Business Blogging for Non-Writers

Business Blogging for Non-Writers

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Jessica Beck

August 25, 2010
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  1. WordCamp PDX 2010 Business Blogging for Non-Writers Jessica Neuman Beck

    @jessicabeck | jessica@couldbestudios.com Saturday, August 25, 12 Hi, I’m Jessica Neuman Beck and I’m here to talk about Business Blogging for Non-Writers. This is going to seem basic to people who are comfortable writing blog posts, but for someone struggling to get started or trying to tell a client how to get started, this will be really useful. If writing doesn’t come naturally to you, starting or maintaining a blog can seem really hard. But writing a blog post doesn’t have to be a literary exercise. If you follow a few simple guidelines you’ll be up and blogging like a pro in no time. - whether writing is your thing or not. I’m going to start by going over some things you should do before you get started with your blog.
  2. Things To Figure Out Before You Start Typing Business vs.

    Personal Saturday, August 25, 12 One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is how much personal information you’re comfortable sharing on your business blog. It’s a good idea to lay out some guidelines for yourself. On the one hand, it’s important to sound competent and professional. On the other hand, you want your readers to get a sense of who you are. Figure out your comfort zone ahead of time so you don’t find yourself giving the world too much information about your personal life.
  3. Things To Figure Out Before You Start Typing Business vs.

    Personal Just how much personality does one blog need? Figure out ahead of time what your ideal balance of personal vs. business is to avoid accidental oversharing. Saturday, August 25, 12 And remember: the internet is forever. If you post a scathing rant about a competitor or some funny pictures from the company party, that’s going to be associated with your business from that moment on.
  4. Things To Figure Out Before You Start Typing Business vs.

    Personal Just how much personality does one blog need? Figure out ahead of time what your ideal balance of personal vs. business is to avoid accidental oversharing. What’s your persona? Saturday, August 25, 12 There’s this marketing exercise where you come up with these detailed personas of the sorts of customers in your demographic so you can figure out how best to appeal to them. You know, like, this is Dave, he’s 32 and works in a machine shop. He’s not very good with the internet and he’s on your site looking for widgets, so how easy is it for him to find the link to the Widget Shop? When you’re starting a blog, you should do the same thing - only with yourself.
  5. Things To Figure Out Before You Start Typing Business vs.

    Personal Just how much personality does one blog need? Figure out ahead of time what your ideal balance of personal vs. business is to avoid accidental oversharing. What’s your persona? Who do you want to be today? Assuming a blogging persona can help establish the tone for your blog. Saturday, August 25, 12 Come up with a version of you that best represents your company. It’s still you, it’s just sort of a very focused version of you - the person you want people to associate with your company. Every time you sit down to write a blog post, remember your persona. It’ll make it easier for you to get into the headspace to write in your blog, and it will help you find the right ‘voice’ to represent your business.
  6. Things To Figure Out Before You Start Typing Business vs.

    Personal Just how much personality does one blog need? Figure out ahead of time what your ideal balance of personal vs. business is to avoid accidental oversharing. What’s your persona? Who do you want to be today? Assuming a blogging persona can help establish the tone for your blog. Read & learn Saturday, August 25, 12 But you’re not just a business owner, you’re a consumer, too.
  7. Things To Figure Out Before You Start Typing Business vs.

    Personal Just how much personality does one blog need? Figure out ahead of time what your ideal balance of personal vs. business is to avoid accidental oversharing. What’s your persona? Who do you want to be today? Assuming a blogging persona can help establish the tone for your blog. Read & learn Find other business blogs you like & figure out what they’re doing right (and wrong). Saturday, August 25, 12 Bookmark other blogs, even if they have nothing to do with your own business. Take some notes about the ones you like. What do you like about them? What appeals to you? And take some notes about the ones you don’t like. Identifying what you don’t like gives you a preemptive edge. Now you won’t make those mistakes on your own blog.
  8. Things To Figure Out Before You Start Typing Business vs.

    Personal Just how much personality does one blog need? Figure out ahead of time what your ideal balance of personal vs. business is to avoid accidental oversharing. What’s your persona? Who do you want to be today? Assuming a blogging persona can help establish the tone for your blog. Read & learn Find other business blogs you like & figure out what they’re doing right (and wrong). Get your ducks in a row Saturday, August 25, 12 And, of course, the last thing you want is a technical failure to get in the way of your new blog.
  9. Things To Figure Out Before You Start Typing Business vs.

    Personal Just how much personality does one blog need? Figure out ahead of time what your ideal balance of personal vs. business is to avoid accidental oversharing. What’s your persona? Who do you want to be today? Assuming a blogging persona can help establish the tone for your blog. Read & learn Find other business blogs you like & figure out what they’re doing right (and wrong). Get your ducks in a row Make sure your hardware and software are up to the task before you jump in. Saturday, August 25, 12 Run that software update you’ve been putting off. Make sure all your plugins are up to date. Make sure your contact email address is current. You might even want to double- check that your domain name isn’t about to expire.
  10. Business Blogging Basics Saturday, August 25, 12 So now that

    you’re all prepared, here are some business blogging basics.
  11. Business Blogging Basics Talk about your business Saturday, August 25,

    12 Talk about your business. This seems like a no-brainer, but it can be really hard to open up about the inner workings of your company. Don’t shy away from mentioning things like new hires or workflow changes. On a slow day you might want to talk about the story behind your business’ name or a silly mistake you made early on and learned from.
  12. Business Blogging Basics Talk about your business Don’t sound like

    a press release Saturday, August 25, 12 But try not to sound like a press release. People don’t visit blogs to read press releases, they visit them to learn about the people behind a business and what makes them tick. By all means post about any big news, but if you copy and paste from your press release, people will know.
  13. Business Blogging Basics Talk about your business Don’t sound like

    a press release Be honest Saturday, August 25, 12 Be honest. It’s easy to try and gloss over anything that might not be going so well for your business, but if there’s a problem, you can save a ton of heartache by addressing it directly. Maybe your customers have been returning your latest batch of widgets, saying they’re not as good as the last ones. Post about it: let your readers know there was a problem and how you intend to address it - a different vendor, clearance prices on all the sub-par widgets, whatever.
  14. Business Blogging Basics Talk about your business Don’t sound like

    a press release Be honest Respond to comments from readers Saturday, August 25, 12 Respond to comments from your readers. It can be really daunting to open up such a direct and public line of communication between you and your customers, but the best thing that can happen to you is to hear feedback. It means people are reading and that they care enough to post on your site. Check your comment queue regularly and respond to everyone who’s not a spammer or a troll.
  15. Business Blogging Basics Talk about your business Don’t sound like

    a press release Be honest Respond to comments from readers ...even if they’re negative Saturday, August 25, 12 And respond to comments even if they’re negative. If someone has a problem and comments about it on your blog, it’s important to respond for a couple of reasons. First, obviously, it’s important to let the person with the problem know that you’re there and you’re listening. But secondly, future readers of your blog will see your response. Even if all you say is just ‘I’m really sorry you have a problem; I’ll contact to you privately to see if it can be resolved,’ you’re giving your readers the impression that you care about what they have to say and you’re not just sweeping any negativity under the rug.
  16. But what do I write about? Saturday, August 25, 12

    But what do you write about?
  17. News about you or your business Saturday, August 25, 12

    News announcements can be great, especially if you can link to an external site or blog that features an article about you. Linking out almost always leads to linking in, and the more sites link to you, the better your search engine rankings will be.
  18. News about you or your business Events you’ll be hosting,

    taking part in or sponsoring Saturday, August 25, 12 Adding events to your blog is a great way to keep your content current. If the event is off-site or involving another business, make sure you link! And if an event is hosted at your location, think about taking pictures or hiring someone to take them for you. That way you can do a post before the event, hyping it up, and then post afterward to recap and show people how much fun it was.
  19. News about you or your business Events you’ll be hosting,

    taking part in or sponsoring “Behind the scenes” peeks Saturday, August 25, 12 Readers love to look backstage. If you’re a restaurant, for example, post a picture of a dish being prepared in your kitchen. If you’re a photographer, post some out-takes from a recent photo session. If you’re manning a trade-show booth, talk about what it’s like from your side.
  20. News about you or your business Events you’ll be hosting,

    taking part in or sponsoring “Behind the scenes” peeks Your take on industry news or announcements Saturday, August 25, 12 Industry news or announcements. Was there a big announcement about something relevant to your business? Tell your readers how you feel about it or how it affects your company. Not only will you get a post out of it, it’ll also help establish you as an expert in your field.
  21. News about you or your business Events you’ll be hosting,

    taking part in or sponsoring “Behind the scenes” peeks Your take on industry news or announcements Lessons, tutorials or walk-throughs Saturday, August 25, 12 Lessons, tutorials or walk-throughs. This one is huge, since people are more likely to come back to a blog they feel is useful to them. Obviously you don’t want to share any trade secrets or anything, but you’re an expert in your field, and sharing a little bit of your knowledge can be really fun. Bolt, a local fabric shop, often posts sewing tutorials for quick weekend projects. We post a lot of tutorials, and they’re the most visited articles on the site.
  22. Search keywords Updates to frequently-viewed articles Saturday, August 25, 12

    Speaking of knowing what your readers are looking for...if you’ve got any analytics software installed on your site, you can see what keywords people use when they find your site in a search. You can use those keywords to give you an idea of what people are looking for and give you a good idea of what you might want to post about next. Also, you can see which of your previous posts get the most views. We’ve got an old tutorial we did when Shopify first came out, walking people through the process of setting up their shop. Since then the service has gone through a bunch of changes, but people are still visiting that old article on our site all the time. That’s a perfect article to use for a new update, since obviously it’s something our visitors are interested in.
  23. Jump In, The Water’s Fine The first post is the

    hardest It’ll be easier next time, I promise. Saturday, August 25, 12 So you’re ready to jump in, right? If you’re starting from scratch, it can be really daunting to hit the Publish button that first time. But don’t spend too long staring at the empty boxes in the Add New Post screen. The only way you’re going to get started is by jumping in!
  24. Jump In, The Water’s Fine The first post is the

    hardest It’ll be easier next time, I promise. Drafts are your friend Get your thoughts saved in Draft form - it’ll be easier to come back to your post later if you have a starting point. You can save your Drafts as long as you want. But... Saturday, August 25, 12 You don’t have to feel a huge amount of pressure to make your first post right away. Sometimes the biggest hurdle is just to get past the mental block that keeps you from writing. You can save your post as a draft, which means you won’t lose any of your words or content but the post isn’t live on your site yet so none of your readers can see it. You can save your drafts as long as you want and come back to them any time.
  25. Jump In, The Water’s Fine The first post is the

    hardest It’ll be easier next time, I promise. Drafts are your friend Get your thoughts saved in Draft form - it’ll be easier to come back to your post later if you have a starting point. You can save your Drafts as long as you want. But... Don’t be too picky It’s never going to be perfect. Saturday, August 25, 12 But at some point you’ve just got to accept that there’s no such thing as a perfect post. You’re going to reach a point where you’re just sort of poking at your post instead of making any meaningful changes. That’s the point when you know it’s time to let it go.
  26. Jump In, The Water’s Fine The first post is the

    hardest It’ll be easier next time, I promise. Drafts are your friend Get your thoughts saved in Draft form - it’ll be easier to come back to your post later if you have a starting point. You can save your Drafts as long as you want. But... Don’t be too picky It’s never going to be perfect. Go ahead, publish it. You probably won’t have a lot of people reading at first anyway. What have you got to lose? Saturday, August 25, 12 And, seriously, if you’re starting a new blog, it’s not like people are constantly refreshing their browsers waiting for you to post. You’ve got to build it before they will come. So click that publish button and get your first post out there!
  27. Things to Avoid: Saturday, August 25, 12 Things to avoid

    on your business blog.
  28. Things to Avoid: Too many posts all at once Unless

    you’ve really got a lot of information to convey in a short amount of time (for example, if you’re live-blogging a tradeshow or event), try spacing your posts over several days rather than posting them all at once. Also consider: Twitter, for quick messages Facebook, for status updates Saturday, August 25, 12 Yes, posting often is a good thing. But unless you’re liveblogging an event, rapid-fire posts aren’t going to appeal to readers. A better way to handle it is to use WordPress’ scheduled posts feature to space out your postings. Right above the Publish button is a line that says “Publish immediately” followed by an Edit link. Just click Edit and then enter a future date and hour. When you click Publish, your post will be scheduled for the time you’ve specified. You don’t have to do anything - it’ll automatically post. If you do have a lot of rapid-fire things to say, think about using Twitter or Facebook for quick updates.
  29. Things to Avoid: Too many posts all at once Too

    few posts Don’t post once and then abandon ship. The whole point of having a blog is to update it! Try: Writing lots of posts when you have time & scheduling them to post throughout the week or month Cross-posting your Facebook or Twitter updates to your blog Posting from your phone or email Adding new photos regularly Saturday, August 25, 12 Okay, but maybe your problem isn’t that you have too much to say - maybe it’s that you have too little. It’s really, really easy to start a blog and then just sort of let it go. The longer you go without posting, the more pressure you feel to come up with something really spectacular to justify your absence. Don’t do that. It doesn’t matter what you post, as long as you post something. If the issue is that you don’t have the time to go in and post on a regular schedule, think about using the post scheduling feature I just talked about to sort of save up a store of posts and then dole them out while you do other things. Set aside maybe an hour a week to write some quick posts and then schedule them. You can also post from your phone or email, so if you’re on the go you can still update your blog. And photos are a great way to sort of post without posting. It only takes a second to upload a photo, and it makes a good stand-alone post with very little text.
  30. Things to Avoid: Too many posts all at once Too

    few posts Spelling and grammatical errors No one’s going to stop reading your blog because of a typo or two, but using good grammar and spelling can make a huge difference in the way your business is perceived by the public. Some tips: Punctuation is important. Also: one exclamation point is enough. Spellcheck is useful, but a quick edit by a human is better. Blogs are not IMs or text messages, so even if you’re posting from your phone use complete sentences (and words). Learn the difference between its and it’s, your and you’re, and their, there, they’re. The world at large will thank you. Saturday, August 25, 12 Spelling and grammar. No one’s going to stop reading your blog because of a typo or two, but there’s a huge difference between the occasional misplaced apostrophe and a post that looks like a text message gone wrong. Proper spelling and grammar are essential if you want to look professional and have people take you seriously. Punctuation is important. We’ve all seen the difference between Eats, shoots and leaves and Eats shoots and leaves, right?
  31. Things to Avoid: Too many posts all at once Too

    few posts Spelling and grammatical errors No one’s going to stop reading your blog because of a typo or two, but using good grammar and spelling can make a huge difference in the way your business is perceived by the public. Some tips: Punctuation is important. Also: one exclamation point is enough. Spellcheck is useful, but a quick edit by a human is better. Blogs are not IMs or text messages, so even if you’re posting from your phone use complete sentences (and words). Learn the difference between its and it’s, your and you’re, and their, there, they’re. The world at large will thank you. Eats, shoots and leaves Saturday, August 25, 12 Punctuation is important. We’ve all seen the difference between Eats, shoots and leaves and Eats shoots and leaves, right?
  32. Things to Avoid: Too many posts all at once Too

    few posts Spelling and grammatical errors No one’s going to stop reading your blog because of a typo or two, but using good grammar and spelling can make a huge difference in the way your business is perceived by the public. Some tips: Punctuation is important. Also: one exclamation point is enough. Spellcheck is useful, but a quick edit by a human is better. Blogs are not IMs or text messages, so even if you’re posting from your phone use complete sentences (and words). Learn the difference between its and it’s, your and you’re, and their, there, they’re. The world at large will thank you. Eats shoots and leaves Saturday, August 25, 12 Punctuation is important. We’ve all seen the difference between Eats, shoots and leaves and Eats shoots and leaves, right?
  33. Things to Avoid: Too many posts all at once Too

    few posts Spelling and grammatical errors No one’s going to stop reading your blog because of a typo or two, but using good grammar and spelling can make a huge difference in the way your business is perceived by the public. Some tips: Punctuation is important. Also: one exclamation point is enough. Spellcheck is useful, but a quick edit by a human is better. Blogs are not IMs or text messages, so even if you’re posting from your phone use complete sentences (and words). Learn the difference between its and it’s, your and you’re, and their, there, they’re. The world at large will thank you. Eats shoots and leaves!!! Saturday, August 25, 12 Also, one exclamation point is enough.
  34. Things to Avoid: Too many posts all at once Too

    few posts Spelling and grammatical errors No one’s going to stop reading your blog because of a typo or two, but using good grammar and spelling can make a huge difference in the way your business is perceived by the public. Some tips: Punctuation is important. Also: one exclamation point is enough. Spellcheck is useful, but a quick edit by a human is better. Blogs are not IMs or text messages, so even if you’re posting from your phone use complete sentences (and words). Learn the difference between its and it’s, your and you’re, and their, there, they’re. The world at large will thank you. Saturday, August 25, 12 Use spellcheck if your spelling is shaky, but remember that it won’t catch everything. If you know you’re prone to using the wrong words for things, see if you can get someone to take a look over your post before you publish it. Or actually I was poking around on the Automattic site a few minutes ago and saw a thing called After The Deadline that will check your spelling and grammar for you, so that might be a thing to check out too. And even though it’s easy to post from your phone or from email, a blog post is not an IM or a text message. Use complete sentences with complete words in them. And finally, learn the difference between its and it’s, you’re and your, and there, their and they’re. Those are the most commonly confused words and using them right will make you look smart, I promise.
  35. Things to Avoid: Too many posts all at once Too

    few posts Spelling and grammatical errors Photos with no attribution Unless you took a photo yourself or purchased a stock photo for use in your post, you need to give the photographer proper credit. And remember, images you find on Flickr or Google Image Search are NOT up for grabs. When in doubt, always contact the photographer directly to get permission to use an image. Saturday, August 25, 12 Always credit the photographer who took your photos. The only exception to this is if you took the photo yourself or purchased a stock photo. You can’t just post any old picture you find - especially if you find it someplace like Flickr or Google Image Search. Those images aren’t just up for grabs. If you find an image you really want to use, contact the photographer directly to find out if you can use an image in your blog.
  36. Things to Avoid: Too many posts all at once Too

    few posts Spelling and grammatical errors Photos with no attribution Content by way of cut & paste Copying someone else’s words and re-publishing them on your own blog is a big no-no. If you want to share something you’ve read elsewhere with your readers, try this: Summarize the content in your own words Add a quote or two from the original article Post a link to the original article so people can read the whole thing Saturday, August 25, 12 Don’t cut and paste content from an email or another website. Re-publishing someone else’s words on your own blog is a big no-no, but you can talk *about* someone else’s words all you want. Summarize the content in your own words. You can even add a quote or two from the original article. Then post a link to the original article so people can see what you’re talking about.
  37. So, finally. Be yourself. Just not too much. Post often.

    Show & tell about your business. Throw in some how-to articles. Pictures and media are fun. There’s no time like the present. Saturday, August 25, 12 So to summarize: Be yourself. Just not too much. Post regularly. Show & tell about your business. Throw in some how-to articles. Use pictures and other media to keep the blog updated when you don’t have a lot to say. And don’t put it off for too long!
  38. Look for this presentation on our blog! couldbestudios.com/blog Happy Blogging.

    Saturday, August 25, 12 That’s it. Does anyone have any questions?