After making some initial decisions about your plans for the focus, content level and reader type of your business blog, it’s time to shift gears a bit and make some decisions about your blog’s features and functionality. Because your business blog is ideally an integrated part of your existing website, its look, feel, font, colors and header image will all be the same. There are other features and functionality, however, that you will want to add to your blog that may or may not currently be part of your website.
Features & Functions for your Business Blog
- Social Media Icons You (hopefully) already have your business’ social media profile URLs in the header, footer or Contact page of your site. Also placing linked social media icons at the top of your blog’s sidebar makes it easy for readers to find and follow your business.
- Email Subscription Most people have no idea what an RSS subscription is nor how to add a RSS feed to a RSS reader. That’s why setting up an email subscription function for your blog provides your readers with a familiar option. Plus, every new blog post you publish will be sent to your readers’ email inboxes – a great push marketing technique.
- Social Plugins Integrating multimedia and social plugins with your business blog increases the rate you will gain followers. Consider embedding a video from your brand’s YouTube channel, your Google Plus business page badge or one of the many Facebook social plugins.
- Newsletter Sign-Up You may already have a newsletter sign-up on your website and can simply add the same code to a widget in your blog’s sidebar. Or, you can set up something like MailChimp now.
- Popular Posts This isn’t something that you’ll be able feature on your sidebar immediately, but after you’ve added a decent amount of content, you can highlight – with direct links – your most popular posts. Also, our WordPress theme of choice here at Eli | Rose – Headway – has a built-in leaf that allows you to choose what posts to feature. You can view this leaf from our home page.
- Archives, Categories & Tags Intended for easy navigation, adding an archives function, category list and tag cloud to your sidebar helps website visitors easily see what you write about and search your archives for their chosen topic.
- Links to Downloads & Other Resources Links to checklists, buying guides, industry FAQs and other downloadable PDFs are all helpful features to add to your blog’s sidebar.
- Install a Share Bar Depending upon the nature of your business, you may already have social sharing functions like Twitter retweet and Facebook Like on your website’s pages. If you do, be sure those same social sharing features are also included on your blog posts. But if you don’t, check your WordPress plugin section to search for and install a plugin that will make it easy for your readers to share your content with their social connections. Once your social plugin is installed, be sure to customize your retweet button to include your handle and locate your share buttons at the bottom of your blog posts.
- Comment Section You can opt to use your platform’s native comment capabilities and add a comment reply notification plugin in order to have your comment responses emailed to your commenters. Or you can install a 3rd party app like Disqus, LiveFyre, Intense Debate or a Facebook plugin to override your native comment system. Third party apps require a login/account to use, but include comment reply capabilities as well as discourage comment spam. If using something like the standard WordPress comments, you should also install a spam-catching plugin like Akismet.
While still part of your business website, a blog can’t be built in the exact same way. Often, a business blog has it’s own sidebar, with features and functionality you don’t necessarily see on the other pages of your business site. Including the 9 items above in your business blog’s design will ensure you are taking full advantage of the benefits of business blogging and will create a user-friendly experience for your readers.
(This is the third post in a series on how to start a business blog.)