Blogging has morphed from a small side business to a booming and lucrative industry. Thousands of people are making their living just from blogging with the help of sponsored content and affiliate marketing. The impact and influence of effective bloggers is staggering, and is a fantastic marketing force for small businesses.
Beyond the financial benefits of a successful blog, for small businesses, they offer a place where consumers can find answers to questions and the business can be known for its expertise and guidance. Blogs provide a place for businesses to showcase their offerings as well as their understanding of their audience and its needs. Blogs also allow businesses to backlink to their websites, which increases traffic, SEO rankings, and helps convert traffic into tangible business leads.
Convinced you need a blog? Great! Below are the basic steps for establishing your blog and having it yield a positive return on investment.
Determine your blog’s name, domain, and hosting platform
We’re going back to basics here, but before you can populate a blog with informative content, you need to create it in the digital world. Pick your blog’s name and crosscheck that no other existing site has that title. Once you have a unique blog name, register the domain and select a hosting platform. Webs offers websites, domain names and hosting capabilities for blogs. The products are made specifically for micro and small businesses and allows for customization to make each blog match its business and brand identity.
Bring your business style to life
Here’s where you infuse your personality and unique brand differentiators into the mix. Craft a blog that looks and feels like your business. From the color scheme to the font choice, embody your business in your blog. This also ties into your blog’s tone of voice, but we’ll get to that later.
Much like your website, your blog can be your first impression with potential customers. Give them a sense of who you are and what you represent through the layout as well as the types of content you provide on the blog. Do you like to write in stories or are you fact-based? These are the kinds of differences that give clients a feel for you and if you’re the kind of company they want to do business with. Take time to set up your blog so it is the best representation of your business.
Develop incredible content
This is where you get to have some fun. You’ve committed to a blog because you want to provide something to your target audience. Decide on the objectives for the blog and base your content around those metrics. Do you want to drive site traffic, email sign ups, or prove you are an expert in your industry? Whatever your goals are, make sure your content aligns with them.
Stumped where to begin with your content strategy? Ask yourself questions as if you were the target audience. What would you be interested to read on behalf of your small business’s success? The Blog Stylist perfectly summarizes how you should think about content:
“When you ask someone to read your blog, subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on social media, you’re asking for their time so make it worth their investment.”
You’ll quickly have a list of topics to choose from that are engaging and advantageous to your audience.
Strive to be of use without shamelessly promoting yourself or your business within the content. Use your blogs as opportunities to provide free information to your readers without any strings attached. They’ll appreciate the knowledge, and keep coming back for more. Remain authentic with your content strategy and topics, and your blog traffic is destined to skyrocket.
Along with covering informative topics, you need to establish a consistent tone of voice in your blogs. Your tone should embody your brand and reflect how you interact with customers. Some brands are more conversational and friendly, while others prefer to be more formal. Once you’ve committed to a tone, stick to it! Consistency is key for creating loyal readers and customers. They’ll notice if your tone vacillates and it will detract from the value of your content. Know your tone and ensure it is present in every single blog post.
Set a schedule
To keep track of your great content, it is helpful to use an editorial calendar. This way, you can map out your posts for the next week, month, quarter, or year, and have a holistic view of what your audience is learning from the blog. It also shows you where any gaps may be in terms of larger industry topics and helps you provide the most worthwhile information for your consumers.
Beyond having a better hold on the content you’re putting out, an editorial calendar also ensures you are posting regularly. Decide what you feel comfortable committing to in terms of posts per week, and deliver on that promise. Devoted clients will come to expect new content on your designated days. If you leave them without a new blog, you run the risk of losing their attention. Regularly posting and engaging your clients through blogs are critical ways to drive traffic and keep your business top of mind. Even posting once per week will set the foundation for recurring website visits and increased customer loyalty.
Share with your network
Once you have at least ten blogs loaded onto you site, it’s time to share the love with your social and email networks. Provide direct links to each individual blog across all of your social media accounts or send weekly blog round up email blasts that highlight your top posts of the week.
Make it as easy as possible for your subscribers and followers to circulate your content. Include sharing tools on your blog, such as Shareaholic, and incorporate clickable links within your emails and social posts.
image courtesy of Shareaholic
If your social presences are light on followers, add social media buttons to your blog so readers can quickly follow you on their preferred social media site. Building in an email opt-in pop-up or sidebar is a great way to collect email addresses and build your distribution list. Dispensing your content in this broad way means that more people will see it, and that larger audience can effortlessly share your valuable content with their networks. It creates a ripple effect that can significantly impact your web traffic as well as your brand awareness.
Now that you have the tools to set up a business blog, what are you waiting for? Already have a blog of your own? We’d love to hear your best practices for creating a successful blog. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
About the Author: Julie Chomiak is the Content Marketing Specialist for Webs and Pagemodo. When she’s not scouring the web for small business trends, Julie loves traveling, interior design, and animals of all kinds. Get more from Julie on the Webs Blog and the Pagemodo blog.