Every day, millions of people are participating in a creative hobby that is blogging. It all started as a form of an online diary where individuals would write about their day-to-day experiences and activities. Oh, what an innocent hobby it was! But somehow, other people wanted to know more and started paying close attention to some of these blogs, thus creating a following.
Soon it became a trend and surpassed its original form – bloggers have found ways to monetize their hobby, developers have started creating platforms and tools for them and for some, blogging has become a full-time job.
Nowadays, people are writing about much more interesting things than what they did with their kids (although I’m not saying parental blogs aren’t still a big deal).
The reasons for having a personal blog lies in the fact that we are social beings, often with strong opinions. Having a blog is a great medium for individuals to express their thoughts and feelings on certain matters and affect others. It makes sense that it’s so hugely popular – never before have we been able to reach so many people with so little effort. You could be a soccer mom living in some little town in Illinois and still influence people from all across the world.
There aren’t many rules on blogging, either, so the creative aspect also plays a big role in its popularity. Your blog can be anything you want it to be – news, hair tips, fashion, technology, lifestyle, investment, advice, a personal blog or whatever you want. Any topic you can think of and chances are, there is a blog about it.
Blogging is quite a large topic, so what we want to focus on in this article is a particular type: business blogging.
What is Business Blogging?
Business blogging is a great tool to increase recognition and develop your brand. For example, beauty bloggers write about the newest products, tips and tricks – all the things that fall into their area of interest and have to do with beauty. Business blogging works on the same principle – if your area of expertise is, let’s say, marketing, your blog posts will be related to that topic (using social media for marketing, e-mail marketing, marketing tools etc.). You are essentially declaring yourself as an expert in a certain area and your blog content should support that claim.
What differentiates business from regular blogging is that the latter is more of a hobby, whereas business blogging is not. Having a blog for your company isn’t a creative outlet where you’ll express feelings in your spare time, but rather a strategy to lead more people to your actual business. A business blog is never the primary source of income; sure, you can earn some extra money through it, but the focus is on what you really do for a living. Business blogging is a marketing tool, not a leisure pursuit or a job description.
Why You Should Start a Business Blog
1. Blogging increases exposure
Useful, relevant content gets shared more, so automatically, more people will hear about your blog and find their way to your website and company. By presenting yourself as the top expert that people seek advice from and listen to, you will be in a position to acquire a bigger audience.
2. Blogging helps you build a relationship with customers
When someone visits your website for the first time, they are not very likely to make a purchase right away. Having a blog with valuable content will gradually help you build a better relationship with your potential customers. If they find your content useful, they will be more likely to trust you; you won’t be just another person “trying to sell them something.”
3. Blogging improves customer service
Today it’s common practice for brands to engage in conversation with their buyers. A blog is another medium through which you can hear the audience’s thoughts and feedback. That way, you’ll know where to improve and what your target market wants to see.
4. Blogging improves SEO
Let’s put it this way – Google rewards useful content. If someone does an internet search on how to start a blog (which is probably how you ended up here), and you have a blog post on your website regarding that topic, your website will show up in search results. Plus, it can increase your search ranking position.
5. Blogging gives your company personality
Brand personality is important, everyone knows it. Customers want to feel heard, understood and do business with companies that seem human and genuine. Blogging will grant you precisely that – a channel to showcase your personality just by being yourself. Personality shows through writing and the type of content you post, so you will be able to tell them what your business is about without actually having to constantly repeat “We are this and that.”
6. Blogging gives you free press
I don’t know if you’ve known about this, but expert bloggers often get interviewed by journalists. That’s free exposure and added value right there!
7. Blogging keeps you informed
To be a great blogger, you need to be in the loop about current events; follow the news, keep up with the latest trends and know what is trending and relevant. Consequently, your knowledge will expand and you’ll maintain a sharp brain without actually trying. This could be of great use in future business decisions.
Pre-Planning Your Blog
Before you move on to writing and customizing your new business blog, you need to plan in advance. Many newbie bloggers don’t go through this phase and are consequently unable to stay on top of their blog. They don’t see the kind of progress they’ve hoped for and give up on the blog altogether.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, as well, go through all of these important steps and insure that both you and your blog are ready before you hit Publish.
1. Find your blog’s purpose
Because it will be a business blog, your main objective is to improve your business, right? Well, yes and no. The truth is, finding your blog’s purpose is a little more detailed than that.
Some entrepreneurs use their blogs to generate more leads, some are looking for increased exposure and some want to bring more personality to their company. Whichever reason it may be, you need to be clear on what you want to achieve with your blog. The reason behind this is pretty simple: it dictates your content.
The posts you will publish should be in accordance to your main objective. When you know what this objective is, your content will become more obvious.
Of course, maybe you want to hit two birds with one stone and achieve multiple things. That is totally fine, too. The important thing is to realize that the more you know what your goals are, the better content you will create. It allows you to avoid publishing posts that don’t influence achievement of your goals and stay on the quickest and the right path.
2. Decide if you have enough time to blog
If you have 1-2 hours available per week to create your content, you might want to stay away from blogging yourself. One of the most important aspects of successful blogging is consistency. The bare minimum are 2-3 posts each week and if you can’t achieve that number, don’t do it.
When someone visits your blog and sees that you haven’t updated it in 3 months, it sends a bad message to your audience. Not only that, but search engines reward regularly updated websites with a higher ranking. That means – the more you publish, the more relevant you become.
If you’ve come to realize that you don’t have enough time to dedicate to blogging, don’t sweat it. Many businesses hire ghostwriters for their blogs. You can visit freelance websites like Freelancer, Elance or Guru and hire a ghostwriter there. Depending on your budget and requirements, you can discover some great people.
3. Know want your readers to feel and do after they’ve read the blog
This might seem like and unusual question, but it is the most important question you will answer before you start a blog. Should your reader feel inspired, amused, intrigued or perhaps excited? Should your blog inform, entertain, create an urge to buy a product or subscribe to a service? Again, knowing this helps you tailor the content of your blog.
For example, if you want to increase sales, you will need a lead magnet and to convince the audience that your product is worth paying for. This won’t be an issue if you simply want to shed some light on your personality. Content changes to fit the purpose, so knowing this, you can navigate your readers to it.
4. Research other similar blogs
You should check out existing blogs – see how they’re doing it, what you can learn from them and what you can do better. Skipping this part and moving straight to blogging has “Bad idea” written all over it. You simply can’t write a great blog if you’ve never read a blog post in your life, don’t know what the current trends are and aren’t sure how a blog post should look like.
Plus, researching other blogs in your niche can provide you with some much needed inspiration. Always be on the lookout for new ideas and topics.
5. Make a list of titles
Speaking of topics, having a pre-prepared list of them can be of great use. If you sit in front of your computer and start thinking “What can I write about today?”, chances are, you will spend additional hour or two figuring out what to work on.
Surely, sometimes you’ll have an epiphany and instantly know what you want to say, but on most days, you won’t feel as inspired. That’s why you need a list – you will have a stock of topics for the next few weeks or a month, so when inspiration doesn’t strike, your audience won’t suffer because of it.
6. Create a posting calendar
Coming up with a plan helps you be more organized (sometimes I’m just amazed by my ability to be so obvious). We use Trello cards – it covers both the topics and allows us to set due dates for blog posts, but you can do a quick research and see if there is something that would suit you better.
Sticking to your calendar is great because it teaches your audience to expect new posts on particular days and you won’t get too busy with other activities that you forget to post on your blog.
Creating Your Blog
To actually get blogging, you’ll need to come up with a name for your blog first. Ideally, your blog’s name should be the same as your company’s. You can read more about naming your business, as well as your blog here.
Then you need to find a host for your blog. Most people use Bluehost because it’s easy to use and install WordPress, but you can use whichever host you prefer. You don’t necessarily have to use a different host, you can also create your blog directly on WordPress, but I wouldn’t recommend it. If you choose to do it this way, your domain name will contain “wordpress.com” in it. So, if I’d made it directly through WordPress, my name would’ve been techbloke.wordpress.com. It is perfectly acceptable if you have a personal blog, but for professional use, having just your name as a domain name is a better option.
Once you are done with the technical aspect, it’s time to choose a template. I wouldn’t bother with premium templates – most of the free ones looks great both on a computer and mobile, so at least in the beginning, one of the free templates should be sufficient.
Then it’s time to start blogging. Even though you have a new blog, don’t post several articles at once just to fill your blog with content; instead, post one a day or every two days. Stick to the schedule you’ve created and you will be fine.
You will also need to promote your blog. Just because you’ve published a new post doesn’t mean that people are doing to magically find it. Submit your blog to Google and share the link to it on social media.
Blogging seems fun and all, but is also quite daunting. You will spend months writing posts, researching and coming up with new topics and yet, your business won’t blossom over night because of it. It takes patience and dedication, so be prepared to go through a stage of putting a lot of effort and having nothing to show for it. The good news is, it will pass and when it does, your business blog will be a powerful, effective tool to improve your brand’s success.