Getting the most from being online

Stage 1: Planning

The business benefits of a successful website are clear. A successful website will provide you with an additional channel through which to communicate with potential and existing customers. In this article we will be looking at what you need to consider at the beginning of the process.

Step 1 – forget the look (but just for now)

The internet contains many exciting things so when you start thinking about your website it’s easy for your mind to wander off into a world of graphical animations and flashy widgets. But before you go down that road, take a step back!

Your first stop should be your business plan. Remind yourself what your business is trying to accomplish. Your website should reflect those objectives. Of course, the look of your website is very important but this should develop from careful consideration of your marketplace and the website’s purpose.

being online

Step 2 – know your customers

By now you should know who your primary customers are and also have identified any other potential markets.

Your target market is core to the success of your website. That is what should dictate the look and feel of the website, not just your personal preferences.

Step 3- identify your objectives

Your website’s purpose is to fulfill specific business objectives, whether you are driving revenue directly through online sales, or using your site to build brand awareness.

Clearly identifying these objectives will allow you to communicate your needs to a designer and provide you reference points from which to evaluate the success of your website on an ongoing basis.

Using these three steps, the end result should be a website that effectively drives your business. A final word of advice, ensure you continually evaluate your website against your objectives as these will continually change as your business grows.

How Do I Jump Start My New Blog?

Question: How do I jump start my new blog? I feel like it’s just me.

Starting a new blog is always an uphill battle.  According to WordPress.com, there are tens of thousands of new blogs started every day – that is a lot of competition. The fact of the matter is, until you build up a following, you may actually be the only one reading your blog, but don’t let that get you down.

Start with your inner circle of friends and colleagues.  Let them know about your blog. Whether it is a personal blog or a company blog – you need to get the word out.  Put it in your email signature (careful about putting personal blogs in your company signature!), make sure you send out a tweet on twitter every time you make a post, post it on your Facebook profile – whatever you need to do.  Let people know.

A great way to get more readers is to create a facebook fan page for your blog.  Some bloggers use their personal facebook page as their blog “landing page” but you can create one for your blog as well.  By creating a facebook fan page, you will be listed and searchable in the directory giving you access to millions of potential readers.

Another great way to get your blog out there is to do video blog entries, or at the very least a video describing your blog, and upload it to youtube.com.  Remember to put a link to your blog in the description and your profile so people can click and get to your blog easily.  Doing regular video blog entries and successfully using categories and tagging will drive readers from youtube to your blog and will be very targeted traffic.

Above all – write great content!  The first second of someone finding your blog are crucial and can mean the difference of them coming back or leaving for good.  Good content – GREAT content – is a surefire way to get people not only reading your blog but spreading your link for you.

This is an important point.  You can do all the promotion you want for your blog. You can spend money on advertising, widgets for trade shows, and more.  But if you don’t provide good content, it all doesn’t matter.

So don’t worry if it is “only you” when writing your blog.  A successful blogger not only writes on their blog, but also is out there on the Internet promoting their blog and adding value to other people’s blogs.  Being active in your niche is one of the most important things to remember.  It isn’t all about your blog, its about reaching your readers no matter whose blog or website they are on.  Be an active participant and people will find you.

As well as the search engines.