Blogging is fun. Blogging is easy. Blog is short for “Web Log”.
For some it is the 21 st century equivalent of keeping a diary, journal or scrapbook. For others it is the electronic soapbox in the forum from which they can tout their religious, economic or political beliefs. Most importantly (for those of us striving to get ahead in the business world) a blog is a powerful vehicle to drive your business forward and to personally communicate with your customers and clientele.
I “see” the blank look on your face. “How is a blog a business tool?” you are asking. For most, the blog conjures up images of schools banning kids from putting their pictures and music on http://www.mySpace.com. It is something fun to share with your friends that you scored a “Gandalf” on the Lord of the Rings personality quiz. While still a social communication venue, the blog can really help your business. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why the majority of Fortune 500 companies now blog. Many movies and television shows are now putting their information into a blog format.
First, look at your business. Do you have a web site? If the answer is no, you should get one. Business is being carried out each day and most people look online to shop and compare. They are reading reviews about the products they want to buy and are coming into your business armed with knowledge about those products. The blog should be a part of your web site.
Adds incoming, indexed links to your site.
Offers the ability for customers to comment about your business (you still can moderate the topics).
Broadcasts your business over the world and allows customers outside of your commerce area to find you.
Once you have your web site, choose a blog that will compliment your business. I use http://www.blogger.com. It is a free site supported by Google and can work well in a business setting. Mentioned prior, is http://www.myspace.com, which is possibly the most wide-known blogging site. This is very popular and focuses mainly on music and entertainment. However, it does offer some interesting features and you may want to mirror your business blog alongside MySpace. Other blog sites include, but are not limited to: http://www.xanga.com, http://www.livejournal.com and http://www.blogspot.com. Each offers a different set of attributes and features and you will have to decide which suits your business the best. The important thing is that you have a blog and you are hosting it on your site.
Make sure when you create your blog that you allow it to have an active RSS or ATOM feed. This broadcasts your blog out on the internet and gives you the chance of bringing more people to your site. Also, I would sign up for a Feedburner (www.feedburner.com) account. This also helps you to publicize your blog and makes it easy for people to subscribe.
When making your posts, direct them to your audience. You won’t have much of an audience at first, but over time they will grow. Make sure your posts are spelled correctly and are grammatically correct. Make them interesting and informative. After your first post make sure that you allow your blog to be “pinged”. Pinging is the method that notifies blogging directories that you just posted something new.
There are many add-ons and third-party items you can add to your blog. It seems daunting, but don’t worry. The blog designers have made the creation of your blog fool-proof and easy to use. It is just like typing a letter or writing a memo.
You can also make money from your blog. On Blogger, you can add Google’s AdSense. These are paid links from affiliate subscribers. The types of businesses that appear on the blog depends upon what words you use in your forum. Each blog has its own type of affiliate and you can choose to use them or not.
You can make money in your own way, too. Make sure to list store specials and promotions in your blog. Tell people important news and generate excitement to bring them to your business. Become an expert that they know they can trust. People that believe in what you say will be more inclined to shop with you first.
You can set up polls and questions on your blog. What better way for people to be more involved than allowing them to have a voice? By bringing your customers into your “Blog Family” they can be interactive with your company and become closer to you. This is the main reason you will find movies and tv shows on blogs. They are creating a “buzz” about their show and then seeing how the crowd responds. You can do this too.
For example: You own a retail outlet and you want to bring in a new product. So you write in your blog, “Introducing Product A”. You show pictures of the product from different angles, you write about the product information, you talk about pricing and all of the ingredients that go into bringing a new product on the shelf. And then you ask for comments from your faithful customers…
Think about this for a moment. Your blog is a way to test market new products. How much money can that save you?
As you can see, a blog can be more than just a social medium. Use it for your business. Have the links coming in to your site. Make money through the AdSense and other programs. Gather subscribers and have them be your marketing study groups. A blog can help your business grow.