February 6, 2011

Rachel Strella

Become an Online Expert with Your Blog

The Social Side 

I had a request from Rickie Freedman to write about blogging. I remember her inquiry on Facebook a few weeks ago asking if she should start a blog. The unanimous response was “yes.” In case you don’t know, Rickie owns Reiki by Rickie. Reiki is something that is not fully understood by non-practitioners, yet many people find a compelling interest in the topic. Rickie can use her blog as a platform to offer insights into the practice, share client experiences, explain how she uses the body’s energy for spiritual renewal, answer questions and debunk current myths about what reiki is and is not. More importantly, Rickie now has a channel to tell more about a topic of interest to most us – herself.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, you’re reading a blog right now. A blog is an online diary– not so much in the literal sense for business, but rather for allowing an audience to see a human side to a company and thus engage in conversation. With compelling content and thoughtful promotion, a blogger can become an online authority on a topic. More and more people are going to blogs for information, allowing new “experts” to emerge.

Cathy Jennings will be writing more about blogging in an upcoming post, but I did want to touch on a few basics. First, consistency is key. You must update the blog regularly and promote it in order to gain a following. Have a list of topics handy for days when you aren’t feeling the urge to write. Second, a blog should not be used solely as a promotion or your business.  In order to be considered a resource, you must offer something of value to your audience.  Keep it short. In order to keep your audience engaged, aim for about 400-700 words for an average post. Finally, I recommend using WordPress to start your blog: it’s a free service, it’s easy to use, and it’s a magnet for being found on search engines.

The Technical Side

Because I focus on the social side of social media, I have asked a colleague – Bradley Miller, Owner of Bradley Miller, LLC - for insight into the functionality side. The following is his contribution.

As business owners, we need to be conscientious of what programs we use and how we format our blogs.  We want to use our blogs to serve our customers and adequately meet their needs.   Therefore, we need to take advantage of the most dominant platforms available.

I recommend using WordPress.  WordPress is a more advanced blogging platform, allowing the user to customize the settings based on needs.

The first impression created by the appearance of your blog is almost as important as the actual content of your blog.  Once you have created your WordPress account, you can do the following:

  • Click on “My Blog” and select “Dashboard”
  • Select “Themes” from the “Appearance” Menu on the left
  • Choose an inviting theme for your customers. You can choose to preview it or activate it.
  • Choose a “Header” from the “Appearance” menu.  As you create your header, keep in mind it should match your theme such as a company logo or a picture.

The most powerful way to customize your blog is by using widgets, allowing you great functionality within your blog.  Widgets allow you to create buttons that link to your social media accounts and offer a form for customers to enter a contest or drawing.  To link a widget to your social media business account:

  • Go to the Appearance menu, select “Widget,” then drag and drop the widget you want to use to the “primary widget area.”
  • Copy and paste the “blog code” from an external site, such as Button Shut, that you used to create the button.
  • Follow the same steps for a contest or drawing, including dropping the widget in the “primary widget area,” then copy and paste the “code” from an external site, such as 123 Contact Form.
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One comment on “Become an Online Expert with Your Blog”

  1. Rachel,

    Great job! This blog post really does a great job in breaking down the "why" in content creation and distribution online and provides some great insights into the basics on how to get started. I would also add that it is best in WordPress to have it self-hosted on services such as Host Gator or even Go Daddy. Most hosting platforms usually provide a one click install. It is important to do this so you can customize the blog further and to back up the information you put on there so you don't lose it in case WordPress.com has technical issues on their end.

    Again great post!

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