At what point during the business planning process is creating a blog a good idea?
I want to start a blog but have no idea where to begin. I don't yet have a business, just an idea. However, I have a business plan, design ideas, and I've researched the type of legal structure, fees, etc. necessary to get started. Should I start the blog now to get my name out to the public, or wait until I have physical merchandise to sell?
There are certainly a lot of factors you should consider before starting a blog, but the most significant one is the time and effort you can put into it. Being an active blogger and reaching a considerable audience that will make an impact on your business is very demanding and time consuming. When you start a business, time is crucial because as the founder your presence will be required in almost every aspect of the business be it to make decisions or to execute them. If you are sure you can dedicate that time without sacrificing anything else and if writing is a strong point of yours, then go for it. Or if you have the capital to hire a good writer that will only require your instructions and supervision, this is even better.
As for the right time, if your product is unique and you haven't identified many competitors out there, telling the world about it before you sell it can be a good marketing strategy as psychologically they will be tempted to have it. Anyway there's a fine line in that, as they can't wait for too long and your competitors are all ears and eyes. But you can sell samples exclusively to your readers for instance and ask their much appreciated and needed feedback and endorsement, until you are ready to go in mass manufacturing.
I wish you all the best!
You may need to first secure your business name and domain name. Then engage a competent web designer to setup up your site and train you to start blogging. Once your foundation is in place you are good to go.
Usually this is covered by your marketing implementation plan as a part of your business plan. I get the idea that this research is not yet fully done so I would start there. Research which types of communication media will be most effective for your company and when these are generally best implemented.
That would at least be the sensible way but also the most tedious.
So if you want to avoid that and you are absolutely convinced that you really need a blog just start one as soon as you have something to write about. Make it meaningful for the reader though.
Have you created a target audience definition? Have you identified what their pain points are? How they make purchasing decisions? What information are they looking for in making a purchasing decision?
Once you've identified these answers, then you must ask what is your marketing strategy, your content strategy, your messaging strategy?
Have you identified and defined how you want to be perceived by the target audience?
Next, have you developed a company name for the business? If not, it's premature to be thinking content development. It's also premature to be thinking content development if you haven't answered the first set questions.
Have you formulated the domain name for the business and purchased it? Where do you intend to place the blog: on it or somewhere else? If you are attempting to drive traffic to your business and increase SEPR, it's essential to place the blog on the website not another source like Wordpress.com, etc. because they won't go toward internet visibility. Besides why would you want to drive people to a blog not associated with your site?
Before you start writing you need to answer the above.
This is an excellent question that many business owners have a hard time with because most people are unfamiliar with how the internet works and how search engines rank websites.
A blog should start as soon as our website is live. Unique, original content is eaten up by Google and other search engines because it only adds to their value as search engines.
Its also important to note that the MAIN reason that I find that the small to medium sized businesses that I deal with on a daily basis are not ranking well is lack of content. Most businesses throw up 10-15 pages and never revisit the website, mainly because they are running their business. A website with 51-100 pages gets 148%+ more traffic than a website with 1-50 pages.
Relevance and confidence are two other search engine ranking factors that will be satisfied by starting a blog as early as possible. By continually adding new content to Google early on, you will show them that your website is not attributed to a fly-by-night operation; but rather a company who is continually a good source of new content.
The sooner you start, the better off you will be. Keep a small notebook in your desk drawer and write down topics you think would be good for the blog and try and write once (ideally) twice a week. Make sure your posts are:
- over 500 words
- have an image
- contain internal links to contact pages or landing pages to increase conversions
- uses proper headings, titles, urls
***** be sure you submit each new URL (page url) to Google & Bing webmaster to get your new pages indexed in days instead of weeks ******
Many people start blogs to address the problem their business is going to solve long before they start to market the business. If you start blogging about the problem you can start engaging with your target market immediately.
Say your product cures every childhood sleep issue -- every parent's fondest desire. No more fights about going to bed! No more midnight visits from your toddler and interrupted sleep! Get other parents to share their stories. Collect funny pictures of parents with dark circles under their eyes. Share home remedies. Become the place parents go to commiserate. Then, when you are ready to launch your new product - you have a ready-made community, potential customers and, likely, some credibility on the subject and a good understanding of the market.
Just be sure you have sufficient time and resources to devote to the project.
A blog is an opportunity to do many things. In your case (here and now) it is an opportunity to introduce yourself as a thought leader. You can do this by speaking to the needs your products/services will fill, for example. I do not feel it is too early to start. One caution, using a blog as an opportunity to direct sell is a big turn-off for many, me among them. Consider this is an opportunity to engage, educate and inspire your readers to action. I wish you the very best.
It sounds like you are planning to include a blog into your venture, however, are you really convinced that you actually need one? The question you could ask yourself is "What will be the purpose of my blog and will it actually fit into my business structure, or will it be just another chore to keep up with? Everyone talks about blogging and the importance of having one, however a few talk about the challenges it entails. A large percentage of blogs that are started end up abandoned shortly thereafter. I come across so many outdated ones with the last post being at least a year or two ago. Why? Well because most bloggers get tired of fighting spam comments, attacks on their site, managing updates, attracting people to their blog, getting subscribers, generating revenue, etc. Unless the blog is a major component of who you are and what you plan to do, I would focus on putting your energy into establishing your revenue earning venture first.
Start immediately. Or at least as soon as you have your website online. The faster you can get a robust amount of content online the better. For SEO purposes Google likes to see a lot of pages with relevant and unique content, so the sooner you can started with that the better.
For your future audience, it's good to have content up and ready for them to consume once you start getting people to your website. For your first post just start with an introduction of what your business is about (or going to be about) and let them know when they can expect your merchandise or services to be available.
Even if your site is going to change it's design or structure later it won't hurt to have the content up now.
I agree with Bobbie, starting a blog before your business is fully launched is a splendid idea. However, it will only reap rewards if you have the time and energy to devote to it both now and into the future. This could become a huge chore as you take on the many roles necessary when you actually roll out your business.
Again, long-term this is something you could outsource, but in the infancy stages it would probably be wisest to do this yourself, especially since you have already admitted an affinity for writing.
The purpose and focus of the blog have to be part of your long-term marketing plan if you decide to do it. Think of the reputation and image issues having an outdated, failed blog may cause when customers research your "new" company.
Conversely, when used skillfully and deliberately, think of the image and reputation you can have from a successful, thriving blog that people can see was there prior to the business launch.
In the end, this is a decision only you can make. You have to decide if a blog makes sense for your market and your long-term business goals. In short, the purpose of a blog is to deliver unique or entertaining content and develop a relationship with your blogging audience. If you are able to do this and have a plan for sustaining it, go for it. If you can't or don't, seek other social media options that may deliver greater ROI.
Beyond having a website adds to your assets but also your costs. Before you start a blog, consider what the purpose is and what commitment (resources) you are willing to put into it. I would suggest not adding a blog unless and until you are ready, willing, and able to regularly create interesting content that shows you are a thought leader/authority in your niche.
I think that they can be implemented early. I really like reading businesses that blog about the success and hurdles that they experience. I think it makes the business easy to relate too.
As others have said, there are a lot of opportunities to identify your market, to work out issues, to find experts to bring into your organization, etc.
GREAT question and smart that you are thinking of this below, here are some quick points.
1. Get started ASAP. Getting your brand started and built can take a while and internet marketing is key to your success online or offline.
2. Think of the domain name and if you can, either make the domain a keyword of your niche or a name that is brandable and easy to remember. I think we can remember google or yahoo. But also a keyword name can explain what your niche is about and helps with SEO.
3. Wordpress blog on a hosting domain is the best route, if you can use word you can use wordpress.
4. Getting started early will allow you to also link your blog to your social media accounts. Depending on your niche and client base, the social media platform that targets your demo, will be the best to get started with building your brand
5. Use your blog to gather much needed information via surveys. What direction should you go, what features are clients looking for etc. Imagine having a idea and now gathering the needs of your clients and building a company around that VALUED information.
6. Depending on your niche and business, think local business and local internet marketing. Getting listed in a local keyword or local business directory is much easier to get you going
7. Consult a Accountant or Lawyer (I am sure you have one in the family or no one) and find out about which Corp structure you can use. LLC's are easy to set up, but based on your niche you might need a C Corp of something. LegalZoom.com is a easy site to use that is also inexpensive to set up your copr. Once you know which type.
8. In most cases your Corp can own your domain name and website so you are protected in that way.
9. If you can afford it, get an internet marketing consultant on board as soon as you can to guide you, so no mistakes are done and you can get started on the right foot
I can go on for another million points, but I bet you get the idea, yes start early and be smart.
All the best to your success Auggie
Senior Consultant @ ask8
If you are planning on selling a product to the marketplace. at least have prototypes available for the market to try based upon your blogging. business plan and design ideas...If you are going to blog about something that is an actual product have some of it on hand for tryouts
I think you shall start as soon as possible when ever your product or seevices are ready , when ever you announce your work that will reflecs your ability to introduce your services , Never delay to start or announce - dicide & choose the perfect time to start , wish you all the best .
If you have something to say that provides value for your audience and future prospects, say it. Consistency is key so make sure you have enough to say to publish at least once a month.
If you have a website up and running, publish from your site.
If you don't have a website yet, start publishing on LinkedIn. You'll start to build an audience and following there.
I have a mailing list from Cikgu Hafiz - Rabbi Hafeez - who says you don't need your -own- product to start selling. Sell a product you think defines you. Look on Tumblr and on Pinterest [which is now charging for some of its photos - so get moving quick likewise]. Then rebrand, later innovate.
Until the content is something you would find captivating as someone interested in your business, it's better to wait or blog about related topics. Don't give a play by play of daily details or you'll alienate your potential readers.
You have been given some good advice here, but there are a few more things you might want to consider.
There are more than 50 different types of blog posts. What are you writing about, when and why? Are you mixing and combining different media or using just text?
Are you connecting your content to your business goals KPIs and metrics and thinking about conversions from readers to subscribers to customers will take place?
Are you trying to build a list of prospects to nurture and a list of customers to develop into repeat business, or just going for low-hanging fruit and hoping or expecting a certain number of sales per post?
You might want to at least create a basic editorial calendar so you can see the big picture of what you'll write, when and why, and how the different posts and pages will connect and support each other. Writing a bunch of disconnected content doesn't produce an exponential, leveraged result and there will be seasonal issues, forecasts, hot news, and a variety of other categories that should be organized in your plan - besides the specific topics you'll want to write about..
An editorial calendar also helps you in gathering research info along the way. When you have a content plan and know what topics are coming up, you can grab bits and pieces or related topics/articles as ideas when you find or stumble across them. You may also need to include examples or other data with your own content and you can set up a bookmarking folder structure to support keep it all in order.
In addition to bookmarks, I use the Session Manager extension for Firefox which allows me to save a collection of open tabs for accessing later.
Also consider doing some basic content curation as part of your content plan as it can relieve the load and pressure from time to time. It will also allow you to link out to high-quality sites related to your site/posts/topics/keywords which is good for SEO as long as you don't overdo it. Too many links to other sites can devalue why anyone would want to visit yours.
Reader/Buyer personas will be a consideration at some point. Writing a post for all women in your targeted age group might work to some degree, but if you use a main article and then include mentions of things in the text that link to secondary articles, certain personas will segment themselves closer to a specific need/solution.
This is why it's so valuable to have your content/editorial calendar in at least a basic form - so you can create content with intention toward specific results. You can also flowchart the relationships between your pages and posts and leverage multiple pages instead of hoping one page can do all the work.
This may seem like extra work and it is. But it gets you thinking more clearly about how to best invest your valuable and limited time for content creation.
Also, when you write a blog post, you will sometimes want to write a Tweet and/or Facebook comment pointing to the blog post so those venues can drive traffic. You need to use various venues like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. to get traffic to your blog even if you are planning on advertising to generate traffic. Blogging is no longer a standalone activity. It works more effectively when integrated with other tools and you need the time to do those, too, or you'll see less of a result.
It all boils down to how effectively you can do blogging and how many of the elements of its success are executed correctly. There are an infinite number of ways to do something wrong, but only a few variations to do it where the desired results are achieved.
When the inevitable struggles you'll experience tell you to stop something because it doesn't work, it actually could be that you need to tweak or adjust some things or make tactical additions/subtractions to your strategy.
My Golden Rule of marketing is, "Test Everything". I know it's easier said than done, but the more you test, the more you find out what doesn't work, what works, and what works even better. A/B Split testing is easiest.
You'll probably be testing alternative ads and landing pages in your advertising, but you can do this in content creation, too. When one version of a post produces more of the desired result than a similar post written with a different emphasis, you'll be a believer in how valuable and powerful content testing for improved results can be.
Use your blog to demonstrate your expertise and get your name out there.