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Monday, April 16, 2012

How to Successfully Launch Your Small Business Blog


Launching a new blog is an amazing, scary, and exciting time. I’ve helped quite a few businesses launch their blog and the mixture of emotion is always the same.
The biggest question that zips through everyone’s mind is -
“Did I miss something?”
Today, we’ll work through a checklist that will go over the major and some minor details you should cover.
Here we go…

Your Small Business Blog Checklist:

1. Seed Posts: Have you created at least ten posts that are ready to be posted immediately? An empty blog is as unattractive as an empty restaurant on Friday night. Seeding your blog with ten posts will give it a lived in feeling that will reassure new readers.
2. Editorial Calendar: Have you created an editorial calendar that covers at least two-months worth of posts? Your business will need to establish a solid blogging habit. Consistency is critical to the success of your new blog. An editorial calendar will take away the stress of finding new topics. It will also help you plan blog posts that thoroughly covers your niche.
3. Roles and Assignments: Who is responsible for writing, proofreading, and posting each blog? This is an easy question for solo operators but larger businesses should clearly define who does what and when. Assign authors to each blog post in the editorial calendar. Set out clear deadlines for post submissions. The more you plan the easier it will be to get your blog off to a great start.
4. Your Blog Post Template: Have you created a template for your blog posts? The most stressful part of running a blog is writing posts. You can alleviate this stress by creating a template for each type of post you write.
For example a “Standard” post could have the following outline:
  • Paragraph #1: State the Problem
  • Paragraph #2: Describe Why Solving the Problem is Important
  • Paragraph #3 – 5: Outline the Steps for Solving the Problem
  • Paragraph #6: Call to Action (i.e. Comment, Retweet, Like)
This template will help you frame your blog post and maintain a high quality level. Your readers will appreciate the consistency and your writers will appreciate the structure.
5. Tracking and Measurement (Don’t skip this): Have you set-up Google Analytics? Most businesses skip or overlook this. Don’t do this. If you do you WILL fail. WordPress users can use the Google Analyticator plugin to quickly install the Google Analytics tracking code. If you used a designer to set-up your blog, ask them to install GA for you.
6. Ready to Share? Have you placed three share buttons in prominent positions? Your share buttons should go under blog post headlines, at the end of posts, and above the fold in your sidebar. Use the BufferApp to do this in under 10 minutes.
Decide where you will spend most of your time engaging with your audience. Make sure that you give your audience a reason to connect with you on that platform. For example, I tell my readers that I share jokes, resources, and thoughts via Twitter. Don’t simply say “connect with me”. This is too generic and will get ignored.
7. Schedule Time to Blog. Have you set aside one hour per day to write blog posts? Open your calendar now. Block out time everyday to focus on your blog. Consciously make writing blog posts a priority. For me, I set-aside 9-10PM every night to post. I rarely deviate from that time.
If you don’t make time to blog then you won’t. As a small business you will always find other things that seem more important. Nip this in the bud by putting the time in your calendar.
8. Passive Promotion: Have you added your blog address to all your customer marketing materials? I call this passive promotion because it will silently bring new visitors to your blog without requiring any more time on your part. Here are some good spots to advertise your new blog:
  • Business Cards: Put your blog address right under your email address
  • Email Signatures: Gmail Users can use WiseStamp to automatically add their blog address and last blog post. Insist that every employee adds the new blog to their signatures
  • Stationary header and footers: Tuck your blog URL right under your website address.
  • Table Cards: Retail locations should create table cards that promote the blog. Hint: Promote exclusive deals every week on your blog to give your customers an incentive to visit
  • Social Profiles: Put your blog address in your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles
  • Invoices: Add it to your address block
  • Packaging: If you ship, box, or bag your product then add your blog address to the physical packaging. Also consider adding a note to visit your blog with each order.
  • Voicemail and On-Hold Messages: “To Learn More About Acme Widgets visit our blog at www.WildCoyoteWidgets.com”. You’ll be surprised by how many people mention that they discovered your blog through an on-hold message!
9. Active Promotion: Do you have a plan for promoting your blog? Once you’ve set-up your passive promotional methods, turn your attention to actively building your audience. Consider guest posting, participating in niche discussion forums, joining targeted TweetChats, and offering free content in exchange for retweets and likes. Pick up my “How to Get Your First 1,000 Blog Readers Special Report” for a detailed plan.
10. Fire-up Email: Have you set your blog up to deliver updates via email? You’ll want to start building your list of email subscribers immediately. Both Aweber and Mailchimp offer easy widgets to set this up along with tutorials. Of course Feedburner will do this as well but you will quickly outgrow their capabilities.
11. Pick Your Keywords: Have you selected 5-10 keywords that describe your product? Search engines will provide the bulk of your readers in the near future.
Once you’ve selected your keywords, you can write blog posts that incorporate (tastefully) them. Don’t write for the search engines, instead create content that would appeal to readers who use these keywords.
12. Take a Breath: You’ve made the right move. If you want to make double-sure you are ready for prime time then contact me and I will take a look. Follow your plan and have fun.

Talk to Me…

Did I miss anything? Boogie down to the comments section and let me know what’s on your mind.

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