7 Building Blocks for Starting a Small Business Blog

Filed in Blogging, MY BEST POSTS by Matt McGee on May 29, 2013 10 Comments

building-blocks-200pxI’ve written a lot of articles in the last couple years for small business bloggers. In going through them, it seems like the best ones fit into seven areas that I believe can serve as a guide for any business that’s just starting a new company blog. (And can serve as a reminder, perhaps, for those that have been business blogging already.)

So here’s my guide to the 7 building blocks for starting (or keeping) a great business blog. I’ll support the blocks by referencing almost two dozen articles from my archives that illustrate and expand on each one.

Block #1: Ownership

A great blog is hosted on your own servers and uses your domain. Blogs are valuable because they are owned content offering perpetual equity. Thus, a great blog isn’t hosted on WordPress.com or Blogspot.com — you don’t own those domains, and the equity you’re building belongs to some other company.

More information:

Where & How to Start a Business Blog

SBSM Mailbag: How & When to Move a Blog from One Domain to Another?

Don’t Get To The Point Where You Need to “Reclaim” Your Blog

Block #2: SEO

A great blog is optimized with a strong SEO foundation. Blogs can be great weapons in an online marketing arsenal when the blog is setup correctly and when articles are optimized for the maximum SEO benefit possible. A blog should be written for humans, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be optimized for search engines.

More information:

7 Keyword Research Tools for Bloggers

SEO for Small Business Blogs: The 5-Part Series

SEO Benefits of Blogging: More Search Traffic

Blog Benefits: Traffic, Links, and Indexed Pages

Block #3: Variety

A great blog is one that offers variety. Maybe not a variety of topics — if you’re an attorney, I’m not suggesting you start blogging about your favorite movies — but variety of content types, styles and presentation. List articles (Top 10s, etc.) are great, but readers will get bored if that’s the only thing you publish. Give your readers variety to keep their interest.

More information:

Variety: The Spice of Life, and Your Blog

How Long Should a Blog Post Be?

Block #4: Consistency

calendar-200pxA great blog posts new content consistently. I won’t go so far as to say that you must publish on an exact schedule, but I will say that you have to keep your blog active and alive with new content.

You’ll struggle to build a loyal readership if you publish 3-4 times one week, and then not again for a month. Be consistent. Publish regularly. Find a schedule that fits your business and stick with it.

More information:

How Often Should I Blog?

The Fallacy of Timing Blog Posts & Social Media Updates

A Simple Sample Editorial Calendar to Keep Your Blogging on Schedule

Two Sample Editorial Calendars for Bloggers

Block #5: Community

A great blog creates a community by inviting reader participation. This can happen in different ways — it could be via smart discussions in the comments of an article, or it could be via readers suggesting topics to write about. There are always exceptions to every rule (Seth Godin’s blog is one exception to what I’m saying here), but I’m a big believer that the best blogs are two-way conversations. You, my readers, have made almost everything I’ve written better thanks to your comments.

More information:

Need Blog Content Ideas? Ask Your Readers!

Beyond Akismet: Try This WordPress Plugin to Keep Spammy Comments Off Your Blog

Block #6: Being Real

A great blog is authentic and exists to give the company a voice, not to give the company another channel for sales pitches. Being a business owner is tough. I don’t care what industry you’re in, how many employees you have, or whatever … it ain’t easy! Some days you make good decisions and some days you don’t. Sometimes you have answers for your clients and sometimes you don’t. Either way, readers want to know that what they’re reading is real. They want you to talk with them, not at them. Make sure your blog is much more than another place for sales pitches. Tell stories. Good and bad. Be real.

More information:

7 Lessons from 7 Years of Blogging

7 Traits of a Great Business Blog

Hubris or Humility: How Does Your Company Blog?

Block #7: Goals

analytics-magnifying-glass-200pxAll of the above sounds great and happy and like it’ll make unicorns dance across your monitor, but don’t forget: If you’re blogging for business, you have to do it with goals in mind. You need to know the reason(s) why you’re doing a company blog. You have to focus on the metrics that matter most, whether they be related to leads, sales, social visibility, increased brand awareness or whatever. Keep your goals in mind as you work on all of the focus points above.

More information:

The #1 Problem with Local Blogging & Local Content

Four New Charts That Show the Value of Small Business Blogging

Sometimes, RSS Subscriber Counts Don’t Matter

(Stock images via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)

Comments (10)

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  1. Todd Coldeen says:

    Thanks for the tips Matt,

    Regarding your variety, I was going to focus mostly on internet marketing and SEO for my blog (mostly focusing on reviews) would it be negative to touch slightly off topic on something regarding say for example social marketing?

    A Lot of good information here for someone old or new at blogging, thanks.

    • Matt McGee says:

      Thx Todd. When I talk about variety, I’m not talking about topics/subjects — it’s about what you present and how you present it. Like, not every article needs to be a top 10 list that’s exactly 500 words, etc. Maybe best to click through and read the “spice of life” article. :)

  2. Mike Martel says:

    One idea that I heard lately was to blog the news. Simply look for whatever is big in the news and put your slant on it. In this case, your business’ slant. Too many bloggers and business write what they are interested in, not necessarily the reader. By blogging the news you always are writing about what is trending at the moment.

  3. Phil Rozek says:

    Great stuff, M2. Thanks for posting.

    @Mike
    I agree, although I do think that sometimes there are too many bloggers who cover the news. Even if that’s their “slant,” they still need to cover the trending topics in a memorable way, or their voice never becomes more than a low chant in a big chorus.

  4. Cathy says:

    There are enough sources to get news from. This post is much more informative and useful. I will be going through this whole post and putting this to use in my business. That is what I am looking for. I can get the news anywhere. Keep up the good work and keep posting.
    Thanks

  5. Consistency is key to building community. A great way not to get burnt out is to have your staff write one blog a week or a maybe even a month if you have a lot of employees. This way you get a lot of different perspectives on views. I feel putting out at least 2 a week is a good goal.

    SEO is major as well. I feel the key is to answer your customer questions in the form of blogs. It will serve two purposes. One if they have the questions chances are others online will have the same question. Two you can use the post in the future to send other customers to – using your blog as customer support.

    Thanks for the Post lots of info here to chew on!

  6. Matt: I need to get back to you about an eye opener for me with regard to blogging, hyperlocal media, a phenomena that simply threw me, and the potential power for smb’s in blogging.

    On 5/29/2013, a few days ago, late in the night, the aforementioned local smb website published a blog piece: http://www.bartending-school.com/arlington-restaurants-making-chicken-salad-chicken-sh It was about a neighboring restaurant that had suffered a burst water pipe, had to close for renovations, but on the 29th offered free food to people in the neighborhood.

    We are friendly with that restaurateur. The astonishing phenomena was that enormously long lines stretched for hours as neighbors took advantage of the free offer.

    We published the article, described the phenomena and then discussed how it was an extraordinary viral event arising out of one simple placement in a local hyperlocal media site; http://arlnow.com

    The restaurateur contacted the restaurant the day before and announced the offer. On the morning of the 29th arlnow reported the story.

    It went VIRAL any way you want to look at it. Arlnow is an interesting example of hyperlocal media, and one of the outstanding success stories around the nation for hyperlocal media. On a relatively slow news day for them the article about the free give away gained a lot of traction.

    The news was retweeted in original form about 30 times and retweeted in other forms a bit. The news was spread by FB. Arlnow is very transparent and publishes the number of visits to each article. The free food give away had a VERY high number of visits relative to recent stories over the last few weeks.

    We knew the story had smb and social media attractiveness so included it in our description and pushed it to my social contacts into the local seo and seo worlds via a number of methods.

    We contacted arlnow about our story with pics. The next day on May 30, Arlnow included our story in its review of the day. They cited our piece. On the 30th and subsequent days the story generated a very significant volume of visits to the bartending school site.

    We reviewed the stories arlnow typically runs in its review of the day pieces. They seem to all come from traditional media sources. We were fortunate (or clever–probably mostly fortunate) to be included that day.

    So the second impact was powerful in a direct way. The smb site received a lot of visibility. It had huge traffic, higher than anything in the last couple of years…and on a end of the week day..when traffic is usually lighter than earlier on the week.

    Those visits did generate a reasonable, higher than expected, traffic through the website into substantial pages. We received a shot of high visibility. Of course that is what smb sites do when they work on social media sites such as fb and twitter.

    Were there conversions? That is for us to know and others to question. We do value the free visibility as it was unusually large.

    So what happened?

    Clearly the word FREE generated the high traffic for the original restaurant in question: http://spaghettiyaface.com representing local restaurant, Toscana Grill.

    That single placement went viral. They served MORE meals than any other day in the last 2 years. The lines waiting for food were enormous and stayed enormous for several hours. We interviewed people dining on the patio. They included folks in the neighborhood who had never been to the restaurant or even knew it was there. I reiterate the word FREE was probably the trick.

    The viralness was astounding. In interviews we found that friends emailed their friends, folks called and texted their friends and family, and people in nearby offices told their co workers.

    It all came out of one single post in a hyperlocal media source.

    The viralness was so strong it made me rethink alternative ways to benefit from “the deal of the day” offers from groupon or livingsocial. Are there ways to gain the visibility and sales strength from a “deal of the day” offer without having to give groupon or livingsocial up to about 50% of the revenues from the offer??? I think so.

    Secondly, boy did we gain visibility via the reference in arlnow. Really strong. This website has an industry strong presence in facebook: http://facebook.com/ProfessionalBartendingSchoolDC. I think it has more followers than any other bartending school in the nation. Recently we have had many FB posts with well over 1,000 views of the post, some significant viralness, and a lot of likes.

    The arlnow visibility rivaled anything the site has gained from FB.

    There are many implications from the experience. Our own long term blogging efforts have been reasonably okay with regard to the topic of your post above.

    The site hasn’t achieved commentary from an audience. On the other hand in this smb site and in some others where I blog we have achieved significant increases in long tail seo traffic, a reasonable amount which converts. To date that has been the best aspect for this blog and some others.

    The eyeopener with the arlnow experience really changes my view though. There are some enormous opportunities vis a vis local media opportunities wherein enterprising smb’s can see some enormous gains.

    …and now…I must start following you on a regular basis!!!!!! far more than the irregular basis on which I’ve followed this informative site for years. :D

    Thanks,

    Dave

  7. Pam Perry says:

    Thank you for this. I speak to a lot of people who just give up on their blogs because they just don’t “get it.” This is the first piece I’ve read in a long time that really goes to the heart.

    Quick question, do you find that there is a rise in “technology fear” because of the rapid pace and changes in social media/mobile and marketing online overall?

    It’s more like paranoid rather then fear with some folks. A lot business owners feel they can’t keep up – information overload has ‘em by the throat!

    Thanks.

    Pam Perry
    p.s. great blog by the way. :)

  8. marion l says:

    These are all really good tips, we have had a lot of clients who want a blog alongside their business website and this is a great idea in theory but a blog will only help their business if they do the right amount of seo for the blog and update the blog with good quality content regularly and unfortunately I think its in these two steps that a lot of business blogs fall down

  9. Joe Shelerud says:

    Another great blog post Matt! I’ve seen a number of people stumble on the consistency when they struggle to build an initial audience. This could be due to a lack of good SEO practices so I think all the points you stated tie in together. Thanks for the great info!

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