There are lots of posts and articles about why adopting a blog for your small business is a good idea — how it’s good for customer retention, lead generation, and serves as an effective way to build links and rankings in the search engines. But if you’re a small business owner, the thought of launching that blog may be a bit intimidating. Where do you start? How much content should you have stored up? What do you do the first few days after your launch?
If I were launching a new blog today (and I often am), here’s a short checklist for where I’d start.
Study: Study the other bloggers in your niche, learn about the hot topics in your community, figure out where your customers are hanging out, identify who the leaders are, and read up on some of your favorite writers and the people whose voices you’d like to emulate. You’ll find that a lot of your writing is affected by what you read. Seek out the good people and follow them.
Start building buzz: From the moment you decide you’ll be starting a blog, you want to work on creating buzz around it. Put up a placeholder on your site. Start talking about it on Twitter. Put teasers in your email newsletter and on Facebook. Start mentioning it to local business owners. Everyone should know that a blog is coming and they should be excitedly awaiting your arrival. Get to know the top 15-20 blogs and bloggers in your space and start commenting on their sites to help get you on their radar. Introduce yourself and ask for advice on getting started. People love talking about themselves. Use it.
Secure the appropriate accounts: KnowEm.com is great, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean the sites that are going to help you create the necessary benchmarks to help you track your blog’s growth. Yes, you’ll want to use a service like KnowEm.com to take care of your social media presence, but you’ll also want to get your blog set up with Google Analytics, claim it in Technorati, and register with Feedburner so you can keep track of important traffic numbers, RSS subscribers, page views, the keywords searchers are using to find you, etc.
Get your house in order: Thanks to your excellent buzz building, excitement over your blog will reach fever pitch the day of your announcement, so take advantage of the influx of readers. Make sure your RSS button is in plain sight so that people can subscribe when they land on it. Put up a compelling call-to-action if you’re looking to secure emails for a newsletter. Take steps to make it easy for users to share your content, both via email and the social networks. It should be easy to leave a comment and easy enough for people to figure out how to do so. All this needs to be set up before you get that first visitor on your site.
Create a content strategy: I write for multiple blogs so I’m a big fan of editorial calendars. I think it’s really important for a new blogger to have content laid out for the first month, two months of the blog. Doing so takes away the panic of having to come up with great content on the fly and allows you to control what you’re publishing, how often you’re publishing, and what audiences you’re going after. You should also be planning linkbait-type pieces to complement whatever type of link strategy you’ll be running. It’s a lot easier to promote a new blog when you don’t have to balance it with the actual writing.
Seed content: Along the same lines, you want to have some seed content (no less than three posts) already up before you officially launch your blog. If you’re an established blogger or person in your community, this may not be necessary; otherwise, it is. You need to have quality and engaging content up when you first announce your blog — something that tells people who you are, sets the tone for posts to come, and engages their interest enough that they’ll want to subscribe. There’s a quiet before the storm right before a blog launch … take advantage.
Decide: Ads or No Ads?: People will fight me on this, but I say no ads. If you’re a corporate blog, you need to be about the content and nothing but the content. Don’t let people question why you’re here and your motives. Make it clear that you’re about the community, sharing information, and letting people know what you’re about. Don’t turn off potential readers (and customers) by throwing AdSense all over your new blog.
Build your promotional team: Once you’ve launched your site, you need to call on those buzz-building groups you’ve hopefully established earlier to help you spread your content. Reach out to your contacts on Twitter and get them sharing your news. Start talking to people on your niche social media sites. Start guest posting on other blogs to drive traffic back to yours. Form partnerships with folks in your local and virtual communities. Create your street team.
Comment on other blogs, message boards and forums: The best way to promote your new blog is to realize that no man is an island. Let people know you exist by going out into the community and being a good citizen. Comment on other industry blogs and link your name back to your own to encourage people to follow it back (don’t ask them to do this!). Participate in industry forums and message boards and be helpful when you can. Get active in social media. Be as visible as you can without tiring yourself out and diluting your efforts.
Respond to comments on your own blog: While you’re out there being active in the community, don’t forget to nurse your own garden. When someone comments on your blog, respond to it. Maybe follow back to their blog and leave a comment (if it warrants it) on one of their posts. If you see someone retweeting one of your posts, say thank you and maybe retweet theirs the next time around. Being a good citizen provides a lot of karmic benefits that you won’t immediately realize. But they’re there; keep doing it.
If I were launching a blog today, those are the top ten things that would be on my checklist for Things to Do. Does your differ?
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This is a great list. I would add one thing, which is, to allot a specific amount of time in your day to working on your blog. I find that time is a challenge for many small business owners and since a blog is a brand new time commitment they often fall prey to the “I’ll get to it later” syndrome. I find it’s more effective to schedule dedicated time for it into your day – this way it has a fighting chance to grow and flourish and be fully integrated into your daily business activities.
Excellent article. These are great ideas if you understand the blogging world, but if you are starting your first blog, I wouldn’t spend much time trying to figure all these out. Just start writing.
In most cases you are better off to start blogging and figure out all these things as you go. The sooner you get started the better, the blogosphere is filling up fast.
Graet post. Solid and up to date info. As someone that has just relaunched my blog after a year off, this helped me get back up to date with all the blogging do’s and dont’s, so to speak.
Thanks for the info, and for the inspiration.
I was just talking to my dad about his blog the other day and for him, the content is the weak link. He just doesn’t have time. If you find yourself in this boat, just remember that consistency is more important than quantity. If you can only write occasionally, post once or twice a week. Just make sure it is consistent. This way people know when to expect new material and they’ll come back again and again.
Great list Lisa,
The most important thing that I’ve found on the blogging journey is the point that Robert made. It’s consistency.
When I started out blogging I had great ideas about bloggin every day which simply didn’t happen. Now it is a matter of making sure that there are two blogs a week and making sure they go out on the same day.
The other thing we have done is create a vlog inside our blog so we release a regular video as well which gives a different type of media for our readers.
Thanks so much for the great advice in this article. I especially like the section on building buzz. With so much content available today, buzz can mean the difference between success and failure in blogging.
Another great actionable post Lisa!
A couple additional ideas that were shared by @tferriss (tim ferris of 4-hour work week fame) at #biztechday last week in SFO re blogs…
1. Spend 80% of time on content, 20% on mkting the blog –> a plan on what you’re going to write is key (you’ve mentioned that idea)
2. Posting 1x per week is sufficient time & will build traffic –> the blog doesn’t have to consume your time
2. A mediocre blog is worse than no blog –> be prepared to follow through on your blog… don’t post and ghost (ie disappear from writing)
Cheers, Grant (@gwickes)
Great content… it is always wise to prepare before advancing 🙂
Director of Business Development
Great tips. I will use several of these when I start my new business site, including a blog.
I have been blogging since May 2002, so I have learned it the hard way! 😉
Robert: I have been taking some blog breaks now and then, but I have been publishing at least a couple of posts every week or in some cases over a two week period.
I think the editorial calendar is a good idea. I have been playing around with the following weekly schedule as a rough outline:
* Monday: Open thread post.
* Tuesday: Tuesday Tech.
* Wednesday: Midweek wrap blogrolling.
* Thursday: Venting with Thor’s hammer.
* Friday: T.G.I.F. good life post.
* Saturday: Carnival blogging.
* Sunday: Future podcasts. Workflow review.
Grant Wickes: Could your read / listen to #biztechday online?
Now it is time to go back to the “drawing board” and write some new blog posts! My latest post is from October 21, so am getting behind the schedule! 😉 Luckily, I have great guest bloggers, writing on my blog now and then. Roland Horvath wrote a post on the anniversary of the 1956 revolution in Hungary on October 23.
Very good content. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas.
Two things I have learned about having a blog. They can start running slow, so make sure when you start that you start working with a programmer that understands php since that is what wordpress and most other blogs run in.
second I would do a press release when you have launched the site.
Thank you very much for this post, it is perfect timing and extremely valuable.
I have a question about the use of hyperlinks that open in window. Your links all open in window, rather than opening another window. Is there a reason for this?
It seems a little distracting but I don’t understand the implications either way.
Serena : )
Great tips will be looking deeper into knowem.com wasn’t even aware they were there. Thanks
Great article! I appreciate that it has steps that are logical and able to accomplish!
Very concise. I wish I saw this article before creating my own blog as it would have saved me a lot of research time.
Latest Technology News
awesome content , surely helpful for all new aspirants who wants to create their own blog.
knowledge is highly useful in this stream of web world and web marketing.
good work!! go on…
The key is to create the impression of an energetic group of readers, whereas there is a higher probability of someone posting comment on your blog when there is already a group participating on a hot debate.
Tell your friends about your blog, reach out in as many ways as you can, and never launch a blog with at least a minimum of 5 posts.
You had all the key points. Easy to use.
You had all the key points…excellent.
Related reading: 24 things I do when launching a new blog.
Great tips! We are just getting geared up to start our company blog so this information is useful and timely!
I am very new in blogging area. I recently have started my personal blog named “I am website developer” thinking that I can share my point of view and resources with others. As a freelancer and new blogger this post really will help me I guess.
Thanks To Lisa
I like this list and covers everything a new blogger needs to look into before starting. At a conference I heard a speaker say this and I think it may have been Joe Pulizzi @juntajoe when he said if you look at your sent mail folder – you are already blogging. You may be sending friends, colleagues .. information that would be great as a blog post. I started my blog http://www.shashi.name ( previously called pcadvice.us ) to answer friends and family questions on geeky stuff in April 2005..
Thanks for writing this article.
Great article… Well thought out strategy…. Many bloggers never think about some of this preparations…
Wow!!! Your 10 steps are going to be my bible. I am somewhat new to blogging…wish I’d known about your steps when I started my first blog on squarespace.com (if you are interested – http://nikkikamens.squarespace.com). I am now about to embark on a professional blog and your steps will guide me. Thank you so much.
I’ve set up a blog on blogger and have been slowly adding posts to it. I’m not sure if I should host it on my own website using wordpress.. what does anyone think?
Great plan of attack….a very easy to follow roadmap of how to get a decent blog up and running…..cheers
Promoting your blog would have to be the single most important element to achieving success online…then again, what is seen as success….but I digress – unless people know about your blog, it just won’t move. I think it really comes down to taking action with being consistent. Oh, and time – you need to give it some period before you start to experience a growing membership base.
They say content is king, but I’ve seen blogger have this strategy where they simple must post once per day, and its ends up being just fluff and filler. Good post!
women seeking for men
They say content is king, but I
One important thing you missed here is checking through your competitors in the market. Its an essential field work to be done. I appreciate the rest of the points. Thanks for sharing.
I’ve witnessed a lot of good writers and bloggers go down the drain for the mere reason that the launch of their blog was a flop. Like a business, your blog must go live with pizazz. Content, setup, and promotion are definitely elements to look into.