The Step-By-Step Guide To Blogging For The Self-Employed

Do you know what gym regulars call the surge of people who show up in January as part of a New Year’s resolution? Tourists.

The same could be true with the influx of businesses that join the blogosphere each and every day. Some join with the best of intentions. Others start a blog because someone from marketing twisted their arm. Still others were on a drunken bender and couldn’t find a tattoo shop, so they settled for starting a blog.

The fact is that because of lack of time, commitment, or a good strategy, the majority of these blogs fail. Later, when a prospect finds these abandoned blogs–either through a forgotten link on the company’s Web site or a search engine result–they’re left with a negative impression of the company.

Don’t let this happen to you! A blog is a terrible thing to waste. It does take time and commitment, but with a plan in place, your blog will increase your search engine visibility, establish your credibility, and provide more online leads than you can handle.

Here’s a regimented workout that will help jumpstart a new or stalled business blog and prevent you from being just another tourist in the blogosphere. (Please consult your physician before beginning any new blogging regimen, and always remember to stretch.)

Write Three Posts a Week

Once your blog has an established readership you may be able to cut back on your frequency, but to begin you should plan on writing three times a week. Schedule recurring blocks of time in your calendar so “urgent” but less important items don’t prevent.

Posts can be of varying lengths and varying styles. Numbered lists, how-to articles and commentary on your or your customers’ industries are proven winners. To ensure that people can find your posts, use keyword-rich titles that will drive traffic from the search engines. “Some Thoughts I Shared with HR” will never outperform “Employee Retention: 10 Ways to Keep Star Performers Happy.”

Estimated Time: Two hours/week.

Leave Two Comments a Week

One of the most important things you can do for the success of your blog is to network with other bloggers in your niche and become part of the community. This means reading and commenting on related blogs.

The comments you leave on other blogs create links back to your own blog. Although comment links rarely carry any search engine benefit, intelligent comments will attract notice from the blog owner and his or her readers, driving qualified leads to your own blog.

Estimated Time: One to two hours/week, including reading time.

Blog Popular Search Terms

Blog search engines like Icerocket and Technorati often display the most popular current search terms. If you can work a popular topic into a new post you place your blog in front of thousands of potential new readers.

Just make sure the topic is relevant to your business; while more visitors are nice, the goal here is to get prospects reading your blog. Working an American Idol reference into your blog on global commodities trading probably won’t bring you a lot of repeat visitors.

Estimated Time: Two minutes/post.

Make It Easy for People Subscribe & Share

I’m always perplexed when I discover a blog that doesn’t offer an RSS feed, or relegates it to some dusty corner or to the bottom of the page. One of a blog’s biggest strengths is its ability to syndicate content. People can subscribe and receive new posts whether or not they’re at your blog.

Feedblitz is a service you can integrate into your blog that allows visitors to subscribe via RSS feed or email. You should also leverage the current fascination with social media by adding appropriate bookmarking tools to the bottom of each post. Giving readers the ability to add your post to social networking sites with a single click increases the chance that they’ll spread the word about your blog.

Estimated Time: Less than one hour of setup time when you start your blog.

In Conclusion

An abandoned blog is a black eye for any business. A regularly updated, narrowly focused blog is a powerful magnet for search engines, new business, and journalists looking to speak with an industry expert.

By dedicating the time necessary to building a strong blog, you’ll have your investment returned to you a hundred times over in search engine visibility, new prospects and lower customer acquisition costs.

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