Five Essentials for Small Business Blogging
Business blogging isn’t a fast or easy road to success. You have to master the writing, grasp the technology, and command your audience. Upload images and download plugins. Moderate comments and manage posts. It’s a ten-person job, there’s only two hands on the helm, and chances are they both belong to you.
If you’re lucky, you’ve got a partner or an assistant and you can spread the workload around a little. If you have a big budget, you can hire it out. Otherwise, it’s all yours. So you grease up and get down to business churning out blog posts and moderating comments like a freight train barreling down a steep, slippery slope.
And what a slippery slope it is. I know, you’ve got your hands full. With a business to run and a blog to maintain, who has time for the details? But there a few core essentials that every blogger should master, even if business blogging is simply a means for you to drive your online marketing efforts.
1. Master WordPress
Do you just log in, write a post, hit publish, and then go about your merry business? WordPress needs your attention. After all, it houses your blog. Like any home, it requires care and maintenance. A few quick tips:
- Always stay up-to-date with the latest version of WordPress. Otherwise, stuff might break and your blog or website will not be secure (in other words, a hacker could get in).
- Fill in those fields. The tags and categories aren’t there for show. Make sure you don’t have a bunch of uncategorized posts and use your tags for Google’s sake.
- Check your dashboard. Don’t you want to know who’s linking to you? Don’t you think you should head over to their place and show a little love? Okay, if you’re a big-shot blogger, maybe not. But if you’re a big-shot blogger, why are you reading these tips? Plus, your dashboard provides a summary of how many posts and comments you’ve acquired to date, stats you should be aware of.
2. Embrace Plugins
Don’t neglect your plugins. There’s a reason a little blurb pops up to let you know that your plugins require maintenance. When you see that blurb, it means your plugins are jumping up and down, waving their arms in the air and yelling “Over here! We need your help!”
If you’re using the latest version of WordPress (see number one above), upgrading your plugins takes about two clicks and just as many seconds.
Don’t have plugins? Get some immediately. They’re there to serve a purpose – to make your blog run more efficiently and effectively. My favorites are: All in One SEO Pack and of course, the plugin nobody can live without – Akismet. Actually, there are a lot more but that’s a whole ‘nother post.
3. Track Traffic
If you don’t know how many people are visiting your blog, then how can you know whether it’s bringing in more business? Knowing how many visitors you’re getting on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis is how you will determine whether your business blogging efforts are paying off.
Some key stats to check:
- Unique visitors: how many individuals visited your site?
- Pageviews: how many pages of your site did visitors view?
- Top landing pages: on which page are people entering your site?
- Referring sites: who is sending traffic your way?
- Time on site: how long people are hanging around?
Where do you get this information? There are several options for tracking traffic, but I prefer Google Analytics (it’s free and easy to use).
Make sure you always keep the purpose and goal of your website and blog in mind when you analyze your stats. Lots of traffic won’t do you any good if your visitors aren’t buying whatever it is that you’re selling. In other words, don’t be misled by hoards of traffic.
4. Draw Traffic
The other day a friend and I were having a little chat about our blogs and when she complained about her statistics I asked what she was doing to draw traffic. Her response: “What do you mean?”
I’ve said it before. I’ll say it now and probably again later: If you build it, they will come, but first you have to tell them about it.
If nobody knows about your website, how can you expect them to visit? If the only keyword you’re ranking for on Google is your name and you’re not famous (yet), how do you expect people to find your blog? The opportunities for drawing traffic are limitless but first you’ve got to make it a priority. Whether you use an ad campaign, social media, or word of mouth, you’re going to have to put a little effort into drawing a crowd.
5. Inform, Educate, and Entertain
None of this matters if your content fails to tickle readers where it counts. Every single person with an Internet connection could visit your site but if the content isn’t compelling, all that traffic won’t do you one bit of good. A decent design helps and a spectacular one might push you over the top, but nothing beats good writing. This is especially true for business blogging because readers expect professionalism in a business blog.
Start by planning out your posts in advance. Schedule some brainstorming sessions so you have a nice big pile of ideas for topics. Then, write some killer headlines. Make sure your content has value: offer insider tips, free but valuable information.
Don’t forget to establish your voice. That would also be the voice of your company, which is one part of its image. Are you clever and dry? Is your company image gritty or sleek? Develop a voice that is in line with your brand. And if you don’t have the time, skill, or interest, then hire a professional writer to do it for you.
Bonus Tip: Back it Up!
Finally, make sure you regularly create backups of your website. There are a number of things that can go wrong from hack jobs to crashed servers, and you could lose your website and all of its contents forever if you fail to back everything up.
Business Blogging with Due Diligence
When it comes to business blogging, there’s a never-ending list of tasks to complete. Even though these are the essentials, they’re easy to neglect and often go unattended by small business owners and hobby bloggers who get caught up in other, distracting activities. Sure, there’s a lot more you can do for your blog and for your entire website, but if you don’t stay on top of the core action items, those extras won’t matter a whole lot. The pro bloggers know this and tend to their blogs with due diligence. You should too.