By Katya Juliet
Have no fear, Buzzword is here (!) to let you know that starting a blog is not as scary as you might think. There are many reasons why people make the decision to start a blog. Blogs can be personal or professional, opinionated or factual, designed to raise awareness for a great cause, showcase a talent or passionate hobby, for promoting your business and engaging with your customers and even, a little bit of everything.
Blogging is an excellent way to build more authentic relationships with others, by relating and engaging with your audience through passion and experience.
I want to write a blog, but how do I get started?
Starting a blog can be intimidating at first. Mostly, because people worry that starting a blog may be too technical for them to set-up and maintain. Also, many experience some initial challenging emotions, such as anxiety and fear, from the concern that other people may judge them or not like their blogging style, writing or topics. While you may feel that way now, please don’t ever let that stop you from getting started!
I am here to reassure you that starting a blog with today’s blogging platforms is much easier than one might assume. There are embedded tutorials and support to walk you through the process. However, you can also easily get support from marketing and consulting businesses (like Buzzword Consulting!) if desired. So never let the fear of set-up and design scare you away if this is something you want to pursue.
A few top blogging platforms to consider: WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Weebly.
As far as anxiety over content and writing goes – two things. First, know that it’s completely normal to worry about how other people may perceive or judge your writing in the beginning. But that will go away with time and experience. (Everyone was a beginner at one time in their lives…) Second, other than some general suggestions for success and formatting, there really aren’t any “official” blogging rules, so you can use this opportunity to be yourself and make something your own. You can never fail as long as you stay true to yourself and are motivated to make it happen.
If you want to start a blog, but writing and content is something you are either not confident in or simply do not enjoy doing, you can also hire someone (copywriter) to write for you. Just make sure that the individual or business shares the same level of understanding/expertise on your chosen subject and can represent you, your business and your brand authentically.
How often do I have to post?
Again, there are no official blogging rules to follow. You can post daily, and many do, but you don’t have to. Putting that pressure only adds to the stress of getting started. If you are blogging for your business, I would suggest making sure your blog stays relatively active, with at least 3 posts per week. But putting out content just for content’s sake, is not necessary. The idea behind blogging for business is to promote useful, interesting and relevant content that your audience (peers and existing/future customers) can engage in and relate to with ease and comfort. In a world of constant advertising and promotions, finding a friendly blog with helpful and interesting content is refreshing!
If you want to start a personal blog, that is wonderful. Go for it! If I had my way, everybody would have a blog. I believe it is an extremely healthy way to relate to others and work on improving your communication skills at the same time. But if you also run a business, a blog for your business is not only a great idea, it needs to happen. Here are some benefits you can expect from blogging for your business, as well as some suggestions on getting started.
Business Blog Benefits:
1. Increase online traffic and new leads to your business website. You can build in links and information to your website when relevant. Also, by producing original, useful and relevant written content, you can more easily attract new leads (future customers) without pressuring them. I would recommend having business social media links connected to your blog and if you have one, an invitation to join your email newsletter (in addition to just following your blog). Getting leads into your email funnel will help you reach out in a series of more nurturing emails prior to ever “asking for the sale.” This turns a cold lead into a warm lead in a very natural and progressive way.
2. Helps you build authority and lasting relationships. What do I mean by authority? When you produce high-quality written content in your field, it will resonate with others and you will be seen as a qualified “expert” – granting authority to yourself and your business. You can become a go-to source for others in the same industry and will be someone they rely on to keep them up to date on news and important insight. In addition to authority, you will strengthen your relationships with others as they begin to feel more supported and involved, by being able to comment on your blog posts and/or social media. (Important note: if you share content regularly on your social media accounts, be sure to share the content from the blog instead of copy/pasting the same info into Facebook, for example. You always want to link traffic to your blog site which in turn, links traffic back to your website as well. Think of social media as the delivery service, and your blog as the host.)
3. Increases SEO. As long as your blog topics are focused and relevant to your business, using proper keywords, categories, tags and embedded links (and media!) will support your business SEO efforts. (For some additional insight here, consider reading another blog post I wrote, SEO: Friend or Foe?)
4. An inexpensive way to reach a wider audience, allowing you to engage with ease and share news faster. Starting a blog can be completely free if you use the standard domain name provided and free templates. But you can also invest a small amount to personalize your domain or upgrade to a particular theme. A blog is significantly less expensive than starting an official business website and can be a good way to build an audience if your business in not yet up and running. A blog – at minimum – gives you online presence and content online that can be searched and shared with social media, which is critical in today’s marketplace.
5. Syncs beautifully with social media platforms. Blogging platforms are designed to be shared, so they include widgets (buttons) for sharing online through social media, and the shared content itself looks great. When shared, it provides the image of your post, title and some content, so it looks just as professional as major publications do. If you have a business website, but it is not optimized for social media and high-quality sharing, consider starting a free blog to route important news and articles that can be shared in an aesthetic way. Always make sure to include your contact information and links back to your official business website in every post as well.
Suggestions for getting started:
Decide on a title and theme for your blog. Your title becomes part of your domain name and in many cases, you can’t change it later without a personalized and purchased domain. To avoid having to start all over again, know what your title is ahead of time. You will use it when setting up your account along with a designated email address.
Make a list. Brainstorm a bunch of ideas for future blog post topics and various themes. It does not need to be perfect, but by having a basic list created that you can re-visit and expand on later, it will help you by always having ideas at your fingertips.
Read and follow other blogs. What makes some great and others just so-so? Get a feel for blogging in general. Follow other blogs and see what kind of writing, content and style you enjoy the most or if anything turns you off. Consider this part of your “research” for your own blog and pay attention to the types of things communicated that you do or do not like, and why.
Pick a platform and a theme that initially attracts you. You can always change your theme later and do take advantage of any “getting started” tutorials and help menus.
Write down anything that moves you, no matter where you are. I have noticed, most of my best ideas for business or writing doesn’t come to me when I’m sitting at my desk with a blank screen or piece of paper staring back at me. I use my “notes” application in my phone constantly, and write down ideas while on-the-go that I can elaborate on later. Most mobile devices also have free recording applications as well, which you can use to leave yourself voice memos on ideas, thoughts or potential articles and listen to later, so you never lose a great idea or any momentum.
If you have “writers block,” walk away. I know real deadlines exist, but when you are really struggling, most likely you will need a slightly new perspective or approach to pull it off. Even a short walk around the block can help you “re-set,” and other times, you may need to just not think about the topic or project for a short time. Temporarily switch gears on another project and come back to writing later. I have noticed, I tend to write and brainstorm better late at night, which doesn’t help my efforts during the work day. So to combat that, I will brainstorm and bullet out my late-night revelations in note form and revisit them during the work day. This has helped tremendously.
For additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, consulting, copywriting & PR for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations.