After writing about the 8 reasons you need to have a small business blog, I realized to really support my argument and getting you on the path to incorporating a business blog in your online marketing plan, I needed to provide you the step-by-step process for setting up your blog. And here it is!
While there may be more steps within this list or items to check off, if you start here you’ll be on the way to blogging success. You may already have a business blog, but if it’s been hibernating or on an extended vacation, it’s now time to wake it up and get it working for your business. Review this list and get writing.
While 7 steps may seem like a lot, I want to be honest about the process. A well-researched and planned blog will provide more results for your business in the future than one hastily put together.
7 steps to setting up your business blog
1. Define the goals of your blog
Before you even start writing, you need clear goals for your blog. Without these, you could start writing and never connect with your ideal customers. Your blog goals should align with the purpose of your business and help support the goals of your business.
Do you have a clearly defined purpose of your business? If not, write that down first. It may be to achieve financial independence, provide a valuable service to your niche market, or have your product in every household in your country. The goal of your blog should then be to support that purpose and help you reach your business goals.
- Take action: Define your blog goal or goals with the following questions:
- What can our readers learn from us?
- What can we learn from our website visitors and community?
- How can we establish ourselves as the industry experts?
- How can we contribute to the discussion in our industry or market?
Then make sure those goals align with your business goals. Your blog should serve a purpose for your business and that is to help you achieve your business goals.
2. Set up the blogging platform or page
If you already have a blog page set up on your website, then you can skip this step. Yay!
If you don’t have a blog page on your website, you have two options for setting up your business blog:
- You can set up a blog page on your website. If you are comfortable with this, you can do this on your own, or if not, you can ask your web designer or another website professional to help you do this.
- You can set up a free blogging account that you can link to your website. WordPress.com (different than WordPress.org where you can build websites from scratch) is a free blogging platform that allows you to easily set up a blog. Blogger, by Google, is the same. You can customize it with a theme that matches your website and get started blogging very easily.
Both options have their pros and cons, but I would suggest that your blog be incorporated right in your website if possible. This is because your visitors won’t have to visit another site and get lost along the way, and your SEO (search engine optimization) settings will all be in one place. But if it’s not possible to do so, then it’s better to have a separate blog than nothing at all. If you have questions about this, let me know and I can help guide you through your options.
- Take action: Find the blog page on your website. If you don’t have one, decide whether you can put one on your website or if you need to set up a free blogging account.
3. Research your focused keywords
This is a really important step that usually gets overlooked, but I advise you to not skip it. The key word in this step is “research” and all decisions and actions have better results when they are based on research. To make sure that the content you’re writing about is going to reach your target audience and ideal clients, you need to use words that they would search for. There are some tools you can use to find your ideal keywords, or you can hire a specialist to do it for you. Here are the tools:
- Google search bar: Open up google.com and start typing in some words related to your business then see what else comes up. Write those words down in a list, then try other words and combinations.
- Google “Searches related to [keyword]”: This is located at the bottom of the page when you conduct a search. It provides some suggested keywords and keyword phrases that are related to what you just searched for.
- Google Trends: You can put in up to three keywords and see if people are searching for them, and how they compare to each other.
- KWFinder: Put in a keyword phrase and find how often it is searched, related keywords and other data. With the free option you can search for 5 different words within 24 hours.
It may be surprising to see what people are searching for online so keep an open mind. Also, use long tail keywords (keyword phrases with two or more words in them, like “virtual assistant online marketing”) for a more focused keyword strategy that will have your ideal customers coming directly to your website when they use that search term.
- Take action: Come up with a list of 6 – 8 keywords that you really define your business, and if someone searched with them you’d want them to find your website.
4. Brainstorm blog topics
The biggest obstacle to getting started is finding what to write about. Or to narrow down all of the topics that you could write about. Here’s a list of questions to use to discover the topics that will connect you with your ideal customers:
- What is the question that you always answer when talking about your business?
- What is the process that you always have to explain over and over again?
- What is one thing about your business that nobody knows about?
- What are some topics that are trendy or new in your industry?
- What problems do your ideal customers have and how can you solve them?
- What are other business blogs in my industry writing about?
- What things in my knowledge, expertise and experience can I share with the community?
Once you write the answers to these questions you’ll start to see trends or common topics. Group them into a few broad categories, then start writing a few topics in each category. Keep this list where you can easily access it and add to it when you come up with another topic. Then you’ll always have a big pool of topics to write about.
- Take action: Start a Google spreadsheet, Evernote document or email draft where you can start listing down topic ideas. Group them into categories or put them into order in which you’d like to write about them on your blog.
5. Decide on the content format
Blogs can be a number of formats for which share your information. The most common format is a written article with a start, middle and end, and some bullet points thrown in. But that’s not the only way you can express yourself, so review the list here and decide the best way for you to communicate:
- Written texts
- Articles, press releases, checklists, how-to’s
- Should be at least 300 words, though between 600 – 800 words is ideal
- PRO: well-established medium, great for SEO
- Video log (also known as a vlog), interview, screencasts for a how-to or tutorial
- Shorter videos work well with audiences with short attention spans, can be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo then embedded on your blog post
- PRO: Audience gets to see you while getting to know you
- Podcasts, recordings, interviews
- A more passive type of content (i.e. people can be doing other things in the background while they listen), podcast series on iTunes are very popular
- PRO: perfect for a more engaging medium but without the visual aspect of video
And you can always do a mix of these formats on your blog, for example you could write articles, conduct a video interview with experts in your industry and share infographics. However you feel comfortable expressing your thoughts, opinions and ideas, you’ll be able to connect with others who enjoy receiving content in that format.
- Take action: Decide which format or formats is right for you and research options on how to make that happen. Do you need screen recording software? Do you need a new microphone? Do you need to try a graphic design app like Canva?
6. Source images for your blog posts
The data says it all: articles with images get 94% more views than those without images says Jeff Bullas. Hubspot has a whole article about tips for putting images in your blog posts, all based on data. When you are planning your business blog and what kind of content you’ll be writing about, finding and including images should be a top priority. There are many options for creating or finding images, here are a few places to start:
- Create your own images
- Free images
- Free images that require author credit
- Creative Commons – you can search for photos that you can use but please note the license requirements
- Stock Photos
- Take action: Browse blogs in your industry and see what kinds of images they use. Decide what kind of style is best for your business and brand (stock photos, graphics, neutral photos) and decide where you’ll source or create your images.
7. Start writing / recording / talking
When you’ve got your keywords, when you know your audience, and you’ve got some image options, just start creating! It’s a good idea to write a few blog posts before you go live with them on your blog so when somebody visits your blog doesn’t look completely empty, and you’ll have a back log of content for when you get busy with work and have no time to write.
Remember that your ideal customers, your followers and the community want to hear from you! Write quality articles or talk about trending topics, and you’ll be sure to be discovered by those interested in your field.
One last suggestion is to decide when you’ll post your blog posts and stick to it. Google search engine crawlers and your followers like content that is released at regular intervals. Have a lot to say? You could start blogging once per week. Busy with work? Start out with once or twice per month. After you have been blogging for a few months, you can decide whether you want to increase or decrease the amount you’re writing. Make a schedule and stick to it.
- Take action: Decide how often you’ll blog, pick a day for your blog post to be published and start writing! Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays are good days to publish blog posts.
What should I do next?
Good question! Once your blog is up and running you’ll want to tell people, i.e. your ideal customers, network and colleagues. Check out my list of the 6 things you must do once your blog post is published, and if you need support in writing your blog posts or sharing them after, I’m happy to support you.
What’s the step in this list that is keeping you from blogging?
Let me know in the comments and let’s work through it together.