blogging for salesSo you want to start a blog, eh? Well, good for you. A blog can be a powerful sales and marketing tool for your business. (In fact, I wrote an article a while back entitled Ten Reasons Blogging is Good for Your Sales.)

Before you start banging away on your keyboard, however, there are some issues you need to consider. Because they can mean the success or failure of your blog. Here are eight questions you need to answer before you publish your first post.

1. Who is my audience?
Like other sales and marketing tools, your audience determines almost everything about how you use your blog. You can’t write for everyone. The more specific your content, the more devoted your following will be.

So who are you writing for? What do they want and need? What are their hopes, fears and desires? What makes them laugh? What offends them?

In my case, my audience is primarily salespeople, sales managers, professionals and business owners. So everything I write (with the exception of my annual humorous Christmas pieces) is written with that audience in mind. CEO’s, marketing managers and others may also read my blog, but if I was specifically targeting them, my content would look a lot different.

2. How frequently will I post?
You can post anywhere from daily to monthly. But whatever your publishing schedule, it should be consistent. If you post for several days in a row, then don’t post anything for a few weeks, your readers will think you’ve stopped altogether.

So how often can you commit to posting? How frequently do you have something relevant to say? How conveniently can you fit writing into your already-busy schedule?

(Tip: You can write several articles at once, then publish them at regular intervals.)

3. What will I post?
Your blog is only as good as its content. What kinds of content do you want to provide? How-to’s? Insights and opinions? News? Reviews?

(Tip: Your blog should not be purely promotional fodder about your business. Nobody wants to read advertising.)

If you’d like some ideas to stimulate your thinking, check out 23 Things to Post on Your Blog.

4. Who will be responsible for posting?
If you’re a professional or a sole proprietor, this is a pretty easy question to answer. But if you have employees, this is a question worth pondering.

If you’re not a great writer, it would be better for your business if someone else took on this responsibility. Preferably, someone with enthusiasm for the task.

(Tip: Creating blog posts may be a job that is best divided among several people. That can give your blog a variety of voices and enable multiple people in your company to build their fame and credibility.)

5. Who will coordinate posting?
If more than one person will be doing the writing, somebody needs to be in charge of coordination. This person must be responsible for making sure people get their articles written in a timely fashion. The coordinator also must ensure that every potential blog posting meets the necessary standards required to maintain and enhance your company’s image online.

6. Who will be allowed to post?Who's Allowed to Blog for Sales
If more than one person in your company will be posting on your blog, you’ll need guidelines to prevent bruised egos among your employees. Drawing up a simple set of parameters will keep morale high.

(Tip: Consider enabling customers to post directly on your blog.)

7. Are there any legal issues to be aware of?
Certain industries (medicine, law, financial services, among others) carry with them restrictions regarding what kinds of information and advice can be published. If you have any uncertainties, check with an attorney.

8. How will I spread the word about my blog?
“If you build it, they will come” does not apply to blogs. Like any other product, a blog has to be marketed effectively to be successful. After all, what’s the point of writing a blog if nobody’s reading it?

(Tip: Develop an actual marketing plan for your blog. It will give you new ideas for marketing other elements of your business as well.)

There are millions of blogs out there. If you want yours to be one of the successful ones, spend some time answering these eight questions. It will benefit your blog, which will benefit your business.