A dream seems to exist in every home business owner’s imagination wherein their future wealth stems from the sharing of their own opinions as a blogger. It’s a great dream, but ever-so slightly misguided. Let’s dive in and discuss how blogging can make a difference for your business.
Starting your own blog is an excellent tool to support your business’s marketing efforts. A quality blog will definitely attract leads, boost your Google search rankings, provide a spark to your Social Media portfolio, and give your name and business a level of credibility previously unreached. Just don’t expect your blog to alone make you a millionaire.
By following the advice provided in this article, and in Part 2 of this article, you should be able to create a very effective blog for your Network Marketing business.
Which Blogging Web Site Should You Use?
While there are several blogging sites out there available to use, only a few legitimate sites should be considered: WordPress, Blogger (formerly Blogspot), and Tumblr, as prescribed by Jason Fitzpatrick of Lifehacker.com. All three of these options are free, so which one should you choose? I believe Kasia Mikoluk of Udemy.com offers the easiest-to-understand, most comprehensive comparison of the three in this blog. She sums up the differences nicely by stating: “Unless you want your website to have “.wordpress.com” in the URL, you’ll need to buy the domain from WordPress or shell out a few dollars to pay for them to map your domain. Blogger is less customizable, but mapping your domain is free. Tumblr is great for certain types of content, but you wouldn’t use it for a business requiring transactions or a writing blog with long-form pieces.”
Here’s my take on each of these free blogging sites for your small business.
Owned by Google, previously called blogspot.com, Blogger is the basic blogger’s dream site. It’s easy to get started and use, it’s synced with your Google Mail (gmail) address and Google Plus profile, and it’s even easy to customize designs. Plus, since it is owned by Google, many SEO experts perceive that blogs created on Blogger rank higher and quicker in Google search rankings than WordPress blogs.
Not just a blogging site, WordPress has evolved into a legitimate, extremely popular web site creation tool. For that purpose, WordPress may be the perfect choice for your small business or Network Marketing blog if you have not yet created a web site for your business. You can start your blog with a free design and when your business has evolved to the level of making a web site, you can simply transform your WordPress site into a highly functional web site. The biggest downside on WordPress is cost: WordPress doesn’t charge for basic features, but if you want to customize your blog’s design on WordPress, you’ll have to pay.
In the past year, after Google’s most recent Penguin search ranking algorithm, Tumblr’s effect on your Google search rankings has nearly tripled. It’s all over Google’s search results for practically anything you search. Takeshi Young of Moz.com, one of the leading digital marketing and SEO advice sites, reported this week that Tumblr recently surpassed WordPress as the most-used blogging site on the web. Tumblr has continued to grow even after Yahoo purchased it in May 2013 for more than $1.1 billion.
There are three MAJOR considerations, however, to note before you become convinced that Tumblr is your best blogging option.
1. According to Pew Research, more than 50 percent of all Tumblr users and visitors are under the age of 25. So unless your potential customers, potential downlines, and target audience are college-aged and/or teenagers, Tumblr is not right for you. Chances are that if you are part of an MLM network specifically, teens are not your target audience and college students only make up for a small amount.
2. Design limitations. Tumblr is free and designing your blog on Tumblr is fairly easy like Blogger. But Tumblr is meant to be very friendly to large-image designs. You know how your Facebook profile got that “Cover Photo” feature last year? Yeah, those cover photos are nothing compared to the size of most Tumblr photos. The point is that your blog on Tumblr is supposed to be more of an art, rather than a report or an article. Tumblr even has length limitations for articles. Learn more about Tumblr’s limitations in this article by Demand Media’s Laurel Storm.
3. Transition to a web site. Tumblr is completely opposite of WordPress in the sense that creating a functional web site from a Tumblr blog is nearly impossible. So unless you already have a web site for your Network Marketing small business, Tumblr is probably not the place for your MLM blog.
At some point in the process of creating your blog, whether on Blogger or WordPress, you will be invited to purchase or add your own URL if you do not wish to have www.blogname.wordpress.com or www.blogname.blogspot.com as your URL. Cazue, a web marketing firm, lists 5 important reasons for your blog to have its own unique URL:
1. It’s good for SEO
2. Branding, with your own URL, you can easily share the blog or talk about it in conversation
3. Advertising: if you ever decide to run web ads on your blog, most advertising companies will not run their ads on your wordpress.com or blogspot.com site
5. Restrictions with Blogger and WordPress other than advertising
All things considered, I am personally a fan of Blogger.com blogs simply for their ease of use and inexpensive customizations. WordPress is very easy, too, but I’ve noticed much stronger Google search rankings with my Blogger blogs. That said, Google Webmaster Help explains in this short video that he hasn’t seen a difference in SEO results between Blogger and WordPress.
You’re probably not a graphic designer. Heck, I know I’m not one. I tend to think all content should look like a newspaper, which I know definitely does not work for creating an attractive, professional-looking blog design. But I do know that professionalism is the key to differentiate your blog from cheap, corny, and otherwise unattractive Network Marketing blogs that seem to flood our industry.
You know when you see a bad blog design. It’s got photos of the author in questionable positions or circumstances, it has sharp, contrasting color schemes, and it has the author’s name literally all over the page. Bad blog designs are easy to spot, but sometimes difficult to describe. Use this article by Goins Writer as a guideline for what not to do with your blog design.
To start, decide here and now that you will refuse to follow the look and feel of another MLM blogger’s site. I can almost promise that you will not find a classy MLM blog design on the internet. So start by deciding to create the world’s first classy MLM business owner’s blog. Secondly, dive into some research on professional-looking blog designs. But definitely make sure to check the date of those design advice articles before following them word-for-word. For example, one of the top search results for “good blog design” is an article from a very reputable web design magazine … dated 2007. Blog design possibilities and attraction trends change nearly every 8 months or so. Tips from 6 years ago will only show how unprofessional you really are.
For those of you selling, distributing, or targeting the female crowd, of all ages, study this article from A Beautiful Mess. It’s an excellent reference tool as you start your femme blog design. And trust me, when it comes to marketing to females, a femme-based blog design will go a very, very long way.
Web Designer Depot compiled their own little slideshow of their 15 favorite blog designs. Some are photo heavy, some are text heavy. Some are simply confusing to follow. At the very least, the list and images of these different blogs will give you some direction of what you want your blog to look like.
“The Blog Design Guy” of Squidoo.com created a very powerful, incredibly useful free index to help you decide how to design your blog. One thing he focuses on that I consider extremely valuable is the overall effectiveness of your blog’s design. If your blog has a poor, unprofessional design, you will never gain the readership and audience you hope, thus making your blog 100 percent worthless to begin with as a business owner.
The Blog Design Guy outlines 7 important areas to focus on when creating a blog design: Usability, Color, Typography (i.e. fonts and how to use them), Visual Interest, Statistics, Continual Improvement (redesign), and Functionality in that order. I strongly suggest a read through his Squidoo.com blogs to find tools, tips, and tricks that will make your blog look less foolish and more professional.
One last helpful hint for your blog design: do not put photos in the banner or permanent sidebar of you and/or your family in expensive cars, standing in front of your expensive house, or posing in front of an expensive-looking scenery. A common misconception of MLM and Network Marketing business owners is that “if I show how successful I am, my target audience will see my success, envy it, and want to be a part of it.” In my opinion, this marketing approach is tacky and classless. On the Facebook profile of the the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, his profile photo features nothing but his smiling face, adorned with basic-looking eyeglasses, topped by messy salt-and-pepper hair, and atop an unbuttoned collared shirt. In the background: what appears to be a half-empty bookshelf. The key to evoking an appearance of wealth and class is to not try to be rich and classy. Use normal, everyday photos, perhaps of yourself at work. This is, after all, how your potential downline reps and customers will see you, right?
What to Write About
This is perhaps my favorite question I used to ask all the time as a newspaper reporter. Aspiring young reporters would come to me for career advice. I would ask what they are interested in. They’d say writing. I’d ask what else. They’d say they don’t know. I’d then ask “So then, you want to be writer with no topic?”
The key to writing and blogging alike is one intensely important ingredient: passion. You must have a passion for what you write. I have a passion for all things marketing and for sports. So what do you think I write about? I can tell you this: I always hated covering city council meetings and police reports. Everyone has a passion. Every blogger has a passion. How do you effectively portray that passion in your blog? This post from Shoutmeloud.com explains some key factors.
As a Network Marketer, you probably already have a passion either for your products or for your business. Write about that. I recall, not long after graduating college with a minor in physiology, joining the marketing staff at a very prominent MLM company that distributes a variety of products, including: eco-friendly home cleaning solutions, feminine products, beauty products, fitness products, medical products, and health benefits alternatives. At first, I was assigned to be the writer for the health benefits alternatives. Yawn. I had no passion for that. Later I was invited to be the writer for the new candle division. Bigger yawn. Things got better when assigned to the medical products. But I found my home writing for their fitness products, which correlated perfectly with my education and passion for the human body’s functions.
Your blog will not interest anyone, including yourself, unless your topics touch your passionate side. But your blogs will not resonate with your intended target audience unless they relate to your MLM business directly: whether its products or its structure.
Now that you have decided on a topic for your blogs and gone through the ever-important designing and creation phase, it’s time to dive a little deeper and focus on the details of your blog posts. We will cover exactly that in Part 2 of How to Start a Successful Network Marketing Blog.