In the fifth part of our new free resources series on Online Marketing, we look at Blogs. What are they, how can you start one, and what use are they to your business?
What is a Blog?
Blogging has becoming really popular since the late 1990’s when more web publishing tools became available, meaning that anyone could write their own blog, and it was not just restricted to people who understood HTML (HyperText Markup Language). There are even serial bloggers now that have made careers out of blogging, such as the controversial celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton. However, used in the right way it is a really useful and relatively easy way to add new content to your website, and can result in more traffic to your site and assist in your rankings on search engines. It can be used in conjunction with Social Networking, giving you something to talk about, gaining more interest in your website along the way. There are some things to take into consideration when creating your blog.
According to Social4Retail’s article “Blogconomy” Companies that blog gain 97% more inbound links.
The 3 main reasons for blogging are to
- Share Expertise
- Gain Professional Recognition
- Attract new clients
Decide what your goals are before writing your blog. What are your objectives, what are you trying to communicate and why?
What type of blog do you want to create?
The type of blog that you want to create will depend on your business type, and the reason behind writing a blog.
You may want to create a diary style blog, where you will write in a laid back manner, almost as if writing a letter to a friend telling him about what you have been up to. This is typical of freelance businesses, musicians, photographers and such like. It is a colloquial and friendly way of reaching people on a personal level, and may encourage people to get in touch with you if they can relate to what you are writing about.
If you have a company that you want to promote, a corporate or professional blog is a way to create some content that relates to your offering. For example, if you are a computer hardware company, a blog about new computer software or a new product might be worth writing about; it is linked to your business, and therefore may attract potential customers. News and information can be incorporated into an article that may pose questions to the reader, and may invoke some reaction or conversation.
Community style blogs incorporate news and information from a local community. This can involve a series of like-minded businesses, or a group of businesses that are owned by the same person may create this type of blog, to make sure that all of its clients/customers are informed about what is happening in the company, and how this may be of interest or benefit them.
Where to start?
Once you have decided the tone and subject of your blog, you are ready to produce it. There are many tools available on the Internet that you can access in order to create your content and publish it. A hugely popular tool is WordPress. It is a self-hosted blogging tool, looks professional and is easy to use. Best of all, it is free.
You should make sure that you have a clear tone to your writing, and create content that reflects the nature of your business, the company’s values and puts you in a position of authority/expertise without coming across as patronising. Your aim is to engage with your reader and encourage further business with that person.
Pick a topic to base your blog on. Perhaps you are a business that has a new product that you are adding to your range that you want to talk about? Maybe you have a new member of your team that you want to introduce or have some views on a particular news story that is relative to your business. Whatever it is that you want to write about, be consistent in your approach, and make sure that you communicate effectively to your audience. If writing is not your forte, there are many freelance copywriters that will be happy to create some content for you to use.
What can your blog do for you?
By creating your own blog, you should aim to produce a new one on a regular basis. It is more harmful to create a blog, and not keep up the content than not having one at all, as it is very off-putting to people who see that the last update to your blog was 4 months ago. If you haven’t updated your blog for a while, people won’t come back to read your next article. Keeping your blog up to date with fresh content, not only keeps you current when people find you, encouraging them to visit you again but also helps with search engines, who will rank you more highly if you have new content-rich information added to your blog/website.
According to HubSpot, Moz and Quick Sprout, who surveyed over 7000 businesses, Small businesses received the biggest benefit of blogging more frequently, with posts containing more than 1800 words receiving the most links from other websites. Blogs are great content for social media, and statistics have shown that if a blog is greater than 1500 words, on average it received 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes. However, it is also worth mentioning that it is unlikely that many people will get to the end of a long piece of writing; so it is down to you to weigh up rankings in search engines versus getting across concise information to your reader. Whatever you choose to do, the main thing is not to flesh out your article with pointless text, but to ensure that you have produce high-quality and relevant information. Arguably, this is the most important factor when producing a blog or article. Around 400 words is a good minimum ball park to base your text on, it is enough to get some interesting information across, but is not a huge commitment for the reader.
As soon as you have published a new blog on your website, share this with your network. Add links to your new blog into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social network that you are using. This is the quickest way to make your post known about and strike up some interest. People who like your blog may well retweet or share your link with their own networks, expanding its reach further.
In Part 6 we’ll be talking about what to avoid when you are writing a blog.