Blogs have helped virtually unknown companies and individuals establish credibility and even become considered “experts” in their fields. I recommend “blogging” to all of my small business clients. First, it provides a platform to discuss topics, ideas, tips, news and interesting tidbits pertaining to your business. Second, the articles can be linked through e-newsletters and Social Media, providing quality content for both mediums. Third, implemented correctly, blogging can be a great marketing tool and help establish credibility for you, your employees and your business. Don’t have a blog? Here are some ways to get started.
Plan Your Content
First and foremost, develop a content plan. Companies who blog just to blog quickly lose followers. Place yourself in the shoes of your customers and think about what is important to them. Then, develop a calendar outlining topic ideas. Include helpful tips, the latest news, product features, new products, etc. Try to avoid terminology which “sells” your company; rather, strive to provide your customers with useful information they can use and share with others. For instance, a small accounting firm may generate topics based on the latest changes in the tax codes. A bakery may want to feature a recipe for customers to try at home. Remember, “shareable” articles help increase your market reach and generate followers.
Determine a Platform
Many businesses connect their blogs to their website. This is probably the simplest, most preferable option, especially if your website includes a content management system (CMS). You may choose to incorporate a RSS feed so subscribers can immediately receive content. If your business does not have a website, you may choose to set up a blog on your own. There are many options to consider. Some of the most popular include:
WordPress – This free publishing platform is one of the most widely used. It is easy to install and set up, and user friendly. After you have secured a domain and hosting company (see below) download and install WordPress directly from their website. If you know how to use Microsoft Word, WordPress should be a breeze because the user interface is very similar. WordPress also has many online tutorials available to assist you with various functions.
Blogger – Google’s free blogging platform is fairly simple to set up and use. You will first need to sign up for a free Google account. Blogger does offer options to use a custom domain or a free domain and hosting on Blog*Spot. Once you sign in to your Google account, you can access Blogger. There are many custom designs to choose from and advanced features, making Blogger a very desirable platform. Google also includes plenty of tutorials to help you along.
Squidoo – This is a “community” platform where users visit to learn more about topics which interest them. As a small business, you can create content within a single web page that can be shared or viewed by anyone interested. You must first establish a free Squidoo account. Then, you will be taken through a process to set up your page. The interface is quite simple and user friendly.
Secure a Domain and Hosting Company
Depending on the platform you choose, you may need to purchase a domain name and sign-up with a hosting company. There are many to choose from. One of the most popular is Go Daddy. Their website includes a “search” feature so you can see if the domain you want is available. After you find an available domain, you can purchase it, as well as a hosting package. Often, you can find hosting packages for less than $5.00/per month.
Although we’ve covered some of the more popular platforms, there are literally hundreds to choose from. It is important to research and explore which platform you feel most comfortable with and is easy for you to use. Choosing a platform which allows you to customize and post content with ease is extremely important. Time is money. Your time will be better spent on developing rich content than on “technical difficulties”. Fortunately, there are many options; it is just a matter of finding the
best fit. Good luck!
About the Author
Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications including Global Response. Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.