It’s expediency driven by budget, necessity and inexperience.
You bought a lemon.
Blogging is not that different.
Sometimes we are so eager to get started that we cobble something together and launch. Later we have to pull it apart because it didn’t have the foundations to handle the traffic or the flexibility to do what was needed.
Sometimes we borrow when we should have bought.
The result is that it can be painful, time consuming and often expensive. It’s called impatience, it can masquerade as frugal and it may even be called shortsighted.
We have all been there.
The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Small Business
A blog that means business
If you are serious about turning a blog into income and then your business, then laying the right foundations is important. It means sitting down and doing some planning.
It means asking some questions
What am I going to focus on? What should the branding and design be like? What should I develop it on?
The list goes on.
If you do mean business then you need to create the right framework and foundation for your blog.
A framework for the future
Sometimes a little thought, the right framework and resources can be time saving and stress relieving in the long run.
Here are 10 key building blocks to get you started.
Many people start a blog because they are passionate about photography, sales or leadership. This focus normally happens because of two factors.
- Passion for the topic
- Innate ability
Others start with an analytical eye on an opportunity. A topic that is trending and a business category that is growing. These can be identified around topics such as
- Making money
- Avoiding pain
You can then choose a business focus that is growing using tools such as Google Trends or Facebook ads to see if the market is growing or shrinking.
Both approaches can be successful, but for me I find the passion approach provides a stronger and more sustainable foundation.
Branding is part science and part art. In its simplest form it involves two key elements.
- Your visual design that resonates with your chosen category. This includes logo and colours
- Your messaging and voice which will carry into what you write and how you communicate across a range of multimedia
Being memorable and sticky within your category so that you stand out is key. If your competitors are zigging maybe you should be zagging.
3. Select a Platform
There are so many platforms to build a brand online. It can be confusing and it will make your head spin. Let me keep it simple.
In essence you have two choices:
- Rent a pre-built platform such as Blogger or Tumblr. Advantages?…… It is fast and cheap
- Design and build on your own platform using a WordPress Template. Advantages?…..You own it and have flexibility.
In the end it comes down to fast and cheap is more for those who are just playing and messing around.
If you want big foundations that mean business then build it on the WordPress platform using your own domain name.
Then you own it.
4. Design & Development
Design is what consumes most of people’s time. For many, it is how it looks. Yes…looks are very important… but design goes much deeper than that.
It is also how it works.
Design that matters and manages the tension between form and function can be beautiful to behold.
Steve Jobs knew and understood that.
So hire a designer that understands that it isn’t just about having a beautiful face but powerful and essential functions.
Ever been to site that is so slow to load that you click away. That can sometimes be put down to having a slow internet connection. Often though it is because you are sharing a hosting computer with hundreds of other domains.
It has become vital with Google’s new attention to user experience that your site loads quickly. if it doesn’t then you will find that it will affect your sites search engine results as Google gives your site a small black cross.
This little rule is now written into Google’s algorithms.
Fast is good.
The other key here is having a site that is online 24/7. You may pay a little more but in the end you will be thankful. especially when you are building a blog that means business
I have found that my hosting supplier Blue Host, provides robust and cost effective blog and website hosting with great support.
So you have a great design and you are hosting your new blog on a solid foundation. What’s next?
You need content.
This comes back to your focus. Create content that meets the needs of your target audience. This will mean creating content that solves their problems.
Content can be put into four categories that may help you in your content creation.
That is the what… but how do you do it?
There are three ways to approach content creation.
- In house …You!
- Outsource… external writers
You may have to start with creating all your own content from day one but you may find that the mixed model or outsourcing is where you end up.
One one powerful tip here. Create the best content you possibly can. It will surprise you how far and fast great content will flow across a social web.
So now its time to look at the 4 important marketing strategies to build that blog.
7. Build your social networks
Quite often people wait to design and, develop and launch their blog before growing their followers on social networks. I would recommend that you don’t delay this.
Build your social networks as fast as possible. The two big social media networks to focus on are Facebook and Twitter. Other social media networks should also be in the mix such as Google+ (which continues to gather momentum), LinkedIn and Pinterest. The amount of attention you pay to these will be driven by your blogs target audience interests and gender
I often find that many blogs and businesses build networks on Facebook and chase “likes” and forget about Twitter.
Hint…don’t forget Twitter.
Its ability for powerful networking , follower engagement and for driving traffic is often underestimated. This blog receives over 60% of its social networking traffic from Twitter.
8. Optimise for search engines
Despite social media being an attractive and shiny new toy for marketing, search engines should be in your marketing mix. In some industries over 90% of buying decisions start with an online search.
Today over 50% of my blog traffic comes from people performing a search and then clicking on the link to my blog.
It will take time to build this up, but the persistence will pay off as you build authority online in your niche.
Here are some key tips to building a search friendly blog
- Create the best content that you possibly can. Google loves unique fresh content that is popular and is linked to by other bloggers.
- Use keywords in your headline where possible
- Write an enticing description with keywords that people will want to click on when it turns up on the Google search result page.
- Include relevant categories when finalizing your article before publishing
- Put in the key words and phrases into the relevant “tag” section in WordPress before hitting the publish button that people would want to use to find information on that topic
- Use some free plugin tools such as “All in One SEO” or “Yoast” that assist you with some of the tasks I have mentioned
One last point.
Optimising and working at your SEO (Search engine Optimisation) is important for one big reason.
Receiving traffic from Google is free (unless you are paying for Google AdWords) and free is always good.
9. Building Powerful Networks with Promotional Partnerships
The trick to building traffic fast is to get help. Now I don’t mean sending an email or a tweet to a blogger of influence and beg for some attention with a “please share my post” or “watch my awesome video on YouTube”
The secret is helping them out. Offer to write a guest post or share their content. Write an article about the top bloggers in your category and shine the spotlight on them.
Help others first and then they will help you.
If you get this right and are strategic then you will accelerate the traffic and the building of brand awareness. Affiliate marketing is built on this concept.
This powerful tactic starts with “how can I help you” rather than “what can I get from you“.
10. Grow your email list
So we have enlisted the power of social networks to market your blog, we have also understood that Google is a bloggers friend and we need partnerships.
There is one key marketing tactic to include.
Email….Why? Because you own that list. Ownership is better than renting a “like’ list.
If there is one thing you should do from day one is to start building an email list.
This is called “list building.”
Where do you start?
Set up an account with one of the popular email platforms such as Aweber or MailChimp so that you can start building a list. They have all the metrics and tools to make your email marketing fly. Don’t ignore this.
It is vital.
An email list is yours and you own it and it gives you control to market to your subscribers when and how you like.
Just relying on Facebook likes and Twitter followers to spread your content is putting the control of marketing to those social networks.
You never know when they will cease to exist. Nothing is forever…remember MySpace?
Offer an incentive
The best strategy to build a “list” fast is to offer a free eBook or video that offers something of value in exchange for their email address.
This should be prominent and either in the banner or the top right corner of your blog.
Another way to add more power to this tactic is to offer a pop up that hovers over the screen and dims your homepage whenever someone turns up to your blog and offers that free eBook or premium content such a s video tutorial.
You can create settings so that it only does this every 7, 14 or 30 days depending on your settings.
You should also offer this on your Facebook page via a custom Tab. Make it easy for people to subscribe to your blog by offering an incentive. It will increase and accelerate your signups by 300 – 400%
What about you?
Now have an online portal and platform that means business. You can use this foundation to turn that knowledge into cash using a variety of new media monetization models.
How are your plans proceeding? What have you learnt on your journey.
Look forward to your questions and insights in the comments below
Want to learn how to market and supercharge your blog with social media?
My book – “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.
It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.
I also reveal the tactics I used to grow my Twitter followers to over 149,000.
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