How to get started blogging, and what works?
Three very successful, and very different, business bloggers shared their advice … and they are all surprisingly similar in both techniques and tools.
Here are key takeaways from the “Business of Blogging” discussion, moderated by Lisa Kaslyn:
1. Dagmar Bleasdale: Blog with Purpose and Passion!
3 years ago, Dagmar Bleasdale was an emerging mom blogger with a small following. Now her blog has a “top 25” ranking in several important mom-blogger categories. Her blog’s audience has followed along as “Momsense” has evolved from Breastfeeding to Green Living, Home Decor, Parenting, and much more. Her best tips:
- Blog what you are passionate about, and your audience will follow.
- Write more! Even if you are not an excellent writer, you will get better. And if you don’t like to write, do a video blog!
- Use analytics to understand what is working and what is not. Dagmar uses statcounter, a free analytics tool that she finds easier than Google Analytics. Sitemeter and Lijit.com are other free sources of stats … to track traffic sources, popular topics, and people who refer to your blog.
- Dagmar is a member of the Blog Frog online community — for her category, it works very well to build a following.
- Dagmar advises WordPress.org for the great variety of themes and plugins available.
Note: Choose plugins carefully … too many, and site speed will be adversely impacted. Also, before adding a plugin like “comment love”, back up your blog first!
2. Stacy Geisinger: Stacy Knows Blogging !
Stacy Geisinger was always the go-to person her friends would ask about where to go and what to do. She turned her outgoing personality and knowledge of the inside scoop into a popular (and profitable) lifestyle blog called “Stacy Knows”. Her best tips:
- Tune into what is trending! Example: an early blog post on “Shades of Grey” gave her blog a huge lift in traffic and national visibility.
- Use images! Even if you don’t have time to write a short 200 word post, an image with a caption is something you can always find time to post. Sometimes, less is more! (With the success of Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, she has that right!)
- Check out #blogchat on Sunday nights at 9pm, to learn blogging best practice, and help you hone your craft! This tweetchat community on Twitter is very supportive.
- Become a guest blogger! It’s win-win … even the established blogger needs content, and the guest blogger gets a nice inbound link!
Notes: To find guest blog opportunities, google variations of the phrase “submit a guest blog post” to look for blogs whose audience would be a good fit for you
3. Liz Nunan: Use Business Blogging for Lead Generation!
Liz Nunan figured out early on that while it can be hard for one person to create blog content and keep a consistent schedule, her team of sharp Westchester, Dutchess and Putnam county realtors could make it work. Liz’s leadership of the real estate firm Houlihan Lawrence includes overseeing 3 blogs for lead generation. Her best tips:
- Establish your blog/website as your digital hub or home base, and use social media to spread and promote your content.
- Develop a quarterly content calendar. Every team member needs to know exactly what they need to write about, what keywords to include, and when it will be published.
- Pay attention to headlines! The right headline can have a dramatic impact on traffic (i.e., 5 Great Things to do in Armonk, vs. “Out and About in Armonk”.)
- Brainstorm content ideas around timely and creative themes — seasonal, holidays, etc. — and then incorporate your SEO keywords.
Notes: Include referring keywords and optimize each blog post for SEO … but always write for the reader, not search engines! The most important thing to optimize is your title tag … but don’t forget to include image tags, too!
4. Final Takeaways for New Bloggers?
- All 3 bloggers are social media experts … you must use social media to spread your content and build an audience.
- Ask a more experienced social media expert to eyeball your new blog, to help you avoid obvious mistakes.
- The more you read and comment on other blogs, the more traffic will be sent back to your blog, as others in that community check you out.
In 2012, we should all be publishers … blogs are great for generating traffic for your business website, or even to just build visibility for your personal brand … so, get blogging!
PS: Thank you to Professional Women of Westchester and Webster Bank for sponsoring this event. Whether an experienced or aspiring blogger, we all learned something!
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