If you’re seriously thinking about jumping on the content marketing bandwagon, you need a business blog. Your blog is where you’ll point all your social media fans and followers, where you’ll accumulate a treasure trove of information for customers and employees alike, where your expertise and thought leadership will really shine.
In short, your business blog is where you can engage with people and build your brand like never before.
The thing is, starting a business blog is nothing like starting a personal blog. And most resources telling you how to start a blog only focus on personal blogs.
So if you’re wondering how to start a blog for your business, this step-by-step guide is for you.
Step 1: Choose Your Focus
Most how to start a blog resources tell you to start by choosing a niche--a subject to ground everything you write about. If you already have a business, you already have a niche.
So what you need to do is figure out your focus, or the angle you’ll take within your industry.
A good way to get started is to check out your competitors. A lot of them probably have blogs; consider questions like these to help you narrow down your unique angle:
- What are your competitors focusing on in their blogs?
- Where are the gaps you could fill in with your blog?
- What do you specialize in within your niche?
- What are the biggest problems your target market has?
The first several points in this post from Social Media Examiner can help you narrow down your focus, create your unique selling proposition, and even brainstorm posts.
Step 2: Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition
Now that you know your angle, it’s time to figure out how to start a blog that’s unique and different from your competitors. Developing a unique selling proposition (USP), also known as a core value proposition, can be the difference between phenomenal success and a complete flop.
The questions that help you determine your focus can also help you make your blog unique. Start by examining your competitors and asking yourself, “What can I do better?”
If you need some help discovering what makes your approach unique and worth reading, check out this guide to finding your USP.
Figuring out what makes your blog unique and special is critical to creating a great business blog. Your USP answers your readers’ question, “Why should I read your blog and buy your products over someone else’s?” To answer that question, you’ll use your USP everywhere:
- in your tagline
- on your About page
- in your introductory posts
- on landing pages for new products
- in foundational or cornerstone content
Step 3: Start Brainstorming Posts
When you create a new product, you want to test it early on so that if it works, you can keep investing time and money into it, and if it doesn’t work, you can scrap it before you waste any more time and money.
Brainstorming posts for your business blog is like an early test. If you can’t sit down for a few minutes and come up with at least 30 blog topic ideas, you need to go back to Step 1 or Step 2 and change something.
If other people will be helping you with the blog, meet with them for half an hour and brainstorm together. If you’ve picked the best focus and USP, 2 or 3 collaborators could easily come up with over 100 blog post ideas.
Step 4: Start Talking to Developers and Designers
Building the ideal blog platform for your business will take time, so starting an early conversation with your design and development team lets you work on marketing, content, structure, and design all at the same time.
For this step of how to start a blog for your business, you have 2 choices:
1. add the blog to your current business website
2. build the blog from scratch
If you already have a website for your business, the first choice is ideal. Adding the blog to your current site brings additional marketing, engagement, customer service, and SEO value to your site. Plus, current customers already know your website, so they’ll be more comfortable with your on-site blog. The URL for an on-site blog could be either:
The second choice is for businesses who don’t have a website already. To build from scratch, you will need to setup hosting and register a domain name before the designers and developers can get to work.
Unless you have an in-house team of developers and/or designers, you will probably need to outsource this work. You need a web developer to build the blog, and a graphic designer to make it look good. Plan on several consultations for both.
How to Start a Blog for Solopreneurs: If you’re a one-person-show, you might be better served by choosing a blogging platform (such as WordPress or Typepad), getting hosting, and choosing a premium theme for your design.
Step 5: Start Talking to Online Marketers
Although marketing doesn’t take the same amount of time that design and development do, talking to your marketing team now will help you with later steps.
The point of consulting with an experienced online marketer is to start planning how to get the word out about your new business blog. You’ll especially want to plan:
- pre-launch activities to create buzz
- launch day marketing to start strong
- long-term strategy to build your influence and audience over time
Unless you have an in-house marketing team, you’ll probably want to hire an internet marketing consultant.
Step 6: Create an Editorial Calendar
Learning how to start a blog for business isn’t hard. Maintaining it with consistent content can be.
To make maintaining your blog easier, work with your marketing consultant to create a content calendar that illustrates what to post on your blog and when. You’ll definitely need an editorial calendar to keep track of pre-launch and launch day activities, and you’ll probably want a template calendar to help you execute long-term marketing strategies.
An editorial calendar can help you keep track of a lot of details beyond the title of the post (or marketing activity) and the day it will be published. Use your calendar to track:
- files to upload
- links to other posts, pages, or websites
- experts to interview
- the type of post (article, video, infographic, etc.)
If you plan to publish a lot of content on your blog or have multiple authors, it might be helpful to put someone in charge of the editorial calendar to make sure posts are published and marketing objectives are met.
Once you complete these back-end steps, you’ll be ready to dig into the fun parts of how to start a blog--branding and content creation. If you have any tips or experiences about these steps, please share in the comments!
In the meantime, stay tuned for How to Start a Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Business Blog, Part 2, coming soon!