For small business owners, a great way to strengthen brand image, increase exposure, and encourage customer loyalty is through maintaining a blog. But how hard is it to set up a regularly updated feed of quality content seems like a daunting task. Here are our top 10 tips for making a great company blog, the result of six years of blogosphere experience, simplified.
10. Your own domain
It’s so easy to set up a blog using the templates provided by free services such as Blogspot, WordPress, or Wix, but we suggest leaving it at that and not using their free hosting as well. By using free hosting from a blog company, your blog’s URL will read company.hostingcompany.com, instead of company.com. Not only is this unprofessional, suggesting you’re too lazy to pay the $15 or whatever a year of hosting fees your blog will demand, but it makes it harder for clients to remember and type, increasing the likelihood they’ll forget you. Consumers are lazy too.
9. An editorial calendar
A well-developed content calendar for your blog will ensure that your blog doesn’t fizzle and burn out when you run out of ideas to write about and people to write them – if you assign them well in advance. Include the topics, the dates they should be posted on, and who should be writing the posts. A content calendar also helps establish consistency.
8. Lots of content, fast
Although what’s most important about your editorial content is regularity, not necessarily quantity, we recommend creating and posting many blog articles quickly during the launch. Instead of stockpiling 10 posts for several weeks and then putting them out over months, we’d just post all 10 during the first week or two. As soon as you launch a blog, you’ll probably be promoting it through email lists and social media. A potential reader might see one interesting article, click through to your blog, read the article, look to see if any other articles are on your blog, see that’s the only one, and never come back again. Give them a reason to come back.
7. Promote your blog enthusiastically
Promote your blog over social media, email marketing, and in person-to-person communication! The newness of your blog will create a conversation starter.Potential sale hasn’t visited your site in a month and you’re looking to get him back? Ask him if he’s checked out your new company blog.
6. Images are king
We live in an age of visual culture. We also live in an age of short attention spans, where it’s necessary to use something else to generate and keep attention besides knowledge communicated through words alone. News articles with images get more views. Press releases with images get more views. Facebook posts with images get more views. Your blog content with images will get more views. And don’t worry about not having a professional photographer in your roster – our disposable visual culture means that people will accept stock photos, screenshots, and casually-filtered phone pics. And infographics are very shareable, so they’re worth the time to create.
5. Do interviews
Interview interesting people in your industry and get some cross-promotion as you generate new, relevant content – they’ll want to tell people about the interview you did with them, because they’re being interviewed, and you’ll be telling people about the interview you did with them because the interview subject is interesting. In the same vein, invite guest posts. Guest posts carry the same valuable cross-promotion potential interviews do, and you won’t even have to produce any of the content for the specific post. Again, make sure your guest posters are figures who are knowledgeable and relevant figures in your field. If you have a writer you’re already interested in, it never hurts to reach out, but considering leaving an email address on the site that potential guest posters can pitch to as well. After you have built an initial relationship with a guest poster, maintain that relationship to explore future options.
4. Be user-friendly
You don’t need a custom theme built from scratch by a professional web designer to have a good blog, but you need whatever template you end up using to be easy to navigate for readers. Information architecture, UX, it doesn’t matter the specific name, but if your blog is hard to read, people will stop reading.
All of these are free WordPress themes. Pretty nice, huh? Small businesses often do not have the time or money to invest in a made-from-scratch web design. Thousands of free/inexpensive themes on the web make it easier.
3. Get social
Blogs are a product of the socialized web, so be social! Many blog templates already include buttons that make it easy to share posts on social media. If you don’t have one, get one.
2. Run smart promotions
Run promotions designed to drive traffic to your blog. Some popular ideas to start: a contest giving away a free product to someone randomly selected from everyone whose shared your blog post on social media, or a giveaway for readers to comment a response to a question posed in a post. Readers have to engage with your content to participate in the promotions, in these scenarios.
1. Stay informed and be nice
Read the company blogs of industry partners and competitors to get a feel for the trends in your section of the blogosphere. Then, do it better. How do I do it better? Well, what makes you, you? What do you have that others can’t replicate? That’s personality. Always be welcoming to the people who read your stuff. Answer their questions and genuinely engage with them. A blog has a more casual tone than a static company page; always appreciate this freedom. If readers your personality enough, they’ll always come back.
What are you waiting for? Go make that content calendar!