To thrive in today’s digital landscape, it’s essential to add value by offering high-quality content that stands out from your competitors. Keeping a blog on your company website is one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience, offering informative, well-written articles that they’ll hopefully enjoy reading. Think of it as the best way to begin a lasting relationship with potential customers who trust your insights.
Starting a blog might seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but it’s easier than you think! Here are five easy steps to getting your business’ first blog off the ground and how to ensure its long-term success.
Set up a content management system
A content management system (CMS) is a tool that allows someone to publish content online easily.
WordPress is a popular free and open-source CMS that accounts for about 43 percent of the world’s websites. It’s simple, responsive, easy to navigate, and has over 55,000 plug-ins – software allowing you to customize and add functionality to your site. While the basic version of WordPress is free, most businesses will probably need a paid plan to get the most out of the platform.
If your company already has a website, there’s a reasonable chance you may already be using WordPress. In that case, it’s simple to add a blog to your existing platform. Go to the site’s dashboard and create a new page. Once you’ve named it and published the page, you can start regularly posting on it.
If you don’t have a website, you’ll need to start by choosing a CMS. There are plenty of other reliable options out there besides WordPress. Squarespace has earned a loyal following for its slick designs, Drupal for its security, and Joomla – a popular WordPress alternative – allows you to use multiple themes and templates for different pages.
Depending on your needs, timeline, and budget, you might consider hiring a developer to build a website for you instead.
Decide on a theme
Once you’ve chosen a CMS, it’s time to select a theme.
Think of a website’s theme as the foundation of its design and overall appearance. It includes everything from typography and color palettes to headers, footers and page layouts. This is arguably the most important part of the process. A blog with dated typefaces and a wonky look can damage your credibility and turn off potential readers and customers.
In short, don’t rush this step. Explore your options carefully and find a theme that will represent your business for the foreseeable future.
All the CMS platforms listed above offer a decent selection of free themes and premium upgrades that you can pay extra for. Remember to keep things like search engine optimization (SEO) and mobile responsiveness in mind. More than half the world uses mobile devices to browse the internet today; your business must be able to reach them with a mobile-optimized template.
Find your voice
Before you start posting on your brand new blog, it’s advisable to take some time to identify your goals and decide what your online presence and content voice should sound like.
Do you want to position yourself as an expert in your industry? Then you’ll probably want to focus on niche topics written in a more formal, possibly academic, writing style.
If you’re trying to generate traffic and sales conversions, it’s better to focus on easy-to-read content containing useful and interesting information that builds consumers’ trust.
Spend time reading other business blogs in your space and get a feel for what they do. You might want to adopt a similar tone, or decide to go in the opposite direction. Either way, some market research goes a long way for a fledgling business blog.
Think up blog post ideas
Now it’s time for the fun part: coming up with all the topics and stories you’d like to share with your audience! If you’ve never published anything before, the creative process can be tricky. Rest assured that there are plenty of ways to stimulate fresh, relevant ideas to support your business goals and brand identity.
A great place to start is with an SEO plan. This lends valuable insight into your content marketing through targeted keywords and search terms. If you’re working with an SEO service, consult them about useful topics to address, or do your own keyword research.
If you already have an engaged online following – for example, a mailing list – try asking for feedback on what they’d like to read or learn more about. Always check out what the competition is doing to see if there are any information gaps, or perhaps a way to put a fresh spin on an old format. If you have teammates, combine your brain power and schedule regular content-planning sessions to generate more ideas.
Here are some easy-to-follow blog formats that streamline the writing process, but remember: you should always offer value-based content. Think about what your users want to know, and avoid aggressively selling them products or services – that’s what the other pages of your website are for! Keep your blog content focussed on giving readers something valuable, which just happens to showcase your expertise.
Create a content calendar
Once you’ve developed a pool of interesting, relevant content ideas that offer value to your audience, start planning how to produce your blog content. How often will you publish blog posts – weekly or monthly? When will you publish them, and how will you produce them?
Create a calendar of future blog posts with timelines for completing each one, from research to the writing and editing process, and finally, the publishing deadline.
The more organized you are, the quicker your blog will come together and showcase your business. Happy blogging!