Starting a blog

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Starting a blog

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Blog Basics

A blog is sometimes called web log or weblog.  It is a type if online journal or diary, often including personal comments as well as web links and images.  Many people keep a blog as a type of personal creative exercise, but you can easily use this popular online type of writing to market your business.  Blogs are very popular right now and they can be a great and inexpensive way to contact more customers.

The great thing about blogs is that people read them for fun.   Customers may be becoming more jaded about advertising, but they will gladly read a blog that has some interesting things to say.  Many top companies are using blogs to deliver a better and more personal message about their companies – and the strategy seems to be working.

Starting a Blog

Starting a blog is as simple as finding a space online to write – and the time to write.  To begin a blog, first develop a theme idea or blog idea.  You may want to look at other people’s blogs to do so.  In general, you will want to develop a central theme for your blog in the same way that columnists develop a theme for their articles.  This helps ensure that your blog is not too “scattered.”

Next, find some place to publish your blog.  There are a number of sites – both paying and free – that give bloggers a chance to publish their material.  You may also want to simply set up your blog on your web site, especially if you already have an active web site.

Writing Your Blog

Once you have a place to publish your blog, you will have to set aside some time each week to develop new content.  When writing your blog:

•Write simply and clearly.  Use small paragraphs and spell check before uploading.  Your readers will trust what you have to say if you say it well.

•Go easy on the advertising.  The idea of a blog is to give readers something fun and exciting to read and look at.  You will have more readers if you comment on the world and are entertaining, rather than just hype your product.  Consider writing about your day, the atmosphere your workplace has, and culture, rather than just your company.

•Consider many types of content. Blogs allow you to upload images, create links, and allow users to make comments.  Your blog will have many more readers if you make your blog exciting with these pluses.

Promoting Your Blog

Just putting your blog online is not enough.  After all, there are many millions of blogs on the web right now, so unless your blog is on a high-traffic site, you may not get readers unless you advertise.   You can easily advertise your blog without spending a cent by mentioning your blog in your emails and web pages or newsletters.  You can also enter in online competitions – if your blog wins a prize you are more likely to get a constant flow of traffic to your blog.  You can also ask ezines and other content providers to review your blog, which will also draw readers.

Once you develop a blog, you will want to use the best blog marketing strategies you can to sell your company.  However, marketing blogs are different from personal blogs and blog marketing or advertising is very different than other forms of marketing.

Make Your Blog a Customer Draw

In order to make your blog a powerful marketing tool, you need to get your customers and clients to see it.  That means that you will need to advertise and provide content that gets attention:

•Make your blog visually exciting.  Choose an attractive background colour and provide photos or images.  Consider sound.   Develop your blog as you would a web site, with the same visual appeal.  Some bloggers even add video and sound to their blogs.  There is no need to spend many hours composing art works, but know that simple text on a white background may simply not draw as many readers as you like.

•Make sure that your customers know that your blog exists.  Providing some targeted advertising on the Internet is not hard.  Try some link exchange programs with web sites, blogs, and ezines that have similar content to your blog.  In many cases, simply providing a link to another web site can convince that web master to provide a link to your blog.

Make Your Blog a Company Pusher – Without Being Pushy

Your blog needs to promote your company.  However, if you are too heavy-handed, you will not be terribly exciting and may push customers away.  That’s why you should aim for only a small amount of content that actively pushes your company.  Do suggest newsworthy items that will lure your readers in.  For example, writing “today we launched a new division – now expecting mothers can take advantage of our fashions” is much better than sales copy such as “buy our hot new maternity fashions now.”

Give Your Readers What They Want

Studies suggest that as many as a quarter of Internet users tune into blogs.  That means that if you can give your blog readers what they want, you can be reasonably sure of having a decent audience.  Among the content that you may want to include in your blog:

•Tips and advice.  Many successful marketing blogs are much like successful consumer magazines – readers tune in to read content that is useful.  A computer company can offer computer tips and advice, for example, while a writing service blog can include daily ways to boost writing skills.

•Interest.  If your personal or business life is fascinating, then great.  There are many successful marketing blogs that detail the exciting lives of company presidents who are also hobby racecar drivers or skydivers.  This sort of material can ensure a steady audience.

•Humanity.  One of the things that blog readers are most interested to see is the face behind the company.  Many blog readers like a company run by people who have similar concerns.  Building humanity into your blog by detailing your company’s efforts to help the community, for example, is a great way to build credibility and customer loyalty.

•Style. Many readers just love to see a gorgeous, well-written blog.  Plenty of marketing blogs simply provide interesting content and nice graphics and do quite well in drawing readers and customers.

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