FREE eCOURSE ON
    BUSINESS BLOGGING

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

    Full Name

    Email

    Referred by


    FULL COURSE DETAILS HERE

  • 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...

    Join me on Twitter at @BlogCoach




    Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]

    While Ive written on this subject before, I feel that it is worthy of inclusion again as part of the Business Blog Design series.

    It’s all about communication!

    When we talk to someone face to face, either at a personal or business level, there will be a point when the conversation turns to questions such as “what do you do?”, “where are you from?” or something akin to “what team do you support?”. Why? Because we are interested in knowing more about the people that we deal with – its in our nature

    In the same way, blogs are really all about communication too, as well as interaction and conversation. Personal blogs approach this with certain goals in mind – getting in touch with people with common interests or just wanting “to be heard” for example – while companies using business blogs have a different agenda and may be looking to generate trust, differentiate themselves and ultimately develop additional business.

    In both cases, you need to make sure that people can find out more about you … and also find you! When you are reading a business blog and find what is being said interesting, it can be very frustrating if you want to contact the person or find out where they are based only to discover that that little (but crucial) bit of information is nowhere to be seen. Not only is this frustrating but it can also be damaging from a business point of view too!

    Make your details easy to find

    So make sure that you provide your readers with a clear way of finding out about the person who is writing the blog and who they are communicating with. They’ll already have a good idea but what you write and how you write it but help them on their way – always remember to put up a profile up on your Business Blog as well as a way for your readers to get in touch with you, though of course those can be on the same page.

    If you prefer to include your details as part of your sidebar then keep it short and sweet thats part of your prime real estate that we talked about in the original post so youll have lots of business specific stuff that you also want to be highly visible there. I personally prefer a link through to a separate page where you have a little more space to include whatever details seem appropriate to you. And a photo … always remember a photo! Most of us work visually, so that help your readers picture you, even if you’re not totally comfortable with it like me.

    What to include?

    Some profiles will focus on past work and experience ( no CVS though, please), others will have more of a current focus and outline future plans. What ever you put there, try to make it personal though and don’t forget that picture as well! :) Remember that from a networking perspective, your Business Blog acts as the hub at the centre of that network – people are therefore going to be interested in the real you and what makes you tick so give them some insights into the person behind the Blog.

    You also want people to be able to contact you. They can do this by posting comments on your blog, but they may also want to get in contact with you directly. So, make sure that you also have your contact details on your blog, either as part of your profile or in a separate section or both!

    Don’t forget your legal obligations

    Finally, in Europe at least, a new law which came into force at the beginning of 2007 requires that emails and websites (and hence blogs) to display certain details about the company and/or individual that is writing them so make sure that you comply if necessary. Theres more information about this here.


    Make sure that your profile and your contact details are clearly visible on your Blog – make it easy for others to find out more about you and contact you!

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

    Comments Off 
    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Don’t ignore your Profile page
    2. Business Blog Design: Follow up Posts
    3. Blog Design Series – a Business perspective
    4. Business Blog Design
    5. Business Blog Design: Comments

    Lately, I’ve been working with a number of companies and individuals who are either looking for a blog makeover or who want to set up a blog for the first time.

    Particularly, as I have carried out the Blog Appraisal which forms part of the blog makeover, I have noticed a number of areas which are important when starting a Business blog before you ever “put finger to keyboard”, as it were! Yet often they have been overlooked so I thought I’d share some of the main ones here – let me know if there are others that you think should be included!

    a) Dont skimp on time spent planning your Blog
    The planning process for your Business Blog is a crucial time but one that often seems to be skipped over or done hurriedly. You can save a great deal of pain later on by spending a little time planning out what you want to achieve with your blog and how to do it. Time spent in outlining the focus and the target audience of your blog is time well spent and ideally also make time to map out the posts for the first few weeks so that the initial postings go smoothly.

    b) Keep Navigation Easy
    Your blog gets structured automatically for you but I’d still make sure that the category names are well chosen and visible – I find that new visitors to a blog use these most often to get around. Help your readers find your blog home page quickly and easily – convention suggests that clicking on the banner at the top should take you back to the home page, but be aware that there are new readers of blogs everyday who will be more familiar with a “home” link.

    c) Make Key Posts easy to find
    As you increase the number of posts on your site, make sure that readers can find the posts which really get to the heart of your business – these could be the initial “Foundation” posts or ones you have added later. One possibility is to create a page (linked directly from your sidebar) called Top 10 posts or Key Articles or whatever you feel best describes them. This page can then contain links to all of your key posts. In this way, you make sure that they are highlighted in amongst all of the other information that you provide.

    d) Profile and Contact details
    Not putting a profile and contact details on your blog is missing out on an opportunity and potentially shooting yourself in the foot particularly if your blog is a stand alone site rather than integrated as part of your company website. If I find what I am reading interesting then I may want to get in touch with the author, so make it easy for me to do so! You should also use your profile page as the place where you can outline the goals of your blog as well as presenting yourself use this to achieve maximum effect for yourself.

    e) Create your own look and feel
    All blog software comes with base templates which dictate what a Blog looks like whatever you do, dont leave it as this default base version! There is nothing worse than spending time creating a wonderful blog full of excellent information and then leave it looking like thousands of others would you do that with a website or with a book? No! Make sure that you change it either yourself or get someone in to do it for you it will differentiate you and what you have to say as well as help with your positioning, so make the most of it.

    f) Avoid free hosted blogging systems for a Business Blog
    Sorry, this is a bugbear of mine but I feel that you should have control over any important aspect of your business and a Business Blog is just that, so dont leave it on a hosted system which gives you little flexibility or control. Also remember that you should try to choose a blogging platform which will grow with you as you discover other areas where a blog can help your business. Changing blogging platforms is a pain that is best avoided, so choose one which means you don’t have to!

    g) Not setting up friendly permalinks
    Setting up search engine and visitor friendly permalinks and URLs for your blog is beneficial from all points of view and something you should do as part of the set-up. If you leave them in a format such as www.yourblog.com/?cat=34 then you are missing out in a number of ways – so set them up correctly from the start and make sure that you are not left ruing this as your Blog develops and it becomes more difficult to change.

    h) Add Clear RSS Feed details
    RSS is already a key tool and is only going to get more important, particularly as its visibility starts to increase following the release of Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 over the past weeks, both of which include an RSS reader (of sorts!). Give readers options and where appropriate explain what RSS is and how it can benefit them!

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

    5 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Help in starting to post to your Business Blog
    2. 10 Key things to do before starting a Business Blog
    3. Starting to write your Business Blog – BBB Quick Guides
    4. Business Blog: separate domain or on your website
    5. Starting a Business Blog – BBB Quick Guides

    One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to setting up a business blog, and certainly one which I have been asked on a number of occasions recently, is whether it is better to have a blog as part of your website or to set it up as a separate site on its own domain.

    I would love to be able to give a brief one line response to this, however, I don’t believe that there is one which will fit all circumstances. So, true to recent form, I have to say that the answer to this will depend on a number of different factors, all of which can contribute to the final decision.

    And what are these factors, I hear you ask. Well, the main ones I would look at are:

    • Branding requirements

    • Intended use of the Blog

    • Target Audience

    • Focus of Blog

    • Domain Name Selection

    • Search Engine / SEO Requirements

    • General Marketing Requirements

    If we look at these in more depth, we can see where the tipping points are likely to be in each of the areas and therefore what will influence your final decision:

    Branding requirements
    If you are looking to reinforce your main brand, then keep all the information supporting it together and include the blog as part of your website rather than dilute it by dividing the content onto two separate sites. However, if you are considering a Product Blog to focus on and around a particular product or range, or you are looking at a sub-brand of some description, then these would benefit from having a separate domain and standalone image which would allow real focus and input from users and advocates.

    Intended use of the Blog
    If you want to use the blog for something which complements the rest of your website, such as an FAQ section or an online media centre, then integrating it in the website is ideal, as it will re-inforce and support all your company’s activities. If, on the other hand, the blog needs to present you as an independent source of information and advice, then you would be better to distance it from your website, so that you can be seen as objective in this role rather than as part of the company which has interests in the area.

    Target Audience
    If your blog and your website are designed to appeal to the same audience then, all other things being equal, it makes sense to combine them in one location which gives extra value to your readers and adds to the appeal of the website. However, if the blog deals with a specific area which is directed solely at a particular subset of your website’s target audience (or a different one altogether), then it would be better to maintain it on a separate domain rather than risk alienate customers not interested in that subject. The alternative, and better solution, is to create a series of specialist blogs which offer additional value to each individual group.

    Focus of Blog
    By adding your blog to your website, it will not be able to stray too far from the general topics and direction that the website already has. As a result, you may be restricted in terms of what you can write about, as the blog will be closely connected with the information presented on the rest of the website. A separate domain will give independence from the original site and hence allow you greater freedom in terms of your stance and commentary on issues.

    Domain Name Selection
    Setting up your blog on a separate domain will allow you to choose a new domain name which is specifically relevant to the blogs aims and goals, and which adds to its SEO potential, for example by including your main keywords. On your current website, you would not have this flexibility although you would still be able to choose something relevant either as the subdomain or the directory, according to the set-up you select.

    Search Engine / SEO Requirements
    Putting the blog on your website will add both content and value to it in the eyes of the main Search Engines and its development should increase it status and the number of incoming links to your website, as other blogs link to you. With a separate domain, however, you can set up all aspects properly from the start although you may have to go through Googles “sandpit” which can restrict rankings over the first few months. The links that come into this separate domain can then be focused into your main site and will have additional value because they come from an external site with good quality and relevant content.

    General Marketing Requirements
    You may not have the resources to fully market a totally separate blog which would effectively require its own marketing and promotional activities push. It would, however, create a whole new focus to the company’s activities which would potentially attract a new target audience. If, on the other hand, it sits on your current website, then it can benefit from the current marketing efforts used to promote the website and link from there. Whichever route you choose, you use, you should incorporate blog specific marketing as well as the more general online and offline elements as you promote your blog.

    This seems like a long list and there are no doubt a number of other factors which could be added to it. However, in reality, although the list of factors might be long, there will generally be one overriding element which will end up dominating all of the others. It could be technical in nature or one of the commercial/marketing elements mentioned above but the outcome will be the same – the best solution for you in your particular circumstance will effectively select itself!

    So, how to summarise all of this advice? Take your blog back to basics and examine what was the real trigger moment that made you decide that you needed or wanted to have a Business Blog – look at that reason and what you wanted the blog to achieve and then work forward from there.

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

    26 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Separate blog or blog on my own website?
    2. Integrating a blog on your own website
    3. Choosing the domain name for your Business Blog
    4. Remember to integrate your website navigation
    5. Starting a Business Blog – BBB Quick Guides

    Seminar FAQsBusiness Blogging Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

    Q: Where should I host my blog? Is a hosted service better or should I host it myself?

    A: When it comes to a Business Blog, we would always recommend that you host it yourself for the simple reason that it gives you most control over it and allows you to make any changes that you may require.

    Hosted systems such as Blogger are great for personal blogs because they are free and because there is very little for you to do except start to write. They do come with a risk though, as there may come a time when you want to do more with your blog than can be done with a hosted system of this type, at which point it is very difficult to move all of your content across to your new blog. Even making permanent (301) redirects so that people can still find all of your content that has been indexed is not possible on some of these blog systems, which will make for a lot of frustration.

    There have even been cases reported where proper Business blogs have been mistaken for spam blogs (splogs) and had their content deleted. Not a good situation! As we point out in the Business Blogging email course, making the right choice in terms of your blogging platform is a key early decision.

    If you do decide to host it yourself, you have a second decision to make whether to select a new domain name and run your blog there or whether you should incorporate the blog into your current website. Both options have merit. If it deals with issues which are distinct from those that you talk about on your main website then it may be sensible to select a relevant domain name and separate the two. However, by incorporating the Business Blog alongside your other content (and integrating it graphically into the look and feel of the site) then you can use it as a complementary means of engaging with prospects and customers, and so enhance the positioning of your business through it.

    Both of these hosted options are valid but overall, primarily for reasons of control and security, we would recommend that you steer away from hosted services for your blog when it is going to be such an integral part of your business.

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

    3 Comments 
    Tags: , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Choosing the domain name for your Business Blog
    2. Business Blog: separate domain or on your website
    3. Naming your blog: choose one that helps
    4. What to call your Business Blog
    5. Separate blog or blog on my own website?