FAQs about Blogging

“Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can.” - Ernest Hemingway
What is a blog?
Merriam-Webster defines the word “blog” in two ways:

1: a website that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks, videos, and photographs provided by the writer

2: a regular feature appearing as part of an online publication that typically relates to a particular topic and consists of articles and personal commentary by one or more authors

The way I usually mean “blog” when I discuss it with a client is the second definition. The blog is a piece of your overall website. When someone says they want to “blog” about something, it means they want to write an article or series of articles about it.

Where should my blog be?
Ideally right on your website, if you have one. Since WordPress was originally developed as a blogging tool, the ability to have a blog on your site is automatically built in. If you are planning to have a blog as part of your business site, you are all set.

Just want to have a blog, maybe an about page and don’t want to pay for hosting? That’s ok, there’s Google’s Blogger tool, and the free account available at WordPress.com. just don’t be like Creed.

How is a blog different than my actual website?
I admit it, when you first open your WordPress site’s dashboard things can be pretty overwhelming. And sometimes, because “Posts” are in the side toolbar above “Pages”, I’ve had clients create content as a post when it should have been a page and vice versa.

The way I describe site pages as opposed to blog posts is this:

Site pages are like creating a brochure or booklet about your business. It’s information that is fairly unchanging like your location or your history.

Blog posts are like press releases. They are bits of information that enhance your reputation as a business and get sent out on a fairly regular basis.

There are other analogies for blog posts such as “online diary” and “journal entry” and so on, but the main thing to remember is that your blog posts are organized on the site either by date (blog pages tend to have the most recent post at the top and then in descending chronological order) or, by category (which is then displayed in chron order).

As you add posts to your blog, previous content will get pushed further and further down the page.

Pages, on the other hand, remain in the same place in your navigation so people visiting your site will always find them where they were last time.

Why should I even have a blog?
That’s a great question. In fact, it’s one of the most important questions that you, as a site owner, should ask yourself.

I would advise being pretty honest with yourself about this question. If you are creating a website for a business that is fairly time consuming (say, running a restaurant) and you don’t want to outsource the writing, then don’t stress too hard about it. Focus on running an amazing restaurant!

But what if you are an accountant, and you find yourself losing your voice explaining over and over again to different clients the facts about a particular type of tax deduction? Would it be worth about 20-30 minutes of your time to bang out a blog post like “Five tax deductions that you didn’t realize you can do”?

Or, say you own a landscaping company and you want to inform your client base that now is a great time of year to get started on a vegetable garden and you’ve got some great tips for that?

My point is, if you have the time and/or resources to delegate the writing, then by all means have a blog on your site. Having a section of your site that is constantly being updated with fun/interesting/useful information will keep people visiting your website.

A way to keep visitors engaged and repeatedly coming to your site? Yes please!

Here’s an example of what I am talking about from a client’s dogsitting website.

How often should I post on my blog?
Quick answer: When you have something to say, or show.

There are no hard and fast rules about scheduling a blog post. Just start creating posts. Put them out there. Eventually you will find a rhythm that works best for you and your audience.

Some best practices:

If you have a note taking app on your phone, open a new note, label it Blog posts, and just put a post idea in there when it comes to you.

You can even blog directly from your phone!

Are you a creature of habit? Then take a look at your current schedule. Are there any gaps or downtime moments? Use that time to get a few thoughts into note form. Thoughts can quickly snowball into posts this way.

Should I set up a content calendar?
Yes. You absolutely should. Next question…

A content calendar can be an app on your phone, a google calendar shared with other contributors or just a daytimer with some notes written down. Overall, it should be a plan for what to post when.

Are you a florist or a jewelry designer? Plan posts around major gifting holidays like Christmas and Mother’s Day. Write about what it means to give a certain flower to someone. Write about the history of a certain type of gemstone.

Write on a fairly regular basis about something you know fairly well. And it helps to create strategic content that has a better chance of being noticed depending when it’s published.

Will people even read my blog?
I suppose I should say something encouraging here like: “If you write it, they will come.” but that’s simply not true. Maintaining a blog is no time to be a voice shouting in the wilderness. Blogging is supposed to help your business and that means people need to know about your blog and where to find it.

1: Create an email signature that includes a link to your blog’s address for example: https://jennsweb.net/the-blog/. I use a service called Wisestamp

2. Get social. If you don’t already have a twitter account and a facebook page for your business, get those going. You can publish links to your posts in both places, or create feeds from one to the other. You can also publish on LinkedIn.

3. You can sign up for a free account on Mailchimp and get a newsletter going. If you publish on your blog pretty frequently, then wait until you have 2 or 3 posts out there and then summarize them in a newsletter with links back to the full post. And always put a link to your blog in the footer.

4. Ask for what you want. There is a way to encourage people to read your blog and share it with others without seeming needy or pushy. Got a recipe blog and just published a recipe for gluten-free brownies? You could end with: “Know someone who has a gluten free kid? Share this with them and make their day!”.

And, make it dead easy to share. You can easily install a floating widget with sharing buttons so all they have to do is click on the side.

5. Try a blog-listing site like Triberr. Bloggers of all levels use services like this and it can be a big boost for your site.

6. Read other blogs similar to yours. Comment on posts. (Don’t spam!) Other readers and the writer may follow your comments and reply. Next thing you know, they are visiting your site!

How can I can blog? I'm not much of a computer person. Or a Or a writer for that matter.
Not everyone can open up a new post in their WordPress dashboard and just start typing away until they have created the perfectly crafted blog post. In fact, most people can’t.

I’ll admit it. The way I write is messy. There’s notes scribbled in the margins of notebooks, notes on my phone, and Google drive docs in folders with cryptic names like “Dev-SEO”. I almost flunked typewriting in high school.

All that aside, I approach writing as my job. I write blog posts for other people. I write tutorials for clients. I write proposals to gain new clients. And because I have to do it, I have gotten into the habit of putting thoughts into words. It can take a little time, but if you keep at it, you will be comfortable writing a few paragraphs.

And, sometimes people find writing directly in their site’s dashboard a bit much. (and sometimes WordPress re-designs its whole interface which doesn’t exactly help). Don’t stress that. If you feel more comfortable opening up a word document and writing there, that’s fine. Email it to me and I can put it on your blog and take care of all the bells and whistles. I have a client that just emails me the facts about a court case they won and I can spin that into a blog post.