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Free ebook: Starting a Blog for your Business

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Free ebook: Starting a Blog for your Business

  1. 1. Starting A BlogFor Your Business
  2. 2. Starting A Blog For Your Business TABLE OF CONTENTS Part 1 - Early Challenges Part 2 - Getting Started Part 3 - Setting Up Your BlogPart 4 - Publishing and Sharing Content, Part 5 - What’s Next For Your Blog?
  3. 3. Part 1 – Early ChallengesAnnual marketing cycles inevitably lead to business operators to wonderwhether old strategies are working with their newly polished businessobjectives. Here’s a strategy you should add to the list:This year, your business should start a blog(And if you already have a blog, then use this year to maximize its effectiveness.)Why A Blog?Your goal with a blog is to get found by active prospects online that you don’talready know. This is different from engaging with your fans on a social network,listen to what you have to say. Finding your prospects with a blog is a muchmore challenging task and takes expertise and hard work, but the dividends are tremendous.SEARCH ENGINESThe job of a search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) is to scan and scan and scan and scan (youget it, they never stop) web pages for content. These search engines use complex algorithms todetermine the value of content and establish page rankings. This ongoing process determineswhere content appears on SERPs (search engine results pages).Blogs are the most ideal web environment for creating and sharing content for several reasons: : Search engines aren’t magical; there’s a precise development discipline guiding the ways they scan and index pages. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts are trained to research and implement keywords that give your content the authority to help search engines get comfortable returning content to more of the appropriate prospects. Many years ago SEO was a hidden science that created content visible to search engines but invisible to the Web visitor. With the advent of blogs, there are now content management systems that house all the most important elements that search engines scan for in a very usable and organized way. User Friendly: You don’t need a degree from MIT in computer science to understand how to manage a blog. You don’t even need formal web design training. You just need time. Most blogging software is designed so that the user experience is intuitive, letting the blogger know where the content goes, how to format it, and where to input the important SEO elements. You may also add plug-ins that will help you share your content across the web. (For example, WordPress has plug-ins that will tweet your new content for you the second you publish it on your blog). Managing a blog can be as simple as managing your e-mail. Great For Customer Engagement: Blogs have commenting systems that allow the business to interact with its readers and provide top-level customer support. Your blogging platform can alert you via e-mail (or even text message in some cases) as to when a prospect or client has left a comment on your content, giving you the opportunity to engage them (prospect) or provide support (client).
  4. 4. Do not make one decision about the blog (other than deciding to have one for reasons above)before you create a list of objectives. These objectives will shape the entire scope of the blogand your marketing philosophies in general. They will help set guidelines and determine contentrequirements.Your objectives will largely be unique to the character of your business or industry, but here arethree general objectives that apply to most businesses.Your Blog Should Help With SalesYour blog should not only be a source of engaging (and often entertaining) content, but it shouldprovide useful information that help your sales force. The more your prospects and clients knowabout your industry and your product, the more successful a sales call or visit is likely to go. Itmeans your content should be informative, not “sales-y”. Creating informative content that alsosupports sales can be done in a variety of ways: 1. Use product details and specs in interesting ways 2. FAQs that are useful to consumer research 3. How-To posts and videos 4. Product reviews and comparisons 5. Photo GalleriesA blog presents a business with the excellent opportunity to increase its reach on social networks.to buy while they are there! While no website or blog should be overly aggressive with advertising,it is important that they understand your service, especially considering all the content that’s beingcreated to get them there. Use space on your blog to host banners or call-to-actions buttons thatreceiving.There are many other objectives you’ll come up with as you begin. You might be interesting incollecting e-mails for e-mail marketing or gaining YouTube subscribers for your video networks.Whatever your objectives are, list them and make them clear to anyone working on your blogbefore you begin creating content.
  5. 5. Part 2 – Getting StartedThink about your blog essentially as your website, only with the greatrepresentation of your business and a driving force for new prospects. Itis as much your home for your business as the physical space you workin on a daily basis. It is how the world sees you. A lot of work will go inIt’s now time to start to determine the voice and scope of your website.Before you can decide who you want to write on your company websitereaders should be.While most businesses will have a VERY diverse answer, it’s still important to do the necessary1. Who Are Your Current Consumers?2. Who Are Your Ideal Consumers?A target audience needs to be a studied mix of your consumer history as well as the consumers you3. Who Is Your Competition Marketing Towards?List some of your competitors and research in to their consumers. Who do they appear to be trying Demographics: Age, Gender, Income, Education, Physical Location Sharing Habits: Is this consumer someone who is likely to share and engage online with your
  6. 6. Building A Team For Your BlogThe voice of your blog is the key to its success. And it all starts at the top.Producing content for your brand is a collaborative effort. Ideally, you’ll want to build collaborationwith the experts in your company and a top-notch content marketing service. This will ensure ahigh volume of quality content with a lot of character and the necessary technical prowess andreporting.Consider these three teams as you build an internal team to publish content and manage your blog:Business owners and executives are busy people and their priorities are usually on money andresults, with employees and strategies in place to deliver them. But it is important that the ownersand executives of your business are involved with your website and blog. They might only be ableto contribute occasionally, but the juice is worth the squeeze. Some people in your business might be wary to contribute and create content for all to see. When the boss does it, people take note and will realize that the process is important and worthwhile. No one knows the goals of a business like the owner or executives themselves. Let your clients hear what the product means from the people responsible for delivering it. Clients and prospects will take note when executives take time to product content for them. And they’ll appreciate it.2. Assign Monthly Columns/Postsprovide valuable insight to your consumers. Get content from all reaches of your business, fromstory they have or what the business means to them. Something like a “Day In The Life” post orvideo is a great example of showing off the inner workings and special qualities of your business.Do you have connections in your industry to people who have a lot to say that would be of interestyour blog get started. A lot of times, friends and associates will help out for free.And they will promote your content for you!You’ll need to make many of the decisions about your blog yourself since you are most familiar withyour company and are the one setting the marketing objectives.
  7. 7. Part 3 – Setting Up Your BlogOnce you’ve considered how a blog can be meaningful to yourprospects and your business, it’s time to tackle the process ofcreating the blog itself.Choosing The Right SoftwareA lot of the popular blogging software is similar. There are enoughimportant differences however that some thought and researchshould be put in to choosing the right one.You’ll want to set up an account with several different platforms and spend some time in eachbefore making the decision on which you are going to move forward with.Some of the most popular blogging platforms for businesses are: WordPress Blogger Typepad Squarespace Movable TypeEach has different features and limitations that you’ll want to explore. Here’s a great list thatcompares and contrasts the more important software features. 1. 2. software, like WordPress, prohibits most paid advertising in its free version) 3. experience user-friendly and simple, but some platforms require a bit of computer experience to get the most out of) 4. 5. 6. Explore the available plug-ins. Will you be able to integrate your social networks or otherTry publishing a blog post or two (try different forms of content, like video), and see which you aremost comfortable with.
  8. 8. Creating an Editorial CalendarYou’ll want to create an editorial calendar as soon as you think about publishing any sort ofcontent.With a business website especially, an editorial calendar is an effective method of keeping allcontributors and blog administrators on the same page for the publication of blog and social mediaposts.Assign one person to manage and keep up the calendar, and make it a public document for users ifpossible.Here are a couple editorial calendar methods I’d suggest: WordPress Editorial Calendar - If you are a WordPress user, this is a great option. Google Calendar - This is how I plan content. The integration with Google apps and mobile devices forces you to stay on top of all of your content goals, no matter what holiday. Basecamp HQ - If planning and project management is a serious initiative for you or your business, this paid software will cover all of your needs. Evernote - A simple option and very social option. This easy to use and intuitive software helps you jot down ideas and dates as they come to you. Your data is saved in the Evernote cloud and can be shared across all your social networks or electronic devices.Part 4 – Publishing and Sharing Content,You have developed a marketing philosophy that’s in line withyour business goals, decided who your content should be gearedtowards, set up a team to help publish and manage the contentPublish Your ContentGoogle appreciates a website that is publishingcontent consistently. Creating more content has two realadvantages: 1. sharing and social networking. The more content that is fed to your consumers, the more chances you have to spread word of mouth.
  9. 9. 2. More content creates more opportunities to be indexed on SERPs (search engine results pages). One post about ‘kitchen tiles’ might yield some decent keywords and search result engine placements and reach a wider variety of searchers.schedule as much as a month ahead of time. Quality content takes a lot of time to prepare andpublish, and it’s very likely the people in your company have a lot of responsibilities already. Set upa schedule for content and make sure everyone sticks to it.Share and Engage With Your Contentand business. You will want to seize every opportunity to engage and extend the reach of yourcontent. A great way to do this is through social networking and social engaging.Three quick and easy ways to increase sharing and engagement with the content you’ve published: 1. Post the content on your business fan pages. Do you have a Facebook and Twitter account by I suggest you go read this! Each time you post a piece of content to your blog, you should go post that content on your social network pages. (Some blogging software will provide plug-ins that automatically post your content to your social networks as you publish them on your blog) 2. Ask your audience questions or give them something to do. Engaged readers not only give you opportunity to interact (and sell) to them, but they are also likely to help you do word- of-mouth advertising because you provided them with good service and interaction. Ask your audience questions at the end of your blog posts. (Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get than you can handle) 3. Send content to other blogs (Guest blogging) Read blogs of other businesses or bloggers who might share your similar target audience. Chances are you can develop a relationship with extra content, you will extend your reach to their consumers)(Here is our beginner’s guide to Google Analytics.) 1. time of no more than 30 minutes between each page request. This is your best bulk statistic for amount of visitors to your blog. 2. Pageviews – The total number of pages viewed by all visitors.
  10. 10. 3. Bounce Rate – The percentage of time a visitor views one page and leaves without clicking they are looking for when they searched for you. 4. 5. certain search terms that are working for you. You will want to create more content around these keywords and terms.Now that you are publishing, sharing, and monitoring your results, your blog is well on its way toPart 5 – What’s Next For Your Blog?Content Marketing is viable for companies of all sizes for two primary reasons: All businesses need to be able to be found online.What I’ve attempted to accomplish here is give you a veryelementary view of how a content marketing service mightapproach creating a blog for your service, in a way that abusiness owner would respect and appreciate.Working TogetherSo, why the need for a content marketing service at all if I’veThere are many, but several key reasons that businesses shouldhire content marketing services when they begin to set-up a blogor website. There is a lot of work to do. Some of the content you will produce might take a matter of moments. (A Facebook status is a ‘piece of content’ technically), while others might take hours of research and planning. Search engines appreciate very regular and consistent quality, and slacking off on producing content when other important business items come up can cause you to lose some of your rankings on results pages. The work doesn’t end at the blog. The blog is certainly the ‘home’ of your content marketing efforts. It’s the place where you regularly engage and please your fan base, but these prospects will seek further engagement on their process to buying. They will want to see examples of work (White Papers or Case Studies) or follow you on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc). Content marketing services understand the process of “lead nurturing” and how to deliver the right content at the right time to your most important visitors (prospects!).
  11. 11. Writing content is a technical process. Content marketers are trained on how to write in a way that search engines understand. This includes how to choose the proper keywords for a blog post, or how to appropriately tag an image, or how to come up with the right title. Search engines scan pages like a barcode scanner, looking for key pieces of information by which they decide the content is valuable and thus where to rank it in relation to similar content from other websites. These professionals can not only produce content that is of great SEO value, they can also advise and edit content you would like to provide.The ideal Internet marketing situation then would be one where a business (1) understands theneed to produce content, (2) hires a content marketing service that understands and meetstheir budgetary and idealistic demands, and (3) forms a partnership that results in the regularproduction of content delivered to the correct audience at the correct time.If you’ve learned anything reading these posts, I hope it’s that having a blog is exponentiallyvaluable to your business.As you move forward with a blog and the process of delivering content to your fans, keep thefollowing 3 things in mind: 1. 2. 3. (Part 4)If you’d like to talk to a content marketing service about how they might be able to be a viable andhelpful partner for your business as you start a blog, DigitalSherpa would be happy to speak withyou personally.We offer a free 30-minute consultation where you can talk about your business, your goals, yourmarketing history, and what your expectations are for a blog or website. We will give you anobjective and informed expert opinion based on the consultation.You may request this consultation here or by e-mailing me personally at cvaughn@nci.com SHARE OR CONNECT WITH US ONLINE!