Business guide to Blogs
It’s unlikely in this day and age that anyone has never heard the term ‘Blog’ or ‘Blogging’. Yet for many of us it is just that – a word, and a pretty odd one at that! Blog is actually short for ‘web log’ and refers to a piece of regular published text which is written by a ‘blogger’ and then posted onto the Internet for others to read. As of today there are millions of blogs out there on just about every subject imaginable.
You may well ask though, isn’t it a bit like writing your diary, but in public? Or the Internet version of spouting your views at the dinner table whether anyone is interested or not? Well yes, it can be that, but there is also another far more serious and beneficial side to blogging. The opportunity to raise your profile and generate more business ...
Why should I create a Blog?
Creating your own blog for your business, if done properly, can provide you with an extremely cost effective way of getting your business messages to your target audience. There are some minimal rules on business promotion via blogs which you will need to abide by, but once you understand them, there is no reason why you can’t use this great new Internet tool to promote your business effectively, and cheaply.
Blogs have grown in popularity over the years and are now used by millions of people to promote products, services and ideas.
For some people, creating and monitoring their own business blog is simply not a worthwhile marketing approach, especially if the ability to put words of any kind on paper (or screen) is simply not your forte! For the busy small business owner or freelancer, the very thought of spending hours writing a blog can seem to be not only a waste of time but also a potentially painful experience. What most people forget is that once your blog is set up, the reality is that it can become a very useful marketing tool, the benefits being...
- You have a greater chance of your content being found online - Writing about subjects your prospect audience are interested in gives you a greater chance they may well come across you and start to follow your ramblings regularly. This is particularly the case if you are involved in a very specialist or unusual business area, where there is simply less content out there on the subject. You may find that your blog starts to attract a following if you tap into a market that is not catered for elsewhere – but it really depends what you write about of course.
- You can communicate another side to your business or personality - All small businesses are focused on generating sales, and of course profit. A blog will allow you to communicate another side to your business or personality, which your audience may find amusing or interesting, and this in turn can increase your visibility and your sales.
- A chance to demonstrate your expertise - A well structured and written blog can demonstrate your expertise and what the corporate's call ‘thought leadership’ in a specific area – enabling your target audience to see you as the expert in that field and to turn to you for help, support and advice.
If you are still in doubt, the best bet is to try and write a blog for a few weeks and see what happens. Remember though that if your blog is associated with your business, you always have a reputation to protect, so think twice before posting anything which might be construed as being politically incorrect.
It is fair to say that not every freelancer or small business owner will benefit from a blog, and you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of starting such a venture. One word of warning though, be careful of announcing to followers that you will be ‘blogging regularly on a range of fascinating topics from now on’, then get bored after the third day! Remember, blogging takes time and effort.
For a blog to be successful, you need to update the content on a regular basis, ideally every day at least. If you don’t update it frequently, then your blog will not be fresh and interesting. For many small business owners or freelancer's, making time to blog can be difficult, so think about the benefits and decide if you have time. With practice you can create simple updates in minutes - and many short updates are better than a few less frequent, but longer, ones.
Blogging, if it works, will inevitably drive traffic to your website. So it is essential that you have this up to date and as professional looking as possible before you begin. If you don’t currently have a website or need some ideas on how to make it better, please visit our Creating a website for your Business page. Once you’ve done that, the next step is to choose which blogging tool you’re going to use.
There are a number of companies that will host a blog for you, and some will be free whilst others may charge, depending on the type of service you want. It’s worth noting that if you blog as an individual, the blogging site will probably not charge you - but if you blog as a commercial entity, then they may well do. So you may wish to blog in the guise of an individual, rather than in the guise of a ‘business owner’. Some of the best known blog sites in use today are Blogger, WordPress, MSN Spaces, Moveable Type, TypePad and Expression Engine.
Alternatively you can opt to host your own blog and this involves asking your Internet service provider (ISP) to configure your own website to contain the blog. WordPress and Strato are two options that will allow you to do this. The benefit of hosting the blog yourself is that you are driving people directly to your own website, which makes the sales opportunities a bit easier. Having said that, remember that some blog readers may well get upset if they feel that they are being actively ‘sold to’ via the blog content.
Once you have selected your chosen approach, then all you have to do is use the friendly tools included to pick a look for your blog site, and then start typing!
Remember....Writing good content is key!
That doesn’t mean you have to be a brilliant writer, but you do have to write about subject's other people will find interesting to read. The golden rule though, as always, is not to simply ‘sell’ through your blog. If you start trying to sell your services via your blog, you will soon lose any readers you may have gained. Instead try and think of an interesting commentary or viewpoint which is relevant to your industry sector or your area of expertise and then let people refer back to your web site for details of the services you provide, if they are then interested. If you balance this correctly you should start to see leads and enquiries coming from the ‘blogsphere’.
Good content includes anything which is of interest to readers: insightful, compelling, fun, makes readers think, is newsworthy and most importantly makes you memorable. When the time comes that readers of your blog require your services, then your name and 'witty' comments from your blog will be remembered, making you their first choice to book.
We hope the above information has been useful. If you would like to chat with Easy Accountancy about your business call us on 0500 234111 / 01442 275767
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