By Laurie Taylor and Misty Absher ClarkStarting a blog can be an overwhelming task. Once you understand the value a blog can bring to your online presence and perceived subject matter expertise and you’re set to begin, what should you do first? Here are three considerations to get you over the hurdle and blogging soon.1. Research and decide on your resources.There are many options to explore for getting your blog started. WordPress, Blogger, BlogSpot, and other resources have templates and customized programming for blog functionality. These will give you a jump-start, and they also include tips and advice for you along the way. Get advice from your web programmer, since customized options to match your website are sometimes more affordable than you might think. The name of the game here is that you get started in a way that’s comfortable for you and your team to regularly maintain. Simplicity and customization are crucial when selecting the resources to make your blog happen.2. Customize your content, commit, and be consistent.Be strategic and timeline your topics so that you embark on your blogging journey with a clear sense of direction. You don’t want all of your blog entries to be promoting your new “special.” You want to offer your viewers real value. Make room in your storyboard for praising your team, uplifting community leaders or organizations, and boosting area interests, in addition to packing it with oral health education. Create a list of topics and then plot them on a timeline. That way, you will feel more confident sitting down to write about a topic instead of feeling like you have a giant mountain to climb. Go step by step based on your plan.Organize your content by category so people can find what they’re looking for and stay engaged with your blog. For example, patient education blog entries might be organized by the need for which you’re offering a solution: healthy gums, children’s hygiene habits, sore bite, sensitive teeth, painful chewing, space between teeth, discolored teeth. Then, you can tag those entries when you post an educational blog so that patients can find the educational material in a way that makes sense to them.Consider a relevant domain name that goes straight to the blog, in addition to a customized name that makes sense for your organization. Make sure the username is something patients will be searching, which may not always be your practice name or doctor’s name. For example, viewers might look for “Dentist in Plano,” so wordpress.com/PlanoDentist might be a better fit than a dentist’s name that won’t often be searched for directly. You can then purchase domains to point to the blog that give you some diversity in search terms (Dr.JoeSmithBlog or PlanoDentistBlog or RiversideDentistryBlog or something thematic with your marketing message or location).Once you have your blog set up, make sure it looks and reads like the rest of your marketing materials. Consistency of your brand is of utmost importance at all times. Your blog, website, email news, postcard, business card, signage ... it all needs to repeat the same look and messaging. Consistency takes on a new meaning in blogging as well: timeliness and repetition of posts. You need to commit to it so that you can have consistent posts over time. When someone finds your blog and there are only a few entries posted per year, it’s a waste of their time. Pack it with rich material by staying consistent with your posting plan.3. Drive traffic to the blog, track it, and keep improving.Once you have a blog set up and you’re posting to it consistently, make sure it’s being seen. Incorporate it into your other social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter. Send out an email to patients and area databases when a new blog is posted. If you have a marquis, promote your blog there when you are especially proud of an entry. Include an option on your website that links to the blog and a link on your blog will obviously lead to your website. You don’t need to reinvent any wheels. If you have a website packed with patient information, then blog a little update about that and link straight to your site’s already existing information.The goal is to maximize your online presence and visibility, while engaging the client in as many areas as possible so they’ll develop a sense of loyalty for you, your team, and your practice. Don’t drive so much traffic to your blog that you’re losing website traffic if there are important elements of your site that you want them to see. Be strategic about the goal of your blog, your website traffic, and your overall message. Use Google Analytics or other metrics trackers to make sure you’re aware of where you stand in relation to your goals. That information will help you make future decisions for your marketing as well.Author biosMisty Absher Clark and the Jameson Creative Services team help dental practices worldwide with all marketing efforts including strategy, websites, brochures, social media, and more. Laurie Taylor, Clark, and the team of nearly 40 professionals support clients through in-office coaching, webinars, and more resources outlined online at www.jamesonmanagement.com.