What should someone know before they start a blog?
Paul: Millions of companies, large and small, use blogs for marketing. When done well, blogs can help businesses engender trust, build credibility, and attract search engine attention.
As popular as blogging has become, it is not a tactic you should enter into lightly. Blogs command a great deal of time and attention to produce quantifiable results.
First, and most importantly, start with a specific purpose in mind. Otherwise, your blog will lack the necessary focus to attract search engine attention or appeal to individual audience segments.
Today, most website content management systems (CMS) come with blog components built in. If yours does not, consider transitioning your site.
WordPress is perhaps the most well-known CMS in use by small businesses today, but platforms such as Squarespace, Wix, and Webs.com also include blogging capabilities.
Should the blog be a “company” blog, or represented by someone inside the company specifically?
Paul: It stands to reason that the most appropriate person to blog is the business owner. After all, who knows the company better than the person who started it? However, he may not be the best choice, for a couple of reasons.
Well-written blogs can require a sizable amount of time to produce — something business owners do not have in abundance. They also require someone with writing skill, which may not be the business owner’s forte.
One way to approach the blogging process that involves the business owner without, at the same time, taking up a lot of his time, is to hire a freelance writer who, once per week, interviews the owner about a given topic, then crafts the blog post based on talking points gleaned from the discussion.
How should businesses market their blogs?
Paul: A blog can serve as your content marketing headquarters. With that in mind, find ways to distribute or repurpose content to gain attention for the posts and to reach other audiences.
Social networks are a natural outlet for blog post distribution. Email is also useful as a syndication tool. In addition, you can repurpose blog posts in the form of webinars, ebooks, or whitepapers.
Ask the following questions as it relates to the blog’s core message and tone:
- What topics will you cover?
- Will your blog be warm and humorous, or more straightforward and businesslike?
- In what ways will your blog communicate your core mission and corporate culture?
- How will the blog build brand value?
If your goal is to use a blog for marketing, target content to address the needs and interests of customers and prospects. The audience you want to reach will largely determine your approach. Therefore, the more you know about your audience in terms of demographics, lifestyle, interests, and purchase behavior, the better you can hone your message to appeal to them.
Businesses that contract with marketing agencies can charge them with the responsibility to blog. It demands that the agency have comprehensive knowledge of the business’s services and products, thoroughly grasps its culture and persona, and fully understands the audience the company wants to reach.
Is there anything else potential bloggers should be looking at?
Paul: Business blogging can require a substantial drain on resources, so you want to ensure it’s worth the effort. If your blog fails to provide measurable results in terms of website traffic or conversions, don’t waste your time.
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