How to Start a Blog: A Step-By-Step Guide
By now we all know what a blog is and in some way or another we’ve interacted with one along our internet travels. However, people often think blogs are only used for personal journals or for ultra-specific subjects. Some may even think of blogs as an outdated facet of the internet. The reality is, blogs are incredibly powerful marketing tools that every business should be using to bolster their web presence. Blogs are an excellent way to speak Google’s language. What does this mean? The way Google ranks pages in search results is by recognizing websites with quality, frequently updated content that is relative to the given search query. Enter: Blogs. There are few better ways to keep your users engaged, market your business, and your web presence high. So how do you start a blog for your business? Let’s cover some basics first.
Related: SEO Blogging Tips
What is a Blog?
Just as a quick refresher, the word blog is a combination of “web” and “log”. The reason blogs have kind of forgotten reputation is because they first appeared in the 90’s and were primarily used as personal online journals. But as the internet has evolved, so have blogs. While they are still popular on a personal level, they’ve also carved out a home for themselves in the business world.
Blogs are a great way to market your business, no matter what size it is. A good company blog isn’t used to keep track of the latest news and updates of a company, but rather as a way to speak to your audience about relevant topics in your industry.
Why You Should Start a Blog
There’s a number of reasons to start a blog for your business, but without a doubt, number one is marketing and promotion to your target market.
Here are the best reasons to start a blog:
Strengthen Search Engine Ranking
Google’s search bots love to feed on fresh new content. And by feed, I mean reward. Blogs give you tons of opportunity to optimize your website with elements that Google loves. such as title tags, headers, URLs, backlinks, keywords, meta descriptions, and tags.
Offer Expertise & Knowledge In Your Industry
Companies should be writing original articles that provide users and customers with helpful and relevant information. For instance, if you’re a camera company, you could write an article titled ‘Top 10 Photography Tips and Tricks’. By doing this you can show off expertise in your field with a little insider information. This builds trust and confidence with your customers. Consumers are more likely to make a purchase knowing that you’re a knowledgeable company.
Keep Customers Coming Back
Think of blogs as a way of connecting with your market and having a conversation. If you’re consistently updating your blog and offering value to your customers, it gives them a reason to return to your website. The more traffic on your website, the more opportunity you have to make a conversion or sale.
A content cluster is a marketing tactic where you create one overarching theme and then create subtopics based on the one theme. The subtopics are all connected together and link up to the overall theme. By linking all of the subtopics together and to one main theme or product/service page, it passes link authority and shows Google that all of the topics are related. Content clusters increase click-through metrics, engagement, link juice, and ultimately your Google ranking.
Related: What Is A Content Cluster?
Easy and Inexpensive
Most marketing tools come with one major downside: cost. But blogs have very little overhead and typically don’t cost a lot to maintain, relative to their other marketing counterparts. The only costs are web hosting, cost of the domain, and whether or not you pay a writer. Most website builders and hosts have built-in blog tools that make writing and posting very easy for even the most novice user.
How To Start a Blog
So, how do you start a blog? Do you need a webmaster? How do you maintain it? Here’s a quick step by step for starting a blog (some of these steps will vary if you’re just adding a blog to your existing company website):
The first step to any web adventure is deciding on a domain. Again, if you’re blog is going to be on your company website, you have nothing to worry about. Registering a domain should be your first step because domain names get snagged up all the time, and in some cases, it can become undesirable to settle on something else.
Choose a hosting service. Most domain sellers, such as GoDaddy, also offer web hosting but do some research on what works best for your needs.
Choose a theme. Most blog hosts offer an extensive list of free and paid themes. Here are the questions you should ask yourself to help decide.
- How user-friendly is it? Will customers be able to easily navigate the site and make logical click-throughs?
- What degree of customization does it offer? Can you alter menus, positioning, widgets, theme colors, texts, etc.?
- Does it work seamlessly across devices? Is it optimized for mobile? (Most people use their mobile phones to view websites nowadays).
Define a strategy for your blog. This can be drastically different for each company, but the best way to identify a strategy is by first identifying your goals. Do you have marketing goals? Sales goals? Brand awareness goals?
Include within your strategy the voice of your blog. It’s important to match the style of writing with your company. For example, if you’re a non-profit organization, it wouldn’t be advisable to have a nonchalant, jokey voice. When in doubt, err on the side of professionalism.
Another important note is to always include some form of call-to-action within your blog strategy. It doesn’t have to be overt, in fact, subtly is the favorable approach in a blog setting.
Start writing and be consistent! The biggest contributor to a successful blog is consistency. Decide how frequently you’re going to blog and stick to it.
How to Promote Your Blog
With so many blogs on the internet, it may seem like a daunting task to get eyes on yours. Here are a few ways to help promote your blog:
- Use social media: An easy method is sharing your blog posts on all of your social media accounts. But you can take that one step further by starting conversations and engaging with people in your industry’s community. The goal is to engage, not solicit yourself to people.
- Use email: Collect a list of emails and send links to your latest blog posts, periodically. Don’t overdo it though — you don’t want people to associate your blog with being spammed. Try using lead magnets to build your email list.
- Guest bloggers: Try hiring or collaborating with a guest blogger in your industry. This can attract the right type of traffic to your blog.
Related: How to Advertise Your Blog
Make Money With Your Blog
One benefit we haven’t mentioned is making money with your blog. This usually only works once you have a large enough following to sell advertising. Once you have strong enough traffic, you can sell various ads. You can use Google AdSense or sell privately.
Another great way to monetize your blog is by including affiliate links. Companies will often partner with blog hosts who are willing to post a mention, link or promo code to their product in exchange for a commission. The key to framing these affiliate-link mentions is subtly. Again, you don’t want your blog to come across as soliciting.
The cost and return benefit of a blog is kind of a no-brainer. Relative to the cost of paid advertising, it’s almost like free marketing. And with so much importance placed on web presence these days, it’s a necessary outlet in today’s online market. Blogs are essentially a way to initiate a conversation with your customers and build relationships in your industry, and it should be approached as such.
If you’re still confused about company blogs and need another example, look no further. You’re currently reading one. Feel free to navigate our blog to better understand the ins and outs!