How to Create a Successful Small Business Blog
 

How to Create a Successful Small Business Blog

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If you are a small business owner, chances are you have been told... "you need to start a blog" ...

If you are a small business owner, chances are you have been told... "you need to start a blog"

Maybe you agree with these statements, but where do you start and how is it going to bring you more paying customers? This is one of the many questions I’m asked by our customers who are looking to jump into the blogosphere, so let’s get to it!

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How to Create a Successful Small Business Blog How to Create a Successful Small Business Blog Document Transcript

  • How to Create aSuccessful Blog Small BusinessBased on an interview withMichael Stelzer of Brought to you bySocialMediaExaminer.comWritten by Ferris Stith,Social Media Manager at PostcardMania
  • If you What is aare a Blog and You shouldsmall Why do You start bloggingbusiness Need One? Blog is a coined term from the word Weblog (web-log), which is a discussion orowner, information site, published on the internet, consisting of discrete entries (aka “posts”). These are typically displayed in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first. Until 2009, blogs were usually the work of a single individual, occasionally ofchances a small group, and often were themed on a single subject (reference: Wikipedia).are you You need a In layman’s terms: A blog is an online journal.have business blog Today, blogs are an essential part of any online marketing strategy. In the olden days, we had to pay to have an ad in the Yellow Pages. We had to pay to have an ad in a magazine. We had to pay to have a radio spot. We had to pay for all sorts of things! These things addbeen up and can get to be very, very expensive. The good news about a blog is that you become the publisher! That means you’re no longertold... reliant on paying someone else to get your content out to readers, even if it’s just online and connected to your website. You can start building a community and you own your community. You can get rid of the middleman. And when you get rid of the middleman, you can quickly grow your business because one of the biggest expenses businesses often have is their marketing investment. So invest in a blog, develop your own content, and buildMaybe you agree with these statements, but where do you startand how is it going to bring you more paying customers? This is your online presence at the same time.one of the many questions I’m asked by our customers who arelooking to jump into the blogosphere, so let’s get to it! NOTE: It most every case, a blog is not sufficient for your marketing, but it can significantly reduce the cost and increase the effectiveness of a fully integrated program!
  • Getting Started: Creating Your Blog:First you’re going to need a blog platform, which is the foundation of your blog. There are For now, let’s keep it simple. Here are a few steps to get you started on your bloggingmany free options from which to choose. These are the top three we recommend: adventures right now: Wordpress – This is a personal favorite and is the • Choose the platform that best suits your needs and create your account. platform we use at PostcardMania. It’s very user- friendly. You can choose from a plethora of free • Decide on a title for your blog; something that ties into your business/brand, but template designs (and paid versions, too) or you can isn’t the exact name of your business. Your title should also communicate the topic create a customized blog design. You also have the angle of what you’ll be talking about on your blog (e.g. company name: ABC Dental, ability to host your blog using a custom domain blog name: ABC’s of Happy Teeth). www.example.com or via Wordpress www.wordpress.com/example • Customize your blog using the free themes/designs or hire someone to create a custom blog design for you. I recommend the latter option so that you can get really specific and turn your blog into a lead-generating tool – not just a pretty site. Blogger – This is another easy-to-use blogging platform, owned by Google. If you have a Google • Start researching other bloggers within your industry. See what they’re writing account, you can login and setup your blog from about; take notes so that you can start working on developing your own original there. Similar to Wordpress, Blogger has a ton of free content. You don’t want to be a copycat or talk about topics that have been template designs. You can also create a custom blog thoroughly covered already. You also want to make sure you’re talking about things design. Blogger also has similar publishing options: your audience will actually read. So, how do you do this? hosting on Blogspot example.blogspot.com or hosting on your own custom domain (www.example.com). Tumblr - Similar to Wordpress and Blogger, Tumblr has free template designs, as well as the option of creating a custom blog design. Tumblr also has similar publishing options: hosting on Tumblr example.tumblr.com or hosting on your own custom domain ww.example.com. One feature I like about Tumblr is their iPhone publishing app. It allows you to email or text posts on the go using your smartphone!In addition to custom themes, domain names and publishing features – each of theseblogging platforms have a large library of plugins and widgets to help you optimize andtrack your presence.
  • Content Creation:Once you’ve figured out the topic angleyour blog will be covering, it’s time to startcreating content to post onto your blog.At PostcardMania, we cover small businessmarketing tips that any small business canuse and implement to help their business grow.What we try to do is identify concepts that areinteresting, educational, and will resonate withentrepreneurs in a variety of industries.So if you’re a small business owner who onlytargets one market or demographic, how would yougo about creating content that is valuable?First and foremost, ask some of your customerswhat content would interest them. If you don’thave customers, ask some people that fit your idealcustomer profile. Try to find topics that you can turninto content related to your business that is going to bein demand. In the case of SocialMediaExaminer.com,they asked people, “What are the social media tools youplan on using in the future?” This helped them determinewhat they should write about.
  • Finding Time for Content Creation: PostingWe know that a majority of small business owners are pressed for time; so taking on a blogging poorly-wrproject can be quite overwhelming. Start by asking yourself: Do you want the best possible itten, semi-profcontent? Do you, as a small business owner, have the time to commit to content creation? If you essional,don’t, find someone who can create great content for you. Posting semi-professional, poorly- content is worse thawritten content is worse than posting nothing at all. In doing so, readers will not see you as an posting n nindustry leader and therefore won’t visit your blog or recommend it to others. othing at all.If you want to hire someone to write yourcontent for you, here are a few ways to find If you’re looking to do all the writingfreelance copywriters: yourself, here are some tips to get your Hire a Company – Many marketing agencies and firms, like PostcardMania, offer brain working and overcome writer’s block: copywriting services specifically for blog content. • • Go to www.alltop.com or www.technorati.com. Find blogs within your industry or LinkedIn – Go into the people search section on LinkedIn and type in “freelance topic by doing a keyword search. Visit the blogs that you find in the results of your copywriter” in the search bar. Then select your search criteria for location and be search and subscribe to them. You’ll be surprised at what ideas will spark in your • sure to widen your search criteria on the type of connection (meaning if they’re in head after reading a couple posts. your network or not). You want to be able to pull the largest amount of results to scroll through. If you see someone you like, send them an InMail message. If you don’t • Connect with the bloggers you are now following, and see if they’d be willing to have that option, go to their profile, find their website, and contact them via their site. write a guest post for your blog. UrbanInterns.com – Urban Interns connects growing companies with people • What are some of the most frequently asked questions you address on a daily seeking part-time jobs, internships, and freelance work. This site is a great tool to use or weekly basis? Taking those questions, create a post that addresses each one • if you’re looking to hire a per-post copywriter. And sometimes, there are people who individually. Be sure to include helpful links and resources when relevant. The more would be willing to write for you for free to build their portfolio. Just make sure you connections you make the larger your internet presence becomes. have some guidelines set up beforehand. You don’t want to have to link back to their website or profile on your blog posts. Linking to irrelevant content or data will send • Anything new and exciting happening in your industry? Keep your readers up to your site visitors away from your website, and reduce the integrity of your blog. date on new product/service launches, etc.
  • Self-Promotionon Your Blog:Let’s talk about “self-promotion” on your blog. How importantis it to remove all the marketing content from one’s blog (i.e. Guest Bloggers & Influencers:banner ads, etc.)? Let’s switch gears and talk about guest bloggers. How do you find the right people to create guest posts on your blog that would be relevant to your readers?The answer is: it really depends on your business model. Ifyou’re not planning on allowing others to advertise on your The first step is to identify interesting writers within your industry or niche. Try to find up-and-comers, thoseblog — only your own promotion — you should make it as who may not have gained as large a following as you, but are producing quality content of their own. This willminimal as possible. It’s okay to have an ad here and there, create an exposure opportunity for them. There may be an opportunity where you could trade services tobut remember what the purpose of your blog is: to build each other’s clientele. You could also target industry influencers, someone with more of an online following,a community that wants to come back. You are building a and ask them to write some content for your blog. This could give your blog credibility by association andreputation, and building your brand as one who’s content is build your following through larger exposure.a must-read. If it becomes blatantly obvious to people thatthis is just content designed to get them to buy something, So what constitutes an influencer? Many claim to be the “gurus” and “experts” of their industry, but how dothey are less likely to come back. You want those loyal you differentiate between those who are “experts” and those who truly ARE experts?returning readers, because many of them will be evangelistsfor your blog, which will bring more people to you, generate When we say “influencers,” we mean someone who has something you don’t have, which is a connection withmore traffic, etc. an audience that you care about. Sometimes, you can tell if that person is an influencer based on some of the tools available to you. For example, if it’s a blog, you can go to www.technorati.com. You can put the blog inSome of them will buy, but most of them won’t and that’s the search area and it’ll tell you how well it is ranked against the other blogs. If it’s a Twitter ID, you can goOK. What you want to do is develop a mechanism where to www.klout.com. It’s not perfect, but Klout will give you a general impression of a person’s reach. If it’s athey can be fed marketing content organically. If you build a website, you can go to www.alexa.com, type in the web address, and it’ll tell you where that website rankspopular blog with reputable content, your marketing efforts among all the other websites in the world.will be all the more effective. That’s where having an emailnewsletter subscription option is important. Once readers These are basic fact checks. You have to exercise discernment! It’s difficult to quantify a person orare subscribed to an email newsletter, then you can give a organization’s “Klout”. However, if they have written a book related to your industry, it’s a good indicator theyblurb for the day’s post and include a little ad. This is a more are a respectable figure. Publishers don’t make a habit of investing in irrelevant or incompetent work, so it isorganic way to present your offers to your prospects. an endorsement of the author’s expertise.It’s okay to put ads on your website, but create a limit. Try the50/50 method. 50% of the year can display ads for specific Example: A carpet cleaning business could interview the CEO (or other C-level executive) of Dyson vacuums andinitiatives that you’re promoting. However, shut them off write a blog post about it. The post could include info about the difference between a Dyson and other brand-nameduring the rest of the year to reduce advertising fatigue. vacuums, how to care for one’s Dyson, which Dyson works best on certain kinds of carpets, etc. Of course this is a pretty influential example, but it is just meant to give you an idea of the types of influencers you should target.
  • Here are 13 ways to market your blog in order to attract readers. 1. Put a link to your blog on top of your website homepage. Include the title of the blog.Marketing & 2. Add the blog URL to company business cards. 3. Include the blog URL as part of email signatures of your staff. You can even have your staff include the title of the most recent blog post with a hyperlink back to the blog, and have that at the bottom of theirPromoting: signatures (this takes more time to implement of course). 4. Incorporate the blog URL into sales and marketing collateral/tradeshow material. 5. Include the blog URL in contact information and company presentation materials. 6. List your blog site on Yahoo, Google, DMOZ, BlogLovin, and claim it on Technorati.Alright, you created 7. Create an option for email subscription to the blog. 8. Use a social bookmarking plug-in like AddThis or ShareThis on all your blog posts.your blog and started 9. Add your blog URL to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and similar social communities. 10. Syndicate your blog content via RSS!posting some quality 11. Email your customer database to introduce your blog with an outline of what customers can expect on the blog and some sort of incentive to subscribe.content. 12. Identify other related publishers, or blogs, that are relevant to your company and would interest your customers. Contact those bloggers and find out if you could write a guest post for them. 13. Create a comment strategy for related blogs (as above). Start commenting and engaging in conversation within posts on those blogs. Keep in mind, your name is hot-linked (links back to your website or blogNow, how do you get site), so blog interaction will drive people back to your blog. When fellow bloggers begin to see you regularly commenting, it will nurture a mutually beneficial relationship. They may promote your blog, and you may want to promote theirs to your customers. You obviously don’t want to promote competitors;people to actually however, a relationship with a complimentary blog will help to increase your online presence.read your blog? The last couple ideas are simple and organic networking concepts. You can always go the paid advertising route by paying for search ads, where you can take the premier content on your blog and promote it on search engines. However, if you don’t have money to invest right away, the free strategies mentioned earlier will get you up and running with an effective blog site. Now that you have the basic tools to create your own small business blog – it’s up to you to get it going! Remember that PostcardMania is always here to help guide you to blogging success.www.postcardmania.com Call us today for a free blog development consultation! 1-800-628-1804