This is part two of a four-part series on blogging for businesses, which will explain the benefits of having a blog, things to consider when getting started, how to blog using your toolset, and additional tips and tricks for an effective blog for your business.

Last week, we discussed how blogging can be an effective way to promote your business. Maybe you're considering starting a blog for your business. If you are, that's great! But there's one thing you'll need to realize: effective blogs require pre-planning and organization before a single post goes up.

If you want to get started on your blog, here's 5 things you'll need to do before it goes live.

1. Know your audience.

The first thing you need to do before you begin blogging is determine your audience. This will vary by industry and depends on what you hope to achieve.

Are you the owner of a small, local bookstore looking to bring more people into your shop? Then you'll want your blog to reach book-loving individuals who live in the area. Narrow it down further. What do you know of your current customers? How old are they? What books do they buy? Where do they work? What are their hobbies? What about the area around your bookstore? Is it a small town, or a busy city? Is it near a college, a church, or a retirement home? These questions are important to ask when determining your audience. And once you've done that, it'll make it easier to come up with a blog that you know your audience will enjoy and respond to.

2. Determine the purpose and theme of your blog.

Once you've figured out your audience, you'll need to decide what the purpose and theme of your blog will be. This goes back to what you know about your audience. What message will they respond to? What themes resonate with them? What content are they most likely to engage with and share?

Let's go back to that bookstore example. Maybe you get many customers who ask for book recommendations. Why not make that your blog's purpose? Write book reviews, recommend authors, talk about your favorite genres, etc. This will resonate with people who are constantly looking for new material to read. As far as theme, think about what your audience values. Ask your customers why they love to read. Is it to give them inspiration? Is it to learn more about the world? Whatever the reason, you can use this to determine your blog's theme.

3. Start brainstorming.

Now that you've decided on a theme and purpose, it's time to start brainstorming. Think of topics or ideas for future blog posts and jot down what you come up with.

Stuck? Here's some ideas to get you started:

  • Tell the story of how your business came to be.
  • Review a product/service related to your industry.
  • Share your opinion about future trends that relate to your business or industry.
  • Create a how-to guide on something related to your business.
  • Share funny or inspiring stories from your own experience.

4. Put together a blog schedule.

Now that you've got some ideas for posts, you'll want to make sure that you're blogging consistently and updating regularly. Creating a schedule can help with this.

Keep a calendar devoted to your blog posts and pick days on which you want to post. One good recommendation is to have a routine, such as posting every Tuesday. You can always modify this schedule if it doesn't work. A good rule of thumb is to post at least once a week.

5. Pick your blogging platform and get familiar with how it works.

Once all the other decisions are made, it's time to make the most crucial one - where do you want your blog to be? If you have a website, you may have the capacity to blog directly from it. (For instance, many of the clients with Cool Life CRM and CLS Suite have blog tool built into their toolset.) If you aren't sure, check with the company that hosts your site and find out what they offer.

If you don't have this option, you can use other sites to host your blog, like Blogger or WordPress. These sites are free, but require money if you wish to upgrade to premium features or get a custom domain name. (For instance, if you want your blog's URL to be instead of Research these options and see which one works best for you. 

Once you've made your choice, start setting up your blog. Play around with the blog tools and get familiar with them. If you need help, consult online guides for whatever blogging platform you use. (For our clients, we have guides available for both Cool Life CRM and CLS Suite's blog tool.)

So those are 5 things you need to do before you begin your blog. Next week, we will be looking specifically at Cool Life CRM's blogging tool and explain how clients can use it to put together a professional blog.

Is there anything else you'd like for us to cover in our series? Leave us a comment below and let us know!

Liz DeMeo is a writer for Cool Life CRM, a CRM system and marketing tool provider. We provide cloud-based solutions which help companies better manage their clients, data, marketing, and sales. We also provide CLS Suite, a toolset tailored specifically for small business owners. Both of our toolsets come with a blogging tool which allows our clients to post their blogs directly on their website, with no knowledge of HTML required.