, WordPress creates rather strange looking urls. To overcome this you should change your permalink settings in WordPress so each post you write creates its own friendly url: E.g. www.yourdomain.com/postname/ To do this simply go to: Select Settings > Permalinks (once you’ve logged into WordPress). Paste /%postname%/ into the Custom Structure field and hit save.
  • The Right Blog Plugins Although WordPress is geared for excellent Search Engine Optimisation out of the box and easy to use, I have found that the following Plugins are indispensable in improving SEO and building a successful weblog: Comment Redirect This redirects commenters who just made their first comment to a page of your choice. On Jon Buscall.com it directs first time commenters to my Thanks for commenting page. It’s a great way of building a connection with readers. Dagon Design Sitemap Generator This generates a fully customizable sitemap. Google likes this – a lot. Google XML Sitemaps Excellent – because it generates a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of your WordPress blog which is supported by Ask.com, Google, MSN Search and YAHOO. All you need to know is that this will benefit your SEO. PrintFriendly This plug-in creates a PrintFriendly.com button which will help people easily print your site. Don’t forget, people still like to print out material to read on the train home or sharae with colleagues. Robots Meta This plugin allows you to add all the appropriate robots meta tags to your pages and feeds, disable unused archives and nofollow unnecessary links. Important for SEO; in other words how Google ranks you!
  • ShareThis Let your visitors share a post/page with others. Supports e-mail and posting to social bookmarking sites. You want people to be able to easily share your content with others. Subscribe To Comments Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry. A conversation shouldn’t just end with one comment. Readers like to know what other people are saying. WP Greet Box Show a different message to your visitor depending on which site they are coming from. It’s a great way of encouraging people to subscribe to your RSS feed. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin This plugin returns a list of related entries that can tempt your reader to browse through more of your site. It’s a great way of encouraging visitors to your site to explore more of your work. There are plenty of other plugins available, but these are the ones I personally recommend.
  • The Right Blog Content Having sorted the technical stuff, it’s time to set down and do some serious writing as you generate your site’s content. This requires planning, time and commitment. Fill your blog with meaningful content about your subject. A good rule of thumb is to try to think of what people might look for in Google within your field. E.g. How to stop my dog barking (if you’re a canine behaviourist), How to write formal emails (if you’re a communications strategist), Tree Pruning Tips (if you’re a gardener), Getting AD/HD Diagnosed (if you work with psychoeducational assessment), etc. You might also include product information, tips, guides, special offers and basically anything that you might think could be of interest to potential customers. “Great content is the key to a great You don’t have to update your blog everyday blog” but you should do so fairly regularly. Three - Darren Rowse, Problogger times a week is a good amount to start off with as you build content and hopefully a regular group of followers. How to write effective, trust-building copy If you’re wondering how you can get a blog to work for you, here are four tips to write effective, trust-building copy that will help you get readers sticking around and generate customer loyalty.
  • 1. Write Conversationally The best blogs on the Net speak directly to their audience. They don’t drone on in corporate claptrap. Instead, they strike up a conversational tone that addresses the reader. Write your blog with your target audience in mind. Don’t fall into the trap of filling your copy with a sea of jargon. And certainly don’t try and impress people with your vocabulary. The emphasis is on writing in a friendly, accessible way so people stick around and listen. I find it’s always a good idea to read a blog post aloud before I hit publish. That way you ensure there’s personality in what you’re writing. 2. Share Stories Readers want to know who you are and what you’re doing. In the the last couple of years the Net has become incredibly social. That’s partly why Twitter has become so popular. It gives followers an insight into people’s lives. As a business blogger, if you give your reader insights into the work you do, you have the chance to show the human side of our business. One of the hardest things to get across in brochures and advertising copy is the personality of a business and the people that run it. Blogging can help you overcome that. By sharing the challenges, innovations, problems and services you deal with, readers will get to know you better. This can be an important step in making them feel like they can approach you. 3. Update Frequently There’s nothing worse than coming across a corporate business blog that has lain idle for a month. Even worse if it’s six months.
  • It’s essential to regularly update your blog, and keep readers coming back for more. If you don’t have a minimum posting schedule, you should to ensure you don’t fall behind. If left to dwindle –even if you’re super busy with projects– a blog can work against your business as it may give the impression that you start things and leave them half-finished. Or that you never follow through. This is not something you want customers to associate with your company. 4. Don’t Avoid Difficult Issues Silence is not an excuse. Not these days when consumers are adept at blogging, tweeting and stumbling their thoughts about a company. With a blog you can always put your side of the story. And sometimes you will have to when individuals or groups work against you. A good example of this is the way that Basset Hound breeders in the UK didn’t respond sufficiently to the accusations raised by a BBC documentary earlier this year – Pedigree Dogs Exposed. A blog doesn’t just generate traffic to your website or promote your skills and services. It can also tell your side of the story in times of crisis. Because Google tends to rank blogs that are updated regularly fairly highly, you can almost always guarantee that your position will be heard. A company blog is, thus, an excellent tool for promotion, communication, and information.
  • Where Next? There is, of course, much more to business blogging. Here are a few more things you might like to think about: • Is Blogging Dead? • Business Blog Planning • Your Business Needs a Blog Policy • Corporate Blogs – Failing with copy • Crisis Management – Why you need a blog
  • Credits, Copyright, Contact Cover images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/supermariano81/3047491255/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/raulc/41808738/ Copyright: Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License Contact: Jon Buscall, PhD Tel: +00 46 - (0) 758 68 79 Email: jon@jontusmedia.com Web: www.jontusmedia.com Twitter: @jonbuscall