When we first get a client at SEO.com, one of the first things we check during our intake process is the client’s blog. Many of our clients come to us without a blog, and those that previously had one rarely use it. We often suggest adding a blog and using it as a marketing tool for the site. However, often when we make this suggestion, people get a glazed look in their eyes like they are hearing, but not really following us. For this reason, and for the simple fact that I am in the process of starting my very own personal/professional blog, I thought I would take the time to properly discuss what factors should be considered for anyone starting blog. Whether it is for a hobby, work/business, or personal purposes, these components are necessary for any new blog.
The most import thing any new blogger can do when they want to take the plunge into the blogosphere is to make a plan. Take the time to understand why you want to blog, and more importantly, the style of blog you want to write. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
When do you plan on writing?
Who do you want to read your blog?
Are you in for the long haul?
Blogging takes a lot of time if you want it to be successful, but if you plan your strategy, you can save yourself a lot of headaches and possible regrets.
The first thing you want to do is pin down the purpose of your blog. Start by asking yourself, is the blog for existing clients, new customers, for the general benefit of your industry, or to open a window for people to see the quirky insides of your business? If you look at the SEO.com blog as an example, you’ll quickly see that it is for the general benefit of the SEO industry. As such, it has the potential to help our current clientele as well as potential clients understand the industry better.
If your company lacks personality (I say that nicely, of course), and you don’t feel that your office atmosphere can carry a good blog on its own, then an industry blog is a good option. (Note: Just because SEO.com has an industry based blog, don’t assume we lack personality. If you don’t believe me, come see our 3 foot hole in our wall from our recent Office Olympics.
Once you have decided who your audience is, map out the basics of your blog. This is an ideal time to list categories and write a number of initial posts to introduce your main subject. In addition, you’ll settle on the keywords your blog will target.
You can also work out a simple game-plan on how you want to interact with your readers. Figure out who will be your main writers, or if you want your entire company involved. Another option is for guest writers to contribute to your blog.
On the issue of choosing a topic, keep this in mind: “Will the topic you’re considering starting a blog about lend itself to being an ongoing project?” (ProBlogger.net) It is important that your topic is broad enough that you will have content to last, but yet not too broad that your blog loses focus.
When you get ready to put your blog together, you will notice that you have many options available for a blogging platform. VOX, LiveJournal, Typepad, Blogger, and WordPress are a few examples. Each platform has its own set of strengths and weaknesses.
Blogger and WordPress are the most popular platforms. Blogger is one of the easiest ways to set up a blog and can be an ideal solution for the person who doesn’t want to get too geeky with it. WordPress, though, is a preferred option for the individual who really wants full control over their blog. You will be able to get more involved with the technical side and tweak the blog to perfection. Check out this post by Nathan Blair on how WordPress can be a benefit for your SEO efforts.
The cliché “content is king” rings truer with a blog than any other aspect of a website. The problem is that this is also the hardest part about running a blog. You need to take to time to be informed about your topic. Do research to answer your own inquisitive mind, and then present your answers. In your blog mapping you may want to brainstorm what unique opinions or points of view you can offer on your particular subject.
One of the best ways to entice blog followers is to become involved in the online social community, and particularly the social media relating to your industry. Make regular comments on other blogs that relate to yours, this may also include competitors’ blogs and articles. Use Twitter and Facebook to find and follow people in your industry. If you are an expert in a certain field, you may also be asked to guest post on someone else’s blog where you can drop a shameless plug to yours. When it comes to connecting with people online you don’t want to be bashful.
And finally, the most important thing to remember when starting your blog is to write regularly. This will do a number of things for you. One, people will get in the habit of checking your posts. With regular posting you can start to train your audience when to expect new insight from you. Whether it’s every hour, once a day, or once a week, if you make a habit of writing, your followers will make a habit of reading. Two, you will draw the attention of web-crawlers, and the search engines will index you more regularly (more on this topic by Scott Cowley).
By taking the time to conduct research and proper planning, your blog can become a major benefit for you and your company.
If you have other suggestions or things to consider when starting a blog please feel free to share in the comments section.