Starting a Business or Technical Blog
There is a lot of advice on the internet on “how to start a business blog”, less on “why to start a business blog” and even fewer on how and why.
This article was prompted by a tweet I saw asking for advice when he has been “tasked with finding out about blogs with the aim of setting up a technical one”. Many freelance or small business owners may that also considered setting one up as others in their industry have them. So why blog for business?
Why blog for business? –
“establish credibility, trust, and directly target a demographic” – Cary Snowden
Introduction – what is a blog?
WordPress (one of the most well known) define a blog as
“Blog” is an abbreviated version of “web log,” which is a term used to describe web sites that maintain an ongoing chronicle of information. A blog features diary-type commentary and links to articles on other Web sites, usually presented as a list of entries in reverse chronological order. Blogs range from the personal to the political, and can focus on one narrow subject or a whole range of subjects.”
The blog as grown and developed its uses in business. When you see the term “diary-type” – this does not mean like a diary in that you put something in every day, it refers to the structure of the way content is filed, by title, content and date. the advantage of this is that it is easy to remove outdated content.
Usually business blogs tend to have a few things in common:
- A main content area with articles listed chronologically, newest on top. Often, the articles are organized into categories
- An archive of older articles
- A way for people to leave comments about the articles
- A list of links to other related sites
- One or more “feeds” like RSS
Blogs tend to be slightly less formally written than the main copy of the site. This has a large number of advantages, one of which is speed to “print”. having a different language style can help attract people that for one reason or another were not engaged with your main copy.
Why blog for business?
Blogging for business is about content – fresh, easy to digest content. Content (on business blogs) about a narrow range of topics. or example if you specialise in sales training then the majority of your posts will be about sales techniques or processes. If your blog is about a technical product, then you may write about applications or adaptations.
The real reasons for blogging falls into one of the following:
- Real and fresh content for your:
- potential customers
- An effective SEO (search engine optimization technique – getting seen on the web)
- Promoting your product or service
- Image – blogging raises the public image of the company and individuals
- Develop cross selling opportunities
- Building relationships with your customers and potential customers
- Interaction – provides an easy way to engage and interact with customers & potential customers
The best firms use it for all of the above. Unlike newsletters which only go to your customer base – blog articles are available for the world to see. so writing that article just to be seen by a few hundred people is a waste of effort, put it on a blog and it can be read by 1000’s. better – its stays there and is a valuable marketing “asset” for months if not years. I wrote a post about employee engagement some years ago then last year the Dale Carnegie groups posted a link to it in one of their news letters – this attracted 1000’s of hits over night – better than that – another region of the world repeated the link some months later. This type of exposure you cannot get from traditional marketing strategies (well not for the same budget!).
Unlike most websites, updating content on a blog is easy and quick – a responsive way to show you are listening to your customers.
The adage “build it and they will come” is just not true for websites or blogs. However blogs can certainly help people find you and then come both to the blog and your company website too.
How to blog – or things you need to know
The first thing is knowing how to use the software you have chosen. For small business I recommend wordpress – its easy, constantly updates and best of all – its free!
When setting up your blog you need to have a list of “tags” and “categories” – you can add to these – but the fewer you have the better. There are in effect indexes for you as writers, and to help people find content they may be interested in.
Once you have set up a blog – the next thing is to generate traffic. Use of sites like blog directories can help so can tools like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.
The more regular the better – however its best not to publish than to put out something that does not add value. Aim for one posting a week (on average).
Include pictures if they are relevant, have the piece between 400-1000 words. There is evidence to suggest that two 600 word articles are more effective than one 1200 one. people are being educated on the web to shorter and shorter pieces. So if its long make sure it adds value and is not woolly!
One of the biggest questions I get asked is what do I write about? – simple just take the last question asked of a service engineer or customer care staff and give the answer in the form of a blog. Even if you have it on a FAQ. people like to see a question posed and answered – it also gives them the opportunity to contribute
You will from time to time get comments – good and bad. How you respond to these will determine the future of your blog. If you do not publish any negative ones people will get suspicious – however reply in a defensive way and you are in trouble! Moderation of comments is a difficult challenge.
Who should blog?
This is a much bigger question than you many think. Years ago when I was a design engainner I was asked to go to an exhibition centre to fix a display demonstrator of our that failed on display, I did the repair and before I could leave the stand I was mobbed by potential purchasers – why? – because I was the only one on the stand not in a suit – these potential customers wanted to hear the “real words” about the product – not the rehursed sales pitch.
The same is true for blogs – let your front line staff write – not just the sanitised marketing and sales copy. The more “real” it seems the greater the trust built in your readership – and this can only lead to increased sales.
So who should blog? – anyone in the business who is passionate about the product, service or company
Where to blog?
Our preferred platform is WordPress, you can get your own blog for learning professionals at there is some debate whether you should have a blog as part of your own site of on one of the off-site providers. Each approach has its own advantages & disadvantages. Whatever way you chose to go, the good news is that with most you just export your old site and import it into the new one easily!