You know you need to be blogging for your small business, but you have no idea where to start. Sound familiar? If so, read on, for exactly what you need to do to start a small business blog today.
If you already have a WordPress website for your business and simply want to add a blog, you can do this through your their dashboard. Here is a good primer on how to do this.
To add a blog to your existing non-WordPress site involves a more technical process that may require the help of a web designer or developer.
But if you’re starting from scratch, here is a step-by-step process for starting your own small business blog today.
1. Decide on a blogging platform.
This is an important decision. Choosing the wrong platform may not make or break you, but it can make things more difficult than they need to be.
There are many different blogging sites you can use, but the most versatile and user-friendly platform out there is WordPress. There are two types of WordPress sites and it’s important you choose the right one. There is WordPress.com, which allows you to set up, in minutes, a blog and its domain (e.g., www.yoursite.wordpress.com). For reasons that go beyond the scope of this article, I do not recommend using this version for your business blog.
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I do recommend using WordPress.org to create your own self-hosted blog. This site is simple to use, although non-techies might need a bit of help with the initial setup.
Both versions are free. Hosting and registering a domain will cost a bit, but more on that later.
If you’d like to explore your options, there are several other platforms that are completely free and give you the ability to set up your site in a few steps; they include Weebly, Joomla and Drupal. However, you should be aware that most of these sites won’t work for a business blog in the long run. Restrictions in terms of design, functionality and SEO will make it very difficult later on to have a successful business blog.
2. Choose a WordPress theme.
One of the best features of WordPress is that it allows you to easily customize the look and feel of your blog, using themes. There’s a large list of free themes available in the WordPress Theme Directory, or try checking out premium (paid) themes at a site like ThemeForest.
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When choosing a theme, keep in mind the following:
- Is it responsive? Does it display properly on a variety of devices, including desktop, tablets and mobile devices?
- Does it come with some level of customer support and/or a support forum?
- Does it allow a level of customization (e.g., changing colors, navigation menu, buttons, widgets, etc.)?
3. Register a domain name.
Once you’ve decided which blogging platform you’re going to use, choose a domain name. This will be the URL used to access your site (e.g., www.yoursite.com). You can do this through a domain registrar like NameCheap, 1&1 or GoDaddy.
Your domain will cost you around $10 a year; the price goes down if you’re willing to pay for more than one year up-front. Try to choose a .com domain (as opposed to .net, .biz, etc.), if possible, and use your trademarked business name if it’s available. Make sure your domain is easy to remember yet specific enough to differentiate you from sites or businesses with a similar name.
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4. Purchase web hosting.
While your WordPress site is free, you’ll still need to pay to have your blog hosted, which costs more than the domain rental. You can purchase your web hosting service through a number of different companies, but some of the more popular are GoDaddy, Hostgator, Bluehost and 1&1.
5. Make a plan, and get writing!
This is the fun part, the reason you decided to get a business blog in the first place. Before you dive in, however, it’s important to think about the purpose of your blog.
- What is your main objective? Is it to get leads, build your email list or become an expert in your field?
- How often will you commit to blogging? Two to three times a week is ideal, but blogging once a week is better than nothing.
- What’s the “voice” of your blog? Casual and fun? Authoritative? Academic?
- How will you get your readers to take action while on your blog? An email opt-in box? A link to a sales page? Or a call to action to fill out a request for a quote?
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Once you have a plan in place, go ahead and write. Focus on topics where you have unique insights to share, or where you can really add to the conversation. Don’t just rehash what everyone else is saying. Be original and write about topics that are of value to your audience.