6 Easy Steps to Your Small Business Blog
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Here is a very basic instructional guide to what you need to know if you want to start a blog or website (basically the same thing) for your Small Business.
In just six fairly easy steps you can set up your own site and start making money online with a blog or virtual storefront.
Step 1: Choose a Platform and a Host
All of my own blogs, and a lot of our customers websites, are on the WordPress.org platform, so most of my advice will be WordPress relevant since I’ve been using it for several years now. WordPress is certainly not the only blogging platform available. Blogger, Tumblr, Quora and TypePad are a few other options worth looking into. Learn more here – The 15 best blogging and publishing platforms on the Internet today.
The reason I like WordPress.org (self-hosted) is because it’s a really versatile platform. You host your site on your own server, you can upload new themes, photos and content whenever and from wherever you want and add as many plugins as you like. Not to mention it’s a really easy format to learn. There are a ton of helpful guides and tutorials on the web for even the most basic questions.
I highly recommend that you host your own blog or website.
It’s very easy to set up a hosting account with GoDaddy.com, they walk you right through the process. For a more limited, but still worthwhile experience, WordPress.com can host your blog for you for free. Take a look at my list of Recommended Books for Small Business Owners to learn more about website hosting.
Step 2: Pick a Name
This is fun, but you need to spend some time thinking about what makes the most sense. Don’t get too cute with it and try not to over think it too much. Your business blog name needs to be short, catchy, and most importantly, it needs to be memorable. Pick a name that you’re comfortable typing and saying, 2 – 3 words are recommended. Make it relevant to your business and stay away from tongue twisters. It’s best to make a list of about 10 to 20 names and then eliminate the ones that don’t make sense, are too long or impossible to remember. Check domain name availability at GoDaddy.com before you get started.
If you’re doing a free site, your blog title needs to be your username and will look something like: yoursmallbusiness.wordpress.com. If you want it to be www.yoursmallbusiness.com, you must purchase your domain from a registrar like GoDaddy.com.
TIP: If you are self-hosting your site, you must purchase your domain name. Get the name-servers from your hosting provider and ‘point’ your domain to those name-servers. Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy and self explanatory, plus customer support will gladly help you if you have never done this before.
Step 3: Choose a Design
It’s important to considering the layout and color scheme for your new website before you get started. Do you already have a logo and established branding for your business? Use it, if not than this is the time to create them, or have someone design a logo for your business blog. As your site grows from a few daily page views to several thousands, you will realize the importance of branding.
You have a few options with overall site design:
- Look for a free theme
- Buy a premium theme
- Hire a designer
- Design it yourself (we use Artisteer.com to design our themes)
Free themes are usually limited in ability to customize, but if you spend some time looking you can find some pretty nice ones. You can easily spend a whole afternoon browsing the web for a suitable theme. The biggest downside to using a free theme is that developer support is usually very limited and if you have any issues with it, you’re usually out of luck.
Buying a premium theme is worth it if you’re looking to have a more unique looking site that will stand out. You will have access to developers and support communities with a wide array of theme options. A premium theme will cost you anywhere from $30-$100+.
Hiring a designer is a good way to really make your website unique. Keep in mind that this will cost you a pretty penny. We charge anywhere from $800-$2,500 for complete site designs.
Designing your site yourself can be fun, but it’s also extremely time consuming, especially if you have to learn everything from scratch.
Here are a few more design tips:
- Fonts do matter; use a clean, large font that is easy to read.
- Pick a maximum of 3 colors – use the color scheme designer for suggestions.
- Never steal images from other sites – it’s illegal.
- Keep your logo and header above the fold.
- Make your site easy to use and keep it uncluttered.
- Be unique.
Step 4: Add Content
This step is pretty straight forward. You add your main business information.
Your site needs to have at least 4 main pages:
Home – About – Contact – Articles/Blog
Be specific and include your contact information on every page, tell you visitors what you do and what you can do for them and don’t forget to include nice, clear images to make your point.
Make sure that you are giving a consistent message and not a bunch of misleading information. Always be clear and concise, check, double check and triple check for spelling errors!
Keep your content looking consistent and easy to understand. Your footer and widget titles should match your header and overall site design. Keep in mind that when you upload your header to your new theme, it’s going to have to fit in with the rest of the design.
Step 5: Keeping Up to Date
Once you have added your main information on what you do or sell, how someone can contact you and where to buy your stuff, it’s time to think about adding articles. Writing doesn’t come easy for many of us, but it’s important that your site has fresh and relevant content for your visitors. Take a look at this article for some help: Top 5 Writing Tips for Small Business Owners
There’s are different opinions on how often you should update your site. It really depends on your business and how much time and effort you want to invest. I wrote an article a while ago about 3 business scenarios and their recommended Website Update Frequency.
It’s important that your blog content is well written and that you provide high quality information for your visitors.
Once you get going you might just come up with a ton of information to share about your business. I will write an article at a later date on how best to organize your article ideas. Having a ‘writing calendar’ is a great idea and does more than just help with writer’s block, it also makes writing a part of your routine.
Step 6: Promote to get more Traffic
This is by far the most frustrating and overall labor intensive part of online marketing, getting people to find and read your stuff. Small business owners can’t possibly compete with the unlimited marketing budget super stores like Amazon or Target. Don’t even bother!
Instead focus on your target area, keep your #1 customer or client in mind and use social media networking sites to speak directly to them. Improve your website’s natural search engine optimization, which includes relevant page titles, header sections and image tags.
- Optimize your site and blog posts (articles) so search engines send more visitors to your website
- Embrace social media and make it easy to share your content
- Swap guest posts with other businesses in your niche
- Leave comments and answer questions online (don’t forget to reply to comments on your own site)
- Make how-to or introduction videos and upload them to YouTube and other video sites
- Create business portfolios on the major search engines
Creating an online presence that people will find and interact with is not easy, but with some luck, hard work, perseverance and a little monetary infusion it can be done!
Let me know what you think about this article ‘6 Easy Steps to Your Small Business Blog’ in the comments below.
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