At HubSpot, we help people set up blogs for their business. But more importantly, we guide them in using blogs as a strategic marketing tool to attract prospective clients to their websites and engage prospective clients in a conversation on their websites.
Done right, I honestly don't think there is a better marketing tool - that is applicable to almost any small or mid sized business - than a blog.
Before starting a blog, the first step should be to do search engine optimization keyword research. Blogging allows a business to create as many pages on their website as they want in an organized and navigable way - since every post becomes a page. And since every page on a business's website is an opportunity to rank in the search engine result pages for a given set of 1-3 keywords, blogging creates the potential to rank for a whole lotta keywords relevant to the business.
However, blogging is not just about publishing content to the web. (Great writing is critical though.)
Blogging is about participating in a transparent and public conversation where anyone and everyone in the world is invited to participate. I like to call them blogversations. But, think about going into a networking event filled with prospects and suppose you could talk to them all at once, say as the featured speaker. That's what a blog is. It's actually better. Imagine if you could pause time and have 1 on 1 conversations with people w/out the rest of the audience knowing. Then, resume your speech until the next person wants to talk to you. Then, imagine that this went on forever 24/7. How could you not get business out of that.
So, businesses should treat it like a conversation.
The hardest part that most businesses have when starting a blog is not coming up with the content. It's finding the first few people to have a conversation with.
Which is why you should immediately find a business blog buddy. Your business blog buddy should be:
- Someone who has similar interests or has a similar kind of business. An example of a blog buddy for a realtor would be a mortgage broker or a home inspector. If you do facial plastic surgery in Manhattan, find someone who doesn't do facial plastic surgery who does aesthetic surgery in MA. If you blog about online marketing, find a blog buddy that covers sales management or sales training.
- They have to be willing to link to you. You might not start out asking them to link to you. That's like meeting someone for the first time at a networking event and asking them to endorse you. You should start by reading their blog regularly, commenting on their blog and eventually linking to them. If they get it, and you're writing compelling stuff on your blog, they'll eventually start reading you, leaving comments and linking back. (If they don't ever link back, I recommend that you send them this post and tell them you're going to have to break it off if the blogversation doesn't go both ways.)
- Build your own network of blog buddies. When I started blogging, just like most new bloggers, I had no readers. I worked my way up to a few hundred readers - starting at one reader at a time. Once I made a blog buddy, I usually introduced my new blog buddy to other blog buddies. It's how Andrew and Noah met. It's how Greg got a job. As you start to build your network, most people will get it too. They'll start introducing you to others. Before you know it, you'll write a great article and 10 of your blog buddies will leave a comment or link to you from their blog. All of the sudden, their readers start to read your blog. Eventually, it takes off and your readership will grow a lot faster than one at a time.
- Don't stop reaching out to new people. Just don't stop making blog buddies like I did for awhile. They'll stay subscribed, but they won't be as active if you don't exercise your relationships.
- If you really want to grow your readership, fill out this form and start a business like PC4Media. All of my clients become my blog buddies. I'll happily show you how to do it. If you want to be my blog buddy, here's where you should apply OR just start linking to me.