Adding a blog to your website is a simple and affordable way to strengthen your connection with both current and potential clients, while improving your search engine rankings. However, many business blogs quickly become neglected and abandoned, which leaves a poor impression. So we asked successful bloggers and online marketing experts:
When should a business launch a blog, and how do you create a following?
Blogologist, Alister Cameron
“You’re ready to start a blog when other online contacts keep asking you where your blog is. I’ve long been saying that blogging is only 10% writing. The other 90% is what we might loosely call ‘networking’. And as such, learning to blog should start with the networking bit, not the writing bit.
“Start by researching who else is already blogging in your industry or niche. Begin reading their blogs and commenting on posts that grab your attention. Don’t just leave a ‘throw-away line’ as a comment but try and contribute something substantive.
“Also, when you are impressed by what a blogger has to say, and have something you think is valuable to add, perhaps email them privately. Seek to make a personal connection.
“What will happen is fairly predictable: some people — perhaps other commenters, perhaps the blog author — will want to read more of what you’ve got to say and will ask for your blog address. When that happens more than a few times, you’re ready to blog!
“By that stage — usually a few months — you will have reached a point in your own personal development where you will write in a far better way than you might otherwise have done, had you started with the writing bit. You will have a better sense of your own tone of voice, you will have a better sense of how to write for your target audience, and you will have much greater confidence in what subject matter is of interest ‘out there’.”
Follow Alister @alicam
“I’ve never heard anyone who thought they’d launched their business blog too soon. Even if you’re a brand new startup, it’s worth investing some time in getting a blog up and running. You don’t have to post every day or even every week — but a blog offers you a great opportunity to have a human, friendly face for your customers. It’s also a great place to post news and promotions.
“Almost any blog tool you use will let you offer an RSS feed, and email subscriptions, so that your customers and fans can get updates from you straight to their feed reader or inbox — and, realistically, they’re much more likely to do that than keep coming back to visit a site which rarely changes. Produce valuable content which your prospects really want to read, and you’ll quickly find you build up a following.”
Follow Ali @alihale
Principal, Chess Media Group
“A business can begin blogging at any time really; there isn’t a right or wrong time to start. However, before starting a blog an organization needs to remember that successful blogging comes out of passion and love for someone does, what their company offers and represents, and for interactions and conversations with other people. This is important to have otherwise blogging becomes a chore and that’s usually why they are abandoned and left behind.
“The best way I have found to create a following is by writing plenty of guest blogs for other people, actively commenting on other sites, integrating social media into other marketing efforts — for instance, including a Twitter handle on business cards, and by participating in other social channels where relevant discussions are taking place.”
Follow Jacob @JacobM
Founder, Sprout Media, and author of The Power of Influence
“Blogging is the best way to give your audience a snapshot into who you are as a brand or business. In this new age of web 2.0 marketing, the key to success is relationship building, building personal brand equity, and finding your own voice online. Blogging helps to give clarity and volume to your brand. It helps to build a sense of community based around your key ideas and concepts.
“If you’re not sure what to blog about then ask your viewers. Use social media platforms like Twitter to engage your followers and ask them about the style of content they’d like to read. This shows that you respect their opinion.
“And the number one rule of having an online business is building trust. Once you gain their trust and have won their hearts, then you have acquired valued and loyal customers for your business from a long-term perspective.”
Follow Sarah @sarahprout
“A business should launch a blog only when they are clear on why they are doing so. Understanding the strategy and the real tangible outcomes you desire from your blog, and how the blog is capable of meeting these goals, is critical.
“Blogs fail because the owner acts because they’ve been told it’s a good idea to have one, but don’t really understand why or how they work. If you want your blog to be marketing tool, to attract new customers, build your list, increase brand awareness and open a dialog with your customers, then it makes sense to first understand how blogs do this, then follow a proven strategy that leads to the result you want.
“No matter what your motivation is for starting a blog, you will need to learn how to attract an audience. The best way to do this is by following a content strategy, releasing the information you know your audience is searching for, and then venturing out to where your community exists online and interacting with them.
“If you can commit to publishing one piece of valuable content every day and spend at least 30 minutes a day going to other websites to interact with your community and promote your blog, you will succeed.”
Follow Yaro @yarostarak
Author, The Corporate Blogging Book
“You should launch a blog when you have something to say. In other words, when you can add value. Talk about trends in your industry, offer your top 10 tips, provide links to useful free resources or new articles. Be consistently useful. You don’t have to be brilliant or witty.
“Above all, keep at it. It takes several months to get noticed by the search engines and longer to get noticed — and linked to — by influential bloggers or Twitterers. Marketing with content (for that’s what blogging is) takes time and effort. But it is extremely powerful and, over the long run, cost efficient. You build credibility drip by drip, blog post by post.”
Follow Debbie @debbieweil