The What, Why and How of Business Blogs
By Jason OConnor (c) 2006
Oak Web Works, LLC
Blog is short for Web Log or Weblog and the Blogosphere is the online blog world, some parts of which are hyperlinked extensively to each other.
This is the Wikipedia definition: Blog is short for weblog. A weblog is a journal (or newsletter) that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption. Blogs generally represent the personality of the author or the Web site.
I recommend that you read lots of people's blogs to learn what blogs are. Go to your favorite search engine and type in the word 'blog' and the subject you're interested in. For example, 'web design blog', or 'blog music', or 'sports blog'. You'll find lots of blogs that way.
Blogs have become a way in which regular, non-technical people can post information to the Web as easily as they can access it.
Why Are Blogs So Important?
Well, they're not that important, yet. But they could be soon, and most likely will be. In fact, some would argue that they are already vital in today's Web business world. I am not ready to agree to that yet, but it is becoming more obvious to me over time that blogs can no longer be ignored in business.
Online businesses can benefit from blogging by taking advantage of a vehicle for easily posting new, original, and business-related content on a regular basis.
Here Are Some More Business Benefits Of Blogging:
- Blogs help to position you and/or your company as experts and leaders in your industry.
- They're interactive in nature. At the end of each blog entry is usually a link that allows anyone to add their own comments to your blog entries. This allows your customers and potential customers to make comments about your products or services or ask you questĂons to help them in their buying process.
- Blogs are marketed easily and quickly by their RSS feeds.
- Blogs allow you to stress your choice of products, services, relevant news stories, quotes, pictures and more with your audience, customers and potential customers.
- People are generous with adding links to your blog if the content is good, especially within their own blogs. More links means more traffĂŻc and better search engine rankings.
Here Are Some Ways In Which You Can Make Revenue From Your Blog:
1. Selling advertisements. Whether you use banners or text links, if your site draws a regular audience interested in your blog topics or theme, try to offer ad space to organizations that are looking to market to your audience. In fact, if your blogs becomes really popular then advertisers will call you.
2. Offering Google's AdSense. Google's website explains, "Google AdSense is a fast and easy way for website publishers of all sizes to display relevant Google ads on their website's content pages and earn monĂ«y." Learn more about AdSense.
3. AffĂliate Programs. AffĂŻliate programs allow Web sites that provide links to your site to receive payments or reciprocal advertising in exchange for promoting your Web site. In the case of blogging, this is reversed, where you post links within your blog, and collect monĂ«y from the owners of those links when they result in a click-through and sale.
Here Are Some Websites Where You Can Get Your Blog Listed:
How To Blog For Business:
First you need to get blogging software. You can choose to create a blog that is housed on another site such as http://www.blogger.com (which is a blog service) or you can host it on your own Web server. I recommend the latter since the links that are developed by others pointing to your blog won't be counted in the search engines. This is because the links are attributed to domains, so a link to http://MyNewBlog.blogger.com gives a link credĂt to blogger.com and not your domain.
If your blog is a business blog, you really ought to host your own blog as opposed to using a blog service. You'll need the extra functionality and control.
If you plan on hostĂng your own blog and if you plan to use a UNIX Web server platform, then you need to go with blogging software such as Movable Type, for example. If you have a Microsoft Web server platform for your site, then you'll need software such as BetaParticle blog. Find a great list of various blog software at: http://www.lights.com/weblogs/tools.html
Next you'll need a database to hook your blog up to. The database is what stores the blog entries, among other things. If you don't know if you have a database on or connected to your website server, or if you don't know how to hook up your blog to your database, contact your host company or Web server administrator for help.
Once you have the blog set up on your domain (for example http://www.MyWebsite.com/blog) and you've hooked it up to a live database, you can start blogging. Generally, each entry is also a day. So you can write a new entry every day, or whenever you want, and that entry will show up on the blog at the top, moving older entries below.
You ought to think of a theme for your blog. In other words, your blog could be about your personal experiences in the industry you're in. It could be about your company's product reviews, or new services. It could be about your thoughts and opinions about issues related to your industry. It could be a place where you regularly find and list new resources to help others in your industry. The list is endless. But be sure to stick to a theme and be original. You want to offer something of value to your website visitors.
Sticking to a theme helps you position yourself for future advertisers and also makes for better reading for your visitors. Furthermore, you want to give a good impression with your blog with each and every entry if you want it to augment your online business. Finally, sticking to a theme helps with the search engines since it's believed that engines determine website themes and use this information for ranking.
Of course your blog could be about personal things too. Many blogs are just that, an online journal. But since we're interested in Web business here, I am discussing business blogs only.
What's great is that blogs get indexed easily and quickly by search engines. Each entry is another "page" that can be potentially listed in Google for example, which will drive more traffĂŻc to your site.
Another neat thing about running a blog once it's set up is that you do not need to be technical at all to make regular entries. This is helpful if you want to delegate the writing to someone else, since technical skills won't be a prerequisite. This allows you to have the most qualified person regarding the blog's theme and, hopefully the best writer, actually making the entries.
Be creative. Add images to your blog entries to spice things up a bit. Although blogging can be lonely, keep at it. Sometimes it seems like you're just writing new entries each day for yourself only. It may be a while before someone chooses to add a comment to one of your entries. You may not hear from anyone for a long time. But that doesn't mean people aren't reading it. In fact, chĂ«ck your website statistics to see just how many people are visiting your new blog. As you add more entries, get your blog listed on other sites and market your blog. It will build, and eventually you'll have a nice following of engaged readers.
Most importantly, be sure to pepper your entries with calls to action. For example, if your business blog is attached to your travel website and the blog's theme is traveling and finding great travel deals all over the world, make sure you add a link to an entry that points people to a travel special you're running on your website. What would be even better is a blog entry about the fantastic vacation you took to Hawaii and included at the end was a link to cheap Hawaii vacation deals on your website.
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