12_steps_400-300x300We’re buried in the Internet day in and day out. Being surrounded by the very things we talk about, it’s hard to remember sometimes that some people don’t have so much as the basics. Today, we’re going to walk you through one of the foundations of traffic building – a company blog. From the concept to the reality, here’s a step-by-step process to creating a company blog for traffic generation.

Blog Conceptualizing Stage

It’s easy to say, “I want to start a blog”. Without taking time for the conceptualizing, however, you’ll end up with just another blogging graveyard. As with anything else in business, it takes planning.

#1: Decide how often you can afford to write blog posts.

Tip: Be realistic. We strongly caution our clients on the number of blog posts they plan to write per month. Many companies – especially SMBs – don’t have the resources to write every day, even if they wanted to. Our rule of thumb is to start conservatively. You can always add in an extra post here and there; what you don’t want to do is miss a planned post.

#2: Create an information schema / content layout.

It’s Imperative

An information schema is simply a layout of your blog’s information structure. How will you provide this information to your readers? What drop downs will you have, if any? What categories will you have?

Tip: When it seems that you have too many categories, make sure some of the categories can’t be combined under a more general one. For more information and help about creating your blog’s information schema, read: Information Architecture: Content Layout is Everything.

#3: Choose a design that supports your business niche.

For example, if you have a portfolio and want to use your company blog as a way to showcase that portfolio, some designs will support this better than others. The same for showcasing specific products, photographs and so on.

Tip: Spend time searching through free WordPress themes before contacting a designer (we’re strong supporters of WordPress as a blog or site platform). The slowest part of starting a blog is the designing stage; if you come to the designer with something tangible that can be modified to fit your needs and brand, it’ll go a lot faster and smoother.

Blog Creation Stage

You’ve followed steps one through three, and now it’s time to start blogging, right? Wrong. It still has to be built. If you already have a business website and you simply plan to add a blog, you can move on to step 6. For everyone else, read on.

Step #4: Choose an appropriate domain name.

Your domain name is your URL, like http://example.com.

Tip: Make it easy to remember. People often try to stuff their domain name full of keywords. That’s all fine and dandy, but you want to make sure people will remember it enough to type it in.

Choose wisely…

Step #5: Choose your hosting provider.

Hosting providers are the landlords of the Internet. They have the online homes, and you have to rent them.

Tip: Do your research! There are some reputable hosting providers. However, this is one of the niches that call to scam artists and con men. If you can, get a referral from someone you trust. If you can’t, research, research, research!

Step #6: Give your web developer access to your servers to upload your fresh new blog platform and design.

This isn’t a difficult process but, if your hosting provider doesn’t have a one-click install process, you need to know what you’re doing.

Tip: Many hosting providers allow you to set up a login for website administrators. If you don’t want your web developer to have your account information, you can either:

a)      set up an account for them to access you site or

b)      call the hosting provider’s customer service and ask them to do it for you

Step #7: Walk through the finished blog setup.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Before you go live, you want to make sure everything looks good – no errors, no issues.

Checklist:

  • All links are working.
  • All images are visible.
  • The design isn’t skewed in any way.
  • The blog looks the same across a wide variety of browsers. Tip: you can use Browser Shots for this.
  • Your social network links are immediately visible.

Step #8: Make sure you know how to use the platform.

Tip: Your web developer should be able to give you a short training session on how to use the platform.

Step #9: Write your first blog.

Tip: Introduce yourself to your incoming audience. What will the blog be about? What kind of things do you plan on sharing? Make sure they know your blog is always a work in progress (every blog is).

Step #10: Publish your first blog.

With WordPress, this is as simple as copy/pasting the content from a Word document to the WordPress editor and pushing Publish. If you followed these steps in order, you already know how to use your platform.

Step #11: Make your blog visible to the public.

This entire time, your blog should be set to be ignored by search engines. It’s now time to change this.

Visibility is a must

Step #12: Link your site to your blog and vice versa.

Don’t skip this step! If you’re getting traffic to your company site, you want to use your blog to keep bringing that traffic back. When you start getting traffic to the blog, you want that traffic to also go look at your site, where your products/services can be found.

A Few Last Tips

Remember that a blog – even a company blog – isn’t a sales platform. Sure, you can use it to showcase some of your products and services, but people visit a blog for information, not to buy things.

Keep your tone personable. You aren’t selling your services here; you’re introducing people to your company, your brand, and the people behind that brand. Talk to your readers; create conversations. Respond to them when they comment. In other words, think of your blog as your PR platform… because it is.

We hope this step-by-step walk through gets you started on your way towards many happy years of blogging. Last but not least, don’t force it to grow. A blog is a living platform; when nurtured and cared for, it’ll grow on its own.