So you want to start a business blog? Congratulations! Let's start out by avoiding some of the "great blog mistakes" that too many potential bloggers make.
- Who are you? If you're going to blog for business, make sure the readers know who you are and update the 'About the Author' page frequently. Tell us your title, what company you own or work for, and enlighten us about some of your accomplishments. A small picture helps us connect to you through the digital divide and an email link can be worth its weight in gold.
- Bad post titles. Headlines are important since that's probably what shows up in most blog aggregators (RSS). Work on the post title's cleverness and avoid trite or meaningless titles (like "Today is Boring"). If you want people to click your link from the RSS feed, invite them to your site with a catchy post title.
- Meaningless links. If you're going to the trouble of linking to a source or interesting article, make the link text count. Avoid "click here" as a link and use what we call content-rich keywords, similar to a great article by Susie Smith about testing laptop bags designed for women. If you can write a little code, use link titles in your <a href> tag like this:
<a href="http://downloadsquad.com" title="Download Squad a site for technologically current readers">
- Difficult domains. Get an $8 domain with meaning and resolve it to your blog. Although it's tempting to get a free blogger.com or wordpress.com blog, your link will never be your own (and you're subject to the slings and arrows of the ads, layout and other stuff free providers can do). Self-hosted blogs are slightly more expensive but you can customize the design and use your $8 domain name to stand out from the rest.
- Media Messes. Do include media; don't include too much or meaningless media. Add photos or audio files where appropriate but don't stick in a photo just because you've got room for it. Let's also learn how to resize a photo for the web (reduce the dpi, please) and most important, thou shalt not link to photos on other people's servers or you might get pranked.
- Tagless Posts. Tags are the holy grail of blogging and are the underpinnings of Web 2.0. Use tags, create content-rich tags and tag every post. If your tags are well thought-out, you can pick up hits from the big boys: Technorati, Del.icio.us, Reddit, Digg and more. Although every post isn't Digg-worthy, if you try for one in every twenty, you might just succeed.
- Not Feeding Your Posts. If you're not using an RSS feed, chances are no one is reading your blog. Submit your RSS feed to various RSS directories or you're invisible to the blogging and blog-reading world. While you're at it, link unto others as you would have them link unto you.
- Content over Spelling. Being profound and espousing about great topics doesn't excuse you from spelling mistakes and kindergarten grammar. If you're a linguistically challenged blogger, get a posting tool that checks your spelling (like Firefox. Really, what is your excuse for not using Firefox for blogging?).
- No Comment. If you don't enable comments, you might not be blogging but others, like Dave Winer (perhaps the first blogger) has another opinion. If you're as well-read as Dave Winer is, you can have a comment-less blog but if you're starting out and want to build readership, you should seriously consider allowing comments. It's an important measure of who's reading your blog, just like your site statistics.
- Not Your Own Voice. This has to be a blogger's biggest challenge: what are you going to blog about? If you're writing a business blog, your locus should be your business – its products, development, marketing and service. Address the difficult issues and raise both readership and loyalty. Don't post outside your knowledge zone and post to fit your tags (if your tags are carefully selected for your business).
Bottom line? Read blogs, find your voice, comment on blogs in your field and follow a few rules and policies to be a better business blogger. A guarantee for success? Hardly; there's that thing called 'luck' involved, too.