It’s simpler to start a blog than most people think. You do not need to pay for a fancy course nor buy some hyped-up e-book, so put away that credit card.
If I were to say that getting to the top of Technorati or Alexa is difficult, that would possibly be the understatement of 2009. However, believe-it-or-not, jumping in and getting your feet wet blogging will be easier than you imagine once you’ve completed this little article.
A new blogger faces two main types of challenges:
- Technical - how to start a blog
- Content - what to put on a blog
How to Start a Blog
There are three basic ways to start a blog:
- Start a customized stand-alone blog on web hosting that you lease from a provider such as Go Daddy or 1&1 Internet using software from Wordpress.org - most effective but the most difficult to implement
- Join a blogging community, e.g. Blogger.com or Wordpress.com - most popular and moderately easy to implement
- Join an online social networking community on Ning such as these two of mine, Beyond Business Coaching and Let’s Follow Each Other, and begin blogging immediately - least effective but adequate for beginners and very easy to implement
There are clearly trade-offs, but choose an option that enables you to start your blog right away. Remember what I learned from Mike Litman, “You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going.”
If you strongly desire a customized stand-alone blog but don’t have the technical skills to set it up and maintain it yourself, help is always available.
Developing good content isn’t easy. I suggested in Social Marketing for Non-Gurus that you could create videos instead of writing text, but perhaps creating a video isn’t a viable solution for you.
Here’s an idea: Why not use somebody else’s video?
Not only is it totally legit, it helps the video’s creator to promote it — a win for both of you.
Find a video in YouTube that interests you and copy and paste the cryptic piece of code that YouTube provides directly into your blog. Give your blog post a title. Write a very short explanation. Add a few tags to classify your post and publish it.
You’re finished! Wasn’t that easy?
Here’s another idea.
One of my favorite blogs is Who’s Blogging What, “a newsletter that keeps thousands of web marketing professionals informed, connected and productive.”
What do they do?
They digest and summarize other people’s posts.
What if you find one article at a time and critique that article on your blog? It’s done all the time, and you’ve probably seen it done more than once.
You Are a Blogger
I’ve removed the obstacles. You’re ready. You now have choices how to start a blog, so one way or another you’re going to start a blog. Right?
Learn and improve as you go, just as I have. And please… Have a blast!
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In hindsight I see that I could have easily taken on keywords that were more competitive. Fortunately I realized before too long that I could venture off topic and rank well in the search engines on keywords other than my primary ones.
Content Attracts Traffic
Online marketing begins with content and traffic. A site needs to communicate with and pre-sell visitors and then ultimately monetize, i.e. sell them, and content is the catalyst.
One article I wrote about the Spider Web Marketing System has attracted more than 4,000 visits and one on Ad Surf Daily more than 5,000. The content in these two blog posts plus the content in the many comments they received drove them to the top of the search engines.
Overall my blog has received about 12,000 visits from approximately 5,000 keyword combinations making me a big believer in the power of content to draw substantial search engine traffic.
Blogs Are Problematic
Blogs are great for ongoing conversation with readers. However, their reverse chronological orientation makes it easy for visitors to access only the newest content. Older content becomes obscured. Bloggers attempt to compensate with extensive cataloging and liberal use of cross-linking — look at my blog’s sidebars — but this problem is never totally mitigated.
Traditional websites on the other hand are great for organizing and presenting large amounts of information. Their hierarchical orientation aided by site maps and cross-linking make it easy for visitors to access the most important and relevant content.
The Best of Both Worlds
The best way to market is to build a conventional website with a blog embedded in the site to communicate with visitors and customers.
This marketing idea works equally well for small businesses and large ones. I will be taking this direction for myself as I continue to develop my own web presence.
Conceptual and Technical Challenges
Starting a blog is easy in many ways. Blogger, for example, allows a novice to get up and going in a jiffy. Simply create an account, choose a theme and start writing. That’s it.
Building a marketing website is much more involved, both conceptually and technically, creating a major obstacle for the typical entrepreneur.
Faced with this obstacle most small business owners either
- do nothing
- opt for a simplistic small business website that resembles a big business card
- rent of buy an expensive template to build a second-rate small business website that doesn’t get any traffic
- hire an expensive web developer to build their second-rates mall business website for them
If they’re lucky they find somebody good, but the average web developer doesn’t understand marketing. I’m sure that what I’m saying will ring true for some readers.
My Recent Discovery
What we’re discussing isn’t new to me. I’ve been thinking about regular websites vis-à-vis blogs and conceptual and technical issues surrounding them for a number of months.
This past week I happened to listen to a conference call introducing a service that I knew existed but that had never managed to grab my attention. I listened for nearly 90 minutes as Ken Evoy explained how he arrived at his Internet business solution, Site Build It!, how it worked and why. He dealt with the blog vs. build issue as well. I was impressed by what I heard.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- Site Build It! costs $299 per year — everything included. No high price template. No expensive consultant.
- SBI! makes online business do-able by hiding all the technical issues and structuring the conceptual ones. The process is simplified to such a degree that success (i.e. profits, not the mere presence of a website) can be achieved — with serious effort — even by a motivated beginner. The 80/20 Rule still applies — of course — but why shouldn’t the lives of the 20% be made easier?
- Online profits require more than just having an online business card or a collection of Web pages. The SBI! service appears to include the tools and the proven process required to build a long-term, profitable e-business.
- SBI! is more than just a “site builder.” There’s no need to worry about separate hosting, a separate keyword research tool, integrating autoresponders, etc.
- There’s also no need to know anything upfront about building a website. The tedious, “under-the-hood” stuff is handled automatically.
- The SBI! service helps clients to design a profitable business, before they jump into building their sites. For beginners, the learning curve will be shorter and they bypass show-stopping errors.
- The Action Guide presents a step-by-step process in both written and video formats. The most successful site owners are the ones who follow the guide and don’t get sidetracked. They don’t have to guess at what to do next, since the guided approach helps them reach their goals. Continuous mentoring via the Action Guide and online help is always available.
- A keyword brainstorming and research tool helps verify that a site concept has acceptable profit potential, saving site owners from making a common fatal error. The SBI! service helps to find topics related to the site owner’s niche that will pull in traffic and generate income.
- SBI! provides fully customizable, easy-to-use templates (this page shows a range of styles).
- The SBI! service includes domain name analysis, optimization, and registration, as well as fast and reliable website hosting.
- Unlimited customer support and forums that are supposedly friendly and helpful are major selling points for me personally.
- There’s a no-risk, 30-day money back guarantee.
I can see the Site Build It! service helping both existing small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs reach their online marketing objectives. My only caveat is that sufficient internal motivation is a necessary prerequisite for success.
If you find that building your website is not “your cup of tea”, please get help or exercise the 30-day refund option. Don’t waste your money.
Now it’s your turn. Feel free to share your small business website experiences.
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We both know that consistency is important. We’ve heard it over and over since we were kids. But just how important is it?
Obviously if we take no action we go nowhere.
But what if we have a bias for action? How much do we benefit?
We benefit in two ways:
- Multiplication of Effort. Can you learn a foreign language or a difficult subject in 30 minutes? You can if it’s 30 minutes per day. That’s 15 hours per month or 180 hours per year. Over the course of the year you gradually master the language or the concepts that you’re studying.
- Compounding of Results. If you’re a social networker, here’s where you get a big payoff. Every person you meet knows other people. The bigger your network grows, the more people who you don’t know will reach out to you to connect. You apply the same constant effort, yet your results increase exponentially.
When I first joined the LinkedIn community, I spent time each day seeking out and adding new contacts. Today I have more than 2,000 direct contacts and a LinkedIn network of nearly eight million people. Do you think I still need to look for people to invite?
Perhaps I should, but I get a half a dozen requests per day sitting back and doing nothing. People are easily finding me through my existing contacts, because I took the time to build a large network.
No matter what you’re looking to accomplish, why not break it down into small daily actions as I suggest in Critical Success Factors?
Establish daily benchmarks for yourself. Meet one person per day. Walk a mile or two. Save a few dollars. Give something to charity. You get the idea.
Multiply your daily effort by the number of days in a month or in a year, and you’ll be astonished at your potential for achievement. Add compounding of results or compounding of interest, and your consistent effort will have a profound effect on your life, as well as the lives of the people who matter the most to you.
Get started now, and please remember, as Mike Litman says, “You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going!”
Have you ever failed to take action because the time didn’t feel right or you you hadn’t dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s on your plan? Do you find yourself caught up in analysis paralysis?
Let me share something with you that I leaned from Mike Litman. Then tell me that you’ll change. Tell me that you’ll live by this rule in 2008. Wow! I’m beginning to sound like Mike.
“You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going!”
You don’t have to wait for everything to be perfect. Nothing will ever be perfect.
Think about something that will move your life or your business forward that you have been putting off and get it going NOW. Because you don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going!