People love the idea of blogging, but often can’t put in the time to make it a success.
Our web design clients are mostly small business owners. This post is about that types of bloggers: blogs being added to a corporate web site, not bloggers who are trying to build stand alone businesses.
Small business owners have heard about the value of adding a blog to a corporate web site. It can increase web traffic, get better organic search results, can increase your reputation as an expert, and provide a place to gather prospects and turn them into clients.
However, a blog doesn’t just write itself. And an abandoned blog makes you look worse than never having started a blog. Unfortunately, we have many web design clients who had us design their blog and pretty quickly they abandoned it. As a web designer, there is only so much that I can do to get someone to write his or her blog. Here are a few things I’ve learned:
7 questions to ask yourself before starting a blog
1. Can I write a lot of blog posts before going live?
Realistically, it’s going to take several weeks to several months to design and develop a new web site with a blog. During that time, pretend the site is live and write as many blog posts as you would plan to write if the blog were live. Once you have that content, you can either launch with several blog posts live, or use these practice posts when you get stuck. (Yes, you probably will get stuck at times either because of writer’s block or lack of time.)
2. Should I call it a “blog”?
Consider calling this part of your web site something other than blog. There are certain expectations of a blog: it is frequently updated; has a opinion or angle to it; and it usually is open to comments. If this fits with the goals of your web site than use the word blog. Some other ideas are to call it: article library, or news, depending on what type of content you wish to feature. The expectations of an article library are that the length and quality of the content may be higher than a blog, but the frequency of updates can be less. News may better for people who want to promote a mix of items including new products, case studies, article releases, etc. but that don’t necessarily seek comments and discussions.
3. Who is your ideal reader?
You need to figure out who you’d like to read your blog. Is it your prospects? If so, what topics will they search for information about? What other blogs or web sites do they already read? Write your content to help them by providing useful information.
4. What am I going to write about?
We recommend that you brainstorm a list of dozens, if not hundreds of topics before going forward. Some of these may end up as categories and there will be multiple blog posts under that topic. Other topics will only end up being one-off posts. Have a list of both general categories and specific blog topics so that you can refer to it whenever you get stuck. I did mention you may get stuck, right?
5. How will I promote the blog?
Your blog should be picked up by Google fairly quickly, but that is probably not enough to drive a lot of traffic, and readers may be too shy to leave a comment. Figure out who you want to reach (#3) and figure out where they are. What web sites, blogs and social media sites are they already active in? How can you get your blog in front of their eyes? If you have an e-newsletter make sure that you introduce your readers to your blog. Plan to submit your blog posts to news feed sites such as BizSugar, and others that are tailored to your own industry or niche. (For example, we regularly submit our blog posts to: Design Float and Design Newz.)
6. How will the blog integrate with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
I have read a few articles lately, including on in the New York Times, that suggested that people are turning to Facebook rather than blogs to update their peers and promote their activities. As a branding and design firm, we suggest that our clients keep all original content on their site, but to cross-promote using social media channels. In case you haven’t noticed there is no way to archive the content on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Use those methods to connect your content with others, but have your own web site blog be the repository for all the content. It is then archived, searchable and branded.
7. Do I really have time for this?
This is really the core issue for most business owners who blog. Do you have the time to add blogging to your already overfilled days and nights. If you can’t do it, that doesn’t mean your organization shouldn’t have a blog. It’s just might mean that you should not be the one writing it. Some alternatives are for one or more employees to write the blog. Or, you can hire someone to write about topics that make sense and/or interview you to make the process much quicker for you.
Ready to add a blog to your web site?