WordPress vs Other Blogging Platforms

WordPress

WordPress vs all other blogging platforms? WordPress wins!

I am a way huge fan of WordPress

I figured I should get that blogging bias on the table at the outset, so you know in advance where this is going! And now that you know my personal and professional bias, I’ll let you know where it comes from.

Let’s go back a few years. Back to the early days of blogging. There were basically three main contenders for the blogging platform throne; Blogger, WordPress, and Typepad. All three were good platforms, and all three are still around today. There were others back then too, but most have faded into obscurity and disappeared.

Blogger could probably be considered as the “winner” in those early days. It was easier to set up and easier to use, and became hugely popular with the first generation of amateur bloggers. These early adopters consisted mostly of angst filled teenagers and bored (and boring) diarists posting barely readable self-absorbed journal entries about their personal trials, tribulations, and occasional triumphs in their lives. Needless to say, the audience for this was pretty much limited to other angst-filled self-absorbed, literacy-challenged individuals. Blogging looked liked it was on its way to joining MySpace in Internet obscurity. Then things got interesting.

While Blogger (now owned by Google) was concentrating on making things easier for the “average Jane”, a couple of things happened.

  1. Facebook:
    The community space occupied by Blogger & MySpace completely migrated to the social media giant. Blogger’s role as a communication platform for bored teenagers and stay-at-homes was basically killed. Facebook allowed for a far richer sharing platform that made it easier to share only with the people that you wanted to—while still making it easy to share with the whole world if that’s what you wanted to do.
  2. WordPress:
    Wordpress did something that was pretty much unprecedented as a business model. They split into two divisions. One part (WordPress.org) gave its platform away for free to anyone who wanted to, and was capable of, installing it on a server. The other, WordPress.com, became a profit center. At one end they offered a “free” blog to anyone that wanted one. This was basically as easy to set up as Blogger was, but offered a more polished interface and look. It’s “free” factor, actually fully funded by advertising revenue generated by ads that were run on free blogs. For an affordable, but not inconsequential, fee it was (and is) possible to remove the ads. At the other end, and less widely known, WordPress offers a sophisticated full service hosting platform to major organizations at the Fortune 500 level of the economic spectrum. Blogging became serious business, for serious people.

WordPress has evolved into a powerful and extensible CMS, making it the only serious contender for a website on which blogging is a major component

Today there are several new platforms competing in the DIY space, but none of them really fill the same cyberspace as the blogging platforms. Most of the new Content Management Systems (CMS), like Wix, Weebly, and Sqarespace include a blogging add-on, but WordPress has evolved into a powerful and extensible CMS, making it the only serious contender for a website on which blogging is a major component. Web platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn also offer different blogging experiences, and are all fantastic Social Media Platforms, but there is no way to get the kind of branding experience possible with content on a fully branded blog and website. It’s important to remember that social media blogging is free because, at the end of the day, the content creators (you and me) are the product that they are selling for profit—nothing wrong with that at all, but it’s a fact that can’t be ignored.

So while WordPress is not the only alternative, it offers a compelling (and in my view, unbeatable) combination of features and value. And we haven’t even talked about the huge number of plug-ins that allow bloggers to make a WordPress blog/site do just about anything, or the thousands of design theme templates available for free or for fee, that can make your blog look fabulous no matter what your personal view of “fabulous” is!

WordPress vs. the rest? Yeah. I’m with WordPress!

5 Blog Problems and how to Deal with Them

Common blogging problems and how to deal with them

Starting a blog is fun and exciting. As we start writing posts, and putting our brilliant ideas out into the ether of the Internet, we wait with baited breath for the first comments and kudos to start rolling in. We wait. And wait some more.

Then frustration and insecurity begin to cloud our happy excitement.

Are we perhaps, not as brilliant as we thought we were? Are we doing something wrong? Did we offend the Google Gods somehow?

All of the above questions represent possibilities. But, more likely, we have not done anything wrong. We are just being too impatient. So the number one way to deal with our blogging problems is to just be patient! Keep writing. Keep posting.

In this fabulous article from Vandelay Design, Steven Snell identifies five common problems, and discusses the best way to address each one.

  1. No Visitor Comments
  2. Not Enough Visitor Traffic
  3. Blogging Without Purpose
  4. Visitors are not Returning
  5. No Revenue Generation

READ STEVEN’S ARTICLE

You Should Care About Link Spam

Many different kinds of spam

What is Link Spam?

Link spam is defined as links between pages that are present for reasons other than merit. Link spam takes advantage of link-based ranking algorithms, which gives websites higher rankings the more other highly ranked websites link to it. ~ Wikipedia

Everyone wants their web pages to rank highly in search engines. An entire industry (SEO) has grown specifically around optimizing web pages to rank higher in Google, Bing, etc. Inevitably some providers of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services have sacrificed ethics and professionalism in favor of attempting to game the system. Since all search engines include the number of links in and out of a web site in their ranking algorithms, the shady operators offer page links for pay to their clients.

Why You Should Care About Spamdexing

Google and Bing employ legions of very smart people to program their search ranking algorithms. Their job is to make sure that search engines provide only the highest quality search results. When the “jig is up” for a particular page rank game, they change their algorithm. When the change comes (and it always does) not only will the game stop working, but anyone trying to play the game will find their website “punished”. In the most serious cases, your entire website could be removed from Google’s index. You will never be found again.

I don’t use link spam, and never would. Why should I be concerned about this?

Unfortunately, if you have a blog, it is possible to be punished for link spam even if you never use it yourself. How can that be?

One of the “dirty tricks” that link spammers use, is placing links to disreputable websites into blog comments. The less sophisticated spammers use bots (automatic computer programs) to randomly make spammy comments on every blog they encounter that permits unmoderated comments and lacks prevention measures. If your blog is unprotected, your posts will quickly fill with gibberish filled comments that exist for the sole purpose of getting someone else’s website link into your web pages. More sophisticated spammers may use actual human beings to bypass prevention measures and insert links into comments. These comments are usually recognizable by very generic messages of praise, often with spelling or grammar issues, and a couple of weird links to pharmaceutical or pornographic websites. Either way, your website has inadvertently become the source of link spam!

What Can You do About Comment Spam?

There are several options available to prevent link spam from infecting your blog. The first, and easiest, is to moderate every comment. This will prevent all spam from appearing on your site, but will become a hugely tedious task, without other measures.

The most important measure is to block bot access to your blog. This means using a CAPTCHA program (plug-in) on your blog. Google now offers an excellent captcha for free (image matching). There are several others available with various levels of sophistication and ease of use. Of course every blog built by Blogs Mean Business includes a captcha plug-in.

Other options include subscribing to “black listing” services, that prevent known bad actors from even reaching your website. WordPress itself includes built-in blacklisting capabilities that will prevent posts containing certain words from ever appearing in comments, and prevent access from accounts that have tried to spam your site in the past.

Your Website Still Benefits From Links!

So whatcha gonna do?

  1. Always include some high quality outgoing links in your web pages and blog posts. This is easy to do. It’s a nice way of helping build the search engine relevance of the sites you link to as well. Just make sure that the sites you link to are logical for your content, and are themselves not guilty of SEO crimes.
  2. Build your network. There’s nothing wrong with asking for links from other bloggers or webmasters. There is nothing wrong with exchanging links with other bloggers and webmasters—again being careful to exchange links only with other quality blogs and bloggers.
  3. Social Media links. Once you’ve posted your brilliant new content, it’s important to let the world know about it. Tell your Facebook friend. Tweet the link on Twitter. Let your LinkedIn contacts know about. Put it on Pinterest. Social Media give you a double-whammy win. Not only do you get to post links that add SEO value, but hopefully, the people reading those posts will be drawn to your content, and post links of their own.
  4. Write compelling content. This is far and away the most important, and most difficult way to earn incoming links. If your content is good, other people will link to it.

Don’t Write for Google! (Write for your audience)

woman writing a blog

Are you writing for Google, or for your intended audience?

SEO is all the rage. That’s OK. SEO is important, if you can’t be found, you won’t be read, and if nobody reads what you write, well…

Except that… With so much importance attached to search engine optimization, it is easy to lose sight of what blogging is all about. And, at the end of the day, (unless you write and SEO blog) blogging is not “about” SEO! A blog should provide content to stakeholders that they will enjoy reading, and find valuable. Obviously, we all hope as bloggers, that by providing valuable content we will enhance our visibility, and the value proposition of our business to our customers and potential customers.

In other words, the purpose of our blog may be to enhance our marketing efforts, and it is necessary to blog in such a way as to increase the chances of our blogs actually being seen. But, marketing and SEO count for nothing unless our content matters to our intended audience.

Keep SEO and marketing in the back of your mind—and put good content in the front!

Writing for your audience should always be the goal. Google keeps getting smarter. The Googlebots will eventually catch on to any trickery, and that can only hurt people that try to depend on trickery. As the bots continue to improve, the one thing that they will always put a premium on is good quality to content. Content is king.

So you see, writing for your audience, and writing for SEO, is the same thing—when done right

 

Dot Com, Dot U S, Dot C A, or Dot Net, Org, Co, etc.?

It is pretty well established that for most blogs and websites, most of the time, the “dot com” Domain Name suffix (TLD; Top Level Domain) is preferable to all others. There are a few circumstances where a country code TLD is preferred, but even then, it is always advisable to secure the .com extension too.

But what happens when you can’t get your desired name as a dot com because it is already registered to someone else? What are your options, and which option is best? This is going to be a near certainty for any potential one word domain name. Every single combination of three letters has already been registered. Every single word in the English language dictionary has already been registered too!

The typical entrepreneur and new blogger is going to be faced with a tough choice. Basically the choice is going to come down to this:

Do I use my desired name, but attach it to a less popular TLD (like .net, .org, .biz), or do I come with a creative name that I can still secure as a .com, but that may not be the name of my business or blog?

To answer that question, we need to start with the reasons that the .com (dot com) TLD is so popular.

  1. .com came first
    In the beginning there were basically only three TLDs easily available to regular people and businesses. They were .org, .net, and .com. Dot coms were fore businesses, dot orgs were for organizations, and dot nets were for networks. There was even some enforcement of these divisions at first. But every single business in the world wanted their-name.com.
  2. .com is easy to remember
    Since every business jumped at securing their-name.com, everybody soon learned that entering any-business-name.com would likely bring you to the website belonging to that business.
  3. .com is so ubiquitous that sometimes you don’t even need to type it
    Some web browsers will automatically assume and add the .com extension to a domain name, even before it is fully typed into the browser window.
  4. Search engines prefer .com
    This may be changing as search engines develop more complex and accurate algorithms, but it is probable that dot com names will always enjoy a big search engine advantage. A .com Domain name tells Google that the site has probably been around a while, that the owner has taken the trouble to secure the .com, that the site owner likely owns the trademarks to the name, and that the site is probably legitimate.

Your site is legitimate too, but you can’t get the .com. Now what?

Let’s look at alternate TLDs. Maybe you can buy yourname.net or yourname.org. Maybe you can buy yourname.ca, yourname.us, or yourname.co.uk. But should you?

There are differences of opinion here. I’ll give you mine. My opinion is based on buying and using Domain Names since the very early days of the Web. I’ve owned dozens, I currently own and use about twenty.

In my opinion, .org and .net are useful only if .com is not available, AND you want your registered and/or trademarked name included in your URL. If these two TLDs are available you should absolutely secure them, even if you choose to use different URL for the main page of your blog or website. Unfortunately, you will nearly always lose to whoever owns the .com when your name is entered in a search engine or browser window. If the .com is not being used, and is for sale, consider buying it. Unless the name is obviously, and spectacularly special, you can nearly always buy a for sale domain name for substantially less than the asking price. The people and businesses reselling Domain Names often own huge inventories that are very expensive to maintain. They can often be more desperate than they seem to unload a name in their inventory.

Country code TLDs can be excellent alternatives to .com. If your blog or business is location specific, like “Natural Wonders of Canada“, or “My Favorite American Chinese Restaurants“, then securing and using a .ca or .us Domain Name is a perfect alternative to a .com. Unfortunately, if your site is not locale specific, the message sent by a country specific TLD is going to be that either you are uninterested in reaching out beyond your borders, or you couldn’t secure a .com so settled for a .country.

What about all of the new TLDs coming on stream now? Honestly, IMHO, I think these are all completely useless. The entire exercise borders on being a fraudulent scam, designed to fool unwary netizens into perceiving value where none exists, and to force bigger, legitimate enterprises into buying useless intellectual properties for the sole purpose of securing them against squatters and extortionists. Don’t waste your time or money on them.

The Last Best Option

You can’t get yourname.com, yourname.us isn’t encompassing enough, yourname.org or .net is also unavailable. Whatcha-gonna-do? (yes, at the time of this writing watcha-gonna-do.com was still available!)

The best option for most of us, most of the time is this… get creative!

Make a list of things that your blog is going to be about, or a list of things that your business does for its customers, or the main products that you sell. List the kinds of things that your ideal clients are looking for. Remember, every dictionary word is already taken, but chances are that you can find a combination of relevant words that are still available as a dot com.

Heck! That’s exactly what I did with this very website! From the outset, I knew that there was going to be virtually no chance of securing an incredible Domain Name like, blogs.com or blogging.com. But I started playing with different combinations until I found a Domain Name .com that related exactly to the kind of service that I offer my clients. So, get creative. Start thinking. Start searching. My favorite name search website is Netfirms.com. My favorite Web Host is 1and1.com, who also have a decent search function.

For example, bestapplepie.com is not available, but bestapplepieintheworld.com is available. So is best-apple-pie.com

A note about hyphens

Hyphenated domain names ARE allowed. But this is a bit of a mixed blessing. On the plus side, a hyphenated name can be easier for humans to read, and it is also far more likely to be available. The downside (and it is a major downside) is that hyphenated names are not treated kindly be search engines, and because they are uncommon, the hyphens will often be left out by humans trying to manually enter your URL into a browser. I suggest avoiding hyphenated Domain Names.

How Much Should a Blog Cost?

Getting ready to blog? How much should it cost?

I suspect that if you are reading this post, you’ve begun researching this question. I also suspect you may be pretty confused by now at the range of prices you’ve seen!

Setting up, and maintaining a blog can literally cost zero dollars. I’ve also seen articles by very reputable organizations, that suggest you need to spend about $20,000 a MONTH if you’re serious about blogging. Do not panic. The blogs that I set up will not cost you anywhere near that amount. Nevertheless, I’ll start with something you probably already know, but I’d like to reinforce it.

Setting up a blog is like any other business cost, you generally get what you pay for.

OK, but what should you pay for?

That my friends is the right question! The short answer is, you should pay for no more, and no less, than you need, and you should pay as much as you can afford to while maximizing the value you get for every dollar (and hour) you spend.

To make a bit more sense of that statement, I’m going to make some assumptions, that I’ll lay out now.

  1. I’m going to assume that you are either a self-employed “solopreneur“, or an entrepreneur with a small staff.
  2. I’m going to assume that you are not reading this as a representative of a bigger organization, with say, 60 or more employees. If you are, you have bigger marketing issues than I can help you with. Please hire a marketing manager.

You run your own business. You need to get the most for every dollar you spend on it to make your business successful. Social Media and Blogging are excellent marketing tools for smaller businesses because they offer incredible value. In fact, if your business is still in its very early stages, and you have a lot more time than money, you really can get going without spending any money at all. You will however, need to spend a lot of time learning skills that are not relevant to your business. So what are your options?

  1. Free blog hosting and super-easy setup at WordPress.com, or on Blogger
    First of all, you’re a business person, wise in the ways of the world, right? Free is never free! Setting up your professional blog presence on a free service means your precious blog will be running ads for someone else’s business. The hosting company keeps all the ad revenue, and the advertisement algorithms are probably going to put ads for your competitors on YOUR blog. It doesn’t look professional. It isn’t smart. Don’t do it.
  2. Low cost blog hosting, using your own Domain name (YourBusinessName.com)
    This means taking a totally hands-on DIY approach, and setting up your blog on a reputable shared hosting service like 1and1.com / 1and1.ca, GoDaddy, or BlueHost. This can actually be a pretty good option. It’s the option that I myself use! There is no reason that you can’t do it too. Your monthly costs can be well under $20. Should you go this route? Absolutely, but only if you are very comfortable with the “back end” of the Internet, and understand what web hosting involves. If anything in the previous sentence is even slightly confusing, DIY is probably not for you.
  3. Your Nephew Frank
    You may have a friendly relative that blogs about his fishing trips or her collection of antique costume jewellery. Said relative may offer to set you up with a blog for a few hundred dollars. If you are very, very, lucky, and your relative is a professional blogger with a track record and a nice portfolio, then go for it. Otherwise, think back to what I said early on in this post. You usually get what you pay for. If you take your business seriously, your blog had better make that fact blatantly obvious. Nephew Frank is probably not going to cut it. Sorry Frank.
  4. Hire an Ad Agency or Marketing Firm
    This is a great option. A large or medium sized marketing firm will have a fair sized roster of clients with excellent, visually attractive websites and blogs, with fabulous functionality. A larger firm will have a decent sized staff of professionals that specialize in all of the different aspects blog and social media marketing. Unfortunately, all of this professional service staff costs a lot of money to feed and maintain. The only way the agency can pay for those fancy digs, and fancy young professionals, is by making you pay pay for it all. If your company is big enough to afford a $50,000 Website and $10,000 to $25,000 a month to keep it going, by all means go for it. You will get a great website, an excellent, professional blog, full social media integration, marketing help, advertising support, and all the bells and whistles you deserve for that kind of money. This site offers an honest view of the costs involved in going “all in” on a blog.
  5. Hire a Professional Blog Builder
    Yes, this is where I come in. A blogging specialist can do all the technical chores for you, so that when you’re ready to actually use your blog and start writing articles for it, that’s all you’ll have to worry about. My basic startup package is extremely affordable. For a very low fee (ask me about it) I will register a Domain Name for your blog, get it hosted by one of the world’s leading web hosting companies, set up your blog, create the initial “mandatory” pages (Home, About, Contact, Privacy) and even write an introductory blog post! I’ll also secure your blog against comment spam, and connect it to your Twitter feed for you. I also include full training and support for your first month!My basic package includes all the options you need for a professional looking, highly functional blog that you will be proud to have your clients and potential customers visit. If you want more than “basic” but you’re not ready to use a larger firm we can discuss other options, like purchasing specialized WordPress Themes, adding more pages, high-traffic hosting options,etc. I’m a solopreneur myself. I get you. Let’s Talk.

What do I charge?

Since this article was originally posted, I’ve received several inquiries from people asking what I charge to set up a blog. I have three options available to new bloggers:

  1. Basic Blog Package
  2. Deluxe Blog Package
  3. Custom Blog Package

Price List

 

 

Blogging and SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Google is the king. Bing is the queen. If you don’t keep the king and queen happy you will lose your head.

You’ve had your website for 10 or 15 years. If people search for you by name, they find it. Great!. That’s a very good place to start. But wouldn’t it be nice if people searching Google also found you when they were searching for what you can offer them? I’m thinking that the answer to that question is a very resounding, “yes!”

Hopefully, you’ve already give a bit of thought to SEO – Search Engine Optimization – making sure that your website is set up in a way that makes it easy to find on Google or Bing (or other search engines) when people search for you or what you sell. Also hopefully, you’ve managed to steer clear of the many scammers and charlatans offering to guarantee that you will be positioned at “number one on Google” for an exorbitant fee. I’ll do that for free right now, if your name is Gerome B. Smithson, put it on every page of your website, and name one page, “About Gerome B. Smithson”. I guarantee you that you will be the first result of any search for Gerome B. Smithson. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this blog article show up on the first page of a Google search a few days after it’s posted! Lastly, I hope and pray that your SEO expert didn’t get your website banished from search results altogether by using “dirty tricks” that the search engine algorithms caught on to. And they will catch on.

I’ve talked a bit about optimization. I’ve talked a bit about pitfalls and dangers. Let’s talk about blogs. After all, I build blogs!

How can blogging help your business’s online presence? The answer is simple, but like every easy answer, making it happen will require a little (really, just a little) effort. Search engines all try to deliver the most relevant results to search inquiries. That’s the business that they’re in. How well they do it determines how successful they are. To do it well search companies like Google and Bing spend millions upon millions of dollars developing proprietary search algorithms. Algorithms determine which website will appear at the top of page 1 of a search result, and which websites will appear somewhere on page 27. No one visits page 27, except maybe the sad sack clicking through page after page trying to find her website. Here is an example from this very day:

I wanted to find out if I should use the word businesses, business’ or, business’s for a paragraph in this blog post. I’m writing this particular post in Microsoft Internet Explorer, so the default search engine is Microsoft Bing. I searched, business’ or business’s grammar. Bing delivered two pages of results of websites on the topic of business grammar. Not especially useful as I would then have to figure out how to find my answer in one of those sites. I switched to Google Chrome and made the same query. The first result was exactly what I was looking for, as was the second. Guess which search engine won?

What can you do to improve the odds of your business or professional website being found? How can a small business hope to compete, when even Microsoft sometimes can’t get search right?

Blog. Blogging accomplishes your SEO goals automatically. You barely even have to think about SEO once you start blogging regularly. Your blog helps you be found by keeping you relevant. Search engines prioritize new content. Every post is new content. Search engines look for outbound links. It’s easy to add a couple of high quality links to every blog post. Search engines look for inbound links (other sites that link to you). The more you post, and the better your content, the more likely it is that other people will link back to you. You can help this along by posting links to your blog posts on your Twitter and other social media accounts. Search engines try to prioritize based on how “important” they think a website is. This is a tough one to crack because perceived importance is at the heart of their algorithms, but again good content, frequent contributions, and quality links, are all going to be factors in making you and your web presence stand out in the crowd. Maybe you’ll never get your blog or website to number one on page one of a Google search for “Toronto Lawyer”. But you can might get to page one for a search of “Toronto lawyer specializing in collaborative divorce for seniors”. And if that’s what you do, get busy writing a really good blog article (or two or three), or you’re going to appear beneath this article!

3 things that every blog must have

The “listicles” are everywhere on the Web. 10 of this. 12 of that. 7 of the other. It all becomes a bit overwhelming. Hopefully this short list of only three items will be one of the lists that you choose to read. Because if you have a blog, or are thinking of starting a blog, you will be spinning your wheels if your blog doesn’t include all three of these “must have” factors.

Every blog, no matter the topic, no matter the business, no matter the size of the business, must have these three things to fulfill its function:

  1. Easy to look at
    Your blog must have visual appeal. Visual appeal is necessary for reasons that have nothing to do with how “pretty” or how “fancy” the blog looks. Visual appeal is what makes your blog look serious and professional, and encourages visitors to stick around and read your content.
  2. Easy to read
    It doesn’t matter how good your blog looks, or how good your content is, if it’s too hard to read. Easy to read means that your type (fonts) should be legible, and that your language is clear, concise, and grammatically correct. Avoid spelling mistakes. Avoid typos. Proof read. Ask people you trust to read your posts, and be willing to accept their suggestions. Readability does NOT mean that your language should be fancy or flowery. Choose your words and writing style to suit your audience.
  3. Easy to interact with
    Unlike a static website, a blog is meant to build a community around your brand/service/product. You can’t build a community if the conversation is all one way. Of course having good content that people want to read is of vital importance. It is also vitally important that once people have found and read your content they can interact with it.
    – Include buttons that encourage people to share your content on Social Media like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
    – Include links to your own Social Media accounts
    – Make sure that people can comment on your posts (be sure to take steps to limit comment spam)
    – Include a “contact” feature so people can contact you directly
    – If you have a sales website or separate “brochure” site, link to it.
    – Be sure to include a subscription feature of some kind, so that people can opt in to receiving updates and future blog posts by email.

By making sure that your blog always incorporates these three “must have” factors, you can feel confident that you are “doing it right”. There are many free resources with further tips, and of course, help is also available from Blogs Mean Business (that’s us).

Contact us if you’d like to talk about it.

BONUS TIP:

Content is king. Always blog content that is going to be interesting to your audience and that adds value to their lives.

But I don’t know what to write!

What will you write? You have decided that having a blog for your business or professional practice is a good idea. That’s perfect. Your considering hiring someone to build your blog and get you started. Very good. But… You are reluctant to actually get started because you have no idea what you’d post on your blog once it’s up. That’s a problem.

Don’t worry, you are not alone!
It is easier than you think it is to start blogging.

The reason that blogging is going to be easier than you might have thought is that you already have a head start. How can that be? Your head start is that you already know more than anybody else in the entire world about something. That’s your business. All you need to do is find a way to share that knowledge. And, to make that a bit easier, here are a few tips to get you started.

Blogging Idea Tips:

  1. Answer a question
    It could be a question that a customer actually asked you, or it could be a question that you’d like a customer to ask you. Either way, you have the answer. Share it in a blog post.
  2. Tell a story
    You’ve probably seen this tip before. But what everyone else seems to leave out, are actual story ideas. Here are a couple to get you started. The story of how your business started. A story about a satisfied client. A story about a problem that you solved. A story about how you overcame a hardship. A story about why you love what you do. You get the idea, right?
  3. Ask a question
    We don’t always need to know the answer. Asking a question can be a great way to get feedback from your stakeholders, it’s a great way to open a dialogue with customers, it can deepen your relationships, and hey; you might even get the answer you’re looking for!
  4. Post what you sell
    Whether you sell a product or a service, your blog provides an endless opportunity to describe what you offer, and how it can benefit for clients and customers. This tip comes with a gentle warning though. Be careful not to appear “spammy”. Remember that (just like you) your customers are being bombarded with sales pitches online. Most of those pitches are probably annoying to them. Your goal is always to offer them something of value, never to annoy or alienate them. A sales post should always offer something much more than a sales pitch. It could be a detailed description of a product feature, or a unique (really unique!) buying opportunity, like an annual clearance sale, a product clear-out, or a new product or service.
  5. Post Links and Snippets
    Even with the tips I’ve offered above, it can be difficult to come up with blogging ideas. Chances are good that your customers share some of the same interests that you do. You’re probably on the Web checking out some of those interests every day anyway. Why not post a snippet (a sentence or two, maybe a picture or a paragraph) of an interesting article that you have come across. When you do this, ALWAYS post a link back to the original article on the original website. By doing this you accomplish several things at once. You provide interesting content to your own readers. You also promote the author and website that you linked back to. Done properly this builds their credibility, enhances your own reputation, and makes you a valuable resource and a good “netizen“.

Final Notes:

Blog posting really is pretty straightforward. It can feel a bit intimidating before your fingers hit the keyboard, but once you make those first few keystrokes you’ll be on your way. And remember, don’t forget to promote those blog posts on your social media accounts. Tweet a link on Twitter. Share a link on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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A blog is critical infrastructure today

Every business needs a blog. Back in the 1990s when Websites were a new thing, it seemed as though everyone in the tech and marketing world was trying to push small business owners into having a website. By the next decade it became clear that any business without a website was simply not going to be taken seriously by anyone besides their friends and families. Having a website became part of the basic marketing infrastructure of every business. You have a phone number, an address, and now you have an email address and web site too. These form the core identity of every business, big or small.

Today those things are simply not enough. Even the smallest business needs to have at least some Social Media presence, and a Blog should be at the heart of that presence. Here are a few of the many reasons that your business should be blogging:

  1. Your customers expect it
    As mentioned earlier, people now expect to see a blog as part of the online presence of the people with whom they do business.
  2. Blogs Build Website Traffic
    Staying visible online is becoming harder and harder. Google is constantly adjusting its search algorithms to deliver the most relevant search results. Blogging is probably the most effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tool available to the typical business person.
  3. Blogging makes you an expert
    Notice that I didn’t say “seem” like an expert. Assuming that you blog what you know, and blog what you do, you get a fantastic opportunity to share your existing expertise with the world. You succeeded because you ARE an expert at what you do. Why not let your potential clients know it?
  4. Blogging builds your brand
    Branding is a critical aspect of marketing. Every blog post, and every visit to your blog, is an opportunity to keep your brand visible, and enhance the value of your brand.
  5. Blogging builds community
    Your blog gives you more opportunities to interact with your customers, potential customers, stakeholders, and your community. Unlike your website, your blog is neither a “set it and forget it” brochure, or a virtual storefront. It sits at the core of a community of people and businesses that you want to visit your website, your business, etc. A blog is a center of influence.
  6. A Blog is like a magnet
    Blogging is part of the social media ecosystem. Your social media ecosystem includes your Twitter account, your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook fan (business) page, as well as whatever other online presence you engage in professionally. Your blog is like a magnet in the middle of your online world – it is the nucleus that everything else revolves around.