This is a guest post by Stephanie Sims of ACTIONCoach.
Blogs are gaining more and more traction as a legitimate marketing tool for small business owners. They are far-reaching, cheap to produce and easy to maintain. Though not a substitute for traditional marketing materials like press releases and direct mail, blogs do provide a way to reach many people in a short amount of time. Starting one can be well worth your investment.
Here are four easy tips to help you get started.
1. Choose a blogging platform
Choose an easy-to-use blogging platform to start writing on. WordPress, Typepad and Clearspace are some good ones.
2. Figure out what to post
Here are some content ideas for your blog:
-Hot topic news
-Interviews with industry leaders
-Your position on industry issues or innovations
-Book and article reviews
-Lessons learned on subjects important to your readers
You can also tie several ideas together. For example, if your company puts on a big event, blog about it. Link to news stories and pictures of the event. In your writing, relate the event to a current business issue or trend. If there’s a charity involved, mention that the recession is affecting charities, too.
3. Be a credible source
Remember that as soon as you put something in writing on the Internet, it’s out there for all to see. So be careful about what you write. Make sure you’ve done adequate research. Cite credible sources (MSNBC might be more credible than a tabloid rumor blog, for example). Cover all your intellectual bases–or someone will point out very publicly that you didn’t.
Learn how to engage your readers
Your blog’s success will depend on the number of readers you have. You can increase the number of your readers by motivating them to come back. A few things that help readers come back:
-Make sure your blog is structured in a way that’s easy to navigate, both on your company’s main website, and inside the blog’s own website.
-Link to other good blogs that relate to your own blogging topics.
-Establish links to monthly archives.
-Choose about five other blogs to read on a regular basis. Build relationships with the readers of those blogs by commenting on the posts that interest you. This way, you build a community–and people come back to your own blog.
-Share a personal story on occasion. This makes you human. Your readers get to know you as a person. They can often relate, too.
-Ask readers for their opinions at the end of blog posts.
-Join communal blogging efforts, like carnivals and guest posting.
-Humor never hurts, either.
Once you set up your blog and update it regularly, it will take on its own momentum. You’ll learn as you go. Have fun!
Stephanie Sims is a Marketing Content Writer at ActionCOACH, The World’s No. 1 Business Coaching Firm.