If you own a business, whether it’s a small boutique on Main Street, or a global conglomerate, you probably need a blog. Blog is short for “web log,” and blogs started out as a tool that anyone could use to post their thoughts and opinions on everything from politics to product reviews.
Many smart business owners quickly recognized the numerous advantages to a business blog as a way of attracting new customers and clients. Today, there are millions of blogs published by individuals, companies, associations and organizations.1 As a business owner, you ought to know how to: (1) create a blog; and (2) use that blog to grow your business.
Why are so many businesses blogging?
1. Blogs are easy to create. With a blog, you don’t need to know HTML programming, or how a cascading style sheet works. Virtually anyone can create a blog that’s attractive, and attracts visitors who are interested in what you have to say about your business niche or realm.
Blogs employ templates. Choose a template that suits your type of business, open an account and simply “fill in the blanks,” adding text to the design of the blog. Be sure to include the business’ name, address, telephone number, email address and other contact information as part of your blog design.
2. Blogs are easy to update. It’s easy to add pictures, graphs, coupons and other incentives, informational content, announcements – you name it and you can post it. WYSIWYG is an acronym for "What You See Is What You Get." It is a feature that lets you see the final version of an item on screen, whether that item is a printed page, a web page, an animation, or a 3D-rendered image. Examples of products that use a WYSIWYG editing interface include Microsoft® Word, Adobe® Photoshop®, and Adobe® Dreamweaver®).
3. Blogs are free. Your business may pay a lot to market its products or services, but blogs are free if you create and update them yourself, and what business owner doesn’t like free? You simply create an account, design your blog template and start posting. The more often you post, the more likely you are to attract visitors to your blog – and it doesn’t cost your business a single penny. Free marketing is always good marketing.
4. Blogs provide customer information. Some blogs are closed so only the blog owner can post, but as a business owner or marketing manager, it would be better to create a blog that’s a two-way street with posts from your business, followed up with comments from readers. Readers who leave comments can help improve the delivery of products or services, streamline billing, and address other matters of interest to leads, prospects and existing customers.
Track comments left by readers. Keep the conversation going with your followers and let them speak their minds. Also expect a lot of comments from spammers who use blogs to sell their own products. Check your posts for spam and delete it ASAP.
5. On-site blogs keep visitors coming back to your website. An on-site blog is a part of your website. Visitors access an on-site blog by clicking a link on your website’s navigation bar labeled BLOG. Let’s say you own a small, knitting supply store. Post a few patterns that visitors can download for free and, chances are, those visitors will come back again for more free patterns. You’re also likely to get an order for the particular yarn and needles used in your free patterns. Knitters may tell their friends about your free patterns, helpful services, and the quality of the knitting products you sell, driving even more traffic to your website.
6. Off-site blogs create another “target” for visitors to hit to find your website. An off-site blog uses a blog platform, like Google®’s Blogger™, or WordPress®. Off-site blogs create another target for visitors to hit, and find your website, because your off-site blog contains links that take readers directly to your website.
Create accounts with blog search engines. Google®, Yahoo!® and Bing™ are the big three search engines for websites, but as blogs have become more and more popular, specialized search engines, just for blogs, have made it simple for visitors to find blogs on specific topics, delivering more highly-qualified leads to your blog and, ultimately, to your website. There are dozens of blog search engines that focus on specific topics like business, medical practices, foods and recipes, job search tactics, legal matters, real estate and more.
General blog search engines2 – the must-haves for any blogger – include Amatomu™, IceRocket™, Regator™ and Technorati™. Create accounts with these search engines, choose the topic words that best describe your blog, and see more traffic faster using search engines that specialize in blog posts.
Don’t sell – build goodwill. A blog that’s nothing more than one post after another promoting your company’s products or services won’t see a lot of repeat traffic. Blog readers don’t want sales hype – they want good information, tips, coupons and other benefits – including the latest industry-specific news.
Update your blog regularly to keep visitors coming back. Provide informational content of use to readers, who may bookmark your blog and notify others of just how valuable it is. There will be plenty of opportunity to sell your goods once visitors recognize the value of your posts.
So, if you have a business, but you don’t have a blog, create one. If you have a blog, post often to keep visitors coming back for new information. If you have an on-site blog, add an off-site blog, and add your website URL at the end of each post so readers can just click to find your website.
Finally, provide good information, money-saving incentives, free downloads and other posts that establish your business’ corporate citizenship and interest in quality customer care.
The blog band is expanding everyday. Will you be the next blogger to join the ranks?
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.