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Don’t Start a Blog until You Ask These Five Questions

January 5, 2011

by Adam Barkafski, Dream Seed Multimedia

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Lately, more and more of my clients have been asking about blogs. Blogs have been very hot on the Web for years now, and it seems like everyone has one. Perhaps it’s the feeling that “everyone has one and I don’t” that’s driving more of my clients to wonder if it’s time to start their own. If you’re wondering this yourself, do you know if your business or organization is really ready to join the blogosphere?

What will your blog be about?

It sounds like such a simple question, yet you need to know your topics and your audience before you begin. Are you writing to your current customers? Potential customers? Vendors? Investors? Knowing your target audience will inform your topics and your writing style.

Also, you’ll want to be sure that your blog subject is sufficiently narrow that it attracts your audience. A preschool targeting potential families of current and potential students might consider offering regular tips and suggestions for family activities, vacations, behavior management, and more. The blog shouldn’t stray from that, though, and start reviewing school equipment. That would not be of interest to most families.

You’ll also want to make sure that you have enough topics to keep your blog rolling. At first, it may be difficult to come up with topics, but the longer you blog, the easier it will become. Just make sure that your blog subject isn’t so narrow that you’ve painted yourself into a corner with two or three topics…and then nothing else!

How often will you update it?

Blogs are meant to be frequently updated. Blog readers have come to expect that. If a blog isn’t updated at least a few times a week, you may find that you have trouble attracting readers or that your current readers don’t come back. If you want your own blog, make sure that you have the time to commit to keeping it updated. If you think you can only write something once or twice a month, you may find that a newsletter is better suited for you.

How will you handle comments?

Part of the beauty of the World Wide Web is the ability for things to be dynamic and interactive. A blog by its very nature thrives in the comments that readers leave. You’ll want to encourage comments so that you can interact with readers, building a rapport with them, and, hopefully, converting them into customers!

While you’re enticing people to leave comments, you’ll also have to deal with spam and the occasional inappropriate comment. Before you launch your blog, you’ll want to consider how you will deal with this. Will you require readers to register before commenting? Will you hold all comments and approve or reject them before posting? How will you define what’s appropriate and inappropriate and convey that to your readers so that they know what to expect?

This just scratches the surface concerning comments. Make sure you have a plan (and the time to implement it) for encouraging and monitoring comments.

How will it work with your website?

Your blog should be an integral part of your website; otherwise, your website won’t benefit from your blog! A good blog brings visitors and traffic, and if it’s not connected to your website, all those visits don’t have any kind of positive effect on your website’s search engine ranking. For example, setting up your blog with a third party, such as Blogspot, may be easy, but unless your blog shares the same domain name as your website, you lose most of the blog’s search engine ranking benefits. Keep your blog integrated.

How will you drive traffic to your blog?

Just like your website, a blog doesn’t attract traffic on its own. You need to have a plan to market and publicize your blog (just like your website) to bring people to it. You can include special offers, topical discussions, contests, and other reader interaction, and let your current customers know to check it out. Include your blog in your other marketing efforts so that others know it’s there. Use tried-and-true search engine optimization (SEO) strategies that you already have in place for your website, and apply them to your blog.

Before you start in the world of blogging, plan ahead, and know what you want to accomplish with your blog. Know how you will manage and market it, and you’ve laid the foundation for a successful blog!

About the Author

Adam J. Barkafski, owner of Dream Seed Multimedia, has been designing websites since 1998. He founded Dream Seed to offer affordable, custom website design, maintenance, and hosting specifically for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

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