hands making 'it rocks' signs at festival

Many people underestimate the effectiveness of blogging, whilst others have absolutely no idea what a blog is. Quite simply, a ‘blog’ is a shortening of ‘weblog’. It provides an online platform for individuals, groups of people and businesses to deliver an ongoing narrative by publishing new material about anything and everything. You can post explanatory information and guidance, research, journals, articles and stories that will be useful or interesting to other people. If you run a small business, a blog is an excellent way to market your brand and share your expertise – by posting information about your company, your products and services, and useful stories or news about the industry in which you operate, you could increase your online presence, create brand awareness, drive website traffic, engage with existing and potential customers, and encourage people to use your products and services.

The benefits of blogging

It is important for any business to have an online presence these days. Competition is high for all businesses, big or small, because so many people now rely on the Internet to find out pretty much everything. If you want your business to get noticed, you really need to be online. You should have a well-designed website with lots of relevant content, a strong social media presence and an effective marketing strategy that utilises all of this web content. A blog is an essential part of this mix and many businesses are now taking advantage of the huge benefits offered by this form of communication by hosting their own blog.

Any time you publish a new blog on your website, you are creating one more opportunity for your business to appear in an Internet user’s search results. Take this blog, for example – when someone enters ‘how to create a blog’ into a search engine, there’s a good change this page will appear in the search results. In fact, that might be the very reason you’re now reading this post. The likelihood of blog posts being picked up is significantly increased when you publish them consistently and regularly, particularly if the content is varied and of good quality, and even more so when you link your posts to your social media pages. Search engines are designed in such a way to pick up web content from reputable websites and then place the content in search results; therefore, the more often you publish good quality blogs, the higher the chance these blogs will be picked up.

Useful tips

Michael Hyatt, former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and bestselling author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, offers some valuable blogging tips in an article featured in The New York Times business section:

  • Create your own unique content – Do not use a ghostwriter to blog on your behalf as this could severely damage your reputation and brand if you get caught out.
  • Start preparing the evening before – Think about what you will write in your next blog before heading to bed. This forward planning will give you a clear idea of what you want to achieve when you get started the following day.
  • Write offline – Avoid constant distraction and interruption by logging out of your email and social media while writing your blog.
  • Give yourself a time limit – Consider setting a timer to give yourself a deadline for finishing each blog. The sense of urgency this creates should help you to stay focused and effectively manage your time.
  • Create an outline before you begin – Much like writing an essay, this will help you to structure your blog and stay on-topic.
  • Edit at the end – Focus on finishing the entire blog first, rather than editing as you go along.
  • Edit the blog yourself – Read your blog over a few times, remove anything unnecessary or repetitive, keep it simple and concise where possible.
  • Boost your search-engine optimisation (S.E.O) – Consider running your content through a service such as Scribe. This will help with S.E.O by analyzing your content and offering useful suggestions for improving your post.

If at all possible, it would be a good idea to also have your work proofread or edited by someone else before it is published. Small mistakes are easy to make but they can diminish the quality of your work and negatively impact your reputation as an authoritative, credible source. If you’re offering expert advice, make sure you know your stuff – the last person anyone should be taking advice from is someone whose own work is careless and poor. Yes, this blog was checked and checked again before it was published to avoid eating my own words!