You’re caught up in the blogging buzz. You’re ready to get your message out. You’re ready to get everyone excited about your company. But now you’re wondering how to start a blog.
Have a Reason for Starting a Blog
Before you create a blog, you better know why. Otherwise, when it’s 2 AM and you’re using Red Bull to stay awake because you just HAVE to publish a post, chances are you won’t finish because you’ll forget why you care. Yes, we skipped a few commas there. But it was for dramatic effect. Are you building a blog so you can share baby photos with your extended family in Bulgaria? Or are you starting a blog for your business? If it’s for your business, maybe you want to:
- Establish yourself as an expert in your industry
- Build relationships with prospective customers or clients
- Provide customer service
If you don’t establish your reasons for blogging before you get started, six months from now you’ll probably have blog posts that are all over the map. Visitors will come to your site, but they won’t be able to understand your brand or your purpose. And they’ll say adios!
Choose a Blogging Platform
Now that you’ve laid out your purpose for blogging, it’s time to choose a blogging platform. There are lots. We’re going to look at two in this article: Blogger and WordPress.
It doesn’t get a whole lot easier than Blogger if your tech skills are near zilch and your resources are about the same. Blogger is free. You can incorporate Adsense advertising, get visitor statistics, post pictures, and embed YouTube photos. And by the way, Blogger is owned by Google. That should count for something.
But there are downsides to Blogger, and they all have to do with the inability to customize. There are different templates you can choose from, to change the look and feel of your blog. But if you want to really get fancy, you’re going to be disappointed. Even more importantly, Blogger is not search engine optimization (SEO) friendly. If you know us, you know we want to kick that in the face. SEO is a must if you’re a small business person competing for space on the Internet.
Having said all that, don’t count Blogger out. It could be a good fit for you. But if you’re serious about SEO and you’re interested if having a customized template that fits your branding, WordPress is the best alternative.
WordPress is the most popular platform within the blogging community. In addition to the templates that WordPress provides, companies all over the Net sell sleek and sexy templates that have graphic links, drop-down menus and are the fulfillment of your every dream. Still can’t find the look you want? Find a graphic designer to make one for your company. Yeah, this design stuff can get pricey. But the important thing is that you have the option to get as fancy as you want. Blogger doesn’t give you that option. A complete newbie who isn’t into fancy? You should still be able to figure out WordPress. If you can’t, you may not be ready to own a business. Just sayin’.
Even more importantly, WordPress is SEO friendly. Before you write your first post, download the WordPress for SEO by Yoast plugin. It’s free and it might be the most important plugin you ever download. Whoa.
Now that you’re on your way to choosing the best blogging platform for you, we’re going to throw you into the pond of piranhas and force you to swim for your life! Not really. But we do want to talk to you about writing your first blog post.
Write Your First Blog Post
Let’s not make this complicated. Obviously you want to introduce your company and normal stuff like that in your first blog post. You don’t need us to tell you that. But you might need us to tell you to:
- Aim for 300-600 words in your blog post. Less than 300 words, and search engines won’t take you seriously. More than 600, and your human visitors will probably be getting antsy.
- Stick with short paragraphs. Reading online, people scan more than you might think. And big paragraphs are way too overwhelming to even try to read.
- Add images! They’re visual hooks that break up your text and keep people connected.
- Add videos! Videos you’ve created are best, but a relevant YouTube video is certainly not out of the question. (Geeky SEO Note: Videos are awesome because they usually increase your Time on Site statistic, the average amount of time that people stay on your website. This statistic plays into your overall website ranking. So pick your videos well and trap your visitors without them knowing!)
- Fill out the box for your “WordPress for SEO” plugin. You did download it, didn’t you?! You’ll find the plugin box towards the bottom of the page where you compose each blog post.
Maintain and Build
There’s no point to writing your first blog post and leaving your blog to sit forever. It won’t do a thing for you.
In order to get traffic worth blinking at, you need to maintain your blog. This means posting fresh content on a regular basis. If you want to do it right, we suggest you blog 3-5 times a week, using the pointers we so lovingly laid out in the last section. Does that sound like a lot? It’s definitely a time investment. But “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” Had the mom-face on for that one.
Have you got the hang of the basics? Are you posting regularly? Then it’s time to get jiggy with it. Posting fresh content is huge if you want to increase traffic, but it’s not the holy grail. There are other tips and tricks you should incorporate to build up your blog. Keep checking back for new pointers. You can do this! And if you fall flat on your face, we’re here to pick you up!