Are You Ready to Start a Blog?

A company blog is just one way to increase your corporate profile, drive traffic to Blog imageyour website, and (possibly) be recognized as a thought leader in your field. It's only part of your marketing strategy, though, and don't underestimate the time it will consume – big chunks of time to research, write and publicize your posts.

And you'll have to do a lot more than write to get an audience; you'll have to do it often and be consistent. Statistics show you'll have to blog at least once a week for a year to get any traction.

Ideas for Blog Topics
Okay, so you already know what you want to write about. But keep in mind that you want to offer value, not just an opinion. What would help your customers and colleagues?
•  Share news of innovative ideas and link to their source.
•  Offer your opinion on current issues in your field, linking to information as pros and cons.
•  Give advice or tips to help your customers. You know more than you think you do, so share some of your knowledge; it helps build credibility and trust.
•  Start a poll: Ask questions on a hot topic in your field (but be ready to handle the possible feedback).
•  Hold a giveaway. Can you offer a discount or a trial period of service? Or a product relevant to your post?

Planning is Crucial
•  Just like any journalist or publisher, you'll need an editorial calendar, which is a monthly schedule that helps you plan when you'll publish (daily, weekly), what you'll publish (topics), and deadlines. A calendar will help prevent that last-minute scramble to publish something, anything – just to fill the slot. A calendar also helps you to write drafts for multiple future posts; I let my drafts simmer for awhile, and come back to edit them frequently.

It's Blogging, Not Slogging
•  Writer's block affects every blogger at some point. Keep adding to your list of possible future topics, plus interesting links and sources you run across daily. Most people, myself included, write best about topics they're really interested in – and that interest can wax and wane. I may have planned to write about website design, but that week my mind is more on typography. You tell me: Which would be the better-written post?

Proof, Proof and Proof Again
Bad grammar, misspellings and misused words naturally reflect on the writer and his/her credibility. I cringe when I catch my own typos. So do more than spell check; brush up on your grammar and have someone else proof your post before you publish. Then proof again; you'll catch stuff after you publish that you never saw pre-posting.

Share and Publicize Your Blog
•  Optimize your blog for search engines
•  Email your mailing list about it
•  Your largest potential audience is reached through social media sites. So if you're not yet into social media, you'd better get in quick. Share and talk about your blog on venues such as Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. For me, sharing short descriptions of the topic has proven more fun than writing the post itself.

Ready to Start Blogging?
•  Read this first: "12 Things That Will Kill Your Blog Post Every Time" – and good luck!