9 Easy Steps to Using a Blog
by Michael E. Young, J.D., LL.M.
Attorney & Counselor at Law
Stagnant Internet websites with pages that never change are not treated kindly by the search engines. In plain English, this means that you should be adding new relevant content to your website on a regular basis in order to increase the likelihood that prospects will find you instead of your competitors online.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to add a blog (Web log) to your website.
For example, some real estate agents are now blogging about certain neighborhoods and particular listings in those neighborhoods. Because the content is relevant, these blog posts rank high in search engine results when prospective buyers search for housing in the area. Astute mortgage brokers and real estate investors could copy this tactic.
Once you learn how to blog, you'll be able to add content without having to pay a web designer to do it for you.
Here are nine simple steps to setting up your blog.
- Install blogging software on your website. A popular free program is called “WordPress.” Many website hosting companies already have this software available for you in a control panel. It is simply a matter of clicking a few buttons and the software is installed. If your website host doesn't have the software, you can still install it for free by getting a copy from WordPress.org.
- Pick the plugins that you want to add to your blog and install them. Plugins are neat little additions that allow you to customize features you want on your blog. For example, I use plugins for posting videos on my blog, making the blog extremely search engine-friendly, and so that it can be translated into other languages. Most of these plugins can be found for free with installation instructions by searching Yahoo! or Google for “WordPress plugins.”
- Select a theme for your blog and install it. A theme is the layout/appearance of your blog. There are literally thousands of free themes online so you can pick one that suits your personality and business. Once you've installed a theme, it is simply a matter of clicking a button and the appearance of your entire blog changes to that theme. You can find free themes by searching Yahoo! or Google for “WordPress themes.”
- When writing in your blog, have a 1-1 conversation with your ideal prospect. Imagine you're talking to your best client over a cup of coffee. Use the words “you” and “your,” limit the use of “I” and “my,” and focus on delivering valuable content to your reader. Remember that from the solo entrepreneur to the Chief Financial Officer of a Fortune 500 corporation, your decision-making prospect is a single human being. You're persuading one reader at a time. That's why holding a conversation is key.
- Encourage comments from your readers but moderate them before you let them get published on your blog. This means a reader can write and submit a response but it won't appear on your blog until you've had a chance to review it for inappropriate content. This doesn't mean monitoring your blog all of the time. You can set up the blog to hold all comments and check them on a weekly basis and decide which ones to keep. Comments will be few but you're reinforcing that 1-1 conversation aspect by permitting them instead of holding a monologue by denying responses.
- If you don't have time to write, outsource your blog posts to a freelance writer. Current rates for articles are $7 to $12. Make sure you use a reputable writer who doesn't plagiarize. You can find reliable writers at elance.com, workaholics4hire.com, craigslist.org, and the career services offices at local law school and MBA programs. WordPress has the flexibility of allowing these writers to upload the articles directly into WordPress and hold them there until you get a chance to review them, make any edits that you want, and then publish them on the Internet. If you use a service like PayPal.com to pay your writers, you may never even meet them in person.
- Schedule your blog posts to appear on a regular basis. You add multiple posts to your blog at one time but have them spread out so they don't get published on the Internet until later dates and times. For example, you could write 52 posts, or have a freelance writer do it for you, upload them all into WordPress, schedule one to post weekly, and you'd have new content appearing for the search engines for the next year. Or you could write 3-4 posts during a couple of hours on the weekend, and sprinkle them out to be published on different days throughout the next week.
- Claim your blog at technorati.com and check out the most popular blogs at that site for your type of business. See what works and emulate it.
Once you get the hang of blogging, you'll be hooked because of how easy it is to drive traffic to your website with it. If you get stuck on how to use WordPress, simply go to YouTube.com, search for “wordpress tutorial” and watch one of the many how-to videos other bloggers have posted there to help you get started.