Choosing blogging software

wordpress

Choosing blogging software is an important decision for anyone looking to start their own blog. Going with a largely popular platform like WordPress is always a safe bet, and there are numerous tutorials and plugins that can make WordPress a great choice.

There are alternatives to WordPress, however, and each blogger should consider their options before choosing a platform. The first step is to determine whether or not you would like to host the blog on your own server.

Hosting

Using a subscription or hosted platform will house all of the components of your blog on their server, while non-hosted or open source platforms require you to find your own server. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of software:

If you are unfamiliar with blogging and would like a very simple solution, stick with a hosted platform. They eliminate the need to search for a third-party to host your blog and will generally save you money up front. Hosted software usually has its own limitations, however, especially in terms of HTML, CSS, and archive management. If none of those things matter to you, you are probably better off going with a hosted solution.

With a non-hosted solution, you can have complete control over the backend of your blog along with advanced customization options.However, non-hosted platforms require a third-party server and generally a little better knowledge of CSS and HTML. Some non-hosted software, like WordPress.org, do offer many plug-ins that make their software more user-friendly as well.

Once you have chosen the type of platform you would like, it is important to look at the features offered by each platform.

Features

Are you planning on using all the bells and whistles of blogging like widgets, video, or polls? If so, you should make sure that your blog software supports each feature you would like to use.

Keep in mind that if your blog changes shape and requires a new feature that you did not originally plan for, sometimes it can be quite difficult to switch software.

SEO Features

How important is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) going to be for your blog and what SEO features will you need to reach your intended audience? Here are a few sample features:

RSS feeds and permalinks will let your users more easily follow you

Traffic statistics are great ways to optimize your site and make the most of each post. Linking to other blogs and notifications are great ways to keep track of your blog network and allow you to work with other bloggers more easily

Are you looking for free software to blog on your day off, or is blogging a more serious and monetizable venture? There is plenty of great free software out there, but if you plan on generating revenue and want additional features, paid software may be worth the cost.

Here are some of the most popular solutions for both hosted and non-hosted blogging:

Hosted

Typepad is the most popular hosted software for top bloggers. It has multiple levels of software (Business Class, Unlimited, and Plus), allowing you to choose a platform that best fits your needs and price range.

WordPress.com is the also widely popular and is a free platform with limited customization. Unfortunately, it does not allow advertisements, which means if you are planning on monetizing your blog, you must find other means to do so.

WordPress.org is the most popular of all blogging software among the top bloggers and for good reason. It uses the same software as WordPress.com but features incredible customization for advanced bloggers.

Movable Type is the second most popular non-hosted platform and supports multiple blogs easily. Its features are not quite as extensive as other platforms but it is still a solid choice.

Check Out Other Blogs

If you follow blogs that contain content similar to what you plan on using, take note of what software they are using.

You can also check out this list of top blogging sites if you would like to take a look at some popular blogs and see what platforms they use. You can usually find out what software a particular blog is using by checking the bottom of the page near the copyright information.

James suggests that readers gain more unbiased and data-drive software comparisons with antivirus and EHR software at FindTheBest.

banana peel man lying down

Small business marketing mistakes: 5 to avoid

Marketing is often the last thing on the list to do. But it can make or break you.

But there are several banana skins you can avoid. Steering clear of mistakes can give you easy wins while your competitors are hitting the floor.

As such, we thought we’d list out some of the most common small and medium business marketing mistakes.

Social media. Get into it

It is amazing how many smbs are failing to take advantage of social media. In fact, it is estimated that around 70% of SMBs have hardly any social media presence.

social logos

One only needs to take a look at a brand like Coca-Cola to see what what impact social media can have.

The soft drinks company treats social sharing as a return on investment in itself. It spends a large proportion of its marketing budget on reaching out through social networking.

You don’t have to spend millions. But you can make an huge impact in your particular niche with a small amount of budget.

The thing to remember here is that a your competitors are probably not doing this. Thus it should be very easy to implement laser-like targeting on a particular customer segment.

Spending your money on new customers

Yes we all need new traffic and more traffic. But using paper click ads to bring people onto the site is not necessarily the best way forward.

It is estimated that around 2% of traffic buys on the first visit to the site. There is a reason why the concept of the sales funnel exists.

You need to get people to sign up to your newsletter, you need to create a dialogue with them, you need to get them to come back.

To back this up a recent study by analytics company Moz said that users watched up to six videos on average before they took out a subscription to its services.

Don’t spend all your money bringing people onto the site. Create content and get people coming back. Get them to sign up newsletters. You will need them to make return visits before they buy.

Concentrate on that.

Get others involved

If sharing is a great way to measure return on investment, user-generated content is a way forward in terms of creating a conversation.

Content marketing is great for getting users interested in your brand and feeling they have a relationship with it. But you have to reach out to them in this.

Try not to rely too heavily on creating your own content marketing. The best inbound campaigns get the user to contribute, even if it is only comments.

In this day and age the right technology is easily available. Even WordPress sites have the ability to create interactive content or forums. Try to stretch the boundaries beyond ‘the website’.

Thinking everybody is about to hit buy

If you are selling a product is easy to assume that somebody is on your website because they are wanting to make a purchase.

But the fact is people are at different stages of the sales funnel. Trying to connect with these people and sales messages at them is not going to work.

A good example of this is retargeting ads. Someone might have gone on to your website but have no real interest in buying. Or were purely doing research or even gone on there by mistake.

Chasing them around the Internet is not going to help unless you want to make them feel harried.

In short, be targeted with your ads. Segment potential customers into groups. The fact that somebody has come onto your side does not mean they are ready to buy, yet.

This brings us on to another major point. Being a more targeted in your marketing will help you keep your costs down.

Check out the data

One of the biggest mistakes these days in marketing and maybe beyond is taking decisions on gut instinct.

There is no excuse for that these days. There is so much data available and that is where the gut should be.

Only by examing customer behaviour can you see what is really going on with your business.

Get your analytics sorted out, and look to see what the user is doing. Frequently you’ll be surprised.

And if you are there is a good thing because it means that you are being pushed in the right direction and away from the wrong one.

Don’t outsource your personality

socialIf you’re thinking about using social media as a possible means of boostrapping your marketing costs, whatever you do, don’t outsource your personality!

The people who make up your company – whether it’s just you or a small team – are the personality of the company. There’s been some interesting discussion this year about whether or not it’s okay to outsource your business blog.

Mitch Joel errs on the negative, whilst Mark Schaefer is more open to bringing in outside writers to communicate for you. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to their discussion on the ghost blogging debate, it’s definitely one to check out.

Or then there’s this guy…

Whatever you decide is right for you, it’s imperative that you generate a strong sense of authenticity and trust through your online communications. Here are a few suggestions as to how you can do this:

1) Post regular video content

Gini Dietrich is a pro when it comes to the weekly video. I’ve written elsewhere about how you can learn a lot from the conversational way she engages with her audience. There’s nothing better than putting your face in front of the camera and talking directly to stakeholders or potential prospects.

2) Start a podcast

I’ve talked about podcasting as a valuable marcom tool for your business here at the SMB Collective quite recently; however, if you’re new to the site you should be aware that like video, audio is a great way of communicating with your audience, showing clearly who you are and what your expertise is.

This strategy is especially suited to consultants because you can demonstrate pedagogical skills as you help your audience. Andy White, the UK’s podcast answer man, is a prime example of someone who excels at teaching you to podcast with clear, concise commentary. This kind of approach can be adopted by many consulting businesses.

3) Book a time with potential clients and visit them

Although the focus of Jontus Media is online marketing and communications, we find that it’s imperative to approach companies in person. Not everyone finds you on the Net, and again with businesses looking to do business with people, the personal touch will suit some prospects much better than others. For example, many businesses don’t realise what the Net can do for them. We find that by meeting them in person we can help them understand just how useful the Net can be.

4) Remember: Be Yourself

It’s ultimately all about finding a way to show yourself. Don’t always turn to other companies to help you communicate your message. As a small business it’s likely that your budget is extremely tight so why not consider what you can do in terms of showing your prospects who you really are.