January 26th, 2009

Thinking about starting a business blog? Read this first.

by sage island

It seems like everyone’s starting a blog these days – with good reason. Blogging is one of the best ways to reach your audience, boost search engine rankings, and establish yourself as an expert in your industry.

Before you rush out and start a blog, though, there are several steps to make sure you’re doing it right. Blogging is effective, but if you do it wrong it can be a waste of time at best and a PR disaster at worst.

Here’s how to get started and stay on the right track:

Slow down

As a self-proclaimed blogaholic, I know how exciting starting a new blog can be. I’ve done it myself about 50 times. The problem is, when you start a blog without planning, organizing your thoughts, and researching, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Too many blogs start out with five posts a day and dwindle to a post a week before they eventually stop updating at all. Don’t let that happen to your business blog.


Start by reading as many blogs in your industry as possible. Add them to a blog reader (I like Google Reader) by clicking the “subscribe” button. Stay up to date with what others in your industry are writing, and be familiar with how they maintain their blogs.


After spending some time reading industry blogs, sit down and make a serious plan for yours. It’s not enough to know your industry. You have to plan a purpose for your blog. Do you want to share information or expertise? Who is your audience, customers or other businesses? This information will dictate how and what you write. Be sure you know the answers before you start.


Don’t run your business blog from a free blogging platform (like www.domain.blogspot.com) or from a separate domain. Add it to your current domain in a subfolder (www.yourdomain.com/blog). WordPress is probably the most popular blogging platform because it’s free and relatively easy to use, but there are a ton of other options such as Moveable Type, TypePad and Drupal. Setup can be pretty technical. If you’re not comfortable setting it up yourself, may I suggest a professional? :)


Don’t just use the default design template. Your blog is an extension of your web site and your company; it should look professional. Blogging platforms are built for customization. Play with different designs to make your blog look professional and fit with the design of your web site. You don’t want visitors to feel like your blog is a separate site.


The more you post, the better. Keep reading other industry blogs, actively seek out post ideas, and make notes of interesting things that come to you throughout the day. This can be easier if you get several people in your company involved. You’re immersed in your business all day every day; now is your chance to share all of your ideas.


This is the most common mistake I see in business blogs. Your blog should be maintained and edited by a writer. If several people contribute, designate one person with writing and editing skills as editor to maintain consistency, grammar and spelling, and overall message. Content is the most important aspect of any blog, and yours should be professional and well written. It’s not enough to post frequently — quality outweighs quantity, grammar and spelling count, and consistency is essential.


Remember all of those industry blogs you read to get started? Don’t stop reading them now! Network with other bloggers in your industry, seek inspiration from their ideas (but don’t use their ideas without linking back to them and NEVER copy and paste their posts into your own blog), and participate in the conversation. Comment on interesting posts. Not only will this get your name out into the community, but your comment will include a link back to your blog and increase your traffic.