We’ve been talking a lot lately about why small businesses may want to consider starting a blog.
The conversation was sparked by a recent development from Google, which could give small businesses with a blog a real advantage when it comes to getting discovered online. But it has also been part of a bigger conversation about content that’s been going on for quite some time.
Content is all that stuff (for lack of a better word) that you’ll create when marketing your small business. And in addition to helping you get discovered online, it also has an important role in improving your website, generating better results from your email marketing, and boosting engagement on your social networks.
For businesses that are serious about creating great content, having a blog is more important today than ever before.
It allows you to communicate your values as an organization. It also enables you to showcase your own expertise and share your experience as a business owner—topics which fit perfectly into your email marketing campaigns.
Overall, it allows you to humanize your marketing by communicating with your audience as a person with real thoughts, real advice, and real insights.
How to get started (or restarted) with blogging
The reality is that starting (or restarting) a blog, isn’t always as simple as just wanting to do it. For a lot of people, overcoming the anxiety of getting started is the hardest part of the entire process.
If you’re serious about getting started, here are 8 things you’ll want to consider:
1. Why are you creating a blog?
You understand what a blog can do for small businesses as a whole, but what can a blog do for your business in particular?
More importantly—what added benefit will having a blog for your business bring to the people who are reading it?
Identify your goals from the start and let that guide the rest of your decisions.
2. Who are you going to be speaking to?
What you decide to talk about on your blog will depend entirely on who you’re creating content for.
Who are the people who are going to be reading your blog? What type of knowledge can you share with them? What are the questions they need answered?
Our blog for example, is all about providing helpful insight and practical advice for small businesses and nonprofits that are interested in online marketing. Every piece of content we create is written with that audience in mind.
Identify your target audience before coming up with ideas of what you actually want to create.
3. What are you going to talk about?
Every blog is built on certain “cornerstone” topics.
These topics derive from a number of key elements—the most important of which are your audience, your industry, and the community in which you work.
By establishing the topics you’re going to focus on, you’ll be able to make better decisions about what ends up on your blog. This will enable you to build a community around your blog and increase the chances of having readers referring other people to it.
This won’t only put your content in front of a wider audience but will also be valuable for boosting your presence on search engines like Google.
4. How frequently will you be able to post?
Like with all the stuff you’re already doing to market your business online, frequency will need to be an important consideration when starting your blog.
Try to do too much, too early, and you risk getting overwhelmed or burnt out by the blogging experience. But post too infrequently and it could be difficult to build a meaningful audience.
If possible, commit to doing at least one post a week for your first few months of blogging. Look at your calendar and set hard deadlines for when you want your posts to go up.
These won’t all be groundbreaking pieces of online literature, something as simple as a photo and a few words can go a long way and letting your audience know you’re serious about staying active. From there, you can make more decisions down the road about whether or not you should be generating more content.
5. What type of content do you want to create?
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about blogs is that a certain level of writing expertise is required to create one.
But the fact is that for a lot of people, writing isn’t something that comes easy nor is it something they particularly enjoy doing. For those people, incorporating other type of content like photos and videos may be a better alternative.
Also keep in mind that you don’t have to be a talented writer to create great content. In reality, great content is all about answering the questions of your audience. So, you can write out these answers or simply record yourself answering the questions, transcribe it (or have someone do it for you), or you can use a dictation tool to turn your voice into text.
6. Where will your content come from?
For a lot of people, the thought of blogging conjures up images of being stuck alone in a room starring a blank computer screen.
But creating content for your blog doesn’t need to be a one-man or one-woman show. In fact, encouraging other members of your staff to get involved can help keep your content fresh and will give readers varying perspectives on the topics you’re talking about.
You can even look outside your organization to other businesses or people whose opinions you think would fit well on your blog. There are a lot of people who would be happy to contribute to your blog just for the opportunity of getting more exposure for their content. All you need to do is ask.
7. How will your blog fit into your other marketing efforts?
Chances are, you’ve already been creating content for quite some time—whether it’s coming up with stuff to put into your latest email or figuring out what to post on Facebook or Twitter.
Having a blog should make those efforts easier, not more difficult. If you commit to writing one blog post a week for an entire month, you’ll have four valuable pieces of content to fuel your online marketing.
Subscribe to our Hints & Tips newsletter (see the box at the top right of this page) or check out Constant Contact on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube—and you’ll see plenty of stuff that originated on our blog. Doing the same for your business will not only take a lot of the stress out of your online marketing but will also help get your content in front of a wider audience.
8. Where do you want your blog to live?
One of the hurdles that often keep business owners away from blogging is the challenge of picking a service that will be right for their business.
Much like when picking the right email marketing provider or figuring out which social media sites to sign up for—you want to choose a platform that makes sense for your business and that offers you the tools you’re looking for.
When starting out, it may make sense to go with a free provider. As you get more comfortable with blogging and want to make it into a more central part of your operation, you can make the switch to a paid service. Today, the top three services that we recommend are: Blogger, WordPress, or Tumblr.
Once you’ve found a service that works for you, make sure that your blog provides a path back to your business. Add a signup form for your email newsletter, a link back to your website, and a call for readers to connect with you on social media.
Overcoming the anxiety of getting started
Okay, you know what you need to do—now it’s time to do it!
Don’t be afraid to start small. For a lot of people, using that first post to introduce your blog takes a lot of stress out of getting started.
The good news—by answering these questions you’ll already have the bulk of that first post written.
Why are you creating a blog? Who are you speaking to? What topics will you be writing about? How often will you be posting? What type of content do you plan to share?
That’s a post I’d like to read and I hope you’ll share it when you finally get started.
Here are a few more resources we’ve put together to help you with your blog:
- 8 Places You Should Promote Your Blog to Get More Readers
- 6 Ingredients to Make Your Organization’s Blog Big, Bold, and Juicy
- Do You Write a Blog? Here’s Why You Must Set Up Google Authorship Now (And How to Do It)
Still have questions about getting started? Watch this week’s Ask an Expert interview to learn more.