Blogging has morphed into something with great potential. In the 1990’s, it began more as a way to express personal commentary — a visual diary — but today is being used for many other things. Unlike other social media, blogging offers an informal way to interact with customers on a more personal level. Customers can interact with your posts and you can respond to their interactions, making it a more intimate, engaging experience.
So you want to make your own blog, but there are already millions out there in the same field. What can you do to get noticed? First off, it is important to make sure your blog is easily discoverable. Make sure it shows up in search engines and joins other blog communities. The host website you use affects this — each has pros and cons, but it depends on what you want to promote/do with your blog.
Here are two examples of free host sites and their functionality:
Blogger: For a simple platform, it is fuss-free but also allows you to generate revenue through advertising.
WordPress: If you want maximum flexibility and have no interest in generating revenue.
Once your blog is up and running, your next goal is to grab the readers’ attention. Here are 5 quick steps to get started:
- Tweaking the design and layout so the blog is more personalized to your business.
- Adding a “blog profile” (an introductory paragraph on your main page): This is the first thing people see when they open your blog, so it should be informative, memorable, and as non-salesy as possible.
- Updating your “blogroll” (list of links to other blogs): Think of it as a list of blogs you’re endorsing as resources for your readers. i.e. blogs written by clients, partners, employees, influential thinkers of your industry.
- Enabling comments or not?: Allowing all readers to comment on your posts encourages spam, but requiring your approval to post comments discourages participation, so make sure you find some middle ground. Allowing comments if a user is logged into the site is usually best.
- Uploading pictures with your posts: This may sound simple, but it really works. Adding eye candy for a reader can do nothing but good. Look at the difference it made in this blog entry: 5 solid cloud-based storage services and 8 times you’ll be glad you used them. Breaking up content makes the post more easily digestible for your audience.
Remember, your blog is for your readers and potential customers, not you. It should offer different content than your website — something that adds value to your readers without sounding too salesy; the trick is to disguise your self-promotions. For example, instead of writing about the self-promoting benefits of your products, write a post that mentions your product or industry in the context of something that adds value, such as unique research you’ve done or your insights about your industry. This makes your reader associate your services/products/brand with quality and usefulness, and they are more likely to return to your site as loyal readers to learn more of your insights.
Making your blog unique, be it through voice, images, design, or content, will set your blog apart from others. But don’t forget: write about what you know. Being knowledgeable about your industry not only boosts your credibility, but also your popularity. After all, isn’t a customer attracted to your site because they want to learn something new?