Everything you need to set-up, develop & promote a successful Business Blog

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  • Warren: Blogging and Social Media definitely go hand in hand. Having a successful social presence can do a lot for a...
  • Jennifer Rai: All points mentioned above are very well put together. Blogs having purpose and a focus on certain...
  • jessica@lukeroxas: I ran a small home based business, and lately I’ve decided to put up my own website,...
  • Rob: Rather weird that a blog on blogging hasn’t been updated since 2009!
  • Ayala Land: Perhaps I was one of those companies who, as you put it “think they can avoid it” but thanks to well...

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    Ask the Blog Coach: here are all the key posts

    Blog Consultant questions: Ask the Blog CoachAsk the Blog Coach: Business Blogging FAQs

    Question: Who should be the main author of a corporate blog? Should it always be the MD or CEO?

    The Blog Coach’s Reply: Firstly, it’s important to stress that, even in corporate blogs, whoever does the writing, it needs to retain a personal tone and not drift towards corporate “marketing speak”. This personal aspect is one of the key business benefits that blogs offer. A personal writing style helps companies to put a human perspective on an often austere external corporate image and differentiate themselves by doing so. This is particularly effective for Professional Services companies where a key selling point has to be the people (as well as their expertise) carrying out the work a corporate site can state their qualifications but, unlike a blog, cannot give an insight as to who the people really are.

    Should only CEOs blog?
    As for whether CEOs should always blog no, not at all. I would certainly not recommend that all CEOs consider blogging themselves and nor should it generally be the CEO who blogs on a corporate blog. It’s important to remember that corporate blogs do not have a single purpose or format – rather it’s an umbrella term for many different types. For instance, a blog intended to help provide better customer service will be different to one aimed at helping to develop a brand and both will be different to a product focused blog.

    The so called “CEO Blog” is a different type again, I believe. As you would expect, an MD or CEO is going to write about the company in a very different way to someone in the Customer Services department because they have a different perspective on the issues and the industry. It is that perspective which is of interest to readers. A CEO is more likely to do a weekly State of the Nation type of post which looks at the industry, the company and factors affecting it from a helicopter perspective. Good examples are Jonathan Schwartz (CEO of Sun Microsystems) or Richard Edelman (Edelman PR).

    However, a product focused blog or a detailed information blog are more likely to be written by people specialist in those areas. In that way, the knowledge and the enthusiasm that they have for the subject they are writing about can really shine through.

    How to identify a potential company blogger
    In deciding who should blog, I would probably suggest that you consider someone who :

    • has a passion for what they are writing about

    • ideally enjoys writing (also it helps if they are good at it)

    • has expertise in the area (and ideally a good general knowledge base)

    • is a good listener and is open to feedback (including criticism)

    • is familiar with blogs and how to present yourself in them

    As you go through the planning process for your blog and identify what your goals are for it and who it is targeted at, you will find that there will be some ideal candidates who will be most appropriate to take on the role. You might also consider an internal blog as a good place to identify those people with a natural affinity for the medium.

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    Blog Consultant questions: Ask the Blog CoachBusiness Blogging Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    “How often should I blog?” is a question which always crops up in the first conversation I have with anyone about Business Blogging and one to which I know that they are desperate for a simple answer, whether it is “once an hour”, “once a day”, “once a week” or just “once”.

    However, as you might have already guessed, there are no hard and fast rules for this Jonathan Schwartz posts on his blog at Sun once a week more or less, whereas Darren Rowse at Problogger serves up several posts on a daily basis. Both are well read, well respected and successful.

    What has made each of them so successful is that they have focused in on what their readers want from their individual blogs and provided them with it. They are intrinsically very different but perfectly in tune with the reason why they are blogging, the audience they are writing for and what that readership expects.

    If I were to offer some guidelines, then these are the ones that I would pass on:

    • Post as often as you can without compromising the quality
      Quality beats quantity every time in my opinion. Quality will get you noticed and is more likely to encourage people to develop relationships with you. Granted, a single post in a month had better be really really good, but you get my drift.

    • Post when you have something relevant/interesting/significant to say
      There is a lot of information being pumped out onto the web and much of it fails to make any sort of impact or contribution. So, when you post something, do all you can to ensure that it is worth reading and won’t just be making up the numbers.

    • Post as regularly as you have told your readers you are going to
      If you have made a commitment to your readers then try to stick to it if you need to change it then inform them and then stick to your new commitment. Its all about communication.

    • Post as regularly as your subject area / topic requires
      There are some subject areas where a constant flow of information is highly valued; other topics require fewer posts and more in depth analysis. When you write on your specialist area, judge your own rhythm of posting accordingly.

    Remember that one of the main benefits of a blog is the interaction it allows you with your readers – so use it and talk to them! Actually ask for their opinion on how often you should post and be guided by them (within reason!). Let them know what you are going to be doing and, if that changes, communicate that as well. If you won’t be posting for a while (and we all need a break from time to time), then let your readers know rather than just leaving the last post hanging unceremoniously.

    And dont forget that writing does not have to mean publishing you can write and then edit your posts over a number of days before ultimately pressing the publish button. Give yourself the time to hone and refine certain posts if you feel so inclined; alternatively, if you are feeling particularly creative, write a number of posts at one sitting and then schedule them to be published in line with your normal rhythm.

    Does this lose a little bit of the spontaneity of blogging? Perhaps … but better that and keeping the quality of your content high than pumping out average posts for the sake of publishing daily.

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    Blog Consultant questions: Ask the Blog CoachBusiness Blogging Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Q – You recommend that you should have full control over a Business Blog and therefore that a hosted service like Blogger be ideal. Why is that and how can I move mine from Blogger to WordPress?

    A – Yes, you are right. Just to clarify, I have nothing against Blogger for personal Blogs – in fact, it has done an enormous amount to open up this opportunity to more people than ever before.

    However, I maintain that a business needs to have control over something as important as its own Blog which it has invested time and effort in planning, developing and promoting. In addition, there have been instances reported where blogs on Blogger have been mistaken for spam blogs (so called splogs) and deleted. For this reason, you have to work with a blogging solution where you have total control your own information and access.

    You will also find that a system such as WordPress offers some incredible opportunities in terms of Search Engine Optimisation and information gathering which will help you to achieve better Search Engine rankings and higher level of visitors and subscribers. At the same time, it offers much greater potential for future development with the plug-ins that are available and so “Future proofs” your investment.

    To turn to the second part of your question: the process can be relatively painless depending on the complexity of what you want to do. The latest release of WordPress (version 2.0) has a transfer program built in so if you are setting up a new WordPress blog then most of the work is done for you. You can find the process in the “Options” section of the WordPress interface and it will guide you through the process. Its as simple as that!

    There are two other elements which you should consider: if you want to retain the type of look and feel that you had with Blogger then you will need to customise the WordPress template but here as well you would have a great deal more flexibility than before. The second element is ensuring that information indexed previously by the Search Engines still leads to the correct articles. If you had Blogger appearing at your domain then this should be possible by recreating the same permalink structure.

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    Blog Consultant questions: Ask the Blog CoachBusiness Blogging Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Q – Can business blogging be effective for local companies or is it only for national and international companies?

    A – Blogging should certainly be a consideration for any company, whatever its geographic coverage. For companies with a national or international target client base, then the advantages are obvious both in terms of reach and coverage that a blog can offer. For local companies, the issues remain the same in terms of needing to reach a certain audience, it is just the size and geographic spread of this audience that has changed. Therefore to be successful, the focus of the blog posts need to change as well to accommodate this.

    Since so much searching for local services and suppliers is now done on line, it is likely that you will want to make sure that Search Engines will rank your posts as highly as possible for people searching for your products in your local and regional area. So when writing, ensure that you include references to these places alongside those on your products. For example, if you are a florist based in Richmond then your post would not just mention “flower bouquets” but rather “flower bouquets for Surrey from Richmond upon Thames based Flowers4U”, thus making sure that the geographic references were included alongside those of flower arrangements themselves. If you include these in the title of the post then this will help further.

    To complete this, you may also like to intersperse the blogs with local news so that in the Category sections and the other main pages, there is an equal spread of posts relating to different flowers and flower arrangements as there are to references to local names and places. Guaranteed to help boost your rankings and get you found by a local audience.

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