Why should you create a blog? Simply, blogging is one of the most cost-effective and powerful digital marketing tactics in the small business owner’s toolset. Let’s start with one of the obvious benefits: it costs little other than your time to start and maintain the blog and can make a big difference to your business.
If you create a blog, you are building a platform where you can have conversations with your clients and share your views and expertise with the market. This can help to position you as an authority in your field and build your profile and credibility among your customers and prospects.
A successful blog will also support your search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media strategies. The more good content you have on your website containing the search terms your customers are searching for, the more likely they will find you. Share your blog content on social media, and if it’s useful and interesting, other people will share it, too.
So, how do you begin?
- Choose a blogging platform
- Design your blog
- Think about keywords and phrases your customers will search for
- Draw up a content calendar
- Promote your blog
- Experiment, measure, optimise
Let’s take a closer look at six steps to create a blog
1. Choose a blogging platform
If you already have a company website, it will make sense to use the same platform and domain to create a blog. But if you want to get into blogging and have yet to build a website, you will need to buy a domain, decide on a hosting solution and choose a content management system.
2. Design your blog
The moment of truth has arrived: deciding what your blog will look like. If you have chosen the WordPress route, it offers a great deal of flexibility and power in choosing the look and feel of your blog. WordPress offers stacks of free themes and premium themes so you can design your blog exactly the way you want.
Massivewebsites.com’s innovative swipe-to-style Website Builder includes an easy-to-use blogging tool. This takes the guesswork out of integrating a blog into your website by walking you through the simple process, with all the tools you need at your fingertips.
3. Think about keywords and phrases your customers will search for
One of the best reasons to create a blog is to bring in more search engine traffic. The more relevant content you have on your website, the more of your pages will be indexed by Google and other search engines for relevant search terms. Think about phrases, questions and keywords your customers will use to look for services, products and brands like yours.
A good place to start is with the questions and queries you get most often from your customers. Then write posts that address the user’s needs. If you sell motor spares and consumables, you could write a blog post that answers the question: “How do I change my car’s oil?” As a freelancer web designer, you could write up a post about how to choose a web development partner.
4. Draw up a content calendar
The challenge about blogging is that it takes discipline and it can be hard, time-consuming work. It’s easy to neglect your blog when you have so many other things on the go. Blogging only really pays off if you do it consistently, building up your trove of SEO-optimised content and establishing your audience over time.
As you create a blog, think about how often you want to post. It might not be realistic or desirable to post every day, but perhaps you want to post once a week or every fortnight. Drawing up a content calendar for the year or quarter can help you plan so you can meet your goals.
Think about your sales, marketing and customer objectives, then come up with a few blog post ideas that will address them. Perhaps do a quick Google search to see what others have written on the topic. Then, mark down the dates and subjects for your upcoming posts on your calendar. It’s handy to set deadlines for yourself, stay motivated and keep on track.
5. Promote your blog and your posts
Once your first blog post is live and you’re happy with how the blog looks, start promoting it to your social media followers and e-mail lists. One of the handy things about writing up blog posts is it creates a reservoir of content you can use for other purposes.
For example, you can use quotable lines or interesting stats from your blog posts on social media. You can use tools like Hootsuite, Buffer or Sprout Social to schedule several updates at a time, so you don’t need to remember to post manually. Another idea is to rework your social content for use in your e-mail newsletter.
6. Repeat, experiment, measure, optimise
Now that your first post is up, it’s time to start thinking about the next one, and the one after that. Site hits, traction on social media, and blog comments are all valid ways to understanding whether your blog posts are hitting the mark. You can use tools such as Google Analytics to answer questions like:
- How do my blog visitors find me?
- How many visitors on my blog are new?
- Which pages on my blog are customers visiting?
- Where do my visitors live? Are they nearby?
- What else are they doing on my website before or after they read the blog post.
Then, start experimenting to see what sort of posts work best for you.
- Which topics get people excited?
- Do blogs with visual elements like simple infographics or humorous gifs work better than ones that are a wall of text?
- Do people respond best to news roundups, commentary on industry news, or how-to posts?
- What do people want to know about in your industry that no one else has written about?
Whichever formats and topics you prefer, always put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Rather than starting with what you want to sell, ask what the customer wants to read. Giving them the knowledge or advice they are seeking in a concise, informative and enjoyable blog post may not only lead to a sale, but also build a longer-term relationship with an engaged customer.
Keep at it
When you create a blog and the first post goes live, you are taking the first step. Sharpening your blogging skills, building an audience and learning what works best for your business is a journey, but it can be an enjoyable and rewarding ride.