So you want to blog?
Most small to medium enterprises (SMEs) these days can benefit from including a blog on their website. Your blog should supplement what you do. It’s a way of promoting what you know, to build credibility in your brand, or to promote your cause if you are a not-for-profit.
When planning a blog, you should consider the goals/purpose of the blog; the topics/categories that will meet your goals; and the keywords/tags that you can flag your post with. You also want to engage certain features that make management of your blog less tedious.
Choose your categories carefully
Categories are the main topics that your blog will address. Usually you want to keep your list of categories under a dozen, so that your blog will not try to cover too many topics and end up being watered down. You may want to start with a half-dozen categories and build from there if you find it necessary. Keep your blog’s goals in mind when fine-tuning your list of topics.
For example, say I want to blog about Parenting. My goal may be to facilitate a discussion of best practices for parents. My topics may fall along the lines of:
- Education – how to educate your children and work with teachers and other educators
- Health – how to raise fit and healthy children
- Entertainment – proper forms of entertainment for children (perhaps movie reviews)
- Money – teaching children about money before they start making it
- Technology – teaching children about the proper use of technology
Tag your topics
Tags are keywords that describe the essence of your blog posts. It is best to build your list of tags as you blog, but you may want to start off with a few. For my Parenting blog, for example, I can think of some tags that will apply:
- Boys – for blog posts that are predominantly about raising boys
- Girls – for blog posts that are predominantly about raising girls
- Sports – for posts about Health that are specifically about paling sports
- Food – for posts about Health that concern nutrition and food
- Movies – for the above mentioned movie reviews
Most posts will have several tags/keywords that apply, but be careful to use only tags that are significantly represented in the post.
Managing your blog
Once you have built up a solid list of blog posts, your challenge becomes how to help users access all that good rich content. Posts are organized in reverse chronological order (the most recent on top) by default. However, you want readers to access your posts in whatever way that works best for them by enabling various pathways. There are a number of blog features that facilitate the efficient creation and management of your blogs.
Once you have categorized all your posts, your blog usually list all their categories or topics in the sidebar, so users can select them. Say a reader is interested in the “Technology” topic (perhaps believing they have everything else covered in the parenting department). They can select that topic from the list to pull up all the posts on that category.
Assigning tags to your blog posts will help your users navigate your list of posts. Blogs often use a Tag Cloud which displays all the tags in your blog in a group. Some tag clouds display the more popular tags in larger fonts. The larger the font, the larger the number of posts that contain that tag. For my Parenting blog, a reader may have an interest in my movie reviews. She would be able to select all posts that are tagged as “movies” – thereby accessing all my movie reviews.
Comments management with spam control
The lifeblood of blogging is to enable conversations. You usually want your users to comment as a way of sharing ideas. Your blog should enable you to moderate comments as a way of controlling the unpleasant language on your blog. You also want to protect your blog from comment spam (computerized comments that markets a product or service) in the same way that you would protect your email accounts from spam.
If your blog relies on sponsorship, you will need Ad Management features that enable you to easily manage banners for your sponsors/advertisers to the sidebar of your blog. You should be able to set the banners to display for a set period of time, and to link to a sponsor’s website for example.
You should be able to feature certain posts on your blog by displaying them on top of your blog listing regardless of date published. To accomplish this you want the ability to mark certain posts as “featured” or “sticky”.
These days you want the ability to display multimedia and special formats in your posts. You need the ability to easily embed a variety of elements in your post, such as:
- Video (Vimeo, YouTube, or custom)
- Images/image gallery
- Block Quotes
Social Media integration
You need the ability to integrate social media with your posts as a way of engaging your clients and stakeholders. At minimum you should be able to integrate the following:
- Social Share: all readers to share your posts with others
- Twitter embed
- Facebook embed
- Instagram embeds
These are some of the techniques and features that enable the creation and management of your blog. It’s an experience your readers will appreciate.