Building a Blog
If you have information, resources, or thoughts you want to share with your community, then blogging might be ideal for you. People can relate to stories, and a blog post allows you to develop a story – even if it is a short one.
In this session, you’ll look at blogging from a marketing perspective, how to share the news about your blog, and set up a plan for what you would like to write about. We’ll also take a quick look at video logging and YouTube.
Should I Be Blogging?
This is becoming a more difficult question to answer. Three to five years ago, every business was starting a blog and it was essential to create a good one in order to promote your business. With the wide adoption of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (all sites from which you can microblog with short updates), blogs have had to adapt to stay on people’s minds and remain relevant. In addition to microblogging, we can also create video blogs (or vlogs).
With people’s very short attention spans, one of the key things to remember about blogging is to keep your blog posts short. Seth Godin, who writes about marketing and has a brilliant blog, sometimes creates posts that are only a few hundred words long. Whether you are creating short, informative pieces that are less than 500 words, or longer, more introspective pieces, you want people to read, remember, and think about your blog.
Choose a voice (the tone of what you say) that reflects who you are, what your company stands for, and catches people’s attention. You can explore being informative, being controversial, asking questions, and having some fun.
Avoid the mistake that many beginning bloggers make and don’t assume that you are a writer unless you really are. Instead, come from the position that you are learning to write and blog, and then behave like a student and learn what you need to do.
When it comes to getting started, our first recommendation is that you read as many blogs as you can, and see what’s working (and what’s not!). Notice the attention that they pay to page layout, length of posts, columns on the margins, pictures, color, and, of course, the content. You can look at some of the popular blog sites that offer free spaces, such as Blogger and WordPress. Depending on who is hosting your hub site, they may also offer a blog space, or you can have one created for you.
When you start posting on your blog, you can create traffic by posting a link on your Facebook page, LinkedIn status line, or on Twitter to announce it to people.
When you create a blog, there are some guidelines that can help you along. Like every other area of Internet-based marketing, things are changing continually, so make sure you keep on top of things.
When you write a blog post, you also add tags or keywords to it. This will help you to find your old posts, to categorize things, and for people to find what you are writing. Make sure that you set up some kind of analytics, too, so that you can see which posts attract attention, which ones didn’t, and who is reading them.
Don’t lose sight of your old posts. If you content is good, it has staying power. A blog post you wrote six months or a year ago that remains relevant can be included in another blog post or re-posted to Twitter because it seems like a timely topic. For example, if you write a great series of blog posts for health and safety week this year, you can refer back to them again at the bottom of a health and safety post that you write next year. Keep up the interest and don’t be afraid to do a little recycling!
Your blog needs to look like you are interesting, and as though you are interested in your readers. There are lots of free and inexpensive templates available, or you can quite easily have someone set something up for you. Don’t feel like you have to do all of these things yourself, but remember that you are responsible for your own outcomes and, ultimately, for the success of the blog. If you represent a design company, your blog had better be stunning to look at. If you are from a financial industries company, then your blog is expected to include some pertinent, informative, and meaningful information. Check back with your marketing plan and remind yourself what you are trying to accomplish and how you intend to get there.
You can use paid services that will promote your blog for you, but this can take up lots of money and actually lead you nowhere further than you take yourself. Do your research before you decide to use a paid service and remember to incorporate the costs into your social media marketing plan.
Research the keywords for your industry and set up a glossary so that you can use them (without overusing them) in your blog posts. There are lots of programs that can help you do this and someone on your marketing team will make a good resource for this. Using keywords will help search engines locate your posts and push your page to the top of the search listings. If you search for your own posts (or have someone test it for you), and things show up on the second page of search results, people cannot find you. This kind of search engine optimization (SEO) is essential if people are going to find you on any kind of social media.
Help People Find You
Make sure that you optimize your blog for the range of reading platforms that are available. If you don’t know what I mean, have a look at a blog you like to read now and look at it from a desktop computer, a smartphone, and a tablet. On each device, your blog needs to look good and be readable. Don’t expect that your readers are all coming to you via the same media, because they aren’t!
Most blogs will allow (and encourage!) you to use RSS feeds to update your followers when you publish a new blog post. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a way for you to distribute (or syndicate) your posts in multiple locations. You can place the RSS icon on your site, and then people can sign up to receive automatic updates every time you publish. This method is very straightforward for your readers, but does take some programming knowledge for you as a distributor. Your programming guru can help you with this.
Your readers can then get all their RSS feeds in one place and never have to search for your blog again. They can also organize their feeds in a convenient way where news, businesses, and friends are all updated in the same location (usually via an RSS reader or an aggregator). Individuals can set these feeds up through their web browser (like Mozilla or Google Reader), their e-mail application (such as Microsoft Outlook), or many other solutions. We don’t recommend that you offer RSS as the only option, however, since many readers like being notified via e-mail.
What Will I Write About?
That is a very good question. What will you write about? What is it that you have to share with the world? Or, perhaps you’ve already been blogging and now you want to set a more certain direction, so your blog is ready for an upgrade!
First of all, you need to set up a plan. Don’t feel like you have to blog every day, because you can flood people’s e-mail and RSS feeds with nothing to say, and we don’t want that! Instead, we suggest that you sit down and write about some topics that you think might be interesting or helpful for people who are interested in what you do or what you have to share. Then, go through the topic list and cross out anything that doesn’t really interest you or that you don’t want to share. Now that you have a list of topics, you can look at the list and decide how many of them you can write about each week. One? Two? Be honest, because after this course, you may also be updating Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
The topic list is important. You can keep it in a file on your computer and then add to it as interesting things catch your attention. This way, you should always have something to write about. You can also ask people to write guest posts for your blog, so that you get a great post and they get some exposure too. This is an excellent way to tap into your community of experts and advisors who have something to offer your readers, and also relieves you of some pressure to be constantly writing. (Unless you love the pressure of deadlines, in which case, go for it!)