Two easy ways to launch your first blog

CB-LaunchBlog

A high-quality blog, consistently filled with high-quality, customer-focused articles, video and other content is the cornerstone of many marketing initiatives. But what do you do if you don’t have a blog or enough internal support to launch one within your corporate website?

There are two easy ways you can launch a low-cost blog to test the idea, gather data and build the case for a more extensive content marketing initiative:

Option 1: Set up a blog on Medium.com

Medium logoThe first solution is to launch a blog on Medium.com, a popular, free blogging platform that features a simple, easy-to-use interface that encourages writing and storytelling, and also provides a delightful reading experience.

Like any online tool, Medium has its pros and cons:

Pros

  • It lets you focus on writing, instead of the technical aspects of managing a blog.
  • Setup and formatting options are limited, which means you can get started publishing content quickly, with a short learning curve.
  • You can use a Medium blog to hone your writing skills before you launch a dedicated blog on your corporate website.
  • Medium can help you build an audience by locating others who have similar interests.

Cons

  • You don’t own the audience – Medium does.
  • You have limited control over customizing the design of your blog.
  • You have limited ability to create a unique audience experience.
  • Medium owns your blog and can change the rules that govern it at any time.
  • Your content is competing with many other authors and their articles – it REALLY needs to stand out!
  • Because it’s hosted on a website that’s completely separate from your corporate site, a Medium blog won’t give you any search engine optimization (SEO) benefits.

Option 2: Set up a blog on a separate but related domain

WordPress logoThe second option is to set up a blog on a domain name that is closely related to that of your company website. For example, if your company’s website is acmewidgets.com, you could purchase the domain name of acmewidgetsblog.com. If you want to take it a step further, you could set up a redirect for the URL acmewidgets.com/blog so it automatically displays the blog that resides at acmewidgetsblog.com.

Here are the pros and cons of an external WordPress blog:

Pros:

  • WordPress blogs are fairly easy and inexpensive to set up.
  • You own the domain name and the blog. You’re not at the mercy of a third party pushing a series of monetization schemes on you and limiting your audience’s ability to find and read your content.
  • There’s a large global community of WordPress experts who can help you solve any technical and customization challenges you may run into.
  • WordPress gives you more freedom to customize the content and appearance of your blog. Thousands of themes and plug-ins are available that can make a WordPress blog do just about anything you can imagine.

Cons

  • If you want extensive or complex customizations, your development costs could rise quickly. That’s why you should start out with basic functionality and expand it as you become more comfortable with the WordPress blogging platform.
  • Search engine benefits are slightly better for your blog posts than if they were hosted on Medium, but still not as good as if the blog was hosted on your corporate website.

No matter what direction you take, now is the time to start self-publishing your own blog so you can be known as the subject matter expert in your field.

 

Demand a Dynamic Website

Demand a Dynamic Website by Cultivate CommunicationsYou know your website is outdated. And you know you’ve gotta “bite the bullet” and have it redesigned.

It’s time.

Online users consider website design one of the top criterion in ascertaining the credibility of your company.

In today’s marketing world, an outdated or poorly designed website can cause your customers to lose trust in you and go shop with your competitors.

When you’re ready to take action and hire a web designer, you’ll find several agencies who will quote you a price for a “brochure website” — a standard 3- to 10-page website including a Home page, an About Us page, and a Contact page. They’ll show you tons of beautiful designs that you can OOH and AAH over.

But here’s the catch:

Pretty doesn’t equal SEO.

S-E-Oh. Don’t fret. I’m not gonna get all technical on you. I promise. But you do need to know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to be sure your web redesign dollars are being well spent.

If you want your new site to be found, one thing you need to include is SEO friendly keywords on your site. Basically, when creating a site you want to include words that customers would use to search for your business. But your business isn’t generic. So you don’t want a bunch of broad, canned phrases on your website. Explaining all the facets of your unique business within the confines of a “brochure website” can be difficult, too. What you want is for the language used on your company’s website to sound natural. Engaging. Distinctive. Relevant.

The challenge is to strike the perfect balance between telling your company’s unique story and loading your website with popular keywords.

Here’s another catch: If Google thinks you’re keyword stuffing — trying to unnaturally jam as many related terms as possible into your 3- to 10-page website — they’ll punish you.

This is serious business. Google has specific algorithms that severely penalize websites that try to use that approach. If you do it, your search engine ranking will PLUMMET, your site won’t show up when people search for it, and all that money you spent on a website redesign will be for NOTHING.

So how does a complex business website incorporate the important keywords associated with its trade?

You must demand — yes, DEMAND — a dynamic website that expands, changes, and grows with your business. This means you must request that the web redesign company you’re working with do three things:

1. Build a website on an open source platform that gives you the freedom to switch agencies, designers, or IT crews at any time.  Still trying to decide between an Open Source or Proprietary Web Platform? Learn some of the pros and cons here.

2. Set-up and integrate WordPress on your company URL. If you were building a house, this would be the equivalent of asking your contractor to add plumbing to your basement. Someday, you might want to “finish” your basement to add more livable square footage to your house. So, at the outset, you should lay the groundwork for that possibility.

Having WordPress pre-set will allow you to easily expand your website in creative ways down the road. This is how you successfully add a variety of SEO keywords to your site.

For example, say you decide to add a customer FAQs section, an employee bio page, or a company news page. According to Hubspot.com, websites with blogs get 55% more traffic. With WordPress, the groundwork for developing those keyword-laden blog posts is already set. (You don’t have to blog. There are ways around blogging. But one day, you might decide that the smart money is on content strategy, and you’ll be glad everything’s already in place on your website to get a blog up and running in no time.)

3. Ensure your website will get traffic and generate leads. The “all-purpose” solution that web designers offer you when quoting an inexpensive brochure website often really IS too good to be true. The price may be tempting, but it’s a waste of your money if it’s not done right. Be sure to design your website with a reputable company who thoroughly understands digital marketing, not just website design.

See? I told you I wouldn’t get too technical on you.

If the agency you’re considering working with doesn’t bring up these three topics as you discuss your website estimate, they might not be a reliable resource.

Do you have any questions? Let’s connect and discuss them on LinkedIn.

Content Marketing Without a Blog

{Content Marketing Without a Blog} Can you do it with a blog? *Yes, sort of...So you already know WHY your business needs content marketing. Now you need to know HOW to do actually do it. The first step in kick-starting your content marketing initiative is simple:

Start a blog.

I can already see you squirming in your seat.

Can’t we do this “content marketing thing”
WITHOUT a blog?

The simple answer is: YES. You can do content marketing without a blog. But first ask yourself, “What is it about starting a business blog that makes you squirm?” Is it that you think:

  • Blogs are only for big businesses with huge marketing budgets?
  • Blogs are just online diaries used to voice your political views or share stories and pictures of your children?
  • You don’t have enough material to keep a blog going for your small business?

Maybe you just need to re-think what a blog could BE and DO for you.

The owner of a Montessori school sat across from me. I rambled on and on about how using a blog would be a great tool for her school. I received smiles and polite nods as I spoke. Halfway through I paused and asked, “Do you have any idea what I am talking about?” She laughed and said, “Not really.” Then I suggested:

Let’s ditch the term blog. Who needs it?

I tried again, but this time I replaced the word blog with the phrase “Parent Resource Center.” Her eyes lit up.  Suddenly the same explanation for this proposed section of her website and what it would include made perfect sense.

{Content Marketing Without a Blog} Can you do it with a blog? *Yes, sort of...So if the word blog makes you twitch, consider using a different, more applicable title for that section of your website.
Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Articles
  • Latest Updates
  • FAQs
  • News & Tips
  • Learning Center
  • Resource Center

The label makes no difference. These navigation titles all take your readers to a place on your website full of useful and engaging content. Sometimes the hang-ups to starting a new marketing approach vanish with a simple change in terminology.

So, now that you realize you can tap into the power of content marketing without a “blog” — you simply need to GET STARTED!

Got other roadblocks stopping you from implementing content marketing? Let me know. Let’s chat in the Comments below.

See all articles by Zina Harrington
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PS: Once you’re up and running be sure to check out these 5 Must-Have WordPress Plugins.
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