Entrepreneurs Social Media Workout 8: Build a Better Blog

Posted on / by Natalie Sisson / in Social Media / 2 comments

When I started Womanzworld back in late August 2009 I had no plan whatsoever. I just knew I loved to write and that I wanted to share my thoughts on business and my experiences in the startup world.

It was a passion and a hobby. It was a way for me to connect with other women entrepreneurs. I had no idea that it would turn into a thriving site frequented by incredible, enterprising and everyday women in business.

The power of a blog

A blog is many things to many people and there’s over 200,000,000 of them. For some a blog is a diary, a hobby, and for a dedicated group of `A-List’ bloggers it’s a powerful promotional tool and great revenue source.

WomanzWorld.com has led me to be featured in the Visa Small Business Network site as one of just a handful of bloggers focused on entrepreneurship.

I’m honoured to be an official contributor to Forbes.com Work in Progress – for women who mean business. My first article was published at the end of March.

I’ve been able to meet and interview some incredible people and there’s more in the wings. Imagine where it could take you and your business.

The biggest muscle is content

It’s ironic that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body. It `speaks for it itself’. In that sense so does a blog. It’s your voice. It’s a personality and it’s all about the content that you provide.

Search engines love fresh content that’s keyword rich. People love unique people. That’s why blogs are a crucial part of your Social Media Business Strategy.

Many people ask me why should they have one. I tell them you can’t afford not to. Think of all the ways you can use a blog to drive traffic and customers to your business. It’s endless. You just need to become the authority on your product, service or industry.

7 Exercises to Create a Healthy Business Blog

I’ve learned more than I could have imagined in the last 7 months and I feel it’s only right to share that knowledge. Here are 7 simple exercises to get you blogging for business:

Exercise 1: Ready, set, go Blog

Go to WordPress and create a blog in two minutes. All you need is a name and that’s it. WordPress is an easy to use blog platform that has incredibly powerful features.

Choose from several free themes that best fit your needs or search for customised ones online – some are free, some cost. Thesis is an extremely popular and SEO-friendly theme for your WordPress blog.

The option panels make customizing your font controls, design changes, layout combinations and other choices super simple to modify. You can change your theme and `reskin’ your blog at anytime. It’s just like changing your clothes, your body stays the same and all that’s in it!

But my advice is to just get started. Set up your blog and then start writing some interesting and relevant articles. (You can also use Blogger run by Google and TypePad. Millions do. I’m just a loyal WP fan).

Exercise 2: Work that dashboard

The dashboard of WordPress is easy and intuitive as you can see from mine.

Initially you only need to focus on three areas:

Posts, Pages and Plugins.

Posts:

Simply click on `add new’ and you’re off.

  • Add an enticing title that draws the reader in and contains one to two keywords.
  • Create categories to file your blog post under so people can search by interest area like `Marketing’
  • Tag your articles with keywords that will allow people who search the web to find your content.
  • Add a picture by using your own or from iStock, Freestock Photos or search creative commons images.
  • Make sure any hyperlinks you create within the body of our post or for an image have a description once again using keywords. This also helps your SEO.
  • Finally preview it before you publish to check what it looks like and proof your article.

Pages:

Here’s where you can get really savvy. WordPress can act as a website for you. You can add in as many pages and sub pages as you want. So you can include a home page, your blog and other static pages.

If you don’t yet have a website then this is the way to go. I’d recommend outsourcing to a WP whiz to customise your WP theme for a professional website.

Exercise 3: Get plugged in

Through a combination of trial and error I’ve learned which plugins work for my site. Plugins work like extensions to Firefox and Chrome – they extend the functionality of your blog.

Most of them are free and very useful. Since people often ask me what I use here are my key recommendations to get you started:

  1. Akismet: Checks your comments and filters out spam ones. You’re in control of what’s published.
  2. All in One SEO Pack: Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.
  3. FaceBook Share (New): Adds a button which allows you to share post and also shows the number of times the post or page has been shared throughout Facebook.
  4. FeedBurner FeedSmith: This plugin detects all ways to access your original WordPress feeds and redirects them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber.
  5. Google Analytics for WordPress: Useful plugin that adds Google Analytics to your WordPress blog to track it and link it to your Google Analytics account.
  6. Supr by StumbleUpon: Su.pr is the URL shortener that gets you more traffic and saves time posting to Twitter, Facebook and StumbleUpon for you when you publish a post.
  7. TweetMeme Retweet Button: Adds a button which easily lets you retweet your blog posts. Also allows you to track statistics.
  8. WordPress EZ Backup: Fast Creation of Full Site Backups & Database Backups of your blog which can be emailed to you or backed up to your computer – which is crucial.
  9. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin: Adds a list of related post entries at the bottom of your post which is much easier than constantly doing it yourself. Linking to previous posts is important for SEO and allowing your readers to see past content.
  10. Add icons with links to subscribe by RSS or email plus your other social networks!

Exercise 4: Healthy Hosting

You can choose to host on WordPress in which case your URL would be blog.yourbusiness.com or you can buy a domain name and redirect your blog to it. This is pretty simple even for technophobes.

I recommend GoDaddy for buying your domain for very little and JustHost for hosting at around $6.95 a month or less for a year.

Instructions on both sites are really clear on how to set this up and WordPress has a great help resource as well as a user forum where you can find almost any answer.

Exercise 5: Keep it up

I’m sure you know that the difference between successful people and those who aren’t is that we’re consistently taking action towards achieving our goals. This takes discipline, focus and passion.

I’ve learned that in order to enjoy blogging I’ve had to view myself as a writer, with a purpose to produce quality content week in and week out.

I’ve yet to get into the excellent habit of blocking out 4 hours to just write a series of posts and schedule them for publishing. But I do know that I will commit to writing 3-4 posts each week that my readers will hopefully look forward to.

Set up a ritual of banking ideas you want to expand on, collecting links to refer back to, reading other related blogs and reading articles that interest you.

My biggest sources of inspiration are my everyday experiences and those of my fellow entrepreneurs. It’s likely that the same challenges and successes we have are faced by everyone else at some point during their business journey.

Enjoy!

This is my last in the series of Social Media Workouts. On Saturday I’ll be releasing my free eBook that includes all of these posts in one handy guide.

Plus I’m excited to be launching a fantastic business coaching online course starting May 1st. More details to follow.