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    Business Blog post IdeasOne of the key concerns I get asked about by people writing their business blog is what they can do when they are looking for topics to write about. Don’t worry! I can guarantee that this will really not be a problem unless you let it be one. You know your subject inside out (or else you wouldn’t be writing about it) and you have a huge resource of information that will be useful to them – it’s really a question of picking the right topics for your readers.

    For me, there are two main sources of ideas: you and everyone else.

    Blog Post Ideas
    – You’ll want to make sure that you don’t forget any of the ideas that come to you during the day and personally I use a nice and easy solution for this: quite simply, I keep a notebook with me at all times. Why? So I can jot down ideas that occur to me – and, let’s face it, they can come at the weirdest moments. Anything could trigger them – something I see which sparks a connection or perhaps a comment that somebody makes to me. I note down the idea and any other thoughts that crop up at the time which I can go back to, review and use as and when I need to.

    Blog Post Ideas – Everyone Else

    When it comes to “everyone else”, the best people to take ideas from are your customers, your prospects and your partners – these are all the sorts of people who are likely to ask those questions which others would benefit from as well, so can be a great source of inspiration.

    So, make a note of the main ones and make a point of talking about them on your blog. Treat it in the same way as you would when you take questions from the audience during a presentation – that’s to say, repeat the question that has been asked so that the rest of the audience can hear and then go ahead and answer it.

    Do the same in your blog – you will be providing information which will answer relevant and real questions that should help your customers use your product better and help your prospects to understand its potential better.

    So that you have this resource developing on an ongoing basis, I suggest that:

    • you keep a folder in your email system and make a copy of both the question you receive and the response you send back – this will in itself form the basis of your business blog post;

    • after meetings with clients, prospects or suppliers, note down some of the key questions that they asked and which were clearly on interest to them;

    • at Conferences and Exhibitions, keep a record of the questions or the areas that visitors to your stand keep asking about and are showing most interest in.

    You’ll soon find that you have topics for your posts planned out well in advance and as you write the posts, you will hopefully also start to receive comments which will start to take the discussions and questions in other directions as well.

    In the meantime, here are some of the ones that I tend to use.

    Write about current events

    Something that you probably do on an ongoing basis is keeping an eye on what is being written about your industry, perhaps through various news media and ideally with the help of RSS feeds which of course saves you a load of time and gets you the news in double quick time. So just choose an event or piece of information which is of interest to you and your readers and give your comments on it and perhaps its implications. Don’t forget to reference the article and the site where appropriate though.

    Read other blogs

    Keep an eye on other blogs and what they are talking about you will probably find subjects that you wish to develop further, ones that you wish to comment on in your own blog (dont forget to use a trackback!) or ones that simply spark new ideas that you can write about. Other blogs are great sources of current thinking and new potential ideas.

    Write a Series

    Select a topic and write a set of posts around the theme you have selected. Try to plan the series out in advance (at least the titles) and then write them as you need them. Alternatively, once you get into the series, you may find that you write a number of them all at once. That’s great! But don’t get carried away and post them all together, instead postdate them (in WordPress, just change the “Post Timestamp”) so that they publish automatically a few days apart.

    Revisit old posts you have written

    Check back over some of your old posts and see if there are ones that could be developed more fully. You may feel that there are now updates or new information that you would like to add to them, so do so in a new post which references back to the original one and develops the ideas further.

    Answer Questions from Comments on Posts

    Use contacts from people who have asked for information or have asked questions which have developed on your original post and opened up in turn new areas or topics. Take these questions or the points that they raise and develop the answers into new posts.

    Get a guest blogger in

    You do not need to write all of the posts yourself, many Business Blogs will in fact have two or even more people working on them. However, if you dont have people who post regularly, you can still have a guest blogger who might come in to post on a particular subject where they have a specialist knowledge.

    There is of course a final option – simply take a break from posting for a few days. Theres no issue with that – just let your readers know and theyll be waiting for your return with bated breath.

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    Statistics can improve your business blogIf you want to improve the focus of your blog and make sure that it’s doing its job, then the best place to start (as well as asking your readers directly) is to check on your stats or analytics package. It contains a mine of useful information which will allow you to target areas which could do with a modification (or an overhaul) on your blog.

    Most of the the stats packages worth their salt will offer a range of statistics covering your readers, their journey through your blog and how they found it in the first place. It’ll give you details of who is reading what, which are the most popular (and unpopular subjects) that you’re writing about as well as showing you what are the phrases being used to find you. It’ll also let you see how easy it is to find information on your blog – we all know where to find it on our own blogs but can other people?

    Make it part of your routine

    Analysing and using this information is best done as part of a circular flow which we carry out on our blog, not on a daily basis, but at least regularly. By doing this, we can make sure that we’re keeping up with what our readers are demanding of us … even if they don’t really realise it! :)
    Blog Development Wheel

    I’m sure that we are all aware of the Research > Write > Promote of the equation, although we probably all know that there’s more that we could be doing … well, that’s certainly the case for me anyway. However, the Analyse and Modify might be less automatic. For me, this means getting the information I can from the stats available and then modifying either the blog (to better suit my business aims) or the style and perhaps the focus of future posts. A useful exercise though not after every post!!

    Getting down and dirty with your Stats

    So what should you look for in your stats and what can you do with the information you find? Well, personally, I focus mainly on three things, though no doubt all of the figures they provide can be put to good use one way or another:

      i) what people are reading most of

      ii) what keywords they are using to find my site in the search engines; and,

      iii) which other sites they are coming from.

    i) What people are reading most of (coupled with the figures I get from Feedburner for my RSS feed) helps me hone my content and lets me try to write more articles which will appeal to my readers. Obviously you can’t do this exclusively or the blog posts get very “samey” – and that’s got to be negative – but catering to your audience is a good thing, so use the information to help you write on relevant topics but don’t be dictated to by it.

    What is also does is help me introduce them to relevant services I offer – if a post on Blog Optimisation is getting a lot of interest, then it makes sense for me to promote my Blog Consulting services alongside that post. Relevant information for people clearly interested in a topic I cover.

    ii) When I see that there are certain keyword phrases which bringing new readers to the blog (particularly when they go on to visit other pages), I can presume that I’m ranking well for them and that they are relevant to my target audience because they are finding other articles of interest. This lets me know that, while I should obviously continue to write on this topic bacuse it’s popular, I should concentrate on other keywords as well if I want to widen the scope of my ranked pages in the search engines.

    iii) Finally, when I see that there is a lot of traffic coming from a certain site, then the likelihood is I’m going to check it out. If it is a link from another blogger or an article referencing my blog on another site, then this is an opportunity to get in touch, make contact and thank them for referencing my site. There might also be other opportunities for collaboration on other topics or even projects. If the link is coming from a social bookmarking site such as Stumble Upon or Digg, then again I know that an article has struck a chord and that my own blog promotion efforts are working, giving me additional focus for the future.

    Some Stats packages

    There are a couple that I use primarily: as an overall package Google Analytics is a good bet. It’s free and comprehensive in the figures it feeds back, if a little overwhelming at times. The only downside is that the figures take 24 hours to come through, not too much of an issue if you are looking at overall trends but not so good if you want to track a campaign you have in place as it happens. For this, I run Statcounter which has a free service and then a paid one for extra capacity – also recommended is GetClicky which again I have had good feedback about. If you are using WordPress, then there are also a number that you can run internally – as a start point you might like to check Mashable’s article from last year or WordPress own Plugin directory.

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    RSS Series from Better Business BloggingThere are two things that I consider to be safe assumptions in life: one, we all like to know whats going on and, two, we never seem to have enough time. Now it may be that for some of us, a copy of Business Week, The Times or perhaps Cosmopolitan (according to our preferences) will be enough to keep us up to date with what’s happening in the areas that interest us. For others, and particularly in business, we need to cast our net a little wider and need to be able to sift the information more quickly.

    Of course, the more subject areas we want to follow, the more we bump into the issue of not having enough time to find the information that we need, let alone read it. Once again, RSS to the rescue! This sort of problem of information overload can really be reduced (though not I fear totally eradicated) by making best use of an RSS Reader to find and deliver to us the latest news and information from wherever it’s hiding on the internet.

    So let’s quickly start by looking at five of the main advantages before moving onto some of the more specific business benefits below:

    1. Time saver par excellence
    Time saver because you no longer need to keep revisiting sites to get the latest information, instead it is delivered to you in a neat bundle to let you decide quickly and easily what’s of interest.

    2. Latest information always at your fingertips
    Whether it is business information, the weather, local news, breaking industry research or a new posting from a rarely-updated site you receive up to date information in your areas of interest as soon as it is published.

    3. You are in control of what you receive
    Both subscribing and unsubscribing from an RSS feed is totally under your control. You can do so at any time at the click of a button in your RSS reader; so if the information stops being relevant, you can instantly remove it.

    (more…)
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    Online Participation GuidelinesAlthough perhaps influenced by watching the wonderful “Yes Minister” in the 1980’s, my image of the British Civil Service conjures up an image of leather armchairs, men only clubs and political machinations. It would not have been where I would have first thought to look for a set of nicely concise guidelines about “online participation” as they so succinctly put it. However, there they are!

    Their guidelines, the main points of which I have reproduced below, cover general participation online no matter what the medium – however, the advice I find to be particularly applicable to corporate blogging or indeed blogging in a small business environment as well. They are clear and to the point which is key when you want to get your message across to people in your own organisation, but reflect most of the ideals that we should bring to interaction online.

    1. Be credible: Be accurate, fair, thorough and transparent

    2. Be consistent: Encourage constructive criticism and deliberation. Be cordial, honest and professional at all times.

    3. Be responsive: When you gain insight, share it where appropriate.

    4. Be integrated: Wherever possible, align online participation with other offline communications.

    5. Be a civil servant: Remember that you are an ambassador for your organisation. Wherever possible, disclose your position as a representative of your department or agency.

    (Full details of the guidelines can be found here)

    However, for me, just as important are some of the follow up points additional points that they highlight in text which follows that. They are so relevant to all we do online that I thought you might like to print them and stick them to your monitor.

    Just to reiterate: don’t think of blogs and online media any differently in terms of what you should or should not say from when you are representing your company in any other situation. However, do remember that online everything happens at breakneck speed … for both the good and the bad things. Backtracking is not an easy option when the information can have immediately been distributed far and wide. Speed and breadth of distribution are two of the key benefits of blogging and online media … unless you want to withdraw something!

    So, as you participate online or as you draw up your own company blogging guidelines, you could do a lot worse than refer back to the points made by the Civil Service about how to conduct yourself. Stuffy and British? Not really … more sensible and corporate.

    (Hat tip to Laurel Papworth for the find.)

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    Business Blogging common senseIn case you aren’t familiar with the name, Matt Cutts is the public face of Google when it comes to the world of search engine optimisation and writes a well followed blog which focusses on these and other associated areas.

    Earlier this week, he wrote a post where he offered 3 so called “rules of thumb” for company bloggers and which might be considered relevant for all business blogs. The ones he highlighted were:

    1. Don’t make hard promises about the future
    2. Don’t trash talk a competitor
    3. Don’t post when you’re angry

    (You can see the full post here.)

    While I can’t disagree that these are three sound pieces of advice, I don’t know whether I’d view them as the three key points with regard to company blogs – however, they are most certainly relevant.

    So why mention them here? Well, primarily because they show something which I believe to be very important when you write a business blog – you shouldn’t suddenly ignore all of the common sense and good advice you have learned about business communications over the years, just because you are writing on a “blog”. A blog is an extension of that, with some extra rules thrown in, I grant you.

    So advice such as “don’t rubbish your competition” makes sound business sense whether you are giving a presentation, emailing information to prospects or talking to other people in your industry. It should a no brainer to then apply that same logic when you are writing in your blog, particularly when you take into account the potential size of your readership and the fact that, for good or for bad, the internet has a long memory so getting rid of inappropriate comments you later regret is going to be problematic.

    So, just because you are writing on a blog, don’t suddenly bin all of your business communications knowhow that you’ve accumulated – use all of that and then adapt the rules to allow you to play to the strengths that your blog can offer.

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    Blogging: one piece at a timeI love sport and while I may now have changed from active participant to armchair pundit, I am still a fervent follower of a whole range of different sports. With the Olympics dominating our TV screens over the past two weeks (certainly here in the UK), I could have quite happily sat watched 24 hours a day, had the prickly subject of work not intervened!

    The exploits of the now global stars that are Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt have been mind blowing and almost as impressive, from a Brit’s point of view, has been the performance of the British competitors in “Team GB” – 39 medals overall with 17 golds as of today and sitting 3rd in the medals table.

    Among those golds, the highest number came from the cycling team which has dominated the track events in the velodrome. How come? What has been the difference which has set them apart? Well, according to the Times Online, British Cycling performance director, David Brailsford believes:

    there was no specific ingredient or secret that set his sport apart and that success has come by way of the aggregation of marginal gains

    Interesting? I think so and it’s something that I think is very relevant to many other areas including blogging. Here too, there is no single “secret” or magic spell which will revolutionise what we do – although that doesn’t stop websites continually popping up claiming they have “The One Secret that will supercharge your Blogging, flood your Bank Account with money etc etc. ...” < yawn >

    Instead, focus on getting get all the elements working together so that you can benefit from the marginal gains that each element offers. Clearly the subject matter is all important – without that you’re not going to get off the starting line. But I’m thinking beyond that and more of the complementary elements that help set the blog apart and push it: make your post titles and title tags work for you, illustrate the text with graphics, add friendly permalinks, make social bookmarking easy, offer readers other related posts, consider other SEO factors, add an email a friend option, make your RSS feed work hard for you and so on.

    Each of these adds another piece to the jigsaw and helps to develop the blog. So whatever stage your blog is at, take a look at it and see what else could be included to add to the experience of your readers and to increase the benefits to you.

    Then go back and repeat the process. You’ll soon find how those marginal gains add up.

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    Blogs in ecommerce sitesI guess that I consider myself to be a relatively typical shopper, albeit probably a little bit more comfortable online than most. My own tendency, particularly when Im buying anything out of the ordinary, is to turn to the internet to first check out and research whats available and then to compare pricing.

    It seems that I am not unusual in this. A recent survey carried out by Nielsen online (followed up by this post by Nielsen’s Ken Cassar) and reported by eMarketer, has added additional credence to the idea that whether we ultimately buy online or in the shops, we (as consumers) routinely carry out research online before we do so. Indeed, 8 out of 10 respondents who had purchased a product in store said they had visited the store’s website first.

    Perhaps even more telling is that the survey, which focused on consumer electronics purchases, reported that more than half said they ultimately bought from the retailer on whose website they had spent the most time.

    What does this tell us? Well, clearly that we, as consumers, are becoming more and more web savvy which is re-assuring. But from an online retailers perspective, it also shows us that the stickiness of our site is going to be a crucial factor in not only keeping shoppers there but encouraging them to buy. This is going to be the case whether we are running a small online store with a few items or a full ecommerce setup.

    Enter blogs. I feel a full post on the subject of blogs and online retail or ecommerce is in order, but for now Ill restrict myself to a few key benefits of getting a blog on your site alongside your online store.

    • More Information: the more information you give about your product or service (not just description but also how people have used it etc.), the more confident your readers are likely to be that it is right for them and the more comfortable they’ll feel about purchasing it. Just as critical, as the survey shows, the longer they stay on your site the more likely it is they will buy from you;

    • Answer their Questions: giving people the opportunity to ask questions and re-assure themselves that their choice is correct will help develop trust not only in the product but also in you as the vendor;

    • Customer Reviews: the importance we place in other peoples experiences and feedback with products has been proven time and time again. Using a blogs ability for people to leave their own comments will allow you to use the same techniques to improve your own sales that sites like Amazon, ebay and Hotels.com rely on;

    • Search Engine Ranking: you’ll always want your products to be as visible as possible. Giving the Search Engines more to get their proverbial teeth into with a specific post about an individual product (linked back to its page in your online shop) will give you a search engine friendly page you can optimise for it and so the chance to appear more highly;

    • Distribution: whether you have new products, special offers or just extra information on products, remember that a blog also distributes this information automatically through RSS and pinging, so it gives a proactive as well as passive side to your marketing.

    Whether you employ just one aspect that a blog can offer or you build it in as an integral part of your online store will largely depend on time and resources, I guess. However, do remember to think outside of the standard blog format and try to use the functionality in specific business ways, such as incorporating customer reviews. That’s when blogs can really start to work for you.

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    Not so much blogging tools, but rather tools I use in the course of blogging, if you see what I mean! Anyway, here are 12 tools that I find massively useful in and around my blog.

    1. Feedburner

    One of the blogging tools I would recommend unreservedly. While I may not visit the site every day, I run all of my RSS feeds and my clients feeds through Feedburner which allows me to use them so much more effectively than I could otherwise. It isnt just so I can see how many people are following my blog through my feed or that they can automatically receive updates via email if they are not familiar with RSS. I can also use it to brand the RSS feed, create a signature using the feed to promote my blog on my email or on forum postings, add messages about my services to the feed and much more. Oh and its free.

    2. Aweber

    Although I use a bespoke email marketing system for the larger client campaigns that I run, I also run a number of mailing lists including my own free Business Blogging eCourse (over 2500 takers now, BTW!) via Aweber. This started life as an autoresponder system as well as a bulk email system which seems to have gradually expanded so you can do tracking and all sorts now. In addition, they launched Blog Broadcast which will automatically create an email newsletter from your blog posts that you can schedule according to your needs.

    3. Google Webmaster Tools

    Now at the end of the day, a business blog is still essentially a website and as such can benefit from the tools that Google makes available to webmasters everywhere. Lets face it, businesses may run blogs as an interactive mouthpiece with their clients and the good ones benefit from all of the intangibles in terms of trust, relationships etc they can create; however, this doesn’t stop businesses also tapping into the fact that they are inherently attractive to search engines and so ideal to help develop your online marketing. So check in with Google Webmaster Tools over at Google Webmaster Central.

    4. Statcounter

    Its essential to keep track of whats going on your blog, which posts are attracting most attention, where readers are coming from and what keywords they are using to find you. These are all things we need to know to improve and get the most out of our business blogs. For this, I use two tools – Google Analytics, which is comprehensive but the 24 hour delay in getting the stats can sometimes be frustrating if I need immediate feedback on posts or when I get a surge of visitors from sites like Digg or StumbleUpon. For this reason I also use Statcounter free up to a certain limit but not too pricey on the upgrade if you want some additional bandwidth.

    5. RSS Reader

    To keep up with what is going on in my industry or those of my clients, I rely on two tools. Essential tool no.1 – my RSS reader, which provides me with the news and views of selected sites delivered straight to me. Personally I have gone with an offline reader called FeedReader and I like it. However, I would be remiss if I didnt also point you in the direction of the two most popular readers when it comes to people who follow me: Google Reader and Bloglines. My only advice is to check them out and see which ones appeals to you most. Actually Im wrong my real only advice would simply be – get one!

    6. Google Alerts

    Essential Tool no.2 – Google Alerts. A great little tool which keeps me up to date by sending me emails with any blogs, sites and news articles which mention any of the topics or companies that I am monitoring. Daily updates on some keywords but for others I prefer to get immediate notification so that I can follow up if necessary, perhaps leave a comment or be the first to share the information with my own readers.

    7. WordPress

    Im a WordPress fan, I cant deny it. All the blogs I run for myself and those I set up for clients are based on the WordPress platform powerful, flexible and, in my opinion, the best tool to future proof your investment in blogging. (Oh dear, that sounded a bit like marketing speak!) However, there are often things that I want to do with a blog to achieve a business aim that I need to research from a technical standpoint. Enter the WordPress site. Not only an invaluable source of information on themes and plugins but also the support of other developers and users in the forums. Fab!

    8. Yahoo Site explorer / SEO plugin of Firefox

    Linking is such an important element of the development of a blog that it’s great to keep a close eye on who is linking to you. Specific sites like Technorati are really good but I also like to use another tool (or rather tools) to give a view across all areas of the internet – firstly you’ve got Yahoo’s Site Explorer which allows focus on inbound and internal links and secondly there is the SEO plugin for Firefox (from Aaron Wall of SEO Book fame). Both excellent.

    9. Core FTP

    While I could use WordPress to load images and pdfs etc onto my blog, I guess my years on the business development and marketing side of things havent totally suppressed the techie within (I blame my years at Psion for that) and I like to use an FTP program to load stuff onto my blog. Of course it also comes in very handy for setting up WordPress in the first place together with the plugins I use as part of creating fully optimised blogs for clients. Many recommend Filezilla but I still love the rather bare simplicity of Core FTP bless!

    10. SnagIt

    After trying a number of other products to capture images on screen, I finally forked out for SnagIt and dont regret it for an instant not that that makes me a big spender either at $50. Whether it is for putting together my training courses on blog promotion, creating manuals so clients can really use their blog properly or just to liven up posts or forum comments, its easy and very flexible. Well worth the money.

    11. Dreamstime

    Having looked at a number of different graphics sites, Dreamstime is the one that I use the most when I am looking for images and graphics to use in my posts. There are a number of others such as iStockphoto or Big Stock Photo which are widely used but I found that Dreamstime has an excellent range of images and a reasonable price structure so have stuck with that.

    12. Technorati

    Still the daddy of Blog Search Engines and Blog Directories all rolled into one. If you want to find a blog in your chosen area of expertise then Technorati is where to start and then just follow the links that you find there. Since its important to check out blogs that already exist as part of your own setup process, then this is definitely a site to be familiar with.

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    One of the key worries that businesses have as they start to develop their blog is what to write about and how best to communicate their messages across to their readers. Effectively, what sort of posts they should write. Well, posts can take many shapes and forms according to the authors inclination and the readers preferences I think the skill comes in matching the two as closely as possible.

    To help the process, heres a list of 17 possible types of posts that you could look at to develop the conversation on your business blog. They wont all be relevant for every blog but they should help to spark some ideas on ones that would be most applicable for you.

    1. Foundation Posts

    Foundation posts are the core posts that your blog should be built upon and which focus on the key subject areas that the blog is going to be talking about. They are likely to be longer than other posts, focused in the content and, more often than not, will contain tips or practical advice centred around your main topics. These are posts that you’ll want to spend a bit more time on and which people should want to refer back to and share, time and time again.

    2. Expertise Sharing

    No doubt a familiar type of post for small business bloggers and a key one at that. These posts will demonstrate and share information on important topics relating to your expertise, with each post focusing on a particular aspect of that topic. The subject will be of direct interest to your readers and should have primary goal of developing or reinforcing the confidence and trust that they have in your abilities.

    3. Lists

    Lists remain one of the most commonly referred to types of posts and hence a very good way of getting a lot of information over in a short space of time. People can dip in and out as they see fit, so these are also the type of post that often gets referred to and shared in places like Digg.

    4. News Delivery / Reporting / News Breaking

    Blogs are a great way of sharing news and information and, because of their immediacy, also for breaking new stories. Unfortunately, few of us are able to be on the spot when we get a scoop but we are able to share news and information that we have found with our readers. While you could simply share a link or story as is, if you want to develop your own relationship with your readers, try to add your own perspective and comments to it when you write about it.

    5. Guides / Instructional

    A “How to” guide is an excellent way of passing on information and creating something which has the ability to go viral. While sharing information in anecdotal form is great, sometimes you just cant beat a clear guide that’s easy to follow from someone who has been there, done it and got the T-shirt to prove it. Think of it like instructions on putting together a piece of furniture from Ikea (hopefully with all the pieces there) and make your “How to” guides the definitive ones for your specialism.

    6. LinkBaiting

    A post which is designed primarily to attract attention and incite people to link to it, hence link baiting. This might be a post with contentious or provocative content aimed at getting a reaction from readers or might be one based on humour. In essence though, it’s sole goal is to provoke a reaction and generate links.

    7. Surveys & Polls

    Facts and figures lend weight to an argument and by using figures from a recent survey or report and then adding your own commentary, you can get your message across with up to date information to support it. Alternatively, why not run your own poll in your post and gather information from the people you really want the opinion of your own readers.

    8. Article Reply

    So youve seen something that caught your attention on some one elses blog or website and left a comment on it but you want to expand on that. Great, write a post which references the original but then goes on to either develop and expand on the points it makes, or to counter them.

    9. Rants

    Never get abusive or personal, but if you write about something that really bugs you and you believe is worth sharing, then this can come over very powerfully in a blog. It adds to the 3D view of you, the person, and helps tell your readers something more about you. Hey, we also like a little bit of Victor Meldrew, letting off steam now and again.

    10. Industry Commentary

    You are going to be well placed to pass on information about what is happening in your industry and how events are likely to effect your readers and other players in it. So make sure that you become the place that people visit to get informed opinion about what’s going on by delivering posts which report on developments in your industry.

    11. Conferences / Exhibitions / Seminars

    A great way of getting across information and sharing with a larger audience is to take information from a conference and report back via your blog. This could be your own conference or one that you are attending as a delegate – beforehand, highlight that you will be there (and willing to meet up no doubt) and then feed back what you found interesting or particularly useful.

    12. Company Specific

    There may be some specific news about your company which will be of interest to your readers, perhaps new capacity, extra staff or additional clients, all of which reflect favourably on you and your business. A constant stream of these might be considered unimaginative and prove boring, but the occasional one thrown in adds to the information pool your readers have about you.

    13. Press Releases

    While not to everyones taste, a blog is also an excellent distribution method for information (using RSS, pinging etc) as well as being the platform for conversation and relationship building. Dont use it simply as a Press Release conduit, but if you believe that it is relevant and interesting to your readers then there is no harm in putting PR information out through your blog as well.

    14. Guest Post

    Ok, perhaps a slightly different angle here, but why not get someone else in to write a post for your blog. Your readers get additional great information on a subject, you can get extra publicity as the guest writer will probably reference it from their own blog and it will add to your reputation in the process. Perhaps a reciprocal arrangement with a number of different authors? [BTW – if you’re looking for guest bloggers, drop me a line! ;) ]

    15. Links Post

    Theres always going to be information that you have unearthed during the course of the week that youd like to share and is useful to your readers, but which doesnt suit a full post on its own. So create a post with a series of links to articles, information sources, new stories etc. with just a short one line commentary on each.

    16. Reviews

    Might be of a book or white paper, or perhaps of a service or product which is relevant to your readers give your own opinion on it and then open it to the floor and get your readers opinions as well.

    17. Video or Podcast

    Its becoming ever easier to integrate either podcasts or videos clips into your posts and they are also a great way to offer something a little extra to your readers. Ideally make them your own but you can of course embed videos from sites like YouTube that you believe would be beneficial. If you put commentary around them (and a transcript for your own) then youll take the SEO on the post up a notch as well.

    Of course, a post doesnt need to fall into just a single category this one, for example, is clearly a list post but I would like to think also falls into the area of expertise sharing. At the end of the day, focus on what will appeal to your readers (you could always ask then what they are looking for!?) but hopefully you’ll find some ideas here to be going on with!

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    No, I really do mean it, why do you link to your blog?

    I’m thinking here of the people on business or social networking sites who insist on blindly linking to their blog (as well as their website) from their profile because they have been given a space to do so. Great if you have a blog which you keep updated but why do it when it hasnt been touched for several months? For me thats like proudly linking to your website, encouraging me to visit and then all I find is a big Under Construction sign or the hosting companys holding page. It looks bad and its bad for business.

    The whole point of having a business blog that it tells the reader more about you, markets what you do and opens up a conversation or connection, all of which is likely to reflect positively on you and your business. But a blog where the most recent entry is from the previous year not only doesnt add anything positive to peoples perception of you and your business, it can be distinctly negative.

    So why do people still do it is it that they think it’s still worth maintaining a link just in case it helps with Google? Maybe they just added it and forgot about it as part of a frenzied attempt to sign up with as many social networking sites and forums as possible. Bad move. Every profile you create adds to the pool of information about you on the internet its best to treat them with respect and keep track. The internet has a long memory, for good or for bad.

    From a professional perspective, its particularly disappointing because many of the profiles I read are in fact small business owners who are highly specialised in what they do and clearly have much to offer. Ideal candidates for a successful and focused business blog. More than that, by actively participating in networking sites theyve already shown a real understanding that building trust and confidence online can add so much to their business, leading to referrals and generating real partnership opportunities. All things which running a business blog can also offer in bucket loads.

    But not if its left to die. So even if its just once a week, keep your blog live and then make sure that you do link to it! If not, then please delete that link until you do seriously, its a lot better for your business that way.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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