In the early days, blogging was more of a personal endeavor. People used their blog as a personal, albeit public, diary and blogged about what they found interesting and what they thought others might find interesting, as well.
As the Internet became the marketing mecca for online and offline entrepreneurs, blogging evolved and building a business blog is now almost an essential tool for all marketers who want to grow their business. These days, blogs are used to create customer confidence and establish relationships. But is it being used wisely? Read on for some tips to make your blogging efforts pay off for you.
Plan Your Blog
First and foremost, you need a plan. You need to determine what your blog is all about. You need to be clear on why you are creating it and what its purpose is. What are your goals for your blog? What do you expect? If you’re clear on the “what” and the “why”, you’ll be able to stay on point.
The second thing you need to understand, and this is important, is blogging is about writing… providing content that is meaningful and pertains to what the blog is all about.
For example, if your blog is about baby monitors, it wouldn’t make any sense to write posts or articles about “best fishing tips.” Common sense should tell you that the two topics don’t relate to each other, unless you happen to use baby monitors as bait.
If, however, your blog is about baby monitors and you write an article comparing the top 3 baby monitors on the market, then that makes perfect sense. It would be useful information for visitors to your blog who are interested in baby monitors.
When you’re planning, then building your blog, you need to consider several factors.
Layout and Design
- You want a clean and uncluttered blog.
- You want to choose your colors carefully.
Now you might think this is nonsense, but it’s not. Studies show time and again, that:
- color increases brand recognition
- color helps us process and store images better than black and white
- color increases engagement more often than black and white
And my personal favorite,
- color attracts attention
I could go on but the message is clear. Give it some thought before you select the color scheme for your blog.
- You want to make your blog easy to navigate. Use top navigation menus to take your visitor from one section of your blog to another, and use the sidebar to show your visitors your posts and pages. The rule of thumb is to keep it simple.
This is what will make or break your blog as far as Google and the other major search engines are concerned. I’m not telling you to write your content to please some mysterious and convoluted algorithm… just the opposite. You are writing your content to please the human user searching for information on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. Give them what they’re asking for.
What factors do you need to consider when writing your articles or posts?
For one thing they should be interesting and appropriate to your blog as mentioned above.
You want to use appropriate keywords in your articles so the search engines can find them when someone initiates a search using those keywords. Just be careful not to use the same keywords over and over as your articles may never see the light of day. That said, you certainly can use multiple related keywords to help the search engines find your articles and posts.
You want to include links to other pages in your blog if related to the topic you are writing about at the moment. These links will make it easier for your visitor to navigate between related pages.
You could use images or even include videos in your posts or articles to engage your visitors and make it a more fulfilling experience. Whatever media you use, they need to make sense to the article or post. People aren’t stupid so don’t treat them as if they are. They know when you’re adding “stuff” just for the sake of adding “stuff.” Don’t waste their time.
Some will tell you every post or article needs images and videos. That’s just absurd in my humble opinion. While using images is perfectly fine, using videos all the time is not. Redundancy is boring.
It would behoove you to have content prepared in advance and scheduled for publication at some point in the future. In fact, creating a publication schedule will help keep you on track.
Since your blog is for business you want to make money, right? In order to do this you need to monetize your blog by including advertisements in key spots on your blog.
Usually, the sidebar is where you would place your advertisements. It’s the perfect space for your product or featured product, and certainly the best placement for your Adsense ad unit if you wanted to include one.
You could also place banner ads for affiliate products at the top and the bottom, but you want to make sure you don’t place so many that your blog looks more like a billboard than a blog. Remember, you’re running a business.
Another way in earn revenue from your blog would be to sell advertising space, although it wouldn’t be a reasonable expectation when you first open for business. The reason is advertisers won’t spend money to place an ad on a site that gets 1 visitor per day. But, after you’ve established your blog and have verifiable traffic coming to your site, then you could pursue this revenue stream.
Promote Your Blog
You want to promote your blog and drive as much targeted traffic to it as you can. So how do you accomplish this? The fact is there are many ways.
You can use social media networks to promote yourself and your blog, but you want to do it in way that doesn’t turn people away. You want to be conversational, generous with helpful information, promote sparingly and appropriately, and most of all, you need to be present.
Pick one social media site and cultivate the readership. If you spread yourself too thin among many social media sites, you’ll lose your momentum, not to mention your credibility.
You can submit your articles to article directories such as EzineArticles.com and Hubpages.com to promote your blog. Again, this strategy probably won’t produce results overnight, but it is very effective as a long-term strategy.
You can write guest posts and submit them to owners of blogs related to yours. Placing your articles on sites related to your own with lots of traffic will expose you and your knowledge to a whole new audience. If people like what they read, they’ll click through to your site. If they don’t, well then they won’t. It’s up to you to keep them engaged.
These are just a few examples. There are many more ways to promote your blog as you’ll discover when you’re planning your blog since your business plan will also require a marketing plan. Take good notes and refer back to them when it comes time to promote your business.
Build Your List
Building a list of subscribers will aid in your monetization efforts, and if done properly, will be a major source of income for you. If you’ve captured the attention of your visitors with a great blog and great content and great products, then it stands to reason you also want to capture their contact information. So be sure to make it easy for them to give it up.
Place a subscriber opt-in box prominently on your blog, traditionally in the top right-hand corner. However, with all the fancy plugins these days, you could opt for a lightbox style pop-up, or even an exit pop-up. A simple form requesting a first name and an email address, along with a short description of what they can expect, will be fine.
Now you want to know how building a list of subscribers is going to make you money. That’s the part that separates the determined business owner from the huckster.
If you’re serious about your blog and you want to grow your business, then create an email newsletter. Since your subscribers gave you permission to contact them, take them up on it. Wait… I think I was too gentle and made that a suggestion. Wrong!
You need to start your email marketing in earnest.
But you need to be smart about it and have a plan. While you may or may not want to establish a “relationship” with your subscribers, you do want to communicate with them on a regular basis. That’s how you make money… that’s your job.
You want to use the power of email to offer your subscribers discounts or perhaps recommend other products you sell as an affiliate, or send them the link to your latest blog post, whatever is appropriate to your business.
But let me be clear. If you have no intention of communicating with your subscribers in any meaningful, relevant fashion; if you only intend to send sales pitch after sales pitch, after sales pitch, then don’t bother. It’s just like throwing mud at a wall hoping something will stick.
In this scenario, you’re hoping someone will buy something from you and that’s not a viable plan. So, again, don’t waste their time or yours. This is the best way to alienate your subscribers and send them straight to the unsubscribe link.
Your visitors subscribed to your newsletter in the first place because they liked what they saw and read on your site. It’s your job to make sure they continue to visit your site and read your emails. Eventually, they will purchase from you and, in time, become loyal customers. That’s how you will grow your business.
When your blog is ready for the public, chances are it will take a while to generate a steady stream of traffic. You probably won’t become a millionaire overnight so don’t be discouraged. Just keep driving traffic to your blog and keep posting fresh content.
If the content is informative and helps the visitor answer questions they may have, they’ll learn to trust you. And if they trust you, they’ll purchase products you recommend. That’s just human nature. So don’t squander your opportunities by being lazy or dismissive of your visitors and subscribers.
If you want your blog to be successful, give your visitors what they’re looking for… period. Consistency and determination will go a long way to achieving long-term success.