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Thinking of Starting a Blog? Tips to Help You Start, Maintain & Grow a Small Business Blog!

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Thinking of Starting a Blog? Tips to Help You Start, Maintain & Grow a Small Business Blog!

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: November 3, 2009

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The online social media revolution that

has bought us Facebook and Twitter actually started back in the late 90's when

the term 'blog', short for 'weblog', entered the lexicon.

Since then the activity of blogging has

exploded and it was in May 2005 that BusinessWeek

proclaimed that *Blogs Will

Change Your Business. They certainly have.

Why

are blogs important for your business?

Blogs provide business owners with

unprecedented ways of reaching and engaging with large audiences in a way that

the traditional one-way information push of a company Web site could never do.

Not only this, but blogs can help put a

human face to your business while showcasing your knowledge and passion for

your chosen field. For example, restaurant owners can share recipe secrets.

Just about anyone from a landscaping business to an IT security company can

share tips of the trade that connect them with their customer base.

And unlike the static content of a

business Web site, blogs are collaborative and invite comment - a great way to

engage with and solicit feedback from your customers!

Blogs can even be lead generating. I

read and monitor blogs religiously and have nurtured leads and networked with

businesses that I would not have known existed, had it not been for the viral

marketing effect generated by their blogs.

Of course, if you are thinking of

starting a blog you need to have an underlying strategy in place to ensure it

is a success. Here are four things to

consider before you enter the blogosphere:

1. Identify a Purpose,

Goal and Intention for your Blog

While you

obviously want to promote your business, don't be over-promotional in your blog

content strategy. Decide early on what you want to accomplish with your blog -

and this should drive your content.

Most blogs are

typically centered on positioning businesses or business owners as thought

leaders in their space or for sharing information and tips that readers find

useful. For other ideas on how to shape your blog strategy, including the use

of case studies and interviews, take a look at this article - '*5 Winning Post

Ideas for Your Small Business Blog' - from *OPENForum.com.

Once you have

defined your goal, be sure to adhere to it. Consider publishing your blog

objective on your blog home page. For example, the objective of a hypothetical

company - JJ's Landscaping Services - might be to provide tips that help consumers

maintain a thriving garden in all seasons, which could be summarized and

published as:

The

Better Garden Blog

Tips and Tools from our team of experts

to keep your garden looking its best year round!

2. Getting Started

- Blog Software

Once you have decided

to start blogging, you will need to consider the software options available for

hosting your blog.

Many social

media experts advise businesses to be wary of some of the free blog tools

available, since their basic features don't offer integration with existing

business Web domains or allow for brand customization.

Truth be told,

however, if you are just getting started with a blog, free blogging software

can be a cost-effective and easy solution for many small businesses. If your

blog does take off down the road, you might want to consider migrating to blog

software that is installed on your domain and integrated with your Web site.

And don't forget to devise a communication plan to let your readers know that you

are moving hosts!

3. Commit to Blogging

Regularly and with Relevance

There are two

tell tale signs that a blog has lost its way - no posts for two weeks or more,

and content that has veered off course. Neither will give a favorable

impression of your company.

If you can't

commit to posting at least 2-3 times a week, then blogging is not going to work

for your business. And this is something to consider before you even start your

blog. A good way to keep posts regular is to share duties with others. This

also adds a diversity of voices.

Having an

editorial calendar can also keep you on track. Written in advance (for the

coming month or quarter), an editorial calendar should include not just the

working title of upcoming posts, but a summary of the objective of each post

too. Also include hyperlinks to other resources that can help you craft your

post quickly and efficiently when it comes time to write.

Don't forget to

include placeholders for topical posts that spring up at the last minute. For

example, in the case of our hypothetical company - JJ's Landscaping Services -

topical posts that address current issues such as protracted weather conditions

can keep your blog relevant and compelling.

4. Develop a Plan

to Generate Traffic to your Blog

Last, but by no

means least, generating traffic to your blog is critical. The trouble is, many

bloggers either do nothing to leverage the tactics available to them, or they

go overboard and saturate their blog pages with links and social media icons to

drive inbound traffic.

There are many

traditional and non-traditional ways to drive traffic to your blog - from

ensuring you have RSS feeds built in to adding a link to your blog from other

customer touch points such as your email signature and main business Web site.

This article

from *Louis Gray - '*10 Pointers for

Generating Traffic to Your Blog' - is essential reading to get any blogger

started in thinking about ways to promote their blog content and drive inbound

traffic.

Happy blogging!

Additional Resources

*Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government Web site.

Message Edited by CaronBeesley on 11-03-2009 08:02 AM

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

Nice article. I think another key thing to consider these days is up front keyword research to ensure what you are going to be blogging about actually has people searching for those terms in the first place. Just a thought! :o)

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