Where & How to Start a Business Blog

Filed in Blogging by Matt McGee on October 1, 2012 7 Comments

start-buttonDon’t screw this up. Starting a business blog the wrong way or in the wrong place can have serious, long-term negative effects on your success. For example, you could spend three years blogging and end up with no equity to show for it. Ouch.

You know about the benefits of blogging and you’re ready to start your first business blog. But where? And how? Here’s a quick guide to help make sure you start blogging the right way in the right place.

Don’t Start Blogging on Hosted Services

There are several hosted blogging services that you can use, but shouldn’t. Some are free, some are not. Some offers blogs as part of a fuller website, while others are pure blog platforms. Here are some examples:

Free blog services: WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr, LiveJournal, Weebly, etc.

Paid blogging services: TypePad, Squarespace, etc.

Generally speaking, the main problem with these services is that using them builds up the platform’s trust and brand equity and doesn’t build up yours. That’s because most of them will default to giving you a blog or website using their domain and not yours.

If you put your business blog on Blogger, the website address will default to being something.blogspot.com. On WordPress.com, the default address is something.wordpress.com. On Tumblr, it’s something.tumblr.com.

Your business blog must use your domain, not theirs.

Yes, some of these services offer the ability to map a custom domain or a subdomain, but that’s kinda like putting lipstick on a pig, if you ask me.

There are other drawbacks to using services like these:

  • you typically don’t get a huge feature set for customization
  • if you get to the point of wanting to move your blog away or if, God forbid, the service you’re using goes out of your business, it may not be easy to export your articles, images, other uploads, settings, etc.

I’m not a fan of seeing business blogs on these hosted platforms and I can’t think of a fellow online marketer who is.

Start Your Business Blog with Self-Hosted WordPress

wordpress-logoI, and most every marketer I know, recommend setting up a business blog via what’s called “self-hosted WordPress.” This means you’re using the excellent WordPress blog software, but you’re hosting on your own website and your own domain.

This version of WordPress can be downloaded from WordPress.org if you want to install it yourself, but many hosting companies offer some kind of “easy install” tool that you can use.

The benefits of installing WordPress software on your site are many:

  • you get to use your domain by default
  • the content you create benefits you and builds up your brand equity, trust, etc.
  • you benefit from having a very active WordPress developer community creating great plugins that add functionality to your blog
  • your content can be saved/exported if need be

Again, some of those are also available on hosted blog services, but I still look at it as the difference between renting a house or buying a house. You often end up paying about the same, but if you’re an owner, at least you’re building your own equity.

How to Setup a Blog on Your Domain

If you do choose to setup WordPress software on your own website, you have a couple different ways to do so.

  • www.yourdomain.com/blog — the best way, because all inbound links, traffic, and other SEO considerations will benefit your main domain/website
  • blog.yourdomain.com — not the best, but not the end of the world; it’s believed that subdomains don’t fully enjoy the same SEO benefits as the main domain

For more about setting up a business blog, and these domain-/URL-based consideration, see part one of my blogging/SEO series, Getting Started with SEO & Small Business Blogs.

Final Thoughts

This is really important stuff for new business bloggers. It kills me to see a small business owner (or anyone, for that matter) devote years to writing great content and building a wonderful blog … but doing it at something.blogspot.com or something.wordpress.com. They’ll eventually lose the benefits and equity from all that blogging.

Don’t make that mistake. Setup your blog on your own domain. Use WordPress.org software. Do it the right way the first time.

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

Comments (7)

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  1. Ben Bowen says:

    I have just started blogging on our small biz site. We use our URL through Squarespace. I understand the difficulties that could arise if I need to move it, or they go belly up. Are there any practical SEO drawbacks though? Thanks for all your great posts, I check daily.

  2. Matt:

    Another tip for small businesses is don’t start a blog on a separate domain. I have a client that spent two years building up a blog on a separate domain. For some reason they felt the blog should be totally separate from their main website so their blog was located at ourcompanynameblog.com. Because it was a WordPress blog it was relatively easy to bring it into their main domain but we had a mess to deal with creating 301 redirects, changing marketing materials, etc.

    Travis Van Slooten

  3. Jim Smith says:

    I totally agree with the self hosted WordPress and would add that using something like the Thesis theme gives you the ability to build not only the blog but the entire website in WordPress. Great article!

    • Matt McGee says:

      Thanks Jim. I wasn’t a big fan of Thesis when I messed with it way back when, but fortunately there are tons and tons of WP themes now that both look and act like a regular (non-blog) website.

  4. Kent says:

    Don’t ever start blogging before you have a clear goal and a marketing plan.

  5. Nate says:

    I totally agree with the thesis, but Matt, what you wrote here is desperately amateurish. You CAN export your data from all of these services and there is no difference between adding domain to WP site and to service. The latter in fact usually easier.

    • Matt McGee says:

      Nate, I never say you can’t export your data. I say it “may not be easy.” Furthermore, even if you can easily do that, the fact — and my point — remains that you’ve wasted a lot of time building equity on a domain that you don’t own. That’s not wise. I’d actually say that putting a business blog on someone else’s domain is “desperately amateurish.”

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