Content is the center piece to any marking effort and blogs is the easy way to start creating the content. The first question is always how to start a blog. There are several steps for starting a blog, but lets walk through 5 steps for starting a free blog today:
1. Create a plan of what you will write about. You will need to decide what value you can or want to provide to your readers. Think through how you want to provide the value. Is it to direct readers to sources outside of your website, or are you the expert? Is it easier for you to write lists or steps? Will you be providing reviews or comparisons? Once you understand what your subject will be and how you want to deliver it in a blog it will be easier to create a name for the blog.
Tip: Start with your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Make a list of all the questions you are tired of answering. Create one or more blog post for each question. The other advantage is that now you have a resource to point people to if they ask you the question in the future.
2. Create a publishing schedule. We always recommend that businesses start with one blog a month. The idea is to work through all the kinks that invariably come. You will have to work through the mechanics of creating and publishing the blog, testing what the best day and time is for publishing a blog, how to find new material to write about, and more. If you start with publishing once a month there is less pressure on publishing and more time to work on the issues. Get comfortable then readjust your schedule to blog maybe twice a month. Continue to increase until you reach your goal.
Tip: Most blogging software provide the ability to schedule blogs in the future. When you create your publishing schedule make sure to schedule time for you to sit down and create the blog. You will create a habit of always creating the content the same time every week and scheduling its release later. This reduces the stress of trying to create the content just before it needs to be published.
3. Decide which blogging platform to use. If you have a WordPress or SquareSpace site you are already set. It is a matter of using the tools in WordPress or SquareSpace to create a publish blog posts. If you are not on a WordPress or SquareSpace site then consider using other blogging applications like Blogger, Tumber, Medium, or others. These platforms provide you with all the tools you need to write and publish a blog, but the blog is not on your site. A navigational link can be created to send the website visitor to your blog but the blog is never part of your site. These services also has some good Search Engine Optimization baked in. These applications are free and take only a few minutes to set up.
Tip: Try to cross brand your website and your blog. Try to use the same logos and colors so it is not jarring to the user as they jump from your website to your blog.
4. Create a publishing schedule. We always recommend that businesses start with one blog a month. The idea is to work through all the kinks that invariably come. You will have to work through the mechanics of creating and publishing the blog, testing what the best day and time is for publishing a blog, how to find new material to write about, and more. If you start with publishing once a month there is less pressure on publishing and more time to work on the issues. Get comfortable then readjust your schedule to blog maybe twice a month. Continue to increase until you reach your goal.
5. Turn on Google Analytics. – Without understanding how visitors are interacting with your blogs you will be creating content in the blind. Some of the most interesting data to watch initially are:
A. Site Content – illustrates which pages are visitors visiting the most on your site. This include your blog posts. After you publish each post monitor the average time visitors spent on the site and watch the bounce rate. The goal is a high “Average Session Duration” and a low “Bounce Rate” Which indicates visitors are reading the blog posts and they are not leaving your site after they read the blog post – they are interested in what you have to say.
B. Behavior Flow – provides a graphical representation of what users do on site. Use this tool to see what visitors do after they visit a blog post. Challenge yourself to increase the number of visitors that click from your blog posts to another part of your website to increase visitor engagement.
TIP: WordPress plugins and Squarespace have some analytics specific to the performance of blog posts. If you are uncomfortable with Google Analytics start with the analytics built into your platform.
5. Review and change your blog. I mentioned before that your subjects and voice will change over time. It should change as you gain skills and confidence. It should also change based on the results you observe in Google Analytics. Over time you will find out what subjects your audience is interested in, what words better describe your points, and how to speak to your audience.
Remember to not get frustrated. It takes time to get comfortable with the tools and the process of creating blogs. Adopt an easy schedule of creating blogs and ease into creating more content more frequently. Remember the goal is to always provide value to the customer especially through the blogs you write. Happy Blogging!
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