Blogging. If you talk to the internet marketing snobs they’ll tell you it’s “so 2007”. If that were the case, there wouldn’t be so many that are still so successful. Sure there are other newer, shinier mediums, but a good blog still holds a tremendous amount of value and can be a great business and relationship builder. The real question is, how do you make a good one?
I think I can speak a little bit from experience, as:
- We’re a small business
- I’m a blogger
- I consider my blog a moderate success (though I really wish I had more time to devote to it…but see number 1 for why I can’t)
Most small businesses lack the resources of their larger contemporaries, which adds some significant challenges to creating a successful and beneficial blog. I’ve created a short checklist that helps me, and will hopefully help you either create or transform your blog as one that people can truly find value in.
- Create quality content. Too often small businesses will have a couple of ideas that are worthy of a post, but the majority of their blogging is filler. Don’t make your blog a one hit wonder, think of your blog as an album. Nobody will buy an album if there’s only one or two good songs. Assume that every reader will sign up to your RSS feed, and if your post isn’t something someone would take the time to open and read then don’t write it. Nothing’s more annoying than getting a stinkbomb in your inbox or Google Reader.
- Be unique. If you have an idea for a blog, spend some time researching to see if it’s been discussed before. Do a quick search or two on the topic and if it’s been done, try to add a unique spin to it. If you want to get some attention, link to the other posts as well, and you can get some exposure by showing up in their trackbacks if the other blogs have them enabled.
- Involve others. Once you’ve established your blog and have a bit of an audience, offer others the opportunity to do a guest post or co-write a post on a topic that they’re passionate about. These people will likely help promote their appearance on their blog or other social media avenues as well. The more popular your guest, the better off you’ll be.
Make it look good. Like it or not, credibility often comes with appearance. So making your blog have a professional look goes a long way to getting people to spend time reading your work. Furthermore, add relevant images to your blog. People like visuals – especially graphs.
- Create a schedule and stick to it. One of the hardest parts about maintaining a blog is maintaining a blog. It takes time. I’m guilty of falling off my schedule from time to time as well, but I try to tackle a blog topic or two each weekend. It’s always nice to have a spare topic that’s not time sensitive to post when life doesn’t allow. If you have a team, this gets even easier, as long as each member knows when they’re expected to add a post. Create a schedule and stick to it. Reward yourself for sticking to it if you must (I would blog for a Klondike bar.)
If you need motivation or need to sell other members of your team on blogging, keep in mind some of the key benefits:
- A blog lets you casually articulate a position on a topic or better explain products/services without heavy handed selling. It’s a great way to tell a story and to personalize your business.
- Fresh content makes search engines happy – green content shows your site is active and constantly adding relevant content to your blog/site’s theme.
- Your blog is a great opportunity to build links (which will help your overall site’s ranking as well). Publish an RSS feed and promote your blog in blog directories and via social media to get yourself noticed. Once you have an audience and great content, links will follow.
Another great resource for blog beginners is the Clear Writing Checklist – which offers some technical recommendations for selecting colors, images and fonts to make your blog all it can be. I definitely recommend checking that out.
Any other recommendations are certainly welcome in the comments. Happy blogging!
A small business blogging checklist …
So many small businesses start blogs, only to fizzle into mediocrity, or even worse, stagnant pages that haven’t been updated in years. If you’re looking to start, or simply revive your blog, here are some good pointers….