How to start a self-hosted WordPress blog

Starting a blog is one piece of your marketing arsenal, useful in helping you promote your business. You have the opportunity to educate your customers,  share your marketing messages on a channel you control but, you might be thinking that you need to hire an expert to help you set it up. Well, Not so, because it’s pretty easy and here are the steps. 

Step 1 Get hosting

The first thing you’ll need is to get hosting for your blog. This is for persons who don’t have a website. There are multiple options out there such as host gator, Bluehost, Namecheap, inmotion and a list of others. Pick one that is within your budget.

Having a self-hosted blog gives you more control and is cheaper to manage than a blog hosted on a platform. You can customize it with ease later on. Like add custom sales pages, change the look and feel of the site with a host of design options.

Once on the hosting site, pick a package that suits your budget, and then pay for it and you’re done. Now you can move on to the next step.

Step 2 Install WordPress

The reason for choosing WordPress is the variety of options available to customize your blog. In addition, you can get help when needed with the abundance of sites dedicated to teaching how to customize WordPress. Plus depending on what you are doing you can find a design or theme to fit your needs. More on that later.

Your hosting package will have a click to install option, to set up WordPress. Follow the instructions and you won’t have any issues setting up your blog. Choose your site name, which will be the name of your business and tag which is what you do. After that pick your username and password and you’re done.

The other key thing you’ll need is a domain name. Most hosting companies will give you a free domain name with your hosting. Otherwise, purchase the domain name for your business. 

Step 3: Pick a theme

The theme is like the skin of your blog. This is how it will look for the long them. WordPress has thousands of themes available for you to choose from. Browse through their list of options to choose one for your blog.

Some theme companies give you a basic theme with a drag and drop page builder. This will help you further customise the look of your blog to fit your brand. When choosing a theme, pick one with a style you like that you can customize to your choosing. 

Themes are either paid or free. Don’t worry too much about the paid options, you can just work with a free theme and customize it to your preference. 

Once you’re finished customizing your blog add basic pages, Set up your site to let people know who you are. like an about me section with your story and how you help your customers, and a contact us page, which will make it easier for people to get in touch with you. 

Step 4 Add content to your blog

Now it’s time to add content to your blog. If you’re stuck for ideas don’t worry, start sharing simple. Answer questions customers create a step by step tutorials about teaching them how to do something related to your business. 

To do this click create a post and start writing. Once you’re through writing, review and click publish and you are done.

3 reasons why your business website need a blog

3 reasons why your company website need a blog

One day I was doing some research trying to find a place I could buy a printer. Checked all major outlets websites thinking it would answer all my questions. I wasn’t searching for a regular home printer, I wanted something similar to the one I used at work. 

Few of the companies websites I checked I saw that they had a one or two printers that might work. No information was there that would convince me to pull the trigger and get it. Based on the look of the site I wasn’t even sure they had the printer in stock. Plus it was my first time buying that particular type of printer. These are the type of things situation a blog could solve.

Long before the internet companies used to rely on newspapers and magazines to write about them to reach their customers directly. They actively seek out these opportunities. Now they don’t have to do that. Its easier to reach your buyers directly and address their problems on your blog. 

Answer customers questions and queries

This is one of the easiest places to start. Answering questions customers call or come into the store and ask. Walk them through step by step, educating them to make a decision. If I had seen a buyer guide to office printers on the site. I would have read it. Would make me more likely to buy from them if I felt I knew what to look for in the type of office printer I wanted. 

It builds trust with customers

If your blog is helpful overtime customers will trust you. Why? You took the time out to educate them. You became a trusted advisor that helps them make good decisions and get value for money. 

For instance, I always hate when calling companies asking questions and the person on the phone is trying to get rid of you. Its the worse feeling in the world and a big turn off when you are genuinely going to buy something. 

Its a communication channel you control

Lastly, if you have a big announcement you can post it on your blog, once you build up subscribers and chances are you collected data from them you can send it out to them. No need to send an email to the press and hope someone sees it and publish it. You can tell your story through a vehicle you control. You can post as often as you want for free. Once you build up your customer database you can reach them directly through your blog.

How to find your customers online

Imagine going to a party and the music is playing, everyone is dancing and having a good time except you. You start chatting up some people but all conversation feels awkward. So you end up leaving. A next time you go to a different event for people like you. You talk to a few people and they ask what you do and low and behold they love you. You are what they were searching for. That’s the feeling you get when you find your customers and people with similar interest. And the thing is you can find them online as well. 

Online is littered with groups with all types of interest. From knitting to sports to healthcare to cars. The thing is you can use this in your search to find where your customers are. 

What are your customers interested in?

Knowing your customer’s interest will find communities to be a part of to reach them. This piece of information is useful when choosing platforms base on customers interest.  They will use a particular platform to get information. For example, a lot of friends share craft and cooking videos on facebook. They are short and demonstrate how to cook something. On Pinterest, a female coworker pins hairstyles she likes, outfits, shoes and so on. This can help you with your search.

If they have a problem where is the first place they go to find answers? Who are the influencers in the space? This will help you find where they gather on a regular basis. To help you on your search here are a few places:

Forums

Forums are the really old school way of using the internet. There are websites dedicated to giving persons space to ask questions and get help. It has evolved into various Q&A sites like Quora, Reddit and others. To maximize this space find forums dedicated to your topic. Create an account and start answering questions.

Facebook and Linkedin groups

Some social media sites have groups you can join around the interest of your customers. Similar to the forums jump in and start answering questions you can tackle and participate in the group. 

Twitter search 

Conversations are happening on twitter. They are asking questions and complaining about stuff. You can use twitter to search to find these questions. Type in the question and start answering the questions.

Youtube

There are communities on youtube. The thing is they’re usually watching certain people on a regular basis under those videos people leave comments and talk to each other. Jump in and be apart of the community associated with your platforms.

In the book brains on fire, the authors talk about a scissors company that created a community for craft makers. The idea was to enable them to make more craft. What that did was give persons more reason to create which in turn encourage them to use the scissors more often. 

If you can find your community online with your customer’s interest and start participating.

How to choose the right social media platform for your business

Given the number of social media platforms available today you can easily get confused, and scratching your head about which one to choose. This may cause paralysis, as you may find yourself asking “where do I start? ” which platforms do I choose?” You might decide to jump in on all of them, stretching yourself thin and not seeing any results from your efforts. 

I use to make some of the same mistakes, which led to me no longer using all of them as a result. 

That’s why it’s important to have a strategy. I learnt how to narrow my focus on what’s important. With that in mind, here are some questions that will help you to choose the right social media platform for your business. 

What platform are my customers using the most?

The foundation of your marketing efforts online is knowing who you want to reach. This helps you in your decision making, to find out how you can execute your content strategy. Do they use Facebook? Are they on youtube?  Are they on Instagram or twitter? Knowing this will give you a clue as to the choices you should make. 

What media represents my business the best?

The next question is knowing which content type is best to market your business. Social media platforms offer various ways to post content. Knowing this also helps your decision making. Because you now have to decide which platform gives you all the features to maximise promoting your business with content. Are you going to be using video and images? Do you plan to write a lot of text? Out of all these forms of content, which one does your customer consume the most?

Depending on what you do will dictate your choice. If you’re a photographer, Instagram and Facebook will be your best friend. They host your images with a caption. If you’re a fitness coach youtube and facebook and Instagram are good platforms for you to look at. 

What content type do your customers consume the most?

finding out which content your customers use the most is important to let you know which tactics to focus your marketing efforts on, and know-how to integrate them effectively. 

It doesn’t make sense to be all over the place. Answer the questions and align yourself with the platform that will give you the tools to market your business. ANd also help you reach your customers.

How to apply your content strategy on different social media tools

Having a content strategy is the first step towards marketing your business online. It narrows your focus and gives you a plan of action to achieve success. So, how do you narrow that down to each social media platform? 

Your content strategy is simple what image you want to leave in the mind of your customers to convince them to buy. As it relates to social media this narrows down to using the platform to achieve this. To be effective on each platform you choose, you need to understand a few basic things. 

What is the dominant way that people use the platform?

Understanding the basics of each platform is the key to success later on. The other component is knowing what content type works best. This can be images, text, video, audio. As it relates to your strategy narrowing your focus to producing native content is how you can start. So here are some questions to consider:

  1. What are the different ways to use the platform?
  2. What content type people consume the most?
  3. How can I use this to join the conversation?
  4. What are my target customers talking about on the platform?

Answering these questions will put you on a path to generating lots of ideas for content. It will also let you integrate well and use the platform properly. 

What are the features of the platform that I can take advantage of? 

Knowing what you can do is also critical for social media success. You can simply check out the options you have. Facebook, for example, has live video, stories, you can post video, images and text. But the dominant way people use the platform is more visual. So now you can start to generate ideas for each feature. 

Here are some examples: if you’re in the food business:

  1. Use stories to share the making of a meal from prep to the final dish.
  2. Post the final image as a post with a caption that tells the entire story
  3. Post behind the scenes video explaining each step
  4. Do a live Q & A to interact with your customers

All of this is a strategic way to use all of Facebook’s features to your advantage. With that the aim of getting persons to buy from you in a way that person’s don’t feel sold. Now it’s your turn to learn to about your platform to execute your strategy.

3 Reasons Why a content strategy is important for online success

You’ve been coming up with ideas for your social media channels and feel overwhelmed about where to get started. Sometimes the number of ideas you have can cripple your progress. It can even make you feel helpless. I know how it feels because I have been in the same situation. I tried o decide how to tackle my online efforts, and felt helpless trying to decide which direction to go. Luckily I found a solution that actually works, and that is creating a content strategy. 

Why create a content strategy?

In the words of Sergio Zymann in his book “The End of Marketing As We Know It” says a marketing strategy is a road map. It’s how you plan to execute whatever you want to accomplish. He also said the tactics you use are the vehicles once you develop a strategy.

So from that definition, you can see that your online efforts have to be strategic in order for you to see success and results. It also helps you make better decisions. So let’s explore some reasons.

It helps you narrow your focus 

A content strategy helps you to focus on where you’re going. You won’t be easily distracted by trends or what others are doing. This is because you are posting with a purpose. And that purpose is trackable and helping you achieve your business objectives. 

In the book, I mentioned earlier Zymann talks about how coca-cola grew its business by changing their strategy. What they did was to target the entire soda segment as opposed to trying to be just a regular soda company.  That affected how they marketed the brand and the types of advertising they created.

The narrow focus also helps to simplify what you choose to do and which medium you market on. Protects you from platform hoping and lets you work with your core strength. If its written word, audio or video. 

It clarifies the results you are looking for 

A strategy clarifies the right results you are looking for. Claude Hopkins in his book “Scientific Advertising” defines advertising as salesmanship in print. Dan Kennedy also advocates that your marketing should produce results. It’s part of his rules of direct marketing. 

Being clear on the results frees you up to get creative and try stuff out. If it doesn’t work then move on to something else. If it does you can amplify it and add others to the mix. You can begin to see how your ideas fit into the mix and what outcome you’re looking for every step of the way.

Ir Helps you make better decisions.

As you are armed with your roadmap, and you know what success looks like, all you have to do now is decide which road to travel to get there. This is where you make a decision as to which medium or platform to build or reach your customers. It makes it easier to decide which to add, as you build out the system that will help you get results. What the competition is doing won’t affect you because you know where you are going, and you will have data to prove it. 

So there are 3 reasons why you need a content strategy to help you navigate your online marketing.

Allocating time to create content

Time is a precious asset. Making additional time to create marketing content should be one of your priorities to have success online. This will ensure that you keep consistent on your platform and keep your audience engaged, which will result in business growth. Running a business takes up most of your time but how can you actually find the time to create consistent content? 

Document your ideas daily

I got this idea about documenting your ideas daily from Austin Kleon and Gary Vaynerchuck. The concept is simple, document don’t create. Sometimes we overthink value because we over-analyze if it’s good enough. Keep everything and share bits and pieces. Doing so daily will give you an overflow of stuff to share with your audience. 

Austin in his book “Share your work, have a simple system you can use. I ‘ve tweaked it to suit my needs. 

Share what you’re working on, on social media. Expand it on a blog post or longer video or podcast. He calls it stock vs flow. Gary Vee does the opposite, he creates one long-form content, a blog, live video, podcasts, keynote speech, and breaks it down to create native content on social media. 

Whether you do it top-down or the other way around, documenting on a daily basis removes the anxiety of finding time to create new content. I used to get anxious about this issue but once I started writing every day I always have content to share. 

Batch Create

If documenting ideas daily doesn’t work for you, the other way to create content is batching. The way this works is you find a dedicated day and create all the content you need for a week or a given period. What makes this a good alternative is that you only focus on creating the content once and share it later.

To do this successfully, it’s helpful if you always collect ideas. When you’re ready to create content you have tons of ideas to choose from. This eliminates the blank page syndrome and writer’s block. Once you pick your dedicated day to create, eventually it becomes routine.

Do both

You can do both if that suits you. Document all your ideas. Whether it’s you recording a video, taking a picture on your phone or a voice note. You can batch produce it later for sharing. Austin Kleon in his book “Share your work” recommends taking the time out of your day to share one thing from your work journal.

Hope this inspires you to create more and be productive in your online marketing efforts.

How to set up your social media channels for business success

The internet and social media have changed the way consumers buy goods and services. It has also affected how persons consume news, and even how they entertain themselves. But have you ever found a tweet, or a video from a business or brand, you click it to check out their profile, and end up confused? You want to find out more about what they are up to and to even buy from them, but all that information is left out.

I’ve been in that situation many times. Generally, a person just set up a social media profile, throw up a website link,  then start posting. “I mean that’s social media right?” 

Being on social media alone won’t help you unless you set up your profile for success.  Here’s a list of the 3 things that are damaging your social media channel.

A bio that is not focused on the customer

Your bio is where you talk about how you can help your potential customer. The problem is most people use this real estate to talk about themselves. They even use it to tell their life story. This is all well and good but no one cares. This might sound harsh but look on the flipside. 

You’re on twitter and a friend of yours retweeted a video of a guy sharing some health tip. It grabs your attention, and you repost it as well. You then click to check out his profile and see the type of stuff he posts and read his bio. Below are examples of scenarios to look at. Which one do you prefer:

  1. I’m James Brown Health Coach
  2. I’m James Brown and I can teach you how to gain more energy and lose weight. Check out my free ebook on 5 ways to lose weight <link>

The first option is just a job title, the second option is utilizing the space to explain to people why they should follow him as well as promoting a free information kit, that will help persons looking for a health coach.

No header / Cover Photo

Cover photos are prime real estate for your social media profile, but many persons don’t use. They may either choose a generic background and that’s it. What’s often not realized is that You can use this section to promote your offer. This will allow you to have a more concise bio with the link to your lead magnet.

Going back to the health coach example, Dr James Brown could place the headline with the core offer in a nice cover photo with a background image of success. That will draw in first-time visitors to his profile and make his social media account attractive. 

No updated profile photo

Most businesses just put their logos as the profile image and that’s fine. But most individuals don’t have a professional picture taken They just use a regular photo and just forget it. This is your prime real estate to sell yourself and the benefits you offer to the customer. You want them to see you and your personality in the profile photo. Make it appropriate for the industry you are in, attracting your ideal client. 

Social media is a great way to build awareness about your business, and what you do. Fixing these 3 things can position you for business success.