I talk to numerous people at different business events and the number one thing they ask me is how to setup a blog or online presence. Some people have an old school view that they just need to create a website to have people come flocking to their business. Others have heard that they need to create a blog. Others still want to expand their Facebook pages or setup a Twitter account.
Unfortunately most people do not realize the extent or time commitment that an online platform will take. The real truth is, you need four things to form the backbone of your online presence.
1. An Appropriate Domain Name. This can be your real name, your business name, or a combination of keywords that describes your business. For example, if you are lucky enough to be able to secure your real name as a dot-com domain name, be sure to pick it up. A couple of popular online platforms built around personal names are michaelhyatt.com and chrisbrogan.com.
Business names might be a little easier. Names like sandiegolockandkey or venturacustomframing are more likely available than personal names and will probably be unique to your business. In the examples above, descriptive keywords are contained in the name which will aid in placing well with search engines.
A third type of domain name is one that contains popular keywords about your website or business. Here are a couple that I found recently that stood out. Momstoolbox.com and Modernservantleader.com, use descriptive words so you instantly have a good idea what the site is about. Since these words are also highly searched keywords, Google and other search engines will naturally send traffic there. (There are some other word tricks you can use to find unique names here.)
2. A Descriptive Website. Once you have a great domain name, you need to point it to a well designed website. This site needs to describe who you are, what you do, and most important, what can you do for the person visiting your site. The site should be well laid out, with good organization and helpful navigation. It should load fast, and feature your logo and tagline.
A great way to setup a smart looking website is to use a template and the WordPress content management system. This will allow you to create a site in less than an hour with built-in navigation, and proper HTML coding. A great place to start is StudioPress. They have an amazing array of designs that look good and perform well. You’ll be amazed at the professional look you can create, customized for you and your business. Many can be setup in an hour or less.
3. A Great Blog. Once you have your website up and running, you’ll want to add a blog. While there are many ways to do this, the easiest in to use a StudioPress template with a built in blog page with your self hosted WordPress setup. This gives you an instant voice to your followers. Once you start blogging, you’ll soon get comments. While the built-in WordPress comment system is powerful, you may want to add the Disqus comment system , since it will allow you to reply by e-mail.
Writing for a blog requires time and effort as well as consistency. You’ll need to determine how often you want to blog per week.Getting started, you should aim for once a week or more. I wrote a post a while back called the minimum effective post. This will give you some guidelines on post length and what is needed to get it to bee seen by the search engines.
4. Social Media Input. Now that you have your domain, website, and blog up and running you need a way to tell others about your posts. The easiest way to do this is with Twitter. You can setup a free account in just minutes and start to follow people right away. If you setup a free BufferApp account, you can install a great tweeting plugin right in your browser. Then to tweet out a link, you just click the button with the web page open you want to send the link to, and Buffer will schedule it and send it on its way. Tweeting a link to your site or blog post has never been so easy. This will result in some of your followers clicking on the link and will drive traffic to your site.
Once you have tweeted for a while, you might want to login to Klout and setup an account. Klout ties together your different social media channels and gives you an easy way to find and follow influential people in your niche. This post will show you some unique ways of doing this.
Overall: Setting up a web presence takes time and effort and is best done with proper planning up front. Once you get everything setup, you’ll need to figure out how much time you want to spend updating everything each week. Our next post will have some guidelines.
Question: What tools have you found useful for creating an online platform?