To paraphrase Brian Halligan, inbound marketing guru and co-founder of HubSpot, successful content marketing starts with a blog – and because we love backing up our statements with cold, hard fact, here are some statistics that prove it:
- Blogs and social media sites reach 80% of US internet users [Content Marketing Institute]
- Blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages, and 97% more indexed links [Content+]
- Blogging generates an average of 67% more leads for B2B firms [Social Media B2B]
- Companies with active, regularly updated blogs receive 97% more leads [Content+]
So now that you’ve decided that your business needs a blog – where do you go next? What are the first steps you should take to set up an effective business blog from scratch? What mistakes should you avoid?
5. It all starts with a buyer persona…
Before you’ve picked up your pen, and before you even consider a blog title, you need to be able to answer the following question:
Who is this blog for?
In order for your business blog to be effective, you need to attract the right target audience. You need to work out the type of people who are likely to be interested in your products or service, and tailor every aspect of your blog to appeal to them. These people are called your ‘buyer persona’. By identifying your buyer personas, you’ll be able to tailor every aspect of your blog to suit their needs, and maximize the appeal of your blog. Everything from your blog title to its content should be created with your buyer persona in mind.
Be as accurate and detailed as possible, and avoid generalities and making information up. The more time you spend researching your buyer persona at this stage, the better your blog’s long-term prospects will be.
- Name: Sarah/Ben
- Age: 10 -100
- Job: Writer
- Business: ?
- Useful Information: Has a hamster called Snowflake
- Questions: ‘Why should I buy your product?’ ‘Why is your product the best?’
- Name: ‘Marketing Director Matt’
- Age: 30-50
- Job: Marketing Director at Content Stream
- Education: Degree-level
- Questions: ‘How can I improve the ROI of my marketing campaigns?’ ‘What’s the best blogging platform for our business?’
4. Chose a blog title
Once you have a clear idea of the type of people you’d like your blog to appeal to, you can set about naming your blog. The title of your blog is going to be the first thing people see, so you need to make sure it’s relevant to your buyer persona, and descriptive of what your blog is about. It’s best to keep your blog title short and succinct, and include only 3 elements: your business name, the subject of your blog, and the word ‘blog‘. This allows prospective visitors to know what to expect from your blog, and also begin to associate it with your business.
My Business Blog
ContentStream’s Internet Advice Page
IronLifters Health and Fitness Blog
Content Marketing Blog by ContentStream
3. Choose a unique URL
Once you have a relevant and descriptive title, you can choose a domain name to match it. Make sure that the domain name reflects the blog title, and that you include a keyword that explains the subject matter of your business blog. Not only does this help visitors realize that your blog is relevant to them, it also helps search engines to determine if your blog is relevant. If your URL matches your blog title, and your blog content, then you have an excellent chance of showing up in search engine results.
2. Pick the best blogging platform for your business
Picking the right blogging platform is crucial to the success of your business blog. Blogging platforms allow you to create and manage your blogging campaign, and offer additional functionality. Everything from attractive blog styling to measurable analytics are on offer from different platforms, and each has its own merits. There are a wide variety of platforms available for you to host your blog on, but we’ll focus on the two most important – WordPress blogs, and HubSpot blogs.
WordPress is a completely free platform that is used by over 2 million of the world’s top websites. It offers an intuitive interface, thousands of WordPress blog themes, and a comprehensive library of free and useful plugins.
- It’s completely free.
- There are thousands of free plugins available to improve your blog.
- Free plugins also make SEO surprisingly easy.
- You can move your blog to a new website.
- There are lots of professional themes available to buy.
- It’s easy to set up and use.
- It can be hard to measure and analyze your blogging.
- Lots of visitors to your blog can slow down the site.
- WordPress can be hard to optimize for mobile viewers.
- Themes can be hard to install and use.
HubSpot software is a complete marketing platform used by over 10,000 businesses globally. One part of the HubSpot package is its Content Optimization System, which offers advanced blog management and analysis.
- You can build your blog and website in one place.
- It offers unbeatable blog analysis and reporting.
- It’s an entire marketing service for your business.
- It’s easy to make page and blog templates.
- It’s always mobile responsive.
- Once you buy, you’re locked-in to a contract.
- It’s expensive, with the best packages starting from £560/mo.
- It has less plugins available than WordPress.
Deciding on the best blogging platform for your business will involve looking at your budget. If you’re a small business, hoping to set up an effective business blog for as little money as possible, WordPress offers an unbeatable selection of free tools and resources. Some of the best blogs in the world use WordPress, and you can develop its functionality as your budget increases with time. If you’re a larger business, with an established marketing budget, it might be worth considering the incredible functionality of the HubSpot software package – but only if your finances are stable enough to support a long-term contract.
1. Set up a Gravatar and get writing!
The last step in setting up your blog is to create a Gravatar. A Gravatar is a globally-recognized blogging profile that you can use to associate all of your blog posts with. This means that your own blog posts and guest blog posts on other websites will all be linked back to you, and your readers will be able to connect with your blog and business through all of your blog posts. Gravatars also have the added benefit of putting a personal face to to your business blog, and will make the process of reading your blog a much more personalized and engaging affair for your readership. The next stage of creating your killer business blog is to get writing – and we’ll explain the best ways to write a blog post in our next ‘How to Write a Killer Business Blog’ article next week – so stay tuned!
In the coming weeks, we’ll be posting 3 more articles in our ‘How to Start a Killer Business Blog’ series: How to Write a Killer Business Blog, How to Market a Killer Business Blog, and How to Convert with a Killer Business Blog. If you have any blogging questions that you’d like us to tackle in the next post, leave a message in the comments, or Tweet @ContenderBlog.
Looking for other blog-related articles?
- 4 Common Blog-Ruining Mistakes
- 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Blog
- How Blogging Works: From Killer Content to Crazy Sales [Infographic]