Blogging dos and don'ts for small businesses

While many small business owners are jumping on the social media bandwagon to promote their products and increase brand awareness, building an online presence isn't for everyone. Blogging can be one of the most effective ways to promote your business when you have a receptive target audience. I've worked with small business owners across several industries to provide custom blog content. One key to success with blogging is your posts really need to resonate with your site visitors and target market; otherwise, you'll end up wasting our time and resources. And, just having a blog isn't enough; if you haven't assigned someone to the task of updating it regularly and providing fresh, timely, and relevant content, you should eliminate it completely.

Here are some essential blogging dos and don'ts for small businesses:

Do create a schedule for your posts. As a custom content provider, I encourage small business owners to work with me to come up with an editorial calendar or schedule of posts. This helps to capture some seasonal trends and also makes it easier to plan product launches and other marketing initiatives. For example, a local fitness studio I worked with put me in touch with their marketing manager to make sure every other blog post was related to a class they offered; the rest were covering the latest fitness trends and other news.

Don't copy and paste content from other sites. Not only will you be penalized by the search engines but your blog will lose value and readership. Make sure you're truly providing a service to your readers by developing fresh stories and unique, engaging content. Hiring a professional writer can make this process easier.

Do include images. Images attract attention and make for a more enjoyable read. Make sure you're using your own images or have permission to use someone's photos. Credit the pictures accordingly and include a brief caption.

Don't focus too much on sales. Blogs can be a valuable marketing tool but will help you more with branding and exposure. Avoid the temptation to push a sale or use too much "marketing speak" in your posts. It's fine to link to a product or service you want to spotlight once in a while, but you'll want to turn your blog into a resource of information rather than a sales brochure. Provide valuable tips, insights about your industry, or even some interesting news about your company to build readership.

Do take the time to proofread and edit your content. If you're writing the blog posts yourself or are having one of your staff members handle the task, make sure each post goes through an editing and proofreading process. Spelling and grammar mistakes, poor formatting, or dead links can make your business appear less than professional.

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