Creating a blog for your startup business is a great way to generate an interactive community centered around your business culture. By regularly posting thought-provoking content to your blog, you are creating a platform for sharing ideas, and inviting your viewers to interact with you and your startup.
A blog for your startup is a great tool, but there is a right way and a wrong way to build and operate a blog. Below are several dos and don’ts for business blogging.
Do Use WordPress
There are several services, like WordPress that make blogging incredibly easy. I recommend WordPress, because it is by far the most popular and best blogging platform on the web.
WordPress has loads of free themes, or designs, to choose from, so you don’t have to be a web developer to create a great looking site. There are also more business appropriate themes that can boost the professional image of your blog. If you want a fully customized design then you need to hire a web design company. Just make sure to use a wire-frame software or a user interface mock-up tool to clearly communicate your design to the other party.
Other features that WordPress offers include thousands of plugins (features that extend the usability of your site, like a search bar, calendar, social media buttons etc.), great technical support, and SEO benefits.
WordPress is very user-friendly, but it can be difficult to know where to start if you’ve never used it before. Refer to the guide below, created by Simply Business, for detailed information about every step in setting up a WordPress site.
Click image to open interactive version (via Simply Business).
Do Plan Ahead
It’s important to map out your goals for blogging. Are there themes you want to cover? Is there a series you want to write about? Are there topics your readers are suggesting? It’s usually best not to blog randomly, because you can cover a wider breadth of information if you plan out your posts.
Many business blogs cover a particular theme for one month (i.e. agile marketing for your business), or conduct a series (i.e. ways to increase employee productivity), which allows them to anchor their readership in a particular idea. Your readers will be more likely to follow your blog over the long term if you follow an organized pattern of thought. Mind maps are a great way to organize your thoughts. Use Creately to create mind maps online or simply browse our mind map examples to get an idea.
There are plenty of ways to organize your ideas for blog posts. If you’re into planning apps, there are several that allow you to quickly add notes, if you’re struck with an article idea and need to jot it down, and allow you to plan in detail over the long-term. Apps are great if you need to plan on the go, or want to go paperless. Of course, if you need to actually write down your ideas, instead of type, there are plenty of planners that come in all varieties, so you can plan however works best for you.
Do Use Photos
The best blogs always use photos, and plenty of them. Why? Because they capture your readers’ attention, provide your page with visual interest, and give your text a balancing component. Just because you’re blogging about your startup doesn’t mean you have to go without photos.
Using photos in your blog posts can be fairly easy. If you have a quality camera, take pictures of your business, employees, products, or service in action (if, you own a restaurant, take photos of your food being prepared or served). If you cannot afford a quality camera, do not post poor quality pictures to your blog.
Poor pictures will instantly make your blog look low-quality, which is the last thing you want your business to be associated with. If you don’t have a great camera, try using stock photos, which are fairly inexpensive.
Don’t Go It Alone
There are thousands upon thousands of other startups blogging about their business, which means there is a vast community full of resources. Especially if you use WordPress, there are people who know the ins and outs of blogging from a business platform. Don’t hesitate to reach out to other business blogs and ask them about their common problems, reader responses, or solutions.
There are also plenty of forums and resources specifically for startups that can help you navigate new territory successfully. It’s important for you to embrace partnership with other organizations and businesses, as they can often provide you with great tips and information.
Don’t Get Too Promotional
If your customers wanted promotional materials they would be looking at your ads, instead of your blog. Your blog should be about quality content, not marketing. By producing quality content, you will be branding yourself as a business that is focused on great idea sharing, which will attract you more readers.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t have anything to blog about but your brand, there are plenty of businesses in “boring” niches that are creating great content within their markets.
Services like WordPress know that content that is too promotional will not succeed, because readers want genuinely helpful or insightful content. Under WordPress’ terms of service, they say “content is not spam… and does not contain… unwanted commercial content.” Blogs that are driven by content give their readers real information that will be helpful to the reader.
Don’t Be Hands Off
Don’t just schedule your blog posts and leave it at that. Engage with your readers by responding to their comments on your articles, asking for feedback, and suggesting other resources for them to check out. You can also invite guest posts, which will engage other audiences and writers.
The internet evolves quickly, which means your blog needs to evolve quickly too. WordPress has automatic updates, which is nice because you don’t have to worry about keeping up with the latest format, but as far as your content goes, you need to be engaged with your readers very often in order for your blog to be successful.
Is a blog a must for a Startup
We at Creately thinks so. The blog provides us a way to provide useful information about diagramming, to share our experiences as a startup and to share information about our latest features. Every startup has something interesting to share and a blog is simply one of the best ways to do that.
About the author: James Daugherty is a blogger from Seattle who love technology, marketing, and snowboarding. Follow his thoughts on Twitter – @jimmydaugherty