blog (blσg)

A shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries about their personal experiences and hobbies; “postings on a blog are usually in chronological order”

In 2010 there were over 130 million published blogs (according to BlogPulse).

130 million.

That’s quite a lot.  

Many of those are fascinating – telling tales of adventures, weekend nights out, family holidays.

Different types of blogs

Millions are online diaries, revealing employees’ opinions of their bosses, wives’ opinions of their husbands, friends’ opinions of their friends, and personal opinions about anything and everything.

Others are niche blogs, going into crazy amounts of detail about their topic – such as the exact size of the camera lens on the latest Sony digital SLR and what a difference the CMOS sensor makes to the image (even in low lights).

Your blog should be….

If you have a business, your blog needs to be in this last category – niche blogs – focused on what your customers want; every element should make them feel at home and that you’re talking directly to them.

Don’t be tempted to get distracted and start ranting about the rude man who cut you up on the motorway, or the delicious meal you had in your local restaurant last night (unless your business is in food).

Blogging is one of the most effective ways of building your audience, establishing your credibility, and driving traffic to your site (see more reasons why you need a blog here) but if you want it to work hard for you, you’ll need a plan.

And that’s where this article can help.  Here are some simple steps to get your blog up and running.

Step 1:  Choose your niche

The first decision is what you’ll be writing about.  The most successful blogs are those that stay very targeted on their topic.  If you’re blogging to grow your business, generate sales and build a loyal customer base, you’ll need to keep the subject of your posts consistent.

  • A business blog publishes posts on the VAT rise, unemployment, funding to help businesses, management tips
  • A company selling handmade children’s toys blogs about ways to develop your child’s creativity, how to get time for yourself with a young baby, how to get your toddler to eat vegetables
  • A health and beauty salon blogs about the latest styles, new holistic treatments, reviews of products, before and after shots of clients

Step 2:  Choose your host

Once you have decided on the subject of your blog, you need to choose a website to ‘host’ it.  This is where you’ll give your site a name, add some content, then publish it for the world to see.

WordPress is my favourite, but there are plenty of others (tale a look atBlogger and Tumblr).  Once you’ve signed up, then the fun bit starts….

Step 3:  Make it look pretty

You feeling creative?  Are you?  Hope so, because there is a whole world of choice when blogging.  Which font do you want to use, what image will be in your header, what links will you have in your menu, what template will you choose.  Things to think about:

  • Be consistent with your branding (keep the same colours, fonts, logo, styles as your website and your business cards, leaflets, etc.)
  • Have clear navigation – make it as easy as possible for visitors to find what they’re after on your blog
  • Add images to your posts, with captions (captions are the second most read part of a post, after the headline)
  • Use bullet points and subheadings to make your content easy to read

Step 4:  Add content

Write your ‘About’ page.  This is your chance to sell yourself and establish your credibility – why are you the best person to help the reader with their problems?  Tell your story, and make it human.  This isn’t a CV – people buy from people, so be honest and open so they can relate to you.

  • What’s your background?
  • Why did you start the business?
  • What relevant experience do you have?
  • Show how you’re like your target audience
  • Include your contact details

Kayla Knight also writes about this.

Step 5:  Plan your posts

In the ‘honeymoon period’ of your blog, you’ll most likely be posting weekly, even daily, but within just a few months you may have published all those articles you’d built up.  You’ll most probably have a long list of pressing jobs to do for the business, and the blog will slowly slip down the list of priorities.

So are you ready to get blogging?

Although there are over 130 million blogs out there, millions of them are inactive.  They’ve been started with passion and enthusiasm but over time they’ve been abandoned and left to fend for themselves in the worldwide web.

To keep your blog on track and give you the best chance of success, plan ahead – write posts when you’re in the mood, and save them for when you’re on holiday or are ill so your blog is always updated.

Don’t put all your content in one post – many topics can be split down into three or more posts.  This one, for instance, could easily have been five posts but I’ve already got my plan and this is only supposed to be one (maybe that’s why it’s so long….)

I’ll be offering some blog topics to get you started next week, but in the meantime:

  1. Choose your niche
  2. Choose your host
  3. Get creative with the design
  4. Make it personal

By the time you’ve done all that, there will be some ideas on here to get you started on publishing your posts.

If you’re still reading, then thanks for sticking with me til the end.  You’re already way ahead of your competitors by even considering a blog, so don’t lose the momentum!

Take action now and jump into the blogging pool – look forward to seeing you there.

If you have any questions, post them in the comments below and I’ll reply.