13 tips for starting a blog and keeping it going

Pressing the button to create a blog is just the first step. It’s a living, breathing organism. Pros offer advice to keep it vibrant.

In 2010, I dipped my toe into the world of blogging. Actually, I jumped into it without a life preserver. A lost job prospect made me realize that not being adept at blogging was hampering my career. Right off the bat, one of the challenges I faced was: What am I going to blog about? As a longtime business journalist in Austin, Texas, I came up with the answer pretty easily: Write about what you know and what you’re passionate about. In my case, that was the business scene in the Austin area. A blog was born. How did blogging benefit me? It helped me learn even more about the Austin business community, it taught me a valuable skill, it gave me an edge in obtaining my next job, and it even landed me a TV news interview. Most important, the blog informed hundreds and hundreds of readers about job opportunities and other goings-on at Austin businesses. At first, blogging seemed like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro—a nearly impossible undertaking—but it proved rewarding and stimulating. “I think people have this mistaken idea that successful blogging is some mystical voodoo or secret sauce. It’s not,” entrepreneurism blogger Daniel DiPiazza says. Just what is the “secret sauce” when it comes to launching and maintaining a successful blog for your business? Blogging experts offered these 13 tips: 1. Work in WordPress. WordPress is the most popular, most versatile blogging platform available. Plus, it’s pretty easy to use, and it can be added fairly easily to your existing website. Some experts recommend against using Blogspot or Blogger, as they’re not as user-friendly as WordPress is. “When adding a blog to your company’s static website, it’s imperative that the site is professional, clean, and easy to read,” says media strategist, journalist, and blogger Lynn Daue. 2. Include an “about me” or “about us” page. “Talk a bit about your company’s history and the services you offer. You’d be surprised how many people will stumble on your blog through this page,” says Jackie Chu, a marketing professional and beauty blogger. 3. Brainstorm. Lisa Parkin, president of social media consulting firm Social Climber, says you should set aside time to come up with 15 to 20 ideas for blog posts. Write several posts in advance, and then plan on trickling those out over time so that you’re not overwhelmed at the outset. “Blog posts should be a mix of keyword-driven posts aimed at increasing visibility in search engines and fun posts that drive engagement,” Parkin says. Entrepreneur, investor, and blogger Mike Fishbein says his inspiration for blog posts includes fascinating conversations he’s had, interesting articles he’s read, and current events he’s following. “Many people want to blog,” he says, “but don’t because they can’t think of what to write about.” 4. Concentrate on high-quality content. “Strive to provide readers with tips and advice that can’t be found anywhere else on the Internet,” says Andrew Schrage, co-owner of personal finance blog MoneyCrashers.com. “Draw upon your past business experiences to provide readers with unique and insightful commentary, and focus on quality over quantity, as one well-crafted article posted every few days tops several mundane posts.” 5. Use photos. Rely on inexpensive, royalty-free stock photos to dress up your blog. “High-quality photos add interest and an element of professionalism,” says Karen Catlin, a career strategist for women in the tech industry. Catlin recommended BigStockPhoto, but several online stores sell images at reasonable prices. 6. Read other blogs. “Spend time every day on other blogs that speak to the same audience. Follow them and comment on them,” style blogger, freelance writer, and journalism teacher Pam Lutrell suggests. 7. Post several times a week. If you don’t publish regularly, you risk suffering from “Dead Blog Syndrome,” says speaker, author, and marketing consultant Thom Singer. Google and other search engines highly value fresh content. “When someone finds your blog and your most recent post is weeks, months, or years old, they do not assume you are committed to your projects,” Singer says. 8. Market your blog. “Nobody is going to find out about your blog, even if it has awesome content, if you don’t advertise it,” financial blogger Anton Ivanov says. Among Ivanov’s marketing suggestions: Spread the word through social media, comment on other blogs, participate in online forums, write guest posts for other blogs, and join blogging networks. 9. Make a list. List-oriented blog posts always are always a hit, Schrage offers. “Using specific examples to back up your points always helps, and citing statistics lends credibility to these articles,” he says. 10. Stray away from “all business, all the time.” Singer says several of his non-business posts—dealing with matters such as family and hobbies—have been among his most popular. “Keep a mostly positive tone, as people do not come to a blog to hear you whine about things,” Singer says. 11. Avoid politics. If your business isn’t related to politics, then don’t go down that path, Singer advised. “The problem with politics—or any subject that is polarizing—is that it can turn people off,” Singer says. “There is no need to share every belief you hold if it will cost you clients.” 12. Share the workload. Particularly if you hate to write, blogging can be a real chore and a real bore. If that’s the case, enlist others in your business to pick up the slack, Singer says, “but make it a priority assignment, or others will just not do it.”

13. Don’t chase the money. “Everybody wants to monetize their blog, but that shouldn’t be your top priority. Sticking banner ads all over your website will turn your readers off,” Ivanov says. “Establish yourself as an expert, build a following, and then begin worrying about advertising.” John Egan is editor of The SpareFoot Blog. A version of this story originally appeared on the SelfStorage.com blog. (Image via)


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