So you’re a local business owner. You might have a web site (or at least thought about building one). By now you have a Facebook profile and some of you might even have a Twitter or Linkedin account. But how do you gauge the success of your social media efforts?
You’ve probably spent hours updating your profile(s), tweeting and cultivating a following. If your social media efforts are to get your product/service the exposure it needs, you’ve probably spent a lot more time and the average business owner this might seem to be a little overwhelming.
Before you hire a local specialist to set you straight or steer you in the right direction. Here are a few handy resources that might save you hundreds of dollars, maybe, even thousands of dollars in this process.
If you don’t have a website start a free blog using Blogger or WordPress to help spread your message. These free content management systems allow you to post daily content changes, instant copy corrections, easy link management, landing page creation and optimization and accessed from any location with an internet connection. Once you’ve registered a free blog get writing. (see Content Design)
If you have decided that you want a little more customization than the free blog can offer. I suggest you go all the way and think custom. With custom blogs you'll have to do a little more work and obviously a minor monetary investment. Trust me it’s not as hard as you might think or as expensive. I set this blog up for $128.00 including domain, hosting and the theme.
First, you have to buy a personalized vanity domain name (www.yourbusiness.com) and a hosting plan to point your domain. Most plans include email addresses, tech support and many other features.
After you have purchased a hosting plan contact their tech support and have them walk you through setting up WordPress or Joomla on their server. Reputable web hosting companies should do this for you. Once your blog is setup on a server take some time and get familiar with the different setup/config options in the backend.
Choose from thousands of free themes that suit your style or if you want to purchase a custom theme for your blog check out themeforest.net. There you can buy custom templates with a variety of options, styles and levels of useability including ecommerce.
Although these themes take full advantage of their content management system tools. Some may need you to read extensive tutorials. The tools in these themes which are similar to those found in a word processor, require no advanced HTML or programming skill, and help organize the extensive amount of content found on a typical web site.
Here are the basics; The two main types for organizing the content are Post and Pages. Categories are used when you wanted to describe a post in more specific terms allowing for a broad grouping of post topics. There is an alternative method for integrating custom post types and taxonomies, that I’ll cover on a future post about custom taxonomies.
Posts are entries listed in reverse chronological order where as Pages are static and are not listed by date. In my experience and something that I failed to do in setting up my blog was to set the custom Post Permalinks.
If you want to analyize traffic to your new blog add google Analytics to your custom blog. I will explain more about Google Anayltics in a later post.
Extras: Tweak your custom blog by using plugins, sidebars and widgets. You can add Polls, Rating, SEO tools, Twitter feeds, Facebook Likes, Gravatars, Guestbooks and Geotagging to just name a few. All at the click of your mouse.
So that is a brief outline on how to start your very own blog. Happy blogging!