Blogging can be great for business, and blogs have become a fairly standard component of business websites. But what do you need to know or do to get started?
Step 1: Know what other people are doing with their blogs (and websites), both in your market/topic and in general. If you don’t read blogs regularly, then start. Blogging without the experience of reading blogs is like trying to become a good cook without eating—it’s hard to do. Google Blog Search and Technorati are a good place to find relevant blogs, along with visiting your competitors’ websites. RSS readers can make reading blogs easier and more rewarding, so set one up (Google Reader is a good choice) before starting this exercise. As you find valuable blogs you can add them to your reader.
If you feel inspired to leave a comment, then do so. Many bloggers recommend commenting on blogs before you start writing. Just remember comments are tracked and linked to your online identity in different ways. So be aware that what you say could represent you to many people in indirect ways. That’s not a reason to not comment—but a reason to make thoughtful comments.
Step 2: Identify your target audience groups for your blog, then look at blogs you think those groups may read. Remember you write your blog, but you are not your target audience.
As your viewing the various blogs, notice the overall feeling you get from the blog. What is obviously important?
Step 3: Assess how other bloggers are communicating with your various target audience groups. What’s their overall message? What tone do they use?
Step 4: Blogs come in text, audio, video, and photo flavors right now, and most blogs benefit from combining flavors. Not only does it bring interest to your blog, it brings variety to the task of blogging. Can you identify the customary approaches in your area of interest? What flavors do you think you would enjoy creating the most?
Step 5: Think about what you want to say, how you want to say it, and how you will add value to the larger conversation. Even if you’re a writer, remember writing for the web is different from print. Take the time to check out Copyblogger and ProBlogger for professional tips on how to blog like a pro.