Make Your Content Delicious: The Business Blogging Sundae
I first heard the word “blog” almost 15 years ago at a church retreat workshop for youth group webmasters, and I’ve been filling the Internet with my comings and goings ever since, with a mercifully small audience. But it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve started blogging for business more seriously and trying to gain a significant following that is interested in my work and knowledge. To make your content delicious, you need a great base and the right toppings.
WordPress has been my blogging platform of choice since graduating from the online diary world of Xanga and Livejournal. It’s a fairly user-friendly system that requires no coding knowledge, but can easily be customized if you have the know-how and inclination. It comes in a hosted version with fewer customization options (WordPress.com), or you can download and install the platform on your own web site through WordPress.org and tailoring the platform for your own business blogging needs.
A plethora of WordPress plug-ins exist to take care of everything from filtering spam to enabling social sharing. If WordPress is the ice cream, then plug-ins are the toppings. Here are my favorite plug-ins:
- Akismet is a spam filter that comes prepackaged with WordPress, but you need to activate it before using.
- Sociable - adds all those cute tiny icons for easy social bookmarking
- Pinterest Pin It Button For Images displays a Pin It button directly over your images.
- Fast Secure Contact Form lets your visitors send you a quick E-mail message.
- SEO Facebook Comments will insert a Facebook Comment Form, Open Graph Tags and ALSO insert all Facebook Comments into your WordPress Database for better SEO.
There are also stand-alone blogging platforms that use WordPress as a base…think sundaes or smoothies made with ice cream. Our own Innoblogs can work for businesses large and small, while other platforms like Photocrati (which I use here) are industry-specific with specialized features.
While it’s easy to set up a blog, creating abundant and engaging content can be much harder. (Have you ever tried making a sundae without ice cream?!) To answer the perennial question, “What do I blog about?!” I use a few simple tools that you probably already know about:
- Mailing lists or newsfeeds from industry experts and your favorite vendors will keep your knowledge and skills up-to-date, which you can then share with your prospects and clients.
- Facebook, Twitter, and other social media keeps your finger to the pulse of your clients, prospects, and colleagues. Use it to collect questions, comments, and interesting content posted by other, and address these on your blogs.
- Blogging 360 is a feature of Innoblogs that sends aggregates of relevant blog posts straight to your inbox. Pick something that catches your eye and write a response, rebuttal, or riff.
If you haven’t written anything since your last college English paper, subscribe to Copyblogger, which combines marketing tips with good old-fashioned principles of effective writing.
Finally, it’s easy to add a little cherry on top of blogs with photos and graphics. The Internet has made us even more visually oriented than before, so nearly every business can benefit from adding Pinterest-worthy photos, graphics, and collages to their blogs. A common practice among photographer and artist blogs is to construct storyboards or collages of multiple smaller images. Doing so gives your images cohesiveness, tells a broader story about your business, and can speed loading time, which is critical for engaging mobile users. Picasa is a great alternative to Photoshop or InDesign for making collages. If you need images, sxc.hu (free) and istockphoto (paid) are wonderful resources. Make sure you keep images at a web-friendly 72dpi; Picasa is again a free, effective tool for basic image management.
There are many more tools available for your blogging toolkit, and the best part is that you can pick and choose what works best for your business. Check out Mashable’s Blogging Toolbox and let us know about your favorite blogging tools in the comments.
- Good business blogging is like serving up delicious food
- Business Blogging – Building Trust One Step at a Time
- Business Blogging Success Summit 2011 by Social Media Examiner and Blog World
- 3 Content Creators for your Business Blogging
- Business Blogging for Trust in 2 Simple Steps