Information, tips and guidelines for making your blog effective and worth reading
Whether it’s new or established, if you have a blog to help promote your business, you probably want it to be effective, right?
An effective business blog doesn’t necessarily mean it sells anything directly – in fact, trying to sell in every post is likely to turn people away and be highly ineffective.
Like so many things, there is no single answer. It varies between businesses.
However, I think the following options cover most (if not all) objectives of business owners when they establish a blog:
Of course your specific definition may include more than one of these options in more or less detail.
To know if your blog is effective, you need to know the purpose of your blog and have some sort of measurement in place to gauge how well you are meeting that purpose.
For example, if your blog is aimed at getting more website traffic, posting once a month won’t be effective but you can measure your success by comparing website stats each month. Testing posting three times a week then five times a week will show you what is more effective at gathering more traffic and subscribers.
I have just read Chris Horton’s post on steps to generate leads online with your business blog. In fact, that’s what inspired this post!
Chris goes through three steps which go towards the purpose of your business, marketing and blog – namely know your (target) audience well, address your audience’s needs and how to offer your audience value.
His last step is about clear communication – make your blog posts simple, concise and relevant. Heard that before? Well, yes, that is where my blogging tips usually come in
I think it is important to note Chris gives three tips on developing a purpose and strategy for your blog THEN a tip on how to make each post more effective.
So have you defined what effective means for your blog?
Do you know who your target reader is?
How often do you measure your blog against your effectiveness definition?
Maybe your blog is not as effective as you’d like.
Yet you want it effective tomorrow, not in the six months it may take you to work through everything Chris suggested. And, if you’re like many of other bloggers, you don’t want to shock your current readers by massive changes.
I think this is another situation where step by step is the solution.
Start defining your target audience and their needs in more detail (or some detail as the case may be!)
Each time you discover something that is not ideal in your blog, change that.
Maybe you decide your ideal audience are parents of young children but you have a blog category on teenage activities. That category doesn’t help your audience so stop writing posts in there as a simple step in making your blog more effective.
Step by step will take a while but is easier to face and implement than doing it all in one go.
I’m going to go out on a limb now – for you personally, what one thing would you like changed on my blog to better suit your needs? Let me know as a comment below.
No promises I’ll change it but I will consider all feedback in light of my blog objectives.
Every blog is different – as are all the bloggers – which means two things.
Guidelines for guest bloggers helps maintain your blog. Publicly available policies or guidelines will also reduce the number of blog posts you receive that don’t meet your rules.
Well, the short answer is ‘that’s up to you – it’s your blog!’
But I’m guessing you want a more detailed answer so here are some important points to consider – you may or may not list all of them for bloggers to see but it’s good to have considered each one relative to your blog.
Which ones do you include in your guest blogger policy (even if it is an unwritten policy so far!)?
Did anything on that list make you say “Oh, that’s a good idea!” and get you thinking?
I’ll post more about hosting guest blog posts soon, but let me know if you have specific questions…
Once people decide to add a business blog, they sometimes ask me about hosting the blog.
There are two basic options for having a your blog hosted – hosted by the blog software people or hosting you arrange yourself.
Putting the blog software onto your own domain and web hosting is the better business option in my opinion. Yes, it does cost more but the advantages are worth paying that price.
So what are these valuable advantages?
you have long-term control – if you own the domain and hosting, no one can change the rules. True, blogging platforms haven’t done much of this in the past but the possibility is there
Although I think hosting it yourself is a good move, getting a hosted blog does have some advantages, too:
So that’s my view of your options – do you have any other advantages for either option that I’ve missed?
Next week, I’ll write about the actual choosing between these options – if you have any questions, let me know!* Photo courtesy of 123rf
Headings (or titles) to blog posts and other online articles are important.
A good heading will entice people to read the post which means they will click on a link to it as well. So write a good heading not just within your blog but in the title you use for links to your blog post.
Including relevant subject words in a heading has two advantages for bringing in more readers.
Anybody looking for information on a specific topic will be attracted by seeing those words in the heading. It will also stop uninterested people clicking through to your post (and this is a good thing if you are trying to reduce your bounce rate and not waste time and bandwidth on people who are not your potential customers anyway).
Including subject words also helps search engines summarise your blog post and determine its importance and relevance for any specific search term.
Here are a few examples to show how a subject word can help:
What I’m reading vs My top business books
Preparing dinner vs Planning nutritious meals
My hobby vs Bike riding for fun
Which of these headings do you think will show up in search engine searches for business books, healthy cooking and bike riding?
I do a bit of guest blogging, and I believe it is a mutually rewarding experience if done well. I certainly don’t think the host blogger is doing it all for the sake of guest bloggers as they also benefit from the arrangement.
Maybe the host blogger likes updating the blog without writing much themselves, maybe they like the traffic guest bloggers can bring or maybe they are basing their blog on a team effort to give a broader picture. Whatever the motivation, the host blogger benefits.
Accept posts graciously
Recently, I saw a blog request blog posts through BloggerLinkUp. I looked at the site and the topics covered, decided it was a good fit for me and emailed the blog with a post idea.
The response received left a sour taste in my mouth and I didn’t bother writing a blog post for him. The issues with the email:
So if you want people to provide guest posts for your blog, or articles for your website or newsletter, try to build a relationship with those who offer you their writing – or at least send them a nice email response.
What sort of responses have you received from sending out or offering to write guest blog posts?
There are two main reasons people visit a website – they want information on a topic or they want information about the business behind the site.
So why do some sites avoid sharing anything about themselves?
Add an about us page to your website and blog
As Chris Lake wrote, an about us page “is surely one of the only true rules of doing business online. I can think of no good reason why you wouldn’t have one.”
An about us page can be very simple but it can make a huge difference to people thinking of doing business with you.
For a stand alone blog, it lets readers know who is writing the posts – for instance, is it a business or an individual, is it by an expert or someone learning the topic, or is the blog focussed on a specific topic or just a collection of ideas.
For a business website, it can build enough credibility for me to do business with you – or not.
How ‘about us’ can build credibility
I have an about us page on my website and as part of my blog, even though they are on the same domain, so it is easy for people to read about me and my business. I wonder if I’m brave enough to ask if you have read either of them!
How important is an about us page when you are assessing a potential supplier or service provider?
It gives the host blog some control over the standard of posts accepted. The host blogger can accept great post ideas and make sure they read well.
Specific policies are more effective
Many blog policies include something like
All guest blog posts may be edited before publishing.
As a potential guest blogger, that makes me nervous. What will they edit? Will they tell me they have edited it before it is published? What if their edits include poor grammar/expression so it looks like I made those mistakes?
As a host blogger, I would feel uncomfortable taking advantage of such a policy and making huge changes to someone else’s post. I would also start to think it would have been easier to write my own post on the topic!
I prefer a more specific policy, such as
Guest blog posts may be edited for spelling and basic grammar.
For full transparency and relationships building, I would add an extra sentence, too:
We will get your approval on any edits other than typo corrections
If you’re submitting guest posts, which blog would you choose if the only difference was in their editing policies?
Blog policies (or guidelines) are simply a set of rules that control your blog.
A blog policy does not have to just be for guest bloggers – it is just how your blog operates. If you do accept guest blog posts (regularly or periodically), make a specific section for guest blog policies.
Having policies can
Have you made decisions about any blogs based on their policies?
How do you like to be updated about new blog posts from your favourite posts?
You can just visit the blog regularly in the hope of finding new posts and not missing anything good, or you can make use of technology to let you know about new posts:
Does your preference change for different types of blogs or different frequency of posts?PS I offer all of points 1 to 5 to keep readers informed about my blog as I like to make it easy for you to learn about good business communications. So follow me on Twitter, like me on Facebook, subscribe to my newsletter, sign up for emails (form at the top of right hand column) or grab my RSS feed!
Accepting guest blog posts for your blog can be a win-win-win situation if they are good quality posts.
Sometimes you will receive guest blog posts that are pretty good but not quite at the standard you want for your blog.
I know I have read blog posts that have great ideas and tips but are poorly written or posts that seem good but don’t quite develop the ideas enough to be useful.
The temptation is therefore to edit the posts so they also read well or make their intended point.
Is it ok to edit guest posts?
If the guest blogger has made a simple error or two (for example you instead of your, busniess instead of business, or copywrite instead of copyright), then I would fix it for them.
A good writer would prefer you to fix that (or ask them to) then let them have public errors. And may not realise you have made the changes if they don’t go back to their original.
However, it is still polite to let them know you edited their work.
On the other hand, if the post has numerous and/or more serious issues, it is not ok to edit it without the author’s consent.
Remember that the guest blogger’s name will be with that piece so they have the right to know it is in their words – and you also enter into legal issues for what is called moral rights.
I think there are three ways you can get an edited post:
Some blogs have a policy stating that they can edit the post before it goes live. Even with such a policy, I would not advise doing heavy edits to someone’s work without giving them the power to accept/reject those changes.
If you submit a guest post, how would you like the host blogger to deal with your work if it contained errors?