Alright, the first thing to learn about getting customers online is that you need to create great content. But before you do that, and learn how to blog, you need to make sure you know what a blog for your business is!
What’s the Difference Between A Blog And A Website?
Before you learn how to get a blog, make sure you know what it is! The difference between a blog and a website can be confusing. Think of it like this: a blog is constantly changing, like a newspaper, while a website usually remains the same, like the exterior of your house. Take a look at these examples:
- Blog: Seth Godin’s Blog
- Website: City of Vancouver
- Website + Blog: SEOmoz website, SEOmoz blog on their website
Why Do I Need A Blog?
When you get a blog, you can share your passion and expertise with the world. The more good content you share, the more likely it is that Google will find it and connect you with someone who’s interested in what you’re doing.
How To Get A Blog – Registering My Domain
The first step to get a blog is to register a domain. To see what domains are available, go to domai.nr. The name you want might not be available, so be flexible. For example, if your company is Joe’s Shoes, JoesShoes.com might be gone, but JoesShoeStore.com or GetJoesShoes.com might be free. And don’t be too attached to getting a “.com” ending – lots of companies are going with “.me” “.it” and even “.ee” instead. And when you’re ready to actually register (buy) your domain, you can use a service like Namecheap.TIP: As long as your website is ranked high (and we’ll show you how to do that) you can own the “mindspace” of the word your business is associated with, so the .com becomes less important.
Hosting My Website
Once your domain is registered you are on track to how you get a blog. Now you need to choose how you want to host it. A host is a place that will store all of the information on your website or blog, like the building your shop is in. Hosts also let people find this information.
When you register your blog with a free host, they do the set-up for you. While this is easy and inexpensive, it limits what you can do with your site, and you will end up with the name of your free host in the URL. For example, the URL may end up something like www.yourblogname.wordpress.com – which is fine if you’re blogging, not so great if you’re running a business.
Paid hosting gives you more freedom for what your site looks like and what you can do with it. There are lots of easy ways to register and set up a blog through sites like Namecheap.com. Paid hosting costs an average of $50-$100 a year, and you get what you pay for. Not only is your site more cusotmizable, but search engines will prioritize you ahead of free hosted sites. This is definitely the option we recommend for small businesses.
Choosing A Host And Blogging Platform
This only applies if you go with a paid host. There are lots of host and blogging platforms available. While we don’t want to play favourites with hosts as they vary widely in quality (read some reviews before you buy), we do recommend WordPress as your blogging platform as they are easy to set up and very popular (there are over 55 million websites using WordPress, including UPS, NBC Sports and CNN, and it’s one of the most popular choices for small businesses). If you decide to use a different platform, make sure you do your homework – a cheaper or less known site can take hours of installation to configure and can end up costing you more money down the line.
Optimizing My Website And Blog For Mobile
We all know mobile is big – as of 2012, 53% of American mobile phone users are on smart phones and there are 1.2billion active mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide. So once you have figured out how you get a blog and set it all up, it’s time to optimize it for mobile devices.
A Few Tips:
1. Try to use a “responsive” theme, as it will scale to whatever size the screen it is on
3. Try to stay away from drop down menus, as they are tough to navigate on touch screens
4. Use size 14 font – its hard enough as it is to read on a smaller screen!
Once your have a blog and website, it’s time to learn how to optimize it. Take a look at the next step to getting customers online, Step 2 – Getting Found Using SEO For Small Businesses, tomorrow.
New to Spokal? This is part of our 12 Steps To Getting Customers Online guide. Feel free to check it out and let us know what you think.