Congratulations! You’ve made the prudent decision to launch a business blog. So now what?
Before you sit down and start cranking out content like a journalist breaking a big news story, there’s some groundwork you’ll need to lay. The decisions you make at the onset can dictate whether you succeed at generating readership among members of your target audience, as they navigate the sea of 152 million blogs floating around the Internet.
Starting a business blog doesn’t happen overnight. It requires leadership buy-in, strategic planning and a creative vision. Still, there’s no reason your newly-minted blog can’t be up-and-running in short order. Think days or weeks, rather than months.
HubSpot estimates that inbound marketing strategies like having a business blog deliver 54 percent more leads into your sales funnel than traditional outbound marketing techniques like advertising. Why not establish a proper foundation to help ensure your business reaps the eventual fruits of your blogging labor?
While our seven-step guide analyzes the editorial side of starting a business blog, there are tech logistics to consider as well. Here are five critical steps you need to know before starting a business blog:
1. Secure Your Blog Domain Name
What’s in a name, you ask? In the case of your new business blog, a great deal. When you secure a main URL that’s catchy, short and memorable as opposed to one that’s complicated, long and difficult to spell, you’ll have much better luck directing readers to your blog.
Like a diamond, your blog domain name is generally forever, so it behooves you to pick the perfect name right from the start. You can always switch your domain hosting provider if necessary, but actually altering your domain name will result in starting from scratch with generating visibility in search engine results and driving organic traffic to your blog site.
It’s difficult to be original nowadays (remember: 152 million blogs already exist). Most obvious domain names have already been claimed, thus you’ll need to be creative in brainstorming the right URL to represent your blog. Utilize topic keywords, make your domain name easy to remember and ensure it matches your actual blog name.
2. Select a Blog Platform
Decisions, decisions. When it comes time to choose a platform for hosting your business blog, you have numerous options at your disposal. The choices range from free platforms that require hosting on a particular server to monthly-fee platforms that allow for self-hosting.
WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr represent three of the most popular blog platforms available and for good reason – each offers a simple, user-friendly base product with ample opportunities for upgrading. But plenty of alternatives exist, particularly if you feel comfortable working with HTML.
Here are key factors to consider when selecting a blog platform:
- Cost: Are you willing to pay a monthly fee in order to gain access to more blog platform features?
- Hosting: Are you agreeable to letting your blog platform’s site host your blog or would you prefer to self-host?
- Domain: Are you OK with having your blog platform’s branding within your domain name (“.wordpress”) or do you need to work off of your own Web address?
- Expertise: Do you possess basic knowledge of HTML coding?
- Storage: Will your blogging needs require unlimited storage space?
3. Customize Your Blog Design
Incorporation of a unique design serves to brand your business blog effectively and distinguish it from competing blogs. An ideal blog design creates a powerful first impression with visitors and can even impact search engine results.
A blog’s theme encompasses everything from color and font to page layout and overall design style. Select a professional theme that’s visually-appealing and relates to your business and industry. Most reputable blog platforms offer hundreds of themes, but don’t be afraid to seek customized options as well. And make sure whichever theme you opt for is mobile-friendly.
With regards to blog design, templates sporting one-, two- or three-column layouts each are fairly commonplace. Whereas having more columns enables you to display more content and potentially keep visitors on your page longer, the presence of fewer columns affords your business blog a cleaner overall look.
4. Boost Your Blog’s Visibility
Ultimately, your objective is to drive traffic to your business blog and generate ROI from the blogging effort you put forth. As you’re starting a business blog, there are a number of handy tools available to assist with accomplishing this goal:
- Opt-In Forms: Inclusion of these forms enables you to entice blog readers to convert into email subscribers.
- Custom Plugins: These are software pieces you can install into your site to expand its functionality, with benefits ranging from improved search engine optimization (WordPress SEO) to monetization opportunities via ad placement (Google AdSense).
- Social Sharing Buttons: Social sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook represent important avenues for promoting your business blog. Consequently, you should implement sharing buttons linking your blog to these social networks.
5. Prepare to Launch
In addition to installing visibility drivers, you’ll want to set up analytics tools in order to monitor how well your blog performs. While Google Analytics is among the most popular choices, there are a number of other analytics options on the market that can also help you optimize the results you obtain from your blog posts.
Once the logistical details have been finalized and your blog has been constructed, you’re now the proud owner of a powerful marketing tool designed to boost your business’s online presence and attract readers you can convert into customers. You’ve officially crested the mountain, and it’s time to enjoy the remainder of your journey.
Starting a business blog is finally within reach. With your domain name, blog platform, design theme, visibility plan and analytics tools each in place, you can now unleash your content creation capabilities. You’ve laid the groundwork for a business blog that can serve as a real asset for your brand. Now you can focus on more important things…like what to have for lunch and how to chart an overarching blog strategy.