In todays world of mass digital consumption the only way to reach target audiences is to offer content that people want to see/read. We all know that social media is an important aspect of marketing, but one of the best ways to offer content is to build a blog. Blog is short for web log. It is a place to tell a story, share a product, offer advice… pretty much anything you can imagine can be made into a blog post.
If you do not have a blog you are missing out on a really big opportunity to attract customers to your business. Writing about your business, sharing testimonials, posting photos and creating a personality behind your brand builds a ‘fan base’ that can be utilized in targeted marketing campaigns, emails, newsletters and more. We suggest you hesitate no longer. Start your blog today.
How to get started
Sign-up/ host your blog
The first thing you need to do is choose a blog hosting site. You can build your blog on your own website, on Wordpress, or many others. We chose Blogger. Blogger is a Google product and Google is the most used search engine; 72% of all internet searches use Google. We are not saying they rank their own products higher in searches — you still have to write quality content and follow SEO rules, but we like Blogger and it is pretty intuitive.
If you choose Blogger you will have to create (or sign in to) a Google account. Click here for instructions. Then proceed to www.blogger.com. Click the button that says New Blog. A pop up screen will ask you for the blog’s title, custom address (url), and offer choices for a template (don’t worry, other than the title, you can change these things later). Then click create blog.
Once your blog is created, click the orange pencil to write your first post. This can be an announcement that you are starting a blog. We just need to be able to see what it will look like so we can start designing the look of your blog. After you are done Click publish. A pop-up will ask you if you want to share on Google+ (this is a good idea) click share or cancel.
Design your blog
On the left you will see a menu. Explore the items to familiarize yourself with how Blogger works. Your blog is now live, but there are still many things you may want to do to make your blog look like it fits in with your business website. There are also many ‘gadgets’ that can add functionality, for example: social media links or sign-up forms that automatically email your blog to your subscribers (we like Mailchimp).
Go to your Template. Play around and see what you like. Once you decide, choose the template and then click customize. A new Menu will appear. This is where you can choose text color, background images and more. Your branding should be apparent. Logos, fonts and colors should all reflect your business’s style. There are many tutorials online that can help you to achieve your desired result. When you are satisfied click apply to blog. Then click View blog to see it live on the world wide web.
Setting up the blog is only a small part of what a blog requires. Now you have a place to post, but the most challenging/rewarding part of a blog is constantly coming up with fresh content that people want to see and that will bring people to your business. You have to be creative.
Create a marketing schedule
Gather ideas/ Plan ahead
First decide how often you want to post. For small businesses that cannot afford a team of content creators, I recommend at least once a week, and planning 3 months in advance. Choose which day of the week you want to post (it helps to post consistently, but it is not necessary), and here is the fun part… decide what you want to post.
Find inspiration in everything. Do you have a silly joke idea that is relevant to your business? How about a recipe that you love — can you tie it in to what your business represents? Think about the things you look at when you are online and replicate those in a creative way that reflects your brand’s personality.
|An illustration from our blog|
Testimonials, Holiday related posts, current events, viral videos — all these things are excellent treasure troves of content. Share the unique perspective that only you and your business can provide. You can also search for blog ideas online and manipulate the ideas to fit with your style.
Keep an ongoing list; write down any idea you have and then choose the ones you like the best. Every time you think of something add it to the list, then when you need to create the next 3-month schedule you already have something to pull from.
Now add your blog post ideas to your calendar. You can also use this calendar for other marketing strategies like Facebook posts or Pinterest boards. You can even theme each week around a specific topic so that all of your marketing centers around …say — Shark Week. Just make sure when you get to the end of the 3 months that you have another brainstorming session and plan for the next 3 months.
Blogging is a lot of work (it is fun, too), and staying organized is key.
- Sign-up/host your blog
- Design the look
- Gather Ideas/Plan Ahead
Did I miss anything? Add your thoughts in the comments below.