Blogging. Most people have at least heard of it but many are wondering if it is something they *really* have to do. You might think to yourself you are in [insert any] industry, so what does blogging have to do with my profession? Time and time again I am seeing through the photography industry [and others] the puzzling question “Do I really need to be blogging?”
When social media started hitting the industry, many businesses weren’t too eager to jump aboard that train, and still aren’t. Many, I believe, were hoping it would just be a phase. Even as you look around at businesses you follow, some still aren’t blogging, and in return, are leaving money on the table. Blogging for any company, no matter it’s size, needs to be a top priority.
I know you might be wondering now, how much extra is this going to cost me? [When really the question you should be asking yourself is, “How much money am I losing by not blogging?] I actually wrote a recent blog post on how to create a profitable blog for under 100 dollars a month. While in that post I wrote on what to use to keep your blog running, I didn’t write on where to host your blog or what you might need prior to actually launching your blog.
1 SEO – I have SEO at the top of my list because it is obviously the part that comes to people’s minds first. SEO is built upon what you put out into the universe. The more information, with relevant content, the higher it will build your relevance to the web. While this blog post isn’t on SEO, trust me when I say, you need to be building this.
2 AUTHENTICITY – Let’s say you were going to buy something relativity expensive, would you go out and purchase that product without any research? Think about your business the same, as you would any other business. By building a presence, you are showing potential customers/clients you are the real deal.
3 STORYTELLING + CONNECTION – While these two could be put into two different bullet points of their own, I feel like they were better partnered together. Part of your business is built on you. I know, I know, but listen. I am sure at any given moment, there are at least 10 other companies, in your region, offering the same service. You need to make a connection, to gain attention, to build your business. Your personality, brand voice, is what sets you apart in the industry, so use it.
4 PROFIT – The three points above, all lead here. Most people go into business, to earn a profit. Building your SEO, building your authenticity, building your connection, all improves your profit. Now knowing what to actually sell is a whole other story.
5 BUSINESS BUILDING – This reason is slightly different from the rest but I believe it is just as important. Building our blogs, is just like building your resume. You never know who might land on your blog and want to work with you or your business. Having a blog, that is active and relevant to what you are offering, could open doors you didn’t even know where possible.
Now that we have discussed why you need a blog, we need to talk about where you are going to start this blog. While I know everyone will have a different budget, I am going to address them accordingly.
FREE – I am going to start with the basics. All of these options will be of little, to no cost, to your business.
BLOGGER – Blogger is a free blog site that is provided by Google. A lot of bloggers will start out on Blogger, because of the price point and the ease of use, but there are some downfalls. If your blog grows faster than you planned, getting your information transferred over to another platform for blogging, can be time consuming and difficult. If you have the goal to create a profession out of blogging, or to add to your current job, than start out with something that will suit your needs long term.
WEEBLY – Another free blog site at it’s base level. If you want to customize it more to your business, there will be upgrades that would be needed.
WORDPRESS.ORG – WordPress is a solid decision to start your blog on, if you do not have a huge budget. Getting your information transferred over to a WordPress.com site, is easier, than blogger. The downside is the lack of branding that can be achieved through their templates.
MODERATE – No matter the budget you have, these websites are a viable option, for any business.
WORDPRESS.COM – This would have to be my number one pick, since this is what I use for my current blog site. Most host companies now have WordPress, dedicated server options. The user experience is extremely easy, even with the least amount of tech ability. If there are issues you need help with, their website has great tutorials. If you are not a coder and want to save time, purchase ProPhoto, to accompany and customize your WordPress site. There are two different options when purchasing your ProPhoto, so be sure to see what will fit your technology/knowledge abilities.
Zenfolio – More and more I am seeing photographer’s use Zenfolio for their websites. While I don’t use them, it intrigues me, and snags a spot on the list. The company is adding new tools to their packages that allow businesses that sell more options for control. Definitely one to check out.
WIX – Most of you probably have saw their massive campaign they recently launched with Brett Farve, which also got my attention. After checking them out, they deserve a spot on the list. While the hosting and domain aren’t free, they have plenty of templates to help you build your website, if you choose to build your own, at zero cost. Their other service charges are reasonable and a variety of options.
DANG THAT’S PRICEY (but awesome)
SHOW IT – While they have free templates, super easy to build, I still placed it at the top of the price list with their $39 a month user fee. They also have a list of graphic designers that will be best to help you build your site, which if you are spending the time to use SHOW IT, you will want them. This again is where the price point goes up, but again, definitely worth it, if it is in your budget.
SQUARESPACE – This company, while they missed the mark on their Super Bowl ad *in my opinion*, has majorly caught my attention. The clean, classic layout, with a big pack for show casing your product, make it a great option. While their pricing isn’t astronomical, it might not land in everyone’s budget.
CUSTOM WEBSITE – This gem sits at the top of the list. If your company can swing it, hire a web designer to build your own user experience for your customers/clients.
Whoa. That was a lot of information and only the tip of the iceberg with blogging. While I couldn’t go out and list every blog option available, there definitely other options worth a look, but I had to stop the list somewhere. One option that I didn’t list in here because it technically isn’t a blog, would be Medium. If you are trying to work on pieces as a freelance artist, I would highly recommended transferring your writings over to Medium and LinkedIn well. You can never get too much exposure and Medium is really a hot spot right now. Now time for you to get planning and deciding which blog platform is best for your business. I have added a bonus blogging worksheet to help you brainstorm who your target audience is, as well as a place to document your blog’s information and cost per year. Snag that freebie HERE.