Hopefully I’ve convinced you before about how important a blog is for your business. It’s great for keeping your customers happy and informed, and it means you’ve always got something to share on social media.
But now you have the problem of actually starting the blog. Where do you even begin? Do you just dive straight in or should you plan a bit first?
Well, you definitely shouldn’t just dive straight in. Here are a few things you need to do before publishing your first post.
1. Set Goals
Before you even think about writing a word of your blog, you need to know what it is that you want your blog to achieve. This will help you figure out the kinds of content and topics you should be focusing on.
Do you want to be more visible on search engines and boost your traffic? Do you want to establish yourself as an expert in your industry? Or do you simply want to give your customers information?
Knowing your goals from the beginning will help you get the best results from your blog.
2. Decide How To Publish Your Blog
Once you know why you’re writing a blog, the next step is to actually create it. You first have to decide how to publish it. This will depend on how you have your website published already. Most web-hosting services, like Squarespace or WordPress, will let you add a blog page easily. If you are using a self-hosted website you would have to manually create it (I won’t lie, I’m not technically-minded enough to show you how to do that, I’m sure you’ve got people much more qualified than me to do that for you so I won't insult them by trying).
Personally, I use Squarespace. I find it to be the simplest and the most aesthetically pleasing. But do some research and find what works best for you.
The one thing I would recommend if you already have a business website is to make sure that your blog domain name is the same as your business site name. Try to have it as close as possible to www.yourbusinessname.com/blog.
3. Choose Your Blog Layout
If you use a site like Squarespace or WordPress, there are inbuilt themes that you can choose from with customisable options. If you’re tech-savvy, or have someone on your team who knows what they’re doing, then customising your own self-hosted site won’t be an issue either.
Mostly you need to decide whether you’re going to have just your blog posts displayed, or other content as well. A sidebar, for example, is a great way to promote other content from your website like previous blog posts or ongoing offers. Email opt-in forms are also great to have displayed next to your posts.
Make sure that the layout you choose is mobile-friendly. If your site is awkward to read on a mobile, you’re not going to get many people staying. This is easy to test with sites like Google Search Console or Page Speed Insights.
4. Decide How Often You’re Going To Update Your Blog
It’s important to have a fairly constant flow of content on your website, but you want to make sure it’s something you can keep up with. There’s no point in saying that you’ll publish a blog post every day if you don’t have the time for that.
There’s also no point in only updating your blog once a month, either. It would be difficult to build a dedicated readership without more substantial updates.
Ideally, you should be posting 2 or 3 times a week, but once a week would be enough, especially if you’re just starting out.
You also want to make sure that you’re consistent with when you’re publishing your posts. Readers are more likely to come back if they know you post every Thursday, rather than if it’s sporadic throughout the week or month.
5. Create A Content Plan
Having an idea of what you’re going to write each week will save you so much stress in the long run. The best way to start this is with keyword research. Finding out what kinds of words and phrases your customers search for means you know what kind of questions they’re asking, and can, therefore, answer them.
Coming up with a list of categories relating to your business or industry is also helpful. You can drill down into each category to come up with topics to blog about. For example, one of my categories would be writing. I can drill down to have blog writing and email writing. I can drill down even further to get blog headline writing and how to start a blog (getting a bit meta there), as well as writing email subject lines and email signatures.
Once you have a few ideas for posts you can create a content calendar and plan when to publish each post. This will help you keep organised and make sure you always have fresh content to share on your site.
6. Install Google Analytics
You can use any form of analytics to keep track of things on your blog, but Google Analytics is probably the best. It’s free and so easy to use that even I can figure it out (that’s a big deal, trust me).
Using Analytics means you can see where all your traffic is coming from so you know what channels work best and which ones to not spend as much time on. You can also see what content people are engaging with the most, so you know what’s resonating with your readers, and what kind of topics to focus more energy on.
Your analytics should also be linked to the goals we talked about earlier. If the goal of your blog was to get more traffic, then you can keep up with which posts get the most visitors. If your goal was to collect more email addresses, then your analytics can keep track of which posts end up converting the most visitors.
7. Install Social Share Buttons
One of the great things about a blog is that it can start a conversation between you and your customers, or even between your customers themselves. A great way to encourage this is to make sure that each of your posts has social sharing buttons, so it’s as easy as possible for your readers to share content they’ve enjoyed with others. Plus the more shares your content gets, the bigger the audience.
Make sure that you allow commenting on your blog posts as well. This is a great way to engage with your readers, so make sure you’re responsive. Comments can often give you some more blog ideas as well, if you notice common questions being asked in the comments.
Disqus is commonly used by a lot of sites for comment-hosting, and would be what I use, but there are plenty of others out there if it doesn’t suit you.
The most important thing when it comes to your blog is to stick with it.
You don’t want to half-ass your blog by starting it and then abandoning it a couple of months later. This will just reflect badly on your business and make you look like you don’t care.
Or worse, someone will see that you haven’t posted content in a few months and assume that you’re no longer in business. Definitely not what you want.
Once you have all this in place you’re ready to start your business blog with confidence. So get writing.