The term blog is derived from “weblog” otherwise known as web diary. Business blogs or personal blogs are generally operated by one individual and clearly branded with the personality of the author, often with their photo prominently displayed.
Blogs contain articles that are called posts, which are categorised and typically listed in chronological order.
While blogging may have started with online diaries, nowadays there are blogs on any topic imaginable. Some command attention from the mainstream media, allowing any person anywhere to establish a following as a writer.
For our purposes we are interested in blogging for business and blogging for marketing. In my opinion no independent professional or small business should be without a blog.
Blogs are not technical!
In fact, their simplicity has contributed to their success. If you know how to use email and surf the web then you can learn how to blog in a matter of hours. You write an article in a web form the same way you would type an email, choose which category the article should be in, click publish and your article goes live on your blog.
There is of course a lot more to it, but essentially that process forms the basics of why blogging is a really easy method for the average web surfer to publish content online.
As we’ve discussed, relationship building with potential customers is very important. When a customer establishes trust with you they are more likely to buy something from your business.
A blog is the perfect conduit for establishing trust and is the ideal online communications tool for an independent professional to reach their audience online. It’s easy enough for a non-technical individual to make use of and the benefits can be significant at very low cost. That formula has seen an explosion of blog usage with www.blogherald.com estimating 70 million blogs in existence as at July 2005.
Want more articles like this? Check out the small business blogs section.
What content do you publish to a blog?
Today you can publish virtually anything on your blog, including audio, video and software, but the basic foundation is the written word and that’s where you should start.
Once you know your target market, produce content that meets their interests and provides a sample of what you do.
You should demonstrate your skills and provide value to your potential customers by teaching or giving away a part of what you offer, a tempting sample of what your full service or product can do.
This could be as simple as the first chapter of your book, a limited use version of your software, a collection of articles discussing hot topics in your industry, a short course teaching the basics of your full seminar series or just advice directly from you.
The options are truly limitless, but the important considerations for small business blogging are to keep on topic, stay relevant, provide value and target your audience. This target audience is where your customers will come from, so if you intend to make sales make sure you discuss topics relevant to your industry.
Let’s stick with our Sydney plumber example. If our plumber created a blog to help attract customers, he could write lots of how-to articles on topics such as;
- How to fix a toilet;
- How to seal a bathtub;
- New technologies in the plumbing industry;
- How to fix a leaking tap;
- Where to buy cheap plumbing supplies in Sydney.
Now you might argue that the plumber is giving away all of his best secrets. This is exactly the right thing to do. Most people that read the articles won’t go and fix their toilet themselves, all they want to know is that they are hiring someone who knows what they are talking about. The better the quality of the articles, the more convinced they will be of the value of the plumber. These topics promote the expertise and credibility of the plumber.
Blog search engine marketing
Another fantastic benefit of blogs is that straight away they are very well optimised for search engines. As long as you write good content your blog will present it for you in a well optimised format. There is of course a lot more you can do to further enhance your blogs performance in search engines but you will be off to a great start if you choose good blog software. I use and recommend WordPress – www.wordpress.org, which is completely free.
Why is blogging taking off?
Blogs foster great content and collaboration and are built to communicate with other blogs. No doubt you will find yourself (virtually) meeting fellow bloggers. Not only will you form relationships with your customers but you will also meet people working in your industry, opening up opportunities for joint ventures, cross promotions, business collaboration and even friendships.
The real power in blogging comes from leveraging the blog network (called the blogosphere) to reach hundreds and even thousands of people. One popular article can be linked to by hundreds of other blogs filtering your name and blog around the web like a virus. You couldn’t buy viral marketing of this magnitude, which penetrates so far so quickly at no cost, in the real world. If you blog consistently it can happen on a regular basis.
My blog, www.Entrepreneurs-Journey.com is a good reference point if you need a practical example to refer to.
This article is part 2 of a series on Internet Marketing. Below are links to all 8 articles in the series:
Internet Marketing Part 1 – Its use as a business growth strategy
Internet Marketing Part 2 – Creating an effective business website
Internet Marketing Part 3 – Using email autoresponders
Internet Marketing Part 4 – How to use pay-per-click advertising
Internet Marketing Part 5 – Introduction to search engine optimisation (SEO)
Internet Marketing Part 6 – Search engine optimisation part 2
Internet Marketing Part 7 – The basics of blogging for business
Internet Marketing Part 8 – Breaking down technical skills barriers