By the time you finish reading this article, you could have set up your own blog from scratch – and posted your first entry.
OK, that may be a bit ambitious, but the point holds true. Starting a blog from scratch can take only a few days, if not hours. Here's what it takes:
Have writers lined up. Naturally, you'll need someone to write your blogs. The good news is that you, as business owner, can speak intelligently about all sorts of topics of interest to your readers. If you're an auto dealer, you can talk about new models or ways to boost fuel efficiency. And if you or your team isn't exactly in the blogging mood, you can always outsource some of this work to a blogging service provider.
Create an editorial calendar. This document will be your blogging roadmap. It will spell out when you publish posts, what content will be included, and who's responsible for what. You'll also want to articulate what kind of content you'll publish. Diversity is key because readers will get turned off if every post is commercially-oriented. Therefore, write posts that are educational in nature or simply pass along interesting pieces of news. These types of posts can be published on Mondays and Fridays, for example. Posts pertaining to a specific product or service can be published on Wednesday. Oh, and blogs should generally be 500-750 words and include three hyperlinked keywords.
Circumvent writer's block. Thanks to tools like Google Alerts, you won't have to struggle with writer's block. You can get customized, keyword-driven content delivered to your inbox on a daily basis. Click here for more tips on anticipating and overcoming writer's block.
Select a platform. There are many reputable and free blogging platforms out there. Some are more sophisticated than others. For beginners, our suggestion is Wordpress.
Optimize your interface. You can install one of hundreds of off-the-shelf Wordpress “themes” for your blog, and of course, you can change them at any time. Upload your logo and other graphics to the theme so the blog aligns with your brand. Experiment with widgets and plug-ins like social sharing tools.
Don't forget good titles. You don't have to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning author to write engaging blog posts. But you do want people to actually read them. So spend a little extra time to come up with compelling blog titles. So spend a little extra time to come up with compelling blog titles. Click here for some tips.
Don't forget Calls to Action. Good blog posts incite readers to act by posting comments or better yet, contacting your firm. End your posts with a question to your audience and an accompanying call to action. For example: “To all our readers out there — what was the main reason you resisted going solar for so long, and how did you get over it?” And, “Curious if going solar is right for you? Contact us for a free consultation.”
Promote your posts. Similarly, you want to share your posts far and wide. The simplest and most effective way to do this is to post excerpts on social media platforms.
Now we'd like your feedback. Are we correct in claiming that starting a blog is relatively easy? What's particularly difficult about it? What differentiates a “good” blog from a “great” one?