Blogging is easy, but a successful business blog isn’t.
Everyone is free to write about what they want and share their thoughts to the world. That is why there are people who maintain personal blogs as hobbyists. They are in it for the joy of writing and sharing their thoughts with the world.
However, if you mean business, then you just do not write a blog post for blogging’ sake. You need to consider what the goals of your business are so you can develop content on your blog for the purpose of achieving those business goals, whether it’s generating leads, gaining more backlinks, or fueling discussions.
To help you get started, here are the steps that you need to follow.
1. Building Your Blog on Solid Foundations
There are several blogging platforms and site builders you can use to set up a great looking blog within minutes. However, if you want to establish the foundation needed for a business blog, then you need to be a little more hands-on with the process.
It starts with:
- Registering your domain
- Setting up your web hosting plan
- Choosing a blogging platform
The first two require you to make a paid subscription, which will scare off some beginners. But they play critical roles in the success of your business.
The argument can be made against buying a domain and web hosting because you can build a blog using free services like Blogger.com and others. However, there are two factors that explain why not spending on both will cost you even more in the long run.
- Digital sharecropping – Registering on a free blogging platform allows you to create a sub-domain within the site, i.e. yourname.blogspot.com. As a result, you are essentially growing your content on someone else’s land, which explains what digital sharecropping means. The real problem that can arise from this concept is when the platform makes changes in its policies that will affect your blog or, worse, shuts down without warning. Therefore, instead of letting the digital landowners dictate the terms of your blog, it is best to purchase your own land instead with the help of web hosting. By owning a piece of online space on your own, you have full control of your blog
- Branding – Registering a domain is required if you are running a blog from a web host. More importantly, a domain is a valuable asset that can help elevate your brand in the market. Your blog represents your business online – everything that you publish will reflect on your brand. Therefore, by posting thoughtful blog content that speaks to your target readers (more on this later), your domain will demand respect. Not only will your blog gain authority in the industry, but also earn the trust of your audience. Having the influence associated with your domain can lead to more visitors, leads, and sales.
How to purchase the right domain and hosting for you
Registering for a domain is a straightforward process. After brainstorming for an available domain name, sign up from a list of trustworthy domain providers. From there, they will offer you support on setting up your blog along with your hosting service provider.
A couple of suggestions to help you find the most appropriate domain name for your business:
- Include your brand name – Assuming that your brand name is short and unique, it is best to build off from there so users will immediately identify the blog with your business.
- Use .com – Despite the influx of domain extensions to choose from, securing a .com domain should be your priority. Your business blog will benefit from having the most popular domain extension as your URL.
- Get help – If you are still unable to come up with a domain name or the ones you have come up with are already taken, refer to this Shopify post for a list of domain generator tools.
Finding a reliable web hosting, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. There are lots of factors involved in choosing a hosting service, which includes loading speed, uptime, and customer support, to name a few.
To help guide you in the selection process, you can simply visit Hosting Facts for the list of hosting services you can bank on.
The site is known for providing readers with brutally honest reviews about the different web hosting services based on the most crucial factors. Therefore, instead of trying out multiple hosting services to determine which one is the best, you can just read the reviews to make an informed decision.
Once you have chosen a domain and web hosting, it is time to find the most suitable platform for your business blog.
It is interesting to point out that there are website builders that allow you to build a blog without having to worry about the cost of web hosting. While this is a viable option, the problem of digital sharecropping still persists with website builders. If the platform goes up and under, so will your blog. You can probably migrate the content to a different platform, but why wait for that to happen when you can simply avoid it completely by choosing a hosted platform instead.
Below are the main advantages that a hosted platform offers:
- Customization and flexibility – Choose a theme that best matches your branding and manipulate the different elements of the blog to achieve the look that you want. Learning how to customize your blog will require knowledge in web development, but the endless possibilities on how you could make your blog even better is worth the time.
- Add-ons – You can install modules and plugins within your blog to help boost its performance. Through add-ons, you can meet your business goals such as building your mailing list and increasing traffic much faster.
There are three hosted platforms that you can use to build your blog on WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
Among the three, WordPress is the most widely used platform with 50% of sites running on it. In fact, there are good reasons why WordPress is a popular platform because of its ease of use and impressive community support for troubleshooting, aside from the reasons mentioned above. WPBeginner published a post that makes a great case for WordPress if you are not convinced.
Setting up WordPress is not as difficult as you would think. With the help of MakeaWebsiteHub.com, you can install WordPress as your blogging platform in an hour. The resource guide also covers the basics of domain registration and web hosting, as well as choosing the theme and publishing content using the platform.
2. Develop Your Content Strategy
The next core component of a highly successful blog is a content strategy that will lead your content creation efforts.
In a successful blog, every article is built to engage and provide great value to users. You do not just sit in front of your computer and write about any topic that comes to mind. Instead, you need to plan every issue and make sure you write about subjects that will attract readers in your niche.
Drawing from this Moz post about developing a content strategy, below are key points that you need to strongly consider:
- Define who your audience is – The key to establishing a sound content strategy is to identify your target audience and then focus on their needs. You can do this by developing audience “personas” that describes their background, demographic, and preferences. This is similar to developing “buyer personas” when planning a content strategy for business websites.
- Find out where your audience can be found – Search for online channels where your target audience is. Also, you have to be specific on which channels these are. For example, instead of looking all over social media sites, target Facebook and LinkedIn groups, as well as Google+ communities, related to your business. You also need to consider how many members are there in the group, how active they are, and how you can leverage the channel to help you achieve your goals through your blog.
- Know what you are up against – If you have found a sizable amount of your audience in your research, it is safe to assume that you are up against stiff competition. There will be blogs covering the same things that you plan on writing about and are possibly doing a better job than you. This is actually a good thing because you can build off from what they have and create a better blogging strategy in the process. Aside from blog content, consider their social media activity and possible blogging tools they are using so you can better assess how you can gain an advantage over your competitors.
- Give your audience a reason why they should read your blog – Due to the competition, your audience will be bombarded with content, some of which will fall on deaf ears. You do not want your blog to be ignored by your target readers, which is why you need to distinguish yourself over other blogs. For example, Your Escape From 9 to 5 is a blog in an already crowded digital marketing niche but is able to set itself apart for providing information through infographics. By positioning itself in a unique way, it is able to rise about the rest by catering to readers who prefer visual content than written ones.
You should also consider your content strategy even before the process of domain registration. To help you attract your target audience, you need to theme your domain name and site layout according to your niche. Try to come up with a domain name that can tell your audience what the site is about before they even enter.
3. Drafting the Best Possible Blog Posts
To establish your blog’s authority, your content strategy must be backed with the best possible blog posts. You need to commit to making every post a masterpiece. Although your blogging style will depend on your particular niche, you should follow the best practices that will improve the quality of your writing.
For business blogging, consider these factors when developing your posts:
- Provide value – You will be successful with your blog if you offer valuable content from it. Writing an insightful piece that encourages your readers to think is a good way to start. You should also provide actionable items so readers can act upon the ideas you shared in your post.
- Compelling copy – The written word is a dying art form because more and more marketers are vouching for visual content with good reason. However, how you craft your posts using words remain the center of your blog content creation. Inject style in your writing to make the substance of your post more effective.
- Clear calls to action – Your blog posts should serve a specific purpose whether it is providing your readers with information or selling them your products and services. Therefore, you need to make your calls to action evident for your readers so they can act upon them after reading your post. These are usually found at the bottom of the post but they can be inserted in different parts of the post to increase conversion.
To give you a better idea on how you can draft your blog posts that is optimized for readership, refer to the perfect blog post template at Social Triggers below.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to writing your blog post, the template is a great place to start when developing your content. It takes into account the importance of web copywriting to engage readers and the placement of calls to action in the post to help them put the ideas of your post into action.
4. Promote Your Blog Posts like Hell
A lot of online businesses falsely believe that you can just “build it and they will come.” Even with the best content in the world, traffic will not come if you do not have the initiative to deploy the fundamental promotion strategies. First, you need to learn the best channels for reaching your target audience: social networks, forums, Q&A sites, and other established blogs.
Optimizing each channel for bringing in traffic takes a tremendous amount of work.
Fortunately, online businesses now have access to promotional tools that can help in setting up these channels.
Look no further than the infographic post published by Cent on the best content promotion tactics you can do for your blog posts.
Keep in mind that you cannot promote your blog content on all sites listed in the infographic as doing so will zap time from your other blogging tasks. Instead, research the channels that have the most of your blog audience and build your promotion strategy surrounding those channels.
After promoting your blog content, scale your campaign by checking which among the channels have driven the most referral traffic. Weed out channels that are not drawing enough traffic and focus on those that are driving the most traffic.
5. Track and Measure Results
Tracking your blog’s performance is perhaps one of the most critical processes in a growing blog.
When it comes to business blogging, it is near impossible to get everything right the first time. No matter how careful you are in planning and designing your blog, there will always be room for improvement. Moreover, it is your responsibility to spot these opportunities and take the necessary actions.
For this, you need to identify the right metrics and learn how to use them in gauging the performance of your blog.
According to Salesforce, the top metrics for success used by marketers are:
1. Revenue growth (32%) – Are your sales growing because of your blog?
2. Customer satisfaction (30%) – Does your audience love the content you are putting out? Are you receiving negative feedback about your blog? Do both play a part in improving your brand?
3. Return on investment (23%) – Are you turning a profit with your blog? Are you spending more with your blog than you are earning with it?
4. Customer retention rates (23%) – Are people more engaged with your blog than ever before? Are they leaving since you adopted a certain strategy or campaign?
5. Customer acquisition (23%) – Are you getting more new readers from your blog? Are readers turning into loyal subscribers or buyers for your business?
Once you have determined which metrics are worth tracking to measure the success of your blog, you need to find an analytics tool to help you make sense of the data. You can use a freemium analytics tool such as Google Analytics or paid analytics tools that offer more useful data to help interpret the numbers.
Lastly, since it is important for businesses to be ROI-oriented, you should also look at how your blog is affecting marketing aspects such as lead generation and conversions. Here’s a simple and straightforward post about measuring your blogging impact on business.
Business blogging is one of the foundations of a substantial online presence. It can help establish your business’s credibility, foster trust between you and your audience, and build an authoritative brand. Just remember to stick to a content strategy, track your blog’s performance, and keep on optimizing. Although the road to successful blogging is rough and full of challenges, it is one of the most rewarding endeavors you can accomplish for your business.
Most important of all, you should not expect your blog’s visibility to skyrocket overnight despite publishing the best posts you can write. You need to have patience and be consistent. These things take time; you just have to keep tweaking your content strategy until you strike it rich.
About the Author
Christopher Jan Benitez is a freelance writer who helps businesses achieve their goals through the creation of smart content. When not writing, I geek over professional wrestling, binge on burgers, and consume copious amounts of coffee.