By Sid Smith
You were told to create a blog to get yourself “out there.” Well done. Your decision is a good first step. Blogs are actually much easier to create and maintain than what we call a “static” website – the kind you usually see, and that require a web designer to create.
Blogs are fun. They're loved by the search engines. They keep you engaged with your audience. And they give you a huge advantage over the poor saps who paid $10k for a pretty website they can't update.
I'll tell you in this post what you SHOULDN'T do, just to make sure that you don't run off in the wrong direction before you can get your feet solidly planted in the blog-o-sphere. Later, if you're nice to me, I'll give you a few hints on what you should be doing to develop a blog following and build your blog platform properly.
Mistake #1: Using a free blogging platform
Sure, you can go to Blogger, Yahoo, Google, or any one of a number of other sites to create your free blog. The problem is that your blog looks just like every other unprofessional blog out there. You've got limited design options, and you can't take advantage of the many SEO, social media, and other lead-generation tools that are available.
Spend a little money and get your own domain name and hosting account. Then, install a REAL version of the WordPress blogging platform on YOUR site.
Mistake #2: Using a free template for your blog
Yeah, I know. You've already forked out a whole $94 bucks or so for your hosting account (for a year). You're short on cash, and some of those free WordPress templates (called “Themes” in the blogging world) look OK.
Go ahead and splurge with another $59-$129 at StudioPress or the Thesis theme for a professional-looking blog that is already optimized for the search engines and are designed for real businesses like yours.
Mistake #3: Rushing into things
Wow. You got a blog up. How cool is that?
Unfortunately, the only post you have on your site is the “Hello World” post that comes with WordPress. So… since you can't wait to get going, you start blogging about your life, your cats, and that horrible neighbor with the barking dog.
Plan this out like you would a client project. Get to know your customer (blog visitor). What does he or she most want to know? Plan out at least 10, and preferably 20 blog posts that you'll write over the next month.
Split these into 4-5 categories that are labeled according to the most important keyword phrases of your niche market. Plan out 4-5 blog posts for each category.
Remember that your blog title is like the headline of a promotional piece. You need to capture the attention of your audience quickly and draw them into the body of your article. By planning out your first month carefully, you'll quickly gain a reputation.
Mistake #4: Waiting for people to come because you've built it.
If you avoid mistake #3, then you're well on your way to getting noticed by the search engines. I started a blog a week ago, and already my site is ranked in the top 10 for a couple keyword phrases using only one simple syndication technique.
Once you've got a nice cache of articles (your first 20-30 days of blogging), you can start letting people know that you exist. That is, you'll “syndicate” your content through a variety of channels (I'll tell you where later).
Mistake #5: Thinking you have nothing to say
Like anything in life, you'll have good blog posts and horrible blog posts. Some posts will create a plethora (love that word) of activity on your blog with dozens of comments. Others will fall completely flat.
The new blogger often tires of his or her own voice. That's fine. As a writer, you know that you can always go online and search for new ideas. An even better way to build your blogging base (add more content) is to line up guest bloggers. Team up with other copywriters and share ideas.
There are also two great FREE services of which I'm aware where you become part of a network of blogs. They send you new articles every day for your blog. You can accept them or turn them down as you choose. This gives you a never-ending stream of posts for your blog.
Don't despair, and never give up. More to come later. Post your questions in the comments area below.
This article appears courtesy of The Golden Thread, an e-letter from AWAI that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on how to build your freelance copywriting business. For a free subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/thegoldenthread
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