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Making your Blog work for you;

Starting a blog for personal expression means that it doesn't really matter how many views you get, if you are looking at running a business based or marketing blog then views are of the utmost importance. So how do you get those views?

The Basics of Blogging;

A blog is an internet publication which usually take the form of a diary or journal, although they can also be used for news and reviews about specific topics or products. Blogs usually include personal comments, viewpoints and experiences as well as often containing links, videos and images. Lots of people begin keeping a blog as a way of expressing personal or professional views.

Blogs however can quite easily be used as a platform for writing about and marketing your business or products online. At the moment blogs are experiencing a huge level of popularity across all sectors of the internet and can be an effective and very inexpensive way to reach a wider audience.

One of the best things about blogs is that people often read them at leisure. Clients and consumers are becoming more and more wary of advertising but will happily read a blog as long as it has some interest to them on a personal level. Most of the worlds top companies use blogs to deliver more value and a more personal touch when trying to introduce people to their companies a strategy that seems to be producing good results.

Where to start?;

Starting a blog is surprisingly simple all you really need is the time to write and somewhere to post your blog. To start with you will obviously need a topic or theme for your blog. A great way to get some good ideas for your topic is to look around the internet first and see what other people are talking about on their blogs. Generally speaking you want to have one core theme for your blog similar to the way that many newspapers have columnists that talk about one specific topic. This topic can be very narrow or very wide but it is important to ensure that your readers know what kind of things you are likely to cover otherwise they are likely to read one article they are interested in and then stop following your blog if you begin talking on a topic that has no interest to them.

Once you have a general outline for what you want your blog to be about you need to start thinking of what you want to name your blog. Short catchy names are great but make sure to try and include some clues as to what the blog covers in the title. This will make it much easier for people to find your blog.

Of course deciding on a topic and working out a cool name will be of no use if you don't have a place to post your blog. There are a huge amount of places around the internet where you can post a blog nowadays, some of which are free and some of which charge a fee for use. If you can't find a place to put your blog I would suggest simply doing a quick Google search for blog hosting sites and then doing a little research into which option is best for you. Of course if you have your own website already then you can also post your blog right to it's own page there. One big advantage of this is that it can also bring people in to have a look around the rest of your webpage if they like what they see on the blog.

Things to remember about writing;

Writing a blog is by no means rocket science, but there are a few things that you should try to keep in mind to make sure your blog is easy and enjoyable for your followers to read.

1. Make sure your English (or whatever language your blog is in) is up to a certain standard. While society cares far less about perfect grammar, spelling and syntax than it did in the past it is still important to at least ensure that you make your blog legible. Obviously most websites and blog sites have a built in spell check too so there really is no excuse for bad spelling.

2. Try to express yourself clearly. Blogs are not really formal writing and are definitely not supposed to be an essay. Try to keep your sentences and paragraphs reasonably short and keep your language light and easy to read.

3. Think about adding videos and/or pictures to your blog. Research has shown quite clearly that people engage much more readily with pictures and especially with videos than with walls of solid text.

4. Even if you are promoting a product, company or service try to minimize the amount of advertising you have in each blog post. It's OK to give people an option to buy your product or through an affiliate link buy a product you are talking about and which may interest them, but having a huge amount of "spam" links and banners all over your page is a huge turn off. After all as we have already said people usually come to blogs looking for information or a little light leisure reading, not to be bombarded by your sales pitch.

5. Be engaging. Try to be a normal person. Even if you are selling a product or marketing a company people relate better to real people with real stories and ideas than they do to someone who sounds robotic and one-sided.

How to promote your blog;

All your hard working finding the perfect blog idea and name as well as a great place to post it will come to nothing if you can't get people to read it and finding readers is all about promoting your blog. Just writing good content and posting to a good blog hosting site is not really enough to get you a good audience. There are literally millions of blogs out there with people posting new blogs even as you read this so unless you have a good way of promoting your blog you will have trouble getting readers.

There are a few choices open to you when considering how to promote your blog. You can advertise your blog by placing links to it or mentioning it in emails and on social media and forum pages. Other possible options include getting blog hosting or article hosting sites to review your blog and hopefully post it on their front pages or higher on their search rankings as well as things such as entering blogging competitions. Finding people who blog about similar topics can also help you as you can partner up with them and do some form of cross promotion where you send people to their blog and they return the favour.

The key to keywords;

For people who know roughly what they are looking for but not where to find it search engines such as Google and Yahoo are extremely helpful. For the very same reason these search engines are great for the blogger too. Many search engines use algorithms which search for key words in a website or blog. Even if your content is good if you don't use the right keywords then people still might not be able to find you. Correct keywords are essential and should reflect what you want people to be thinking about when they find your blog. A good way of making sure you have the right kind of keywords is to do a search for the keywords you want to use and see what results you get. If the results are close to what you are offering you've hit the nail on the head if not try rethinking your choice of keywords.

Keeping it neat;

Keeping your business blog clean and uncluttered is important for drawing in customers. Think about it if you go into a store or even onto someone's website the first thing you notice is what the general layout looks like and as they say first impressions count. If you went into a store and there was random aisles full of odds and ends lying around would you be as interested as if the aisles were neat and you could find exactly what you were after easily?

For this reason it is often good to use a slightly more spartan approach with a business blog than you would with a personal blog. If you are lacking ideas about functional yet simple backgrounds and colour schemes for your blog searching around the internet to find some sites that have got a good look can be helpful.

Don't push your message too hard;

The whole idea of a company or marketing blog is to promote your company and/or your chosen products. That being said consumers can easily be overwhelmed or put off by constantly being blasted by adverts or sales messages. If you overload your blog with links, advertising material (including banners) and sales pitches then you are likely to simply frighten away the customers you have worked so hard to get visiting in the first place. Providing readers with "Value" is a great way of gaining and keeping their trust and making sure they keep coming back. The easiest way to provide this value is by producing good blog material that is as unbiased as possible, whilst obviously being kind to your own product, and that is relevant and up to date. There is nothing wrong with promoting the fact that you have a new product or line, but try to keep it from sounding like you are simply there to sell your readers something without giving them anything worth reading into the bargain.

Value you can add;

Most companies offer giveaways, free samples and special offer codes in their marketing material. There is no reason you can't also give away these things on your blog, and in fact if you do it gives people a great incentive to keep tuning in so they don't miss one of your great offers. Other value that should be added to a good blog include things such as good advice on how to achieve what the customer wants to achieve. For example paint companies posting tips about how to get that perfect finish or health food companies blogging about great news ways to use their products in recipes. All of this added value turns you from a seller into a trusted expert and source of news and information.

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