Esther Crawford from ShePosts.com and Jennifer James from Mom Bloggers Club got together and created this fabulous ebook called From Blog to Business. Don’t let the price fool you – this is one valuable tool if you have a blog or are interested in starting one! These experienced ladies give you all the information you need to figure out how to monetize your blog, where and how to find sponsors, and how much to charge. You’ll also find sample forms and marketing materials to help you create a professional media kit that can help you attract sponsors and advertisers. Head over to FromBlogToBusiness.com to get your copy today!
You can setup and run a blog for your business with very little expense, and in just a few simple steps! Read our “7 Reasons You Need a Blog for Your Business” post if you’re still not sure that you need one 😉 then come back here and let’s get started on your blog!
1) Decide on a domain name.
If you already have a website for your business then you might want to use something like blog.mybusiness.com or mybusiness.com/blog as the web address for your blog. If you haven’t already purchased a domain name then you’ll need to go ahead and register one, we highly recommend using GoDaddy as the registrar where you’ll pay about $10/year for the domain name. There are several services that will allow you to start a blog for free without even registering a name, however the drawbacks of going this route are that it doesn’t look as professional to have a web address like mybusiness.myfreeblogplace.com and you don’t have complete control over your own blog with this method.
2) Host the blog.
Now that you have a domain name you’ll need to get it hosted – fees for hosting range from free to a couple hundred bucks a month. When you’re just starting out with your blog and traffic isn’t yet an issue, you can easily get everything you need for less than $5/month. Hosting through GoDaddy starts at $4.95/month and includes more email addresses than you’ll need and excellent customer service. In fact, they’ll even setup the blog for you, just click the box to have WordPress installed when you setup your hosting account.
3) Choose a Theme
There is more than one option when it comes to choosing your blogging software but WordPress is by far the leader in the field. It is free to use and because it is so prevalent, you’ll find lots of themes, plugins, and online tutorials that will help you to customize and use WordPress. The most enjoyable part of creating your blog is probably choosing the theme! Take some time and really think about what you want for your blog, look around at other blogs and make some notes on what you like about them. Do you want a large header image or no header image? Do you need a dropdown menu? Do you want one, two or three sidebars? Should they be on the left, right or both sides? Once you have a rough idea of the format you’d like, do a Google search for ‘free WordPress themes’ and start scrolling through them to find ones that most closely match your list. Keep in mind that it is much easier to change the theme’s colors and images than it is to change its format and overall layout.
4) Settings and Plugins
Once you’ve picked out a theme and have updated it with your own images and color scheme, you’ll want to take a look at the blog’s settings. This is where you’ll decide things like what to use for the blog’s title, whether comments will need to approved, and what format to use for links to posts and pages. Although it is easy to change, you should carefully consider what to use for your blog’s title since it will show up in the title bar for your web pages. The link format is also an important decision because this is not very easy to change later. Your options include links formatted with the post number or post title in them. If you decide to change this format at a later date, it is technically easy to do but any links back to your pages will no longer work so this is not recommended.
All sorts of plugins are available, most for free, that add different functions to your blog. For example, you can add plugins that will check your traffic, add contact forms, pull in YouTube videos, follow tweets on Twitter and much, much more. There are plugins that will display your eBay listings or Etsy listings in the sidebar, and some that will work with PayPal and other payment processors to add a shopping cart directly to your blog.
5) Start Blogging
You should post on your blog regularly – this can be daily, weekly, monthly, whatever you decide – just be sure to keep up pretty much the same schedule so your readers will know what to expect from you. Start out with a welcome post that thanks your readers for visiting with you, then just keep it going with other news and information about your business, your products, any press or media attention, and don’t forget to announce your sales and specials as well as any charitable events or causes that you might participate in. If you plan to blog daily then consider writing up an editorial calendar that lists your planned topics for each day of the week so you don’t find yourself scrounging for topics. For example, you might decide to announce new weekly specials on Mondays, list some tips on Tuesday, on Wednesdays answer reader questions, link to tutorials on Thursdays, and so forth.
6) Let the world know!
Now all you need to do is get the word out! Start by putting the web address to your blog on your business cards or in any ads or print materials you produce for your business. Visit forums and other blogs or websites in your industry where you have something to offer to the conversation and start joining in, making sure to leave a link to your blog in your comments of course. Use a signature file in all of your outgoing emails that includes a link to your blog. By using these methods and providing valuable content, you’ll be able to build links, traffic AND more sales for your business!
Are blogs really important for businesses? Lots of people think that only big companies need to have blogs, but Technorati says in their State of the Blogosphere report that they have indexed over 133 million blogs since 2002, and that 77% of Internet users read blogs. Of the bloggers surveyed, 56% said that their blog has helped their company establish a position as a thought leader within the industry, and 58% said that they are better known in their industry because of their blog. These statistics show that if you don’t already have a blog for your business, you really should consider setting one up! Here are seven more reasons your business needs a blog:
1) Build Your Reputation
This is especially important for small businesses – you likely can’t afford big splashy television ads or radio announcements, so what better way to get your message out to the masses than through the creation of a blog. Post your success stories, talk about charitable causes you support, and demonstrate how your products will solve problems for your customers, all of these will help to build your brand image and reputation.
2) Create Relationships
Do you know who your customers really are? The more you know about them and their likes and dislikes, the easier it will be for you to find more customers like them. A business blog is a wonderful opportunity to learn from and interact with your customers and potential customers and can be an invaluable market research tool.
3) Customer Loyalty
The closer your customers feel to you and the more they know about you, the more loyal they will become. When your customers feel like they’re being heard and appreciated they will keep coming back to you.
4) Customer Service
As a small business owner myself I have probably struggled the most with customer service. It is one of the easiest things to let slide when a business is taking off and your attention is demanded elsewhere. A blog provides you with an easy way to both give and receive customer feedback.
5) Increase Traffic
If you already have a website for your business, adding a blog that is updated regularly (weekly, bi-weekly, or whatever, it doesn’t have to be updated daily) will increase both traffic and page rank for your site. Because websites tend to stay the same for long periods of time they’re not spidered by search engines as often as blogs are and since your blog will provide keyword rich content about your business to the search engines, your site will benefit in more ways than one!
6) Cheap Marketing Tool
You can start a business blog for as little as $5 a month, where else can you get the opportunity for exposure and a wide open stage for your products and services for only $5 a month? The possibilities to display your products and increase visibility for your business through news, announcements, giveaways and other promotional activities are endless.
7) It’s Easy (and Fun!)
You don’t have to be a computer geek or a technical wizard to run a blog! Your blog can be up and running overnight even if you don’t have a clue about how to setup or design a website, and updating a blog is easy to do from any place you’ve got web access – just login to the blog, type up your post, add a hyperlink or an image by hitting those buttons then click publish.
Check back Thursday for a post on “How to Setup and Run a Blog for Your Business” that will describe all the steps needed to get your blog started!
This Sewing Business blog was started on a different platform and later switched over to WordPress. Although the transition was a bit of a pain, it was a great business decision and now we wonder why we didn’t make the move sooner! WordPress is one of the most robust and customizable blog platforms available and now there is a terrific new book out called Digging Into WordPress that shows you how to tap all of the potential of WordPress and take your blog to a whole new level.
This 400+ page PDF book is written for both beginners and experienced WordPress users and focuses on teaching you how to improve your site using many different techniques, tips, and tricks. Each technique is fully self-contained and provides complete instructions and clear explanations to make implementation a breeze. As you learn how to maximize, optimize and streamline your site, you’ll also get tons of bonus information including “pop-out” boxes and side notes with insider information, and many more awesome techniques to improve your WordPress-powered site.
The PDF version of the book is only $27, however you can also pre-order the print version and get the PDF too for $67. Frankly, I prefer the PDF version since you can easily search for what you need and you’re able to copy and paste any code you might like to use. Click here for more information and a preview of what’s inside the book.