It seems that most people nowadays have a blog. But they often go in and out of fashion in the web world, so how do you know if you need a blog or if you even want one? Well firstly it is important to think about the sorts of ideas or content you want to push into the public domain? The social media channels that exist allow you to discuss topics of interest, but in a limited way… the likes of Facebook, Google+ and Twitter allow you to discuss a small brief bit of information, but this is followed by a link to an article, so the question really is, do you want to drive traffic to your site or to others?
If you decide a blog is for you, there are a few main factors to consider before starting:
- How regularly can you update posts for the site? Blogs don’t need to be daily (unlike Twitter) but there does need to be regular activity that is relevant to either current situations or what is going on in your business.
- It can’t just be a sales pitch, the best way to use a blog is to demonstrate your authority in a particular sector, showing yourself as a thought leader in the industry.
- It is important that when you do post, you have something to say, you are not just saying something for the sake of saying something.
- Who will be in charge of content and uploading blogs?
- Will you devise a blog content strategy?
So you have thought about the above list, considered your options now it’s time to think about how you will create your blog and run it…
So which blog should you have?
There are a host of blog sites that you can use for your blog and it is best to research which you think will be best for you. You can have standalone sites or hosted sites and all have pros and cons depending on what you want to get out of your blog. We recommend WordPress or Blogger, as in our opinion, these two are the easiest in terms of usability. However, the success of your blog isn’t based on the platform you use; it is about how you use it that will determine how successful your blog becomes.
The other thing to consider when selecting a blog host or standalone is whether you have a budget for your blog? The WordPress (.org) free blog is great, but there are many blog sites that you have to pay for (WordPress.com). You do get a greater amount of functionality with a paid for blog, but many of the free ones offer many of the same functions.
Once you have selected your blog site it is time to make it personal. We have had our Powwownow theme created so it sits within our website; it works well for our business and adds another dimension of depth to our business website. We would always recommend for business blogs that you have a good quality design and if you need to pay a designer to help with the theme of your site, then you should. The site should be a projection of your professionalism and therefore it is important that your brand is visible and your site looks professional.
Tracking your posts
Once you have selected the blog site, chosen your name, got your design all set-up, you need to think about tracking. It is vital for justifying time and potentially money into the blog that you can see what return the site receives. Having an analysis programme on your blog allows you to see the number of people that view your posts, comment on your articles and what kind of content is most popular with your viewers. We use Google Analytics and we can view where people are looking at our site, how long for and how popular our site is. We highly recommend that you have some form of tracking on your blog. WordPress.com offers a great tracking plugin called Jetpack. But whichever analytics tool you use – just make sure you have one.
Running your blog
So by now you will have decided on the platform you are going to use, the design and how you will analyse your site. Now is the time to get going. We suggest you create a blogging content plan, at least for three to six months in advance. It will help you decide what you will blog about and when. This is a much easier way to help keep on top of content, especially if you have a team uploading content.
Running your blog day-to-day should be relatively easy. Before you start, agree the style of writing for the blogs and the format of how they will look. Images are great to make the blog article relevant and catch reader’s eyes. Keep it varied, don’t just pump out company news, or just industry news, keep it mixed and talk about a host of things that your target audience might find interesting.
Once you have looked into all of this you can get blogging! And don’t forget – blogging is social, so once you have drafted a blog, share on your social sites to get it out to your audiences.