In the first part of our series, Setting Up Your Business Online Without Coding, I showed you how easy it is to set up a brand new website using Squarespace that you can fully set up in as little as 30 minutes.
Now that we've got a great-looking website set up, it's time to go one step further and really get the most from it by adding a fully working blog, complete with comments and social integration.
Blogging is a Marketing Tool
Writing informative and interesting blog posts on topics that would be of interest to your peers and clients builds up your online presence further.
As you're already likely aware of, being a freelancer or running a micro-business can be hard work.
Whilst it can be extremely liberating to know you're no longer a "corporate stooge", you'll have to be responsible for every aspect of your business, many that you may not have been involved with before when working for another company.
Marketing is one such area that we have to manage ourselves. This means getting our names out there, building up contacts and clients, both active and potential, not to mention things like advertising and, of course, our online presence. Setting up a website goes a long way towards creating an excellent online presence but there's a lot more that we can do to build upon that. One such thing we can do is write blog posts.
No matter what your specialist field might be, you're going to have some good ideas and unique perspectives that others will find interesting. Writing informative and interesting blog posts on topics that would be of interest to your peers and clients builds up your online presence further. For example, if you write a great blog post about your thoughts on the future of web design and it's picked up by a major tech news outlet like Mashable or TechCrunch, that's a whole lot of exposure coming directly to your website. Continue that and, before you know it, your site is seeing thousands of hits a week, all from potential clients wanting to do business with you.
Before continuing, I recommend revisiting the first article in the series, How to Set Up Your Online Business Presence With Squarespace, so that you are familiar with the advantages of using Squarespace.
Squarespace provides a complete blogging platform that's not only powerful but easy to use. Let's add a new blog and begin setting it up.
Step 1: Log in to Squarespace
Head to Squarespace and log in with your email address and password. Once logged in, you should find yourself at the Squarespace configuration page.
Step 2: Add a Blog Page
To add a new page, find the Main Navigation and click + Add Page, adding a new Blog.
That's really all there is to it. If you wanted each of your colleagues to have their own work-related blog, you can add as many blog pages as you wish, all of them treated independently of one another.
Step 3: Writing and Editing Posts
Once you've added the new page, you're ready to start posting to it. Use the + Add Post button on the top-right of the page to start adding new posts.
When you add a new post, a new window will pop up in which you can enter your blog post details, such as title and content.
Just like we can drag and drop content blocks around a page in Squarespace, so to can we do that within a blog post. Every post will always contain a text block, allowing us to add text. If we wanted to add an image, video, quote or even a photo gallery, we can do so by selecting the + icon at the lower-right of the blog post's body.
By default, you only really need to enter content into these two fields as the rest is purely optional, but let's go through them anyway and find out what they do.
On the lower left of the window is where you can add tags and categories, useful for organising large amounts of content.
To the right of this, we have the option to enable or disable comments per post. Comments can be useful to generate an active discussion based upon the subject of your blog post, but if you prefer not to have comments then you can easily disable them whenever you wish.
When writing a blog post, saving it will always save it as a draft. In order for it to be published, you'll need to click Save & Publish.
Step 4: Post Options
In the Edit Post window, click on Options on the top-right to access the area where you can access some additional options.
Here, we can place an image to be used as a post's thumbnail, depending on which template you've chose, and if you'd prefer to give a particular post a unique web address, such as /blog/hello-world instead of /blog/2013/07/hello-world then you can override the post's URL in the provided text field.
Should you be writing particularly long posts, say over a thousand words, then having the entire post displayed on your blog's main page would make it very long and visitors would often need to scroll quite far in order to go to the next post. Instead, we can write a quick excerpt that we can use in place of the post's content on the main page so that the visitor will still know what the post is about but they won't need to scroll past hundreds of words to get to the next one.
Additionally, if we're quoting another person and would like to acknowledge their site or particular blog post as a source, we can add the link so visitors can also go to their site, if they wish.
After making any changes to the above, your post is ready to publish!
Writing your content is one thing but wouldn't it be great if we could automatically send blog posts to services such as our Twitter and LinkedIn accounts without needing to manually go to each website?
Thankfully, Squarespace includes automatic posting to many major social networks which can be configured within the configuration page.
Step 1: Adding Social Accounts
Firstly, go to Settings and then select Connected Accounts. At the moment, you'll notice that we don't have any set up.
Click + Add Account and then select the social network account of your choice. You can see there is a wide range of social networks that you can connect with and all will provide unique features and settings depending on the one you choose. For the purposes of this guide, I'll be linking my Twitter account.
Like most social networks, you'll need to authorise Squarespace to use them before continuing.
Once authorised, all connected accounts will be listed. As you can see, my Twitter account is now showing as connected.
Step 2: Configure For Push
Double-click on the social network you added and you'll be shown the available configuration options for it. With Twitter, for example, you can customise the exact text it tweets. If you'd prefer to end all your tweets with a hashtag or add some additional text, Squarespace provides the ability to do so.
The option we're interested in is Show Push Option which means we'll see it as an available service to send blog posts to.
Step 3: Pushing Blog Posts
Head back to our blog page and double-click the post you previously wrote and on the top-right of the window, select Social.
You'll now see an option to post to the social network that you set up. Whenever you write a new post, this will be switched off. Once you switch it on and then publish a post, it will be automatically, and immediately, posted to it.
What's more, if you have previously written a blog post and forgot to post it to a specific social network, you can go back to it. Turning the option on, and saving, will instantly post it, as well.
Nowadays, many of us are using mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones to work on the go. In fact, a good number are making these their primary travel devices, meaning they need to be able to do most, if not all the work they could do on a laptop.
Squarespace provides iOS and Android apps to make blogging on the go much easier.
Step 1: Download and Sign In
You can download the Squarespace mobile app from either the App Store or Google Play - just search for "squarespace".
When you first launch the app, you're asked to sign in to your Squarespace account if you haven't already done so. If you manage multiple accounts, you can switch between them at any time.
Step 2: Write a Post
You're able to add new posts as well as manage existing ones, amending as needed.
To add a post, simply tap Post and a new post screen will appear for you to write. You can also attach a photo as well as specify the tags and categories to use by toggling between the options available above the keyboard.
Step 3: Managing Posts and Comments
You can manage existing posts and moderate comments by selecting the Manage button, allowing you to view all your previous blog posts and comments.
One caveat of the mobile apps is that if you make advanced layout changes to a blog post, for example, add more complex content blocks, then the mobile app cannot edit it - it has to be edited through the configuration page.
After completing this part of our series, you should now be able to not only set up a new Squarespace site but also set up and manage a blog, complete with mobile blogging functionality.
The social integration of the Squarespace blog platform makes it incredibly easy to instantly post your new blog posts to your preferred social networks to further increase your exposure and online presence.
There's plenty more that the Squarespace blogging platform can do and I encourage you to spend some time looking at some of the extra features, from comments to podcasting, all of which can aid you in building your online presence further.