Businesses looking for more exposure in the vast ether called the Internet are increasingly turning to weblogs—or blogs for short.
A well-done blog can personalize your company, provide interesting information to readers (prospective customers), and generally be an important component in ‘branding’ your business online. As an added bonus, search engines may reward you with higher rankings for a good, regularly updated blog, particularly if you get links to and from other blogs and/or websites.
Some bloggers actually make a living by keeping up-to-the-minute blogs that draw a regular audience. Topics can range from politics to gossip, but the secret to these blogs’ success is that they have a compelling voice or an interesting slant on the latest news. By drawing in enough regular readers, these bloggers earn income either from readers’ donations or from placing advertising throughout the blog.
Blogging to market your business is different. By providing your customers and prospective customers with a new means of interacting with your business, you can help build a sustaining relationship.
Getting Started – Easier Than You Might Think
There are many choices for blogging software available, and some of it is even free. Just do an online search for ‘blog software,’ and you’ll get dozens of good choices. Select the one that best meets your needs in terms of flexibility, look and feel, and cost.
Your blog needs to have a name, which should be relevant to your business. Try to find something that will generate traffic from online searches by researching keyword phrase popularity.
The blog will have a URL, just like a website, so make sure it’s something that can be easily typed. If the blog is incorporated into your website, something like www.yourcompany.com/blog would work well. (Note that, to get the maximum benefit from search engines, your blog should be part of your website.)
Once you’ve chosen a name and registered with the blog-software company of your choosing, you can start right in on the actual blogging. Here are a few important points to keep in mind as you develop ‘articles’ for your blog:
- Avoid selling. The old adage that “no one likes to be sold” couldn’t be more true in the blogosphere. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a blog can be a direct sales mechanism for your business. It won’t be. Readers will return to your blog if you provide something of value or interest to them, but not if you keep making sales pitches.
- Make the blog look like your other marketing materials . One of the purposes of a business blog is branding, so make sure that your blog is consistent with your other marketing materials (website, print collateral, etc.).
- Post frequently and consistently. The best-case scenario with a blog designed to market your business is that readers regularly come back to read what you have to say. (Or they subscribe to your RSS feed – but that’s gist for another article.) If you post too infrequently, your readers will simply lose interest. Maybe your mom will read it, but there are too many other options for the rest of the masses.
- Don’t regurgitate. Share your views about current events, talk about business-related happenings or industry news, but don’t simply repeat information that your readers can easily find elsewhere. (And obviously, don’t ever, ever, ever plagiarize.)
- Promote your blog. Include it on your business cards, in your email signature blocks, and anywhere else you can. Link to other related blogs (and hope that they’ll link back to you.)
- Post good content. Obvious enough… While many people use personal blogs as a sort of online diary, your business blog should provide useful content for people interested in your products or services—not your personal life.
- Have a personality—or at least write like you do. Notwithstanding the previous suggestion about keeping your personal life out of your business blog, your blog should have a personality. Develop a style and tone that makes readers feel connected to you. This is perhaps the most difficult part for beginning business bloggers. The best blogs showcase the writer’s personality while branding the business.
- Start writing before you launch the blog. It’s best to start your blog with at least a few posts, so that the initial readers get a good picture of what you’re really all about. As time goes by, you’ll come across ideas for your blog in all sorts of places; put the main ideas on paper immediately, and then go back to fill in the details later.
by Rob Croll
President, Marlannah Group Internet Marketing