Note: This article was updated on Oct 16, 2020 with fresher content.
A blog is a popular digital content marketing format that savvy digital marketers use to feed their social media content calendar.
If you are reading this now and still on the fence, starting a blog from scratch is not as daunting as it seems.
In this article, I covered everything that I think you need, from step zero to planning and to launching one.
A quick look at how blogging started
Blogging is recognized for its nature as an informal digital diary text entry when it started.
But it has now morphed into a helpful and informative, accessible source of knowledge on different topics.
And for most businesses, a blog is now an essential part of their marketing communication tool kit.
Now, why should your business blog
Blogging helps establish your thought leadership.
It showcases the depth of your mastery in a specific subject.
It is hard to reckon one’s knowledge about a topic by merely going over brief social media posts strewn here and there.
Anybody can post on “social media” a thing or two about a topic. But writing about it is another matter.
A blog gives your audience a glimpse of the depth of your knowledge and expertise.
Also, what I have always found in my years of tracking and measuring inbound traffic for clients is that a blog content always trumps other website pages in terms of organic website traffic.
Now, who doesn’t want organic website traffic?!
The traffic brought to your website by a business blog is one of the best ways for your potential clients to know you more – your company and your expertise.
Now, hopefully, the above reasons are enough to persuade you to publish a blog for your business.
Business blogging tips: key points
There is no hard and fast rule in blogging. Short or long blog? That is all up to you.
However, there are two points that are important when blogging for your business:
- Quality – your blog must be of top quality and relevant to your audience; and,
- Integrity of the content – it is well-researched and accurate.
Blogging from scratch? What you need to know
Setting up a blog from the ground up is relatively easy.
However, your ultimate challenge is giving your blog site a well-planned and appealing content that would indulge visitors not only to read your views, share it and but also return.
To help you get started, here are some guidelines when setting up your blog from scratch.
Have a plan | 1
Like everything you do for business, it is crucial to plan the blog you are about to launch.
First off, try answering these questions:
- What is the business blog about?
Focusing on one topic at a time can be helpful to getting your content found online. A focused content helps you get past the overwhelm if you are doing this alone.
For companies with a large team, and different products, having a team plan this entire process.
- Who do I want to read it?
Have in mind the person who you would like to read your blog. Who is that person? What is his role in the company? What do they need?
- Why am I doing this?
Identify the purpose of your blog – announce events, announce new product release, brand awareness, get more leads, re-target audience on social media, etc.
- Do I have the time?
This is the part where you need to decide if you have time to write one. You can, alternatively, outsource this task as a “done-for-you” project if time is an issue.
Reserve your domain name | 2
Once you have answered the questions in the planning stage, it is time to choose- and purchase your domain.
How do you pick a domain name?
You can use:
- your name if you are branding your self, and
- your niche product or business if you are promoting anything else beside yourself.
Pro Tip: Before you reserve (read: buy) your domain name, run it by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, this is to ensure that it is not someone else’s registered trademark.
Before my company’s domain became Social Success Marketing, I named it something else. And it has been that way for at least two years.
And then, I received a letter from a lawyer telling me to cease and desist from using the name because it is someone’s registered trademark. Yup, it didn’t occur to me to check the USPTO website!
So, I had to change a lot of things, including logo and other branding elements.
If you already have a domain name, then it is very easy to add the blog component to it.
So, if you decided on a domain name, what do you do next? Check if it is still available. And if it is, then reserve it by buying it from a domain registrar.
Some domain registrar companies that you can check out are Namecheap.com, domain.com and many more. Just search for domain registrars on the web. Also, some web hosting company offer this service as part of their package.
Pick your blog hosting company | 3
A hosting company offers a service that makes a website accessible on the internet. Just because you already have a domain name doesn’t mean that you already have a website, you need the services of a web hosting company to get seen online.
There are many hosting companies that you can find.
The cost of their services vary.
It is best to do some research and find out what others say about a hosting company.
A careful inquiry on this part of preparing a blog could prevent any bandwidth issues, unavailability/downtime of the website, and long loading times.
Do due diligence before picking one.
In case you are wondering what I am using, it’s SiteGround. Just use the keyword domain hosts when searching for one.
Choose a blogging system | 4
Essentially, when writing your blog from scratch, you would need something to write it on, like a notebook, albeit digital.
There are a few companies that offer this service, but I will focus on WordPress because I have been using it for over a decade already.
WordPress is used by BBC America, Microsoft, Walt Disney, TechCrunch and Facebook newsroom to publish news and helpful information.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a popular open-source content management system. It is simple, easy to use and maintain. It also has a sizeable community of experts that can assist when you need help.
There are two kinds of WordPress platforms:
Registration is free for this one, and you can customize your blog using different themes.
You can add other features, widgets and plugins available for free, but like most freebies, it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. This is hosted by WordPress.
When using this free version, your URL might look like this:free,www.yourdomain.wordpress.com. But you can also have them host your www.yourdomain.com for a fee.
You can install this for free from your hosting company.
It is sometimes referred to as the self-hosted version of WordPress because you are hosting it through a third-party hosting company of your choice.
The self-hosted WordPress version allows the integration of more customizable designs. You can also expand its capability by adding plug-ins such as Google Analytics, and search engine optimization tools.
For sure, the latter version of WordPress gives you plenty of room for customization and for growth, unlike the former.
Pro Tip: You wouldn’t want your URL to look like this: yourdomain.wordpress.com.
Why? Technically, the traffic for that URL configuration goes to WordPress, not to you. To me, that is wasted traffic and resources. If you are planning to do this for the long haul, make sure you have the domain configuration right from the get-go.
Design your Blog | 5
A good blog satisfies not only the mind, but it also pleases the eye.
WordPress has templates available for you to use. There are also companies that offer child themes for a WordPress blog for a fee.
You can check out StudioPress, CreativeMarket and other theme vendors out there to find the design that you like. The pleasant thing about using child themes is that at a few clicks of a button, you can change it if you are not happy with the look of the design.
Also, you can have web designers custom-design one for you.
Write Your Blog | 6
Once the website is up, it’s now time to write.
5 Things to remember when writing a blog from scratch:
- Catchy title. (Critical to make your audience stop from scrolling and to consider your post).
- Relatable. (It answers your audience’s problem. It is not about you.)
- Helpful. (Write it with your audience’s need in mind. What is in it for them?)
- Remember that content is not restricted to words only. There are other formats that you can use to make it appealing to an audience who may have diverse media preferences. You can use a photo, video, GIF and audio. Just watch for load time as it can slow down loading of a page.
- Keep the tone fun and light.
See below for more blogging tips:
Optimize your content | 7
Optimization comes in two parts – one part is by having your audience’s need in mind. Know what they need. Also, keep the blog easier to read by breaking a wall of texts with images and headings.
The other part of optimization is by keeping the search engine in mind. Keep a few focused keywords so the search engine “understands” what you are blogging about. With WordPress you can use All in One SEO or Yoast, and other search engine optimization tools.
Add social media share buttons | 8
Many people are discovering businesses on social when someone shares something from a business to their friends. You want to be that business, don’t you?
Then, make it easy for other to share your article by installing social media sharing buttons to your blog.
I use Social Warfare. Other tools that you can use are Jetpack, ShareThis, Ultimately Social and more.
Plan on creating micro-contents | 9
Once you have written and published your blog, don’t stop there!
Plan on creating different snippets of contents you could share on social media.
There is a name for this that you most likely have seen: repurposing content.
Include images | 10
Blogs that have images are more eye-catching in the social media feed than just texts.
Rule of thumb: always include at least one image on every blog.
The sharing buttons automatically pull an image from the blog when it’s shared from your site.
Use categories and tags | 11
If your domain allows you to use categories and tags, take advantage of it.
The categories and tags help your blog readers locate the information they need in a very organized way.
This here explains well the difference between the two:
Categories are meant for broad grouping of your posts.
Think of these as general topics or the table of contents for your site.
Categories are there to help identify what your blog is really about.
It is to assist readers finding the right content on your site.
Categories are hierarchical, so you can create sub-categories.
Tags are meant to describe specific details of your posts.
Think of these as your site’s index words.
They are the micro-data you can use to micro-categorize your content.
Tags are not hierarchical.
Important Note: Decide early on what categories and tags to use. This is because I learned later (*face palm*), that I didn’t put thought to what I was doing. I had to re-categorize and re-tag my posts. I am telling you; it is a drain time.
Back-up and secure your website | 12
Sometimes for no reason at all something goes wrong with it. Sometimes, the website seems to go out of sorts or worse, gone!
That would be a bummer after your having spent so much time and resources to keep its content relevant and shiny. It would be worth investing in a tool to secure and back-up your website.
I use Sucuri, SiteGround and Vaultpress. These tools automatically keep a copy of my website for several days, so if something goes wrong, I have copies of it ready for me to restore.
These tools have been a lifesaver.
It’s all up to you on how you move forward after setting up your blog.
What matters most is that you enjoy what you’re doing as you develop your blog.
Any tips you like to add for the benefit of our friends who are just starting to blog from scratch?
Updated August 12, 2020