What is a Blog?
A Blog can be described as a very simple webpage where the entries (or posts) are organized in reverse chronological order. A blog is usually open to the public and many are free to create. It is generally the work of one author but group blogs are not uncommon. Blogs can also offer an opportunity to interact with readers. Readers can post comments like with a guestbook on a website. Blogs can also be regarded as a form of personal publishing on the Internet.
The word blog is short for weblogs or web-based log.
12 reasons why your company should invest in blogging, or take your current blogging activities to the next level:
1. Blogs are an easy-to-use CMS (aka content management system). Blogs require limited training and/or technical skill to use while providing flexibility to update or modify content quickly. As an added bonus, blogs are inexpensive.
2. Blogs are part of a company’s owned media. Blog content is owned by your organization and can be integrated into your website. Unlike other third-party and social media outposts, you don’t need to worry about whether they’ll disappear or go out of business. A blog can serve in lieu of a website.
3. Blogs provide branded context for your content. As part of your firm’s owned media, blogs offer a branded context for your communications through the use of blog design elements that can be exported with the content. You can extend your brand without paying for third party media.
4. Blogs integrate your brand into your content marketing. Beyond the blog’s branded context, blogs create a blog personality with a unique voice. They offer communications transparency and the opportunity to write in a conversational tone that makes your brand feel “human”. Just be sure to avoid content that is clearly self-promotional, and ensure your blog personality is integrated with your brand personality across other social media platforms.
5. Blogs enhance search optimization. Through their keyword-rich content, architecture and cross-linking to other content on the Web, blogs support search optimization efforts. (Note: This assumes you’re using your own domain not a free third-party blogging platform.)
6. Blogs are a 24/7 communication platform. With an increased need for real-time communications, blogs are a great place to quickly publish favorable content about your brand or respond to evolving issues. The plug-in software can automate your editorial calendar.
7. Blogs support an array of media formats. For distributing branded content, blogs simplify the uploading and management of text, photographs, graphics, videos, audio, presentations and PDFs. When creating offline content and events, consider what kind of online content can go on your blog.
8. Blogs facilitate content distribution through multiple channels. Blogs can expand your message delivery through email and RSS feeds at no additional cost. Blog posts can also be automatically collected into email digests.
9. Blogs supply content for social media interactions. Blog content is the currency for social media engagement on social sharing sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Make sure to include icons and tailored calls-to-action. (Remember, these shares translate to earned media impressions (aka free.)
10. Blogs provide a targeted location to direct prospects and customers. With a URL or QR code, you can direct prospects, customers and the public to your blog from other forms of content marketing. This gives you a way to connect the various components across platforms.
11. Blogs are flexible enough to support diverse initiatives. Blogs can help companies achieve a variety of corporate goals, such as providing product-related content, answering customer questions, attracting new prospects and hosting an executive platform.
12. Blogs provide metrics that you can use to track content marketing to business goals. As with any business strategy, it’s critical to monitor your progress. There are a variety of metrics to assess your blog’s effectiveness.
Whether you’re considering starting a company blog, or want to revamp the one you already have, there are standard elements and practices each company should implement. Before you jump in and get someone in your web department to develop your blog site, take some time to think through the major strategic elements. This is a critical step to ensure your blog is in line with your brand and/or company objectives. Among the top business blog goals are to:
• Build the brand by providing content to support your offering. This information should engage prospective customers.
• Expand reach by offering prospective buyers solutions to their product needs through a variety of content forms such as checklists and how-to videos.
• Support sales by giving potential buyers useful information. The specifics depend on your products. It can be a 360-degree video to show clothing details and fit or a list of technical specifications.
• Position senior executive(s) by spotlighting their thought leadership. This can be important for firms that are strongly associated with their founders. It requires buy-in and commitment from executives to actively post.
Define Target Readers
Your readers should be in line with your blog’s goals. When describing potential readers, it’s a good idea to characterize them in terms of demographics, psychographics, and past behaviors. Also, consider how this segment behaves on social media: are the people who create content, comment on content or just read the content?
Five easy steps to starting a blog:
• Choose a blogging platform
• Pick a domain name
• Get a web hosting account
• Install blogging software and set up a blog
• Select a blog design and layout
Choose a blogging platform
At this stage, you’ll need to determine the type of blog management platform/tool you want to use. We recommend that you set up your blog on one of the self-hosted platforms. But before you make the decision, let us describe each option.
When it comes to starting your blog you have the following options: free, freemium and self-hosted (recommended) platforms.
Pick a domain name
Your domain name will be the name by which you will be known online, no matter what niche you choose. It’s the unique address of your blog on the Internet. Your domain will be yours as long as you continue paying the annual fee ($10 to $15 for a .com domain).
Users who know your domain/URL (uniform resource locator) can simply type it into their browser’s address bar. Others will be able to discover your blog through search engines such as Google and Bing, so you definitely need to find a unique moniker.
Get a web hosting account
After choosing a domain name, selecting reliable hosting services will be one of the most important decisions you make. To a great extent, the functionality and performance of your blog will depend on your hosting provider. The host makes sure your blog is available 24/7 to potential readers and it’s where your files are stored online.
Most hosting companies also offer domain registration services. Some people keep their domain name with the registrar company, separate from the hosting account. We recommend keeping
it all under your hosting account for hassle-free management and maintenance.
The wrong web host can cause many problems with your blog. Just imagine choosing a mobile company that has no reception. Your web host is a major piece of the puzzle to maintaining a successful blog, therefore, it’s crucial that you choose a reliable provider.
First, you will need to create static content pages for the following types of information.
The most traditional page on any blog is the About page. This page simply tells new visitors to your blog what it is about, who you are and why you have a blog about your specific topic. Depending on your niche and your style, the information you provide can be “all business” or personal and fun.
This page allows visitors to your blog to contact you at any time. It can be a simple page with your email address plus social network links, or you can use plugins like Contact Form 7 to have a simple contact form visitors can use to contact you without leaving your website.
If you created your blog to promote your business, you’ll want to make sure there’s a page that details the products or services you sell. Alternatively, if you already have a website for your business, you can provide a link to it in your menu.
To give yourself a little liability protection, you might want to consider a disclaimer or policy page. For example, if you are writing a health blog, but you’re not a medical professional, you may want to create
a disclaimer to say that you are not a physician or other healthcare professional and recommend that readers see their doctors for their personal medical information and evaluation.
You may also want to inform visitors to your website that you use analytics tracking, Google AdSense, affiliate marketing links and other types of content. A great example of a disclaimer page can be found here.
As you continue to grow your blog, you will also want to consider adding the following pages.
As you add new content to your blog, you will want to consider creating pillar pages. These are pages that direct visitors to your blog to specific posts on specific topics. Derek Halpern’s List Building 101 page is a great example of a pillar page.
This page simply guides people to your most recent posts, main categories, top tags, and content you have created that’s not located on your blogs, such as guest posts, interviews, podcasts, and videos.
If you want to sell advertising on your blog and you have enough traffic to make it worthwhile for advertisers, create an advertising page that shows off your latest stats (number of website visitors, page views, email subscribers, RSS subscribers, etc.). Be sure to visit other blogs in your niche—preferably larger ones—to see what pages they provide links for in their main navigation bar, sidebar, and footer. Chances are, your visitors will be looking for the same types of pages on your blog.
Your sidebar is the smaller column to the left or right (depending on the theme you selected) of your blog’s main content. You will want to add the following content in sidebar widgets for your visitors.
Encourage visitors to your blog to subscribe via email or RSS. Email, of course, is best, especially if you would like to monetize your blog in the future. MailChimp is a great service to use as it is free for the first 2,000 subscribers.
This is a simple sentence or two about you and your blog for new visitors who may not take the time to read your About page. Having your photo in this blurb of text helps visitors put a face to the blog, whether you are the owner and editor managing other writers, or the main content author.
Beneath your about widget, you will want to display links to your social profiles so people can follow you. Generally, this will be your Facebook page, Twitter profile, Google+ profile, etc. You can use icons to represent each network or use official boxes, buttons, and badges from these networks. The latter help you build your social media audience by allowing people to connect with you without leaving your website.
A popular posts widget will help direct visitors to your top pieces of content. WordPress Popular Posts plugin will help you create this easy, displaying posts based on comments and view count.
If you plan to add advertising banners to your blog, then add them from the start so regular visitors will not be surprised when you do start gaining advertisers. The banners you use until they can link to products for which you are an affiliate marketer or to products you simply like.
Set your blogging goals
You’ll never know if you are getting the most out of blogging if you haven’t set goals for your blog. Is your goal to make money? Get a new job? Find people to connect with about a specific topic? Define your blogging goals and periodically ask yourself if your blog is helping you meet them. If not, ask yourself how you can improve your blog in order to meet the goals.
Be consistent and realistic
Creating a consistent schedule of posting on your blog helps your readers know when they can expect to hear from you again, whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly or even quarterly. The key to maintaining consistency is to be realistic. Individual bloggers will find it difficult to create high-quality content on a daily basis. Start with weekly or bi-weekly posts and work your way up to daily posts, if that is your ultimate goal. Just don’t sacrifice quantity for quality.
Use hierarchy, color, and imagery to grab people’s attention 70 % of businesses are totally lacking any calls to action
This should start you on the path of blogging. Of course, much more is involved but the basics are enough to get started