Why and how to set-up a blog for your business

shutterstock_110675198 (1)Do lots of your customers find you through your business website? Or do you have an online business? If you’ve said ‘yes’ to either of those questions, then your business will benefit from blogging.

Quite simply, most website visits start from a search. Someone puts a problem, need or desire into Google, or another search engine, and they end up on your website. More relevant content on the site means many more chances of your site appearing in a good position in search results. Regular fresh content is even better, Google loves fresh content and will reward your site with a higher ranking.

Blogging also helps to humanise your business and create connections with customers.

Where to blog

One of the main reasons to have a blog is to drive traffic to your website, so it makes sense to have your blog integrated as part of your site, rather than having a separate blog.

Over one quarter of the world’s websites are built on the WordPress framework, which started out as a blogging platform. If you use WordPress for your website, blogging capabilities are built in and it’s very easy to add your own blog articles. WordPress is also free, although to get the most out of the platform you’ll have to purchase a custom domain and hosting from a provider like 1and1. Costs for a small site will be less than £20 per year. Most hosts now offer idiot proof one-click WordPress installation.

What to write about

Can’t think of anything to write about? No problem. Follow our tips and you’ll quickly have hundreds of ideas.

  • Start by thinking about all the questions customers ask about your service. You can make all of the answers into separate blog articles.
  • Any news or celebrity stories relevant to what you do? Write up the issue alongside your view on it.
  • Movers and shakers in your industry? You could do a 10 questions interview, either by email or phone.
  • Customer profiles? Celebrate the most important people in your business with profile interviews.
  • ‘How to’ tutorials. Could you add value for your customers with step by step advice on an issue. This could be a written ‘how-to’ guide or a video.
  • What lists matter to your customers? For example, what are your top sellers in each category? What are the main reasons people seek your service. And so on.
  • Do you have something to say about key dates in the calendar, like Christmas, Valentines Day, Halloween or anniversaries that are particular to your business?

How to write

Blogging is different to other styles of business writing. At its best it is friendly and conversational, without dumbing down. The best advice I’ve had is to write as if you’re having a chat with a friend. Read it out loud and then cut out any words you wouldn’t use with that friend; change jargon to everyday language.

Getting started and keeping going

The internet is full of forgotten blogs. Blogs that were started with great intentions and then quietly abandoned.

Do not expect quick results. Every article you put up is like a fish hook in the ocean of competition. Some will hit a shoal, while others dangle for months or years without a bite, only to snare a whale just when you thought no-one would ever notice.

Structure will keep you on track. Put together an editorial calendar for your first 10 – 15 articles (see the ‘what to write about section’ above to get started).  Decide how regularly you want to blog – daily, weekly or once a month – routine is more important than frequency. And then get focused and motivated by setting yourself a challenge. A 10 or 30 day blogging challenge will get you off to a tremendous start!

For the first few weeks or months you may feel that you are talking to yourself. Press on. The experience won’t be wasted for several good reasons: the more you blog the better your writing becomes and if you learn to write as if no one is reading you will become a much better writer. By extension you’ll also become a better communicator and in any line of business that can only be a good thing.

If blogging still isn’t for you, there are plenty of good freelance writers who can help.

Whether you do it yourself or work as part of a team, blogging is a great way of letting your customers know how you operate and what you have to offer. There is another word for that: marketing. Blogging is simply a great marketing strategy for any business whose customers find them online. Now, who could that be…?

Image: Blogging via Shutterstock

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2 Responses to Why and how to set-up a blog for your business

  1. Vanessa Winters April 17, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

    I found this a really interesting article, Liz – thanks!

    I’ve recently been studying the impact of social media and digital communications, and there is a definite correlation between the advent of newer, easy-to-use social media platforms, such as blogs, twitter etc. and an increase in business start-ups by women. Social media puts the power of communications into the hands of women building their businesses, where perhaps this would traditionally have been seen as the preserve of professional agencies.

    I think you’re right when you talk about the potential to show a human face by communicating directly with potential customers. Again, traditional media can be very much something for businesses (and business owners) to hide behind – the bland press release, or company flyer. But the real power of social media has to be its potential for two-way engagement with customers and associates. In a busy world, finding the time for face-to-face networking can be a challenge, so digital communications offers an opportunity to build virtual networks which can be maintained anywhere and at any time, from the kitchen table, playground or in between appointments.

    I’ve read a lot of blogs during my research, and in my view, the best ones are short, conversational and leave you with just one ‘take away’ point, rather than trying to cram too much in. I especially like those where I can ‘hear’ the writer talking to me, as this really helps to build a connection with the person behind the blog.

    Some interesting observations and advice, especially for anyone just getting started with blogging!

    Vanessa

    • Editor April 17, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

      Hi Vanessa, thanks for taking the time to feedback and to share your own research findings – which sound fascinating. Maybe you could submit a blog post about the research to Prowess as well at some stage!

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