With all of the excitement and newness of social media, is it still important to have your own blog? Absolutely! Blogs are very much alive and doing better than ever. After reading this article, you’ll understand that your blog is not only an integral part of your social media marketing strategy, but it is perhaps the most influential part.
In this article, we discuss what blogs are, how popular they are, how to set them up, what makes them successful, and how to tie them into your other social media sites. This article puts it all together so you know all the essentials to make your mark on the blogging word.
What’s a Blog?
A blog is short for weblog. It is a sort of log or personal writing that’s accessible to the world on a web page. The blog can be traced back to one blogger (if not the very first blogger) named Justin Hall, who began personal blogging back in 1994. Things have evolved since then. Gone are the days of the blog with just text, text, and more text.
If you want a place to write about your expertise, gearing it toward your target clients, and be easily found on the search engines, a blog is the perfect platform for you.
Why Should You Consider a Blog?
Blogging is here to stay, and participation by writers and by readers is on the rise. There are many reasons why you should consider writing a blog. In fact, many would argue that it’s essential for someone promoting a business or product. Here’s a short list of reasons that might inspire you to start blogging:
- You can’t control what is going to happen to all of the other social media platforms as they continue to evolve, but you can control your blog. It’s your platform to do whatever you want to do with it.
- It’s a great place to share your expertise, so you’ll be seen as a subject matter expert and your readers will begin to see you as an industry leader.
- Blogs are a great way to attract clients. Once they find you and follow your blog, they’ll learn to respect your expertise and trust your brand.
- You can guide your other social media followers from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to your blog to learn more about you or the subject matter you write about.
- You can invite guest bloggers to post on your blog, which is a great networking and strategic marketing tool for you.
- It will give your followers, fans, and prospects a place to leave detailed comments about your blogging posts and, thus, become more engaged with you.
- You can now add video to your blog, which readers love.
- The internet search engines love blogs. This makes you easier to find for clients, prospects, and strategic partners.
- A good blog can give you great credibility among your clients, prospects, and potential strategic partners.
- Most bloggers agree that having a blog helps you become a better writer and that it also helps you clearly define your passions, business direction, and focus.
- For some entrepreneurs, their blog is so alive with information—such as video, Twitter, and other social media links—that it actually replaces their websites.
When getting ready to get into the world of blogging you really want to consider your “Why?” As a business owner, think about who you want to read your blog. But before you jump into the blogosphere, answer the following questions. They’ll help you focus and do a better job of crafting your blog:
- Are your readers primarily males, primarily females, or a mixture of both?
- What age are they?
- What’s their income level?
- Are they stay-at-home moms, writers, or entrepreneurs?
- What do readers need to know?
- Why would people want to read your blog?
- What will keep them coming back each week?
- Where can you find these people on the web?
- What should you name your blog?
And here’s one more very important question to ask yourself: Are you willing to commit to regularly updating your blog? The first 60 days are crucial to ensuring success and building credibility.
Blogging experts say one post per week is the absolute minimum. Ideally, you want to update your blog two to three times per week to keep things fresh and current and to maintain readers’ interest. This may sound like a lot of time, but once you start, your blog must be dedicated to writing new posts and putting new content on your blog.
Tips for Writing Your Blog
A common writing tip given by the popular bloggers is that you need to enjoy, love, and have a passion for what you are writing about. It will come across in your writing, which will attract followers and prospects. Here are a few more basic tips:
- Along with having a passion for your topic, lists are also good to incorporate into your blog. We’d like to think that people are going to read your blog word for word each time, but people do skim. Lists are great for skimmers.
- Shake things up a little now and then. Using the same format month after month can get a little stale. So in some weeks, incorporate a list of items. In another week, use a video or have a guest blogger write a post.
- Your blog is your domain to keep people informed and build rapport. Be sure your posts are informative and entertaining.
- Use catchy titles or headlines for each entry. Great headlines will attract readers and give them an idea of what your post is about. You can also put these headlines in your other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Be sure to include a link to take readers directly to your blog.
- When writing, you can put your posts into categories. You can use as many categories as you like, but a best practice is to keep the categories in sync with your subject matter expertise. In other words, if you stray too far off your topic, first-time viewers might get confused because they are going to see a variety of topics and categories that don’t have a central theme.
- Make sure you spell-check your blog and, if you’re not a strong writer, have someone else proofread your blog post for typos.
- Don’t forget to have fun. Your blog isn’t a doctoral thesis. It’s supposed to be a bit more informal in tone. You don’t have to get it perfect, just keep evolving and listening to your readers. Keep posts short and engaging. If you are having run writing, chances are your readers will have fun reading.
Blog Service Providers
Your blog acts as the hub for your company and is the definitive “talking source” for your business. You want to choose your blog service provider carefully. Let’s take a look at the current most popular providers, although the number of providers is constantly growing. Check the internet for any new providers on the horizon.
Blogger is a free site where you can get your blog up in minutes. A nice feature is that, when you create your blog, you can choose an available URL; later, if you change your mind and want another URL, you can easily make the change. Blogger also has a custom domain option and it’ll host your blog there. When you create your blog, you can host it for free on Blogger.
WordPress.com and WordPress.org
There are hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of users publishing their blogs on WordPress. It’s a highly respected platform. But there are two WordPress platforms, WordPress.com and WordPress.org, which can be confusing. You can choose to start a free blog at WordPress.com or pay for hosting and start your blog on WordPress.org. WordPress.com is also easier to set up than WordPress.org.
Do some research and think about which platform meets your needs. The WordPress folks suggest setting up a free practice blog on another topic (say a hobby of yours) on WordPress.com. This gives you a chance to check out the features. Then you can decide if you want to stay with that or shift over to the more powerful WordPress.org.
TypePad is another blog service provider; its strength is that it is easy to use. It also offers the capability to customize the look and feel of your blog. One of its differentiators is that it does charge a fee, but it is minimal. TypePad has several different subscriber levels of engagement, and you can easily upgrade to other service tiers without sacrificing your blog site.
TypePad is not only easy to use, but it also incorporates easily with the other social media platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
Movable Type is a sophisticated blogging service, as the graphics and templates are elaborately designed and colorful. In fact, it refers to itself as “your all-in-one social publishing platform.”
Promoting Your Blog
So you’ve named your blog, you are clear on your target audience, and you have selected your blog service provider. Now you’ve got your page set up and you have entered a couple of posts. Congratulations! Now it’s time to start promoting your blog to the world.
One of the first things to do is to go back and list your blog on all of your summary or informational pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace. You can also list it in your bio line on Twitter. In addition, list your blog everywhere else. Put it on your business cards, your e-mail signature, and your website. If you are a speaker or writer, be sure to list your blog in your bio box or signature.
Another way to promote your blog is through the many online communities that offer a place to list your blog. Also consider attending blogging conferences. You will want to begin keeping your eye out for strategic partners so you can link your blogs on each others’ websites and/or blogs. For many, self-promotion can be uncomfortable. But remember, if you don’t promote your business (particularly in the beginning), no one will.
Here are some other ideas to promote your blog:
- Get listed with the blog directories or catalogs.
- Record a short video clip announcing your blog and put it on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
- Do you publish a newsletter or e-zine? In the next issue, write about your blog and tell everyone about it.
- Look for interesting people to do a guest post on your blog. Ask your guest blogger to promote it to their network.
- Comment on the other blogs. While I don’t recommend spamming or making inauthentic comments just to get publicity, strategically comment on certain blogs that interest you and that may also interest your readers. You never know who may find your comment and check you (and your blog) out.
- Write an article. At the end of your article give your name, business name, and blog information.
- When people leave comments on your blog, respond to them. Remember, people want to feel connected.
- Be patient. Building a large following is going to take time. Just know that if you post good content, people are going to find you. Content is king and will help you build your credibility.
Applications for Your Blog
One of the methods for distributing your blog to others or “feeding” it to them on a regular basis is called a web feed. People will come to your blog and sign up for a subscription to your blog to get it “fed” or sent to them automatically. You will want to encourage readers to subscribe to feeds so you can build your readership fan base. Let’s review some of the websites that allow you to feed your blog to millions.
FeedBurner is a news feed management tool brought to you by Google. You may run your feed by FeedBurner to your blog feed and get access to stats that will help you understand your readers.
Speaking of widgets, if you still aren’t clear about what they are, go check out Widgetbox. This is a great site that enables you to create and import widgets that link to specific sites. These are kind of fun, and you may find some that you want to put on your blog.
One day, you may be known as a serious blogger and you may be asked to live blog at an event. CoverltLive is used by thousands of bloggers to engage millions of readers each month. This software delivers what you need to blog from any event live with your laptop. If you don’t feel like bringing your laptop to the event, you can still cover it using your iPhone through the software. Get the app and you’ll be able to launch and run live events, publish live commentary and photos, run audio and video, email event links, and more. They offer free basic service and a premium option. Serious bloggers should check this out!
AddThis is something you simply must have for your blog. You may have noticed on a lot of blogs that they have a share link at the bottom that includes other social media site icons. How do they do that? Go to www.addthis.com. Run (don’t walk) to add this feature to your blog today so it will get shared around the world. One of the most powerful things you can do is to add a sharing tool to your blog. This sharing tool will help your readers share your blog with other platforms and networks. The reader simply clicks on the share button, selects where they want to share it to (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), and boom—it’s sent.
Alexa offers many powerful tools, but one that I’ve noticed on a lot of blogs is Traffic Rank. It ranks every website according to the amount of traffic it receives. If you want to tell the world your traffic rank, go with Alexa.
After reading this article, I hope you’re excited about getting your blog going. Or maybe you have a blog that you’ve been neglecting? Either way, the tips in this article will get you on your way to becoming a successful member of the blogosphere.
Tips to Remember
- Your blog can be one of the most powerful tools of your social media marketing strategy.
- Your blog is your own branding platform, and you can link it to other social media platforms.
- Before starting a blog, know the who, what, where, how often, and why of your blog.
- There are many blogging service providers for you to use, and many of them are easy and free. You can also choose blogging software that’s more technical and requires a hosting fee, but that offers more powerful features.
- You can’t expect the masses to just come to your blog, so you’ll need to promote it everywhere, such as getting it listed in directories and promoting it on your other social media platforms.