How to start a blog for your business

necktie mouseWriting a blog is nothing to be afraid of. Sites like wordpress.com make it incredibly easy to put together a professional looking blog with a minimum of effort. My third-grader has put together his own blog page. I think my 79-year-old father could manage it too. If you can run a business, I feel pretty certain that you can post a blog.

Here’s why a blog is good for business, and why the blog should be written by you, the business owner. As Michael Gass, social media guru to the ad agency world, says, “People don’t build relationships with entities. They build relationships with people.” And of course you know everyone prefers to do business with people they know. A blog is one more way to connect with your target audience, and to build strong relationships with your clients or customers. 

They also say blogs help your SEO. My understanding is that the search engines are constantly changing their equations for what appears at the top of a search, but some experts say writing a blog greatly increases the chances of people finding your website. 

If you’re not even sure what a blog is, take a look at a few. Just get online and see what other companies are doing. You might be surprised at the companies with thriving blogs. Of course, if your competitors aren’t yet blogging, you’ve got a chance to get out there ahead of the pack.

My favorite small business blogger lately is Robanne Shulman of Plaid Monkey. Robanne is a personal shopper, and her company is named for the little monkey in the plaid jacket that belonged to the shopping mall organ grinder when she was a kid. I would imagine demand for personal shopping services are down in the current economy, but Robanne’s blog does a great job of creating need. If I get her blog about latest trends and she mentions that maxi dresses are a must-have, then I suddenly must have one. Boyfriend’s jackets? Get me one of those while you’re at it. Her blogs are short, filled with information I actually want and include plenty of photographs so I can see what she’s talking about. 

Ready to give it a shot? Here are a few tips to make it a little easier.

1. Write in first person. This is not a book report. This is just you talking to your customers. Don’t be too formal or institutional. Think friendly and person to person.

2. Be authentic. Robanne’s blog is filled with slang and silly expressions that would make me cringe, if they weren’t pure Robanne. Go ahead and be yourself on your blog. Don’t think of this as a brochure or some official communication from your company to the public at large. If your blog feels too slick or polished, it actually loses points.

3. Give your audience tasty little morsels. Writing a blog is not about bragging. It’s about helping. It’s about offering your particular odd knowledge to people who can use it. What do you know that could be  helpful to your customers? Package it up into short paragraphs and send it out as your gift to the world.

4. Don’t worry about being perfect. Blogging is an extremely forgiving medium. It’s similar to the difference in what we consider okay in a quick phone text as opposed to a typed business letter. Besides, if you spend too much time making your blogs perfect,  you’ll never get around to blogging as frequently as you should.

5. Blog often. Putting up a blog once a month doesn’t count. It makes it look like you tried to join the social media movement but then got distracted. Make a commitment to blog at least once a week, but maybe as much as every day.

6. Blogs can be short. You don’t need to write a book. Most blog posts are between 250-500 words, but some are even shorter. Sometimes brevity is appreciated. 

7. Do not sell on your blog. The blog is for engaging your customers, not hammering them over the head with a sales message. Just develop the relationship, and let the sales process happen in other channels.

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