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Small Business: To Blog or Not To Blog


A weblog, or "blog" started out as a personal journal on the Web. They have evolved far beyond that initial concept. Now, weblogs cover as many different topics as there are people writing them. Some blogs are highly influential and have readership which exceeds most traditional newspapers, while others are mainly intended as personal journals to be shared with only family and friends. So, should you consider blogging?

The power of weblogs is that they allow millions of people to easily publish their ideas, and millions more to comment on them. Increasingly people write, read and comment on blogs. Many people mistakenly believe that blogs are only personal diaries. More and more, blogs are being used by businesses to attract customers. Since blogs now come in all flavors, let's look at the basics of blogging.

A blogger is someone who writes a blog. The "Blogosphere" is a word used to describe the online community of bloggers and their writings. A blog differs from a website only because it is a website that is updated frequently, most often displaying its material in journal-like entries. An entry, a post, or a posting, are the terms often used to refer to a specific article or commentary written by the blogger on his or her blog. Many weblogs allow readers to write a reaction to what was written in the blog entry. These comments can often be found directly following the blog entry.

For millions of people, blogging is a hobby. For some, like journalists, writers, business leaders and political leaders, writing blogs enhances their professional careers. A blog gives the voice a broader audience and allows more direct and interactive contact with the readers. Some bloggers have readership numbers approaching that of big media and are able to earn income from their blogs. But potential profit should not be the primary motivation for blogging.

Why should a blog be part of your business' marketing strategy? The blogging movement is picking up speed, particularly for businesses. Blogging is one arena where the size of your company won't matter. A blog is NOT the place to promote your product or company. It is a place to promote your ideas, provide tips, and express yourself in the hopes of building an audience. That audience may , in turn, become customers.

There are two key concepts to keep in mind when deciding whether you will launch a blog or not; providing quality content and blogging regularly. These are critical to creating an audience for your blog.

A successful blog is written with a distinct audience in mind. In this way, you can provide content that is unique to your audience's issues, needs, or desires. If you create content they like and wish to return to read, you will produce quality content. Successful bloggers have a focused topic and a unique personality.

Both your topic and unique style will cause your audience to return to your blog. When they return, it is critical to stay true to your audience and tone of your blog. If people are reading your blog, it's because they like your topic and tone. Try not to stray from your typical topics and style too much. This will give your readers a reason to link back to your blog on an ongoing basis. But your content and tone are just one element to consider. Also critical to your ongoing blogging success is how frequently you update your blog.

If you don't update your blog often enough, blog readers will move on to other blogs. There are too many blogs out there competing for your reader's attention. Blog readers will go where the content is.

Successful blogging takes a commitment of your time. When you begin blogging and wish to capture an audience, you should be prepared to blog every day. In this way, you can develop an audience who counts on you to help them begin or end their day. This means you should also try to post at the same time each day. Your readers will get accustomed to your schedule and check your blog at the appropriate time. The time of day is not as crucial as the consistency in your posting.

So, is a blog right for you? You tell me. Do you have a distinct topic in mind? Do you have a strong opinion or passion for the topic? Do you know what audience you are writing for? Do you have the time to commit to regular postings on your blog? If so, see you in the blogosphere!

Michele Schermerhorn calls herself a "Corporate Freedom Fighter" dedicated to freeing cubicle prisoners to experience their own successful online business. She has over 30 years experience in the business world and over 12 years running her own successful online businesses. She is President of Online Business Institute Inc. (http://www.obinstitute.com), authors a sassy marketing blog (http://www.imarketblog.com), and regularly conducts free online seminars. Online Business Institute Inc. exists to "Create Successful Online Business Owners One Person At A Time".


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