The following checklist was compiled by Josh Gair, chief entertainment officer of Impact Entertainment Services (impactentertains.com) in Orlando.
Research Your Market • Consider who your target audience is. It could be other planners, hotel directors, sales managers, etc.
• Look at other blogs that fall into the same category as yours and target the same people. Start with industry blogs that are widely read.
• Analyze the current blogs, and determine what type of content they're missing or what you might be able to cover from a different perspective to make your blog unique.
Attract Readers• Make a list of topics you think would be of interest to your target audience. You don't need to be an expert in each topic, but write about subjects in which you can share your personal experience.
• Make the content truly educational and not a thinly disguised sales pitch for you or your company. If you're running a catering company, for example, offer tips of how to save money without sacrificing quality. The better the information is, the more readers you will acquire.
• Create reference material. Make a list of "25 ways to accomplish xyz," to which readers will return often and possibly send to colleagues, and your post might go viral.
Grow your Audience • Your name and web address should follow every blog entry, so that readers can easily follow up for more information.
• Comment on other influential industry blogs, and be sure to leave a link to your blog in your signature.
• Encourage your readers to share your posts with their friends and colleagues. Provide easy links to do so.
• Post consistently. People stop reading blogs when there are no new posts for long periods of time. I recommend posting three times a week.
• Give it time. Building an audience of loyal readers can take up to six months, but the rewards are worthwhile.
Turn Posts Into Revenue• Ask questions and encourage feedback in your posts.
• Mention promotions for specific products or services that you offer, but keep the commercial content limited to one post every couple of weeks, at the most.
• Provide case studies that demonstrate how previous clients have had success with your products or services. These could take the form of anecdotes regarding cost savings or great guest experiences. Remember, other people's testimonials carry more weight than your own.
• Once you boost readership, approach companies in the industry, such as hotels or décor firms, that might be interested in advertising on your blog. You also can use Google Adwords to enhance your revenue.
• Run interviews with key industry executives as a regular feature on your blog. This is a great way to reach key decision-makers as well as to strengthen relationships with existing clients -- and it sure beats cold calling. Get their opinions on industry trends and practices, and be sure to link to their websites at the end of the interview. This provides them with free publicity, potentially increases your own readership through links back to your site and opens up a dialog with the potential clients. Plus, a good interview only increases the quality of your content.
• Post badges or links to other social networks where people can connect with you. A link to your LinkedIn profile or Facebook Fan Page gives readers the chance to learn more about you and strengthens the relationship. Don't forget that despite the more casual format provided by Facebook, you are talking to customers and potential clients.