Does your business have a blog yet? If not, why not?
These days the #1 most powerful tool businesses have is a website. And the most adaptive, effective type of website is the blog.
Blogs serve many purposes when used by businesses: To establish authority, two-way communication with an audience, speak on issues in real time, provide support, etc. Our customers use blogs for sharing articles from their email newsletters, conversations with segments of their own customer base, and even technical support. Blogs are immensely useful, on their own or as part of a larger website.
When using Sitefinity as your CMS, you have a built-in blog engine ready & waiting. Sitefinity’s Blogs module includes all the expected tools: comments function, post management, permissions, Categories & Tags, and even Sitefinity’s revision history.
Let’s go through how to set up a blog in Sitefinity CMS. And what to do with the blog once it’s in place.
How to Set Up a Blog in Sitefinity
*NOTE: These steps apply to Sitefinity 7.x. You should have no trouble following them in Sitefinity 6.x or 8.x, but there may be minor differences.
Part 1: Create the Blog Page
- Start by creating the blog’s page. In the Pages section of Sitefinity, click the New Page button.
- Enter a name. “XYZ Corp. Blog” or something similar.
- Under “Put this page…” click the option you want for the blog’s location. Many people put their blog at top level, which gives you a “www.domain.com/blog” kind of URL.
- Enter a title for the search engines. Make this one detailed – talk specifically about what you want readers to know about the blog. Good for SEO.
- Under the Template section, choose the template you want to use. The template you currently use for the rest of your site is fine, or you can create a custom blog template. (These take some web design and coding and will ideally match the look/feel of your website for consistent branding. Contact Us if you’d like help.)
- You can change other metadata & page options under the remaining sections. The defaults however, should work fine.
- Click the “Create and return to Pages” button at the bottom. This creates the page, but leaves it empty. Which is what we want – we’ll populate it with the Blog widget soon.
Part 2: Create the Blog
- Click the Content menu. In the dropdown list, click Blogs.
- You’ll see an empty page, prompting you to create a blog! Click the Create a Blog button.
- Enter the blog’s title. This can be the same title you used for the blog’s page.
- Under Default Page, click the Select a Page button. A window with a page list will appear. Navigate to the blog page you just created, select it and click Done.
- If you would like to set a different URL for the blog than the blog’s page URL, then click the Change button under Blog URL. Otherwise, leave this alone.
- “Include in sitemap” should be checked by default. If not, check its box.
- If you click “Alternative Publishing (RSS)” you’ll see a checkbox for “RSS Feed”. I advise leaving this checked. RSS feeds may be a little bit old in terms of web technology, but they’re still commonly used in desktop & mobile apps to update blog trackers.
- Click the Create This Blog button.
- Poof! Your blog is created. You should see it in the Blogs list.
- Click the “Create a Post” link to add posts to the blog. Add as many as you like for now.
- But we have one more step to go before people can see the blog. We must connect the new blog to the blog page you created.
Part 3: Connect the Blog to the Blog’s Page
- Return to the Pages menu.
- Click the blog page to open it. You should see a blank page, with your page template applied.
- In the control bar along the right column, look in the Content menu. You should see a widget named “Blog Posts”.
- Drag the Blog Posts widget onto the page.
- Click Edit. The Blogs options window will appear.
- Since you have only the one blog created, it will show by default (“From all blogs” is the default option). You can change this to showing only one blog, List Settings for how the posts display, etc. Click Save when you’re finished.
- Click Publish. You’re done!
Repeat these steps to create as many blogs as you need. (Why would you want multiple blogs? We’ll come back to that.)
Managing Your Blog/Blogs
As you’ve seen already, adding blog posts later on is easy. Return to Content > Blogs, click the blog you want, and click “Create a Post”.
Blog posts are entered in Sitefinity just like you would page content. Type or paste in text, add images & links via the built-in editor, and voila.
However, there are a few additional things to do with a blog post. For one, do you want comments? Then make sure the “Allow Comments” box is checked under More Options. Do you want to assign blog posts to categories, or add tags? Use the options under Categories and Tags to do so.
NOTE: In some Sitefinity instances, I’ve noticed that the Preview function won’t always work properly for new blog posts. You’ll see a preview, but Sitefinity may “forget” the content you entered afterward. It’s not consistent, and we’ve reported it as a bug. Just making you aware.
Use of a Blog Page is only one method of showcasing your blog. Using Sitefinity, you can build blogs into your site at almost any point, and link to them from anywhere else! Homepage, sidebar – wherever you want to place the Blog Posts widget.
Here’s a brief example of a Blog feed from a homepage:
We configured the widget to feed the most recent post’s title and summary in the lower-right box. Click the button and you’re taken right to the blog.
When Would You Want to Set Up Multiple Blogs?
While many websites focus on one blog – or are nothing but one blog – there are times when having multiple blogs makes sense. Consider the following:
- Do you have multiple audiences you’re targeting?
- Do you want to establish a conversation on more than one topic?
If so, multiple blogs make sense for your business.
Let me point out our own blogs as examples. This blog is devoted entirely to the Sitefinity CMS. Our other blog, The Skype 4 Business Insider, is devoted to the Lync Server/Skype for Business Server communications platform.
Keeping them separate allows us to focus on each topic & talk with respective users. Many of you have posted great comments and sent emails on both blogs. Please continue to do so!
Our new website (coming soon!) will likely have 1 or 2 more blogs devoted to specific technical topics. If you’re on our subscriber list here, you’ll see announcements for them when they’re live. (Signup box is on the right. Hint hint.)
Do you currently use a blog on your business website? What’s it about? Please comment or email us. Even if it’s not running in Sitefinity, let’s hear about your blogs.