So you want to start a blog, but don’t know where to start? We have good news! Starting a blog is easy, and there’s never been a better time to get started. However, you do have some decisions to make before you start writing.
What Will You Blog About?
The first thing to do is to identify the niche your blog will fill. You need to have a clear answer to the question: What will I write about?
There are many different types of blogs you could start. Some common blog types include:
- Personal blogs: Express your personal thoughts on politics, current events, your travel experiences, and much more.
- Professional blogs: Build your professional brand as you write articles that demonstrate your mastery of your profession, and strengthen your position as a thought leader within your industry.
- Topical blogs: Pick a specific subject and cover it in depth. Maybe you’re a die-hard NFL fan and you want to blog about your favorite team. Perhaps you have a strong interest in science and technology, and you want to blog about developments in that arena. Any topic will do, just make sure it’s one you have a strong ongoing interest in, or you’ll soon lose interest in the project.
- Other blogs: There are lots of other blog types to consider. Take your time, and pick one that will hold your interest.
If you’re struggling to identify a topic to focus on, take a look at this list of some of the most popular blogs on the web for inspiration.
Who Will Host Your Blog?
The web is a crowded place. If you want to grow your audience quickly, paid advertising is your best bet.
You can pick a platform that takes care of the hosting for you. This is referred to as a hosted blogging platform. Or you can set up hosting on your own, and have a self-hosted blog. If you do choose to go with a hosted platform, you can choose to go with a free platform, or upgrade to a premium platform with additional features.
- Free hosted blogging platforms: If you want a free place to blog and one that requires minimal technical know-how, a free hosted blog is your best bet. Some of the best free platforms include WordPress.com, Medium, Postach.io, and Authpad.
- Premium hosted blogging platforms: Free platforms come with many limitations. If you want a professional blog-style website, you’ll want to go with a premium platform. Some of the best premium platforms include WordPress.com’s Premium Plan, Squarespace, and Ghost Pro.
- Self-hosted platforms: If you’re technically inclined, you can get all of the benefits of a premium platform, plus a lot more flexibility, at a fraction of the cost if you set up your own hosting with someone like SiteGround, InMotion, or Bluehost. Once you’ve picked a host, you’ll want to pick a blogging application to power your website. There are many free applications you could use to build your blog such as WordPress.org, Ghost source code, and Textpattern.
Who Will Read Your Blog?
If you want your blog up and running as quickly as possible WordPress.com is a great free place to develop your blogging prowess.
A quick search for tips on driving traffic to your blog will produce thousands of articles and recommendations. Our perusal of those posts produced some recurring themes, and they include ideas every blogger should be incorporating into their growth strategy.
1. Make sure you have an email list signup form and promote it heavily.
Most experts agree that the best way to get folks back to your site is to let them know every time you post new content. So add an email list signup form to your site (virtually every platform will have an easy way to do this), position it prominently on your site, and refer to it frequently.
2. Use social media to get your article out to your digital connections.
Many platforms include automatic sharing tools that will send your new post to networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Take advantage of these sharing tools.
3. Make use of paid advertising to attract new readers.
If you’re serious about increasing your readership place paid advertisements on social media, and search engine result pages.
4. Send your post to any people, websites, and businesses mentioned in your post.
Did you write a review for a local restaurant? Send them an email to let them know. Did you quote another website? Send them the link. You never know what might happen when you do. If they like the content they may even post a link to your blog on their website sending traffic back your way.
5. Make sure your blog is search engine friendly.
This is a topic that could justify a series of articles all by itself, but at a minimum you should do the following:
- Word your article title to match the wording someone might use when searching Google, such as How to Blog.
- Make sure to use the keywords that apply to your topic in your article title, and a couple of times throughout your post, but don’t go overboard or search engines may penalize you for something referred to as keyword stuffing.
- Add new content regularly. Search engines prefer sites that are updated frequently.
Blogging is a great way to build new connections, to establish yourself as a subject-matter expert and thought leader, and even to build an income over time. Getting started is easier than you might think, and following the simple steps we’ve outlined here will get you headed in the right direction.
Blogging for Business
If your business has a website, and you aren’t already blogging, you’re missing one of the cheapest ways to build a pipeline of qualified prospects. As you’ll learn by reading our post about how to blog, getting started is easier than you might think, and as we’ll show in this article, the benefits derived from a well-run business blog are many.
Why Your Business Should Have a Blog
The bottom line is that a well-done business blog will produce qualified leads. How does this happen? It’s a multi-step process:
- Search engines love regularly updated websites, and a blog that is updated according to a regular schedule will produce a very tangible boost in search engine ranking over time.
- Well-written blog posts on properly selected topics establish authority. Consider two identical companies: one starts a blog and does a great job with it while the other doesn't blog at all. Six months down the road which one of the two companies will be considered the “industry-leading expert”?
- Blog posts have a lasting impact. Over time, you’ll find that your most popular blog posts drive the majority of search engine traffic that reaches your site.
By blogging effectively, you’ll drive more search engine traffic to your website, establish your company as a leader in your industry, and gain value from posts months and even years after you post them.
Establish a high-quality business blog, and your readers will stop thinking of your company as Company XYZ: maker of widgets, instead they’ll think of you as Company XYZ: the most knowledgeable, helpful, and findable maker of widgets in the world.
How to Have a Great Business Blog
Now that you’re sold on the idea of launching a business blog, it’s important to get it right.
If you hope to have a blog that your customers value, share, and return to, you have to learn to pick the right topics. Your customers will only read your blog if you provide information that is valuable to them. So you have to know your customers, and craft blog posts that are relevant to the relationship they have with your business. If you’re a realtor, don’t blog about becoming a realtor, blog about getting the best interest rate, or picking a great house inspector.
Blogging regularly is one of the most effective ways to improve your website's search engine results page ranking.
When you write your posts, have a plan. Don’t just sit down and start typing. First, draft a headline and introduction. Then, pencil out an outline. Don’t start writing until you know what you want to say, and have a working outline that will help you say it well.
We can’t emphasize this strongly enough: write readable content. Writing a readable blog post is an art. Use very short paragraphs, strong organization with the frequent use of headers and lists, and leave lots of whitespace on the page if you want your blog posts to be read.
Some Great Business Blogs
Now for some inspiration. There are many companies doing a great job of blogging. Here are a few of our favorites:
- InVision is a company that offers design collaboration software, and their blog is chock full of design best practices and free resources – exactly what every designer is looking for.
- If you’re in real estate, subscribe to Zillow’s blog for a great example of blogging that’s sure to attract prospective home buyers and renters.
- One thing the Disney Parks blog does well is to take you behind the scenes. The posts put a human face on a large corporation – a smart move for a company aiming to make an emotional connection with their customers.
- We’ve linked to it a few times already, but we couldn’t complete this list without mentioning the HubSpot blog. If you search for nearly any topic related to blogging and internet marketing you’re likely to see a HubSpot blog post as one of the top results. Their blog drives a ton of traffic to their website.
- If you want to take a look at a smaller business that does a great job of blogging, take a look at the Big Sea Design blog. A web design and marketing agency, they have established themselves as a recognized voice within the inbound marketing community.
Now that you know the reasons why a business blog makes all of the business sense in the world, and you understand how to thrill your readers, there’s only one thing to do: Make a plan and start blogging!