The last five years have seen an enormous increase in the popularity of blogging. A blog is simply a web log. Initially, folks were using blogs mainly as online journals. People love blogs because they are simple to set up and simple to use. Search engines love them because they are easily searchable and often updated. But businesses often ignore blogging as an amateur endeavor that isn’t fit for a professional business. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s explore a rationale for business blogging and how you can get started.
Blogs put a personal face to your business. You can interact with current and future customers in a transparent way. And a personal connection is paramount in business. Blogs also allow for two way communication through the use of comments. Readers can view the current blog post and comment on it. This sort of connection is highly underrated. If customers trust you, they will be much more apt to do business with you. After all, trust is a cornerstone of the business transaction. In an age of Tycos and Enrons, you need to establish trust with your current and future customers. If you have lost their trust, you have lost everything. Blogs are simply one way to establish this trust.
Blogs lift your web presence. And most small businesses have a horrible web presence. You may be questioning whether you really need to invest in your web presence. Let me share a story. Recently I was speaking with someone in the housing market. He has noticed an interesting trend. He used to be able to throw up a model home and have droves of visits. But lately model home visits have decreased. Since he was curious, he started asking around as to why people weren’t visiting model homes as much. The overriding answer was that they could now search for a lot of information online. Now, you may balk that they would never buy a house without going in one. And you’re right. But the main point is that they are gathering information before they ever step inside a house. And if a home builder is providing these potential customers answers, and establishing trust with them, they are much more likely to visit their model home. This is the art of preselling. Give customers what they want, establish trust, and you will earn their business.
Blogs deliver traffic. Blogs are fabulous for increasing your search rankings. And, if used in conjunction with an effective web marketing strategy, they are indispensable. If done well, blogs can provide search engines with a continuous stream of new and valuable content. Let’s look at why this is important. People usually find things by searching for it. If you are writing content that people are looking for, search engines will marry the two. For example, let’s say that your business sells party supplies. Now, you partner with an online marketing firm and find that a lot of people are looking for birthday party games. You could blog around birthday party games. The possibilities are endless here. And then you could link to your store over and over. Give people what they want and they will do business with you.
Blogs come in different packages. Once you start diving into blogging, you will quickly become confused or overwhelmed at the choices. Let’s break it down. Blogging software comes in many flavors. This software allows you to create your blog entries and it also allows others to view it. And there are big differences between a hosted blog solution and a non-hosted solution. Let me explain. A hosted solution will offer you a super easy blogging solution. The great downside on that offer is that you will be blogging on their domain. A domain is simply a website address, like partysupplies.com. This is true of starting a Blogger blog (http://www.blogger.com), which is owned by Google. If you start a blog with Blogger, your blog will have the address partysupplies.blogspot.com. I would recommend that if you have a business site that you host the blog on your website address. It will help your search rankings and your traffic. As for blog software packages, I whole heartedly endorse the WordPress blog platform (http://www.wordpress.org). It is an amazing blog platform. If possible, I would go with a hosting provider that offers an auto install of wordpress. This means that you simply walk through a wizard and it installs it for you. It’s the best of all worlds!
If you haven’t started a business blog, start one soon. I would recommend that you put your blog on your own domain, like partysupplies.com/wordpress. Again, I would recommend you use WordPress. And ,if at all possible, use a host that provides an auto install of this great blogging platform.
Paul McGillivary has been a technologist for 15 years. In that time, Paul has experienced thousands of technology problems, challenges, and products. He brings this experience to bear in the articles that he presents.