Blogs, once described as the vehicle for narcissistic over sharers and people who found cats amusing, have certainly come into their own.
Today, while there are still plenty of hobby bloggers out there, the tool is being embraced by businesses and thought leaders in record numbers.
The benefits a blog can bring to a business are multifold:
- Blogs, when built properly, can have a significant impact on search engine results and traffic to your site
- Blogs can establish expertise and credibility for a business
- Blogs can drive traffic to your web presence
- Blogs can shorten the sales cycle by establishing a relationship long before the first inquiry
- Blogs can encourage thought leadership within your organization
- Blogs can lead to other media interviews/opportunities
- And many more!
Sadly, most companies who launch a blog either do it badly or don’t sustain the blog for more than a couple months. If you’re thinking of launching a company blog, here are some basic best practices that will help assure you a solid start.
Build it on a platform optimized for blogging: I can’t imagine why anyone would build a blog today on anything but WordPress. It is relatively inexpensive to use, it is constantly being improved with new updates and plugins, the search engines love it and it has a very simple interface so that anyone who can work with Microsoft Word can add, modify or remove content.
There are other blogging specific platforms out there that are also good alternatives to consider. Whatever you do — don’t let anyone talk you into building your blog on proprietary software that doesn’t allow you to change hosts, servers and control your own site.
Have a strategic plan/editorial calendar: Don’t put your first finger on the keyboard until you have thought about why you’re doing this in the first place. Put some SMART goals in place, know what audiences matter to you and map out the logistics of writing/maintaining a blog. We literally invest most of a day with clients who want to map this out properly. Don’t short-change this critical step.
Write to/for your audience: A blog is not a place for you to put your press releases, talk about what’s on sale or push your products. You need to know who your audience is and you need to know what matters to them.
Unless other marketing tactics, a blog is permission based. People choose to read your content or not. If all you do is talk about yourself, they will not choose to keep reading.
Practice before you publish: For many companies – blogging sounds great in theory but when it comes to actually having both the discipline and the desire to sustain it over time – they fall short. To blog well and right – takes a significant time commitment. Not only do you need to create the content but you also need to respond to readers who ask questions or add to the conversation.
We have all of our clients actually blog for 30-45 days “behind the curtain” so we can help them find their voice, identify potential problems and they can get a taste for what blogging is all about. That way, if they decide it’s not something they can sustain – we haven’t publicly launched something new and then have to explain why it’s already going away. Or worse – is just left there, dormant.
For many businesses, a blog should be a no brainer. But, a blog is an organic, constantly evolving marketing tool that at best, you have some control over. But by it’s very nature – it’s going to grow and change in ways you can’t imagine. So it requires some forethought, careful planning and a watchful eye.
Make it work for you by doing the work to get it right.
Hi Drew, thanks for composing your word in this article because these type of articles are still not getting the position as it should be to effect the business personalities to help them understand the real opportunities they can grab after launching their business blog to be connected with their loyal customers.
Keep blogging on these topics because you have a good readerbase while I’m still struggling for making one !
Just got back from a short trip where I can’t get my hands on an Internet connection. Great post!
I love how you presented the core essentials of a business blog.
If I may add, for a business blog to succeed it has offer a unique value proposition in a way that simply stuns the client into saying, “Wow, this is just awesome”
In our line of work, there are millions of business bloggers and the best way to go about this is to contribute something without asking for anything in return. Give away insight that nobody else is giving, innovate on words, strike a chord with your audience and show them in a powerful way how your blog can change the way they do things.
Great summary of key bits to help business folk become more effective bloggers.
I guess blogging needs to produce a win-win situation,where your audience are impressed because their needs are met, and you can monetize from your blogging activity for sustainability.
Thanks Desmond — and you are right, for your blog to enjoy long-term success, it needs to be a win/win. Whether you want to monetize it directly or not.
Nice practical tips, Drew. I think the problem a lot of people have with blogging is that they’re intimidated by the competition, they doubt themselves, and they never quite get off the diving board. But having a strategic calendar in place, as you suggest here, is a great way to allay some of those fears and make you feel like you have some control over the situation, a plan, a line of steps.
I will admit, it can be intimidating. But if you simply write from your head/head/expertise and you trust your readers will find you over time, it’s a very gratifying way to build a business.