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Bloggin' Along: Bargains for Businesses
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Bloggin' Along: Bargains for Businesses



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  • I have always been fascinated with the idea of blogging. I had never really spent a sufficient enough amount of time researching and exploring to truly understand the purposes of blogs and the many uses they offer. As a result of this class I have been able to develop a proficiency in the blogosphere and for this project, hoped to further delve into how blogs can be useful to myself, my students, the company I work for, or any business looking for a more economical way to share products and information with the world. This presentation focuses on using blogs as websites for small businesses. The reason I chose this focus is due to several factors. Personally, I enjoy creating artwork and crafts. Normally I just make things for pleasure or as gifts for others. I have always wanted to be able to market my work and be able to sell it. Secondly, as an online teacher with students all around the state of Indiana I am faced with two major challenges. The first challenge is that our school is very new, therefore there are not many programs or extracurricular activities available to our students. And having been on an international exchange program with students in the past, I am eager to provide this opportunity to my current students. And finally, any trip costs money. In a bricks and mortar setting students can sell candy or hold car washes to help fund these events. With my students scattered from near Louisville, Kentucky to right outside East Chicago these strategies for fundraising are impossible. So, if I create a virtual way for students to sell products this way of earning money will work. As I work to become an “expert business blogger” I can not only sell my own items, but also teach students how to set up their own business blogs free of charge so they can also make that extra money that can make their trip possible. This project starts with figuring out just how blogs can be created and used for my students’ small businesses. So, first let’s have a look at what a blog actually is.
  • The term “blog” originates from “web” plus “log” which can be described just as that: a web log. Blogs allow for writers to virtually present content on the web. They are sites that usually belong to one author who wishes to share material. According to Brain (n.d), blogs are simple one-page “journals”. They normally have a focus but can be about any topic the author desires. As the author writes new posts, they are compiled in a reverse-chronological order. There are options for interlinking and sharing each other’s work in the blogosphere. (Brain, n.d) Blogging, as opposed to the traditional approach of newscasters, allows everyone a chance to be an author with this new granted power of the media. Blogging provides information and news on numerous topics for everyone to enjoy. (Google, 2007). In addition to serving as a diary or newspaper, blogs have several other features making them useful for other purposes as well.
  • Blogs can also be used by businesses. Let’s take a look at what current businesses look like. Almost every retailer now offers service and purchasing online. According to a McKinsey study (Official Google Blog, 2013), small businesses that make use of the web grow twice as fast as those that are not. Ninety-seven percent of American Internet users search for products and services on-line. For many business owners the idea of creating or hiring someone to create and manage a company website can be overwhelming and pricy. Then there is also the issue of updating, hosting, and site maintenance that may seem foreign and/or time consuming. (Fazani, 2009)The alternative to this current situation is for businesses to use blogs as company websites. The key is to make consumers think it is a true site because this is what they expect (Fazani, 2009). Luckily, the capabilities available through blog sites are so numerous that they can easily appear like a professionally created website with the option of using a few different resources.
  • There are different programs to choose from when creating a blog. Blogger and WordPress are fairly similar in that they can be used independently. You simply visit the sites and set up a free account. It is not necessary to purchase a domain name (which can be purchased for 1 year or more at a very low price), but it does make the site look more professional as “blogspot” or “wordpress” will be removed from the URL. TypePad is unique in that business owners actually hire someone else to create the Blog for them. This approach is similar to how one would pay a web designer to create a professional site, yet it is cheaper since they also use blogs. TypePad would be the best option for someone who has absolutely no time to learn how to use Blogger to its full potential. For this research, I have chosen to focus on Blogger specifically.
  • According to Kutcher (2012), blogger is a hidden gem in the area of website development, providing advanced services for customers at a greatly reduced cost”. Blogger (Blogspot) uses a Content Management System (CMS) as its foundation (Confluent Forms, 2012). Blogger offers Google hosting and security at no cost. It also has capabilities to be customizable based on the author or creator’s needs. (Kutcher, 2012). With as little as $3 per year a domain name can be purchased and professional blogs can be maintained. This definitely beats the hundreds of dollars it costs to have a professional website created and maintained! Now, let’s take a deeper look at why exactly it is beneficial to use Blogger as opposed to setting up a traditional website.
  • There are so many advantages of using blogs versus regular professional websites. With just a little time and dedication someone with little or no experience can create a professional-looking blog (Community Net Aotearoa, n.d.). Individuals or business owners then only have to purchase a domain name which are very cheap (Community Net Aotearoa, n.d.; Confluent Forms, 2011; Fazani, 2009). Other benefits include not needing any software, hosting for free, customization capabilities, personalized domain names, and the ability to use the WYSIWYG editor (Confluent Forms, 2011). Since Blogger is offered by Google the blog sites are compatible with other Google services which include Google Analytics, Google Docs, AdSense, and Picasa (Confluent Forms, 2011; Confluent Forms, 2012, & Kutcher, 2011), JQuery and other Javascript libraries (Confluent Forms, 2011), free business email, PayPal, Google Merchant, and Open Table (Confluent Forms, 2012). With Blogger there is no need for upgrading as there may be with a regular website and editing can be done quickly and painlessly. Blog creators can also continue to work on their drafts privately until they are ready to share their site with the world which can be especially helpful as one is in the learning stages of blog creation. (Confluent Forms, 2011) In order to take advantage of these plentiful benefits it is important to start with the basics for setting up a business blog.
  • There are no specific requirements for a business blog, but the rule of thumb is to try to design it as closely as a website as possible (Fazani, 2009). Some of the basic features that would fulfill this task are fairly simple to apply to a blog. For a blog, it is important to have a “landing” or a “home” page that explains the business to visitors (Fazani, 2009). This can be a brief description of the products and services the business offers. It is also important to have an “about” page. Here the author can go into a little more detail about what the business offers. (Fazani, 2009) It could also include the company history or perhaps their mission. It is crucial for business blogs to have contact details for customers to be able to reach out with questions or concerns. This would include the address, telephone number, email, etc. (Fazani, 2009). This reassures the consumers that it is indeed a legitimate business. Setting up the blog with a professional design can also help (Fazani, 2009) since the site will be pleasing to the eye and will appear comparable to competitor’s sites. Also, creating an appropriate domain name will make the site appear to be valid (Fazani, 2009). When purchasing a domain name it is also important to think about domain extensions; the more common extension the more the site will appear to be a traditional web page. Once these general features have been added a blogger will have a chance to explore and discover the many other offerings of Blogger.
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  • As mentioned, blogs have many capabilities that allow them to be set up similar to a regular website. The blog home page, which was mentioned as a general requirement, can serve as a landing page with information about the business and any other additions below. The different pages that can be added can be used for the about, contact information, and product pages. Free templates are available for the page design, and a customized business logo can be added to the header. Some other details include disabling Irrelevant material such as comments, backlinks, blogger profiles, subscriber counts, followers, and the Blogger header. (Fazani, 2009)Features can also be added to enhance the overall impression of the business and the site design. These examples consist of adding product and company information, testimonials, videos, photos, (Fazani, 2009) a contact us page submission that goes right to Google email, Google calendars with company schedules/hours, gift registries, slideshows, Google fonts (Confluent Forms, 2011), a search box linked only within the blog (Fazani, 2009), newsfeeds so others can share your site (Community Net Aotearoa, n.d.), HTML Page editing, CSS customizing, (Confluent Forms, 2011), Google AdSense (Official Google Blog, 2013), social media sharing widgets, and much more. After hearing about all blogs can do, it will be no surprise that these next business site examples were all powered by Blogger.
  • Luma on Park has depended on Blogger for it’s online needs. Several of the features mentioned thus far were applied in the creation of this site. The main page uses JQuery to create scrolling images similar to how Flash would do so on a traditional website. The company uses a professional domain name, has pages set up for items such as the menu and types of wine, and prompts visitors to read more about their establishment on Facebook and Twitter. Another example would include the extra page to purchase a gift card. From here there is a link that allows customers to purchase right online. All of these adjustments that were made to the original blog make the site appear nothing like a typical blog. (Confluent Forms, 2011)
  • As with the Luma site, a visitor to the Renew Pilates site would probably not guess that it was created through Blogger. Several strategies were used by the designer to give the site a very professional look. The business blog offers a page that links to an up-to-date calendar of offered classes. This can be updated as needed through Google Calendar so all members get accurate and current information about class times. They also use a separate page for contact information that also includes an option to contact the company in person, by phone, or by email. (Confluent Forms, 2011) This is all typical of a professional website.
  • Impish is a website that sells baby items. They used Blogger to run their online business as well. They have incorporated Google Docs to add a list of couples who have registered gifts through their company. Visitors then can find the name of the couple they will be purchasing items for and a list will then appear of what they wish for. There is also a section for product reviews that harnesses collective intelligence to better serve the customers. There is also a note stating they use Google and while these programs are under construction timing may not be ideal. I found it interesting that this was one of the few sites I explored that mentioned their site was an actual blog. (Confluent Forms, 2011) So although this site has the blogging trademarks it still has the look of professionalism and capabilities of a traditional site.
  • This Hooda Math blog was created by a middle school math teacher named Michael Edlavitch. He started this site to simply keep his students interested in the subject matter and so they could enjoy learning. You can see above how there are direct links to the different games his students could play. As does Impish, Michael also keeps regular blog updates which could be interesting for his fans to read. He only paid $10 to register his domain for a year when creating Hooda Math. The site eventually reached students outside of his own school and grew in popularity. He also eventually implemented Google AdSense to the blog to earn some extra money. He is now able to commit himself full time to his blog! The site currently has over 350 mathematical games and he has had more than 100 million visitors. (Official Google Blog, 2013) This is the proof that business blogs have the potential to be just as successful as regular websites.
  • After learning about how to create business blogs and reviewing examples, I started experimenting with my own site. This is the business blog I created as a product of my research. At this point it is pretty basic, but hopefully at first glance it looks like a professional website. I was able to figure out most of the editing tricks to make the site not appear like a blog. I used a basic Blogger template and did minimal editing to the actual template design. In the next slides I will share some of the changes I made and struggles I had.
  • Here I present some images of what I have incorporated into my blog. It was nice when I could simply add a widget for certain features, but others were a bit more complicated. I quickly found the search widget and was able to add it. I then had to set it to where it would only search within my site as to not send visitors elsewhere. This is definitely an important key I am glad I did not overlook. Setting up the home page which I decided to also be my about page, at least for now, required little effort since I simply added a post. I did end up having to look around for how to remove the “date posted” information, once again to hide that it is actually a blog. I also added a contact form widget that I even tried out and the message went directly to my Google mail account. The pages were then set up according to the category of products. I thought this would look most natural if it was along one side of the page. I struggled quite a bit removing the Blogger heading from the top of the page. I tried several how-to webpages to find the correct HTML code I needed to remove it. Eventually I went back to the original source and conquered it by using I debated about whether or not to purchase a domain name but after looking around on I thought it would be neat to go ahead and do so since the grand total for 1-year was $3.17. I could have gone with a .com or .org, but can perhaps upgrade later. It took some navigating to get everything set up correctly but now my site can be found at There are several other adjustments I made to my blog that helped it appear more professional.
  • I continued on trying to create what would represent a business website. When I was ready to add actual products to the different pages I quickly became glad that this site is simply a demonstration or proof of my learning. I could easily upload the images but had to do some research on how to be able to receive payment. I explored and found out how to create an HTML code with custom prices and descriptions. It was really challenging to figure out where exactly to put the code so it would go in-between each item, so I opted to just put them at the top and bottom for now. I also created very generic prices and options, but ideally I would need to create a more detailed drop-down item that would list the name of each item and then also color options. So, this aspect still needs some tweaking, but I am glad I was able to get as far as I did. I also removed the comment options and Blog archive that a normal blog would have. I left the social media sharing capabilities since I had trouble finding a compatible widget for the home page. And finally I added contact information for customers to reach me. Does it look like a website to you?
  • Here is a reflection on the business blogging experience. Confluent Forms is a company that provides business blogs for companies that are not interested in investing in traditional websites. They work with clients to help them create professional and effective business blogs.
  • This inquiry of blogging has further showed me the different capabilities available through Web 2.0 features. Blogging allows common people, such as myself, as well as businesses to create content on the Web and share it with others. There is even potential for extra income through Google AdSense. All of the resources I used to research and create my own “business blog” came from the Internet as well. Web 2.0 is an overflowing fountain of knowledge that can be taken advantage of by anyone with Internet connection. This collective intelligence allowed for me to become proficient in blogging and even beginning HTML coding. Blogs use the Web as a platform for creation and business that otherwise would not be available. Business blogs show how convenient and economical all of our new web resources can be to individuals and companies who need to share information with the world but perhaps do not have the funds to do so. Web 2.0 makes this all possible.
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  • All image credits can be found throughout the presentation.
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  • 1. Web 2.0 Bargains for Businesses Border image:
  • 2. Presentation Outline • Introduction • What is a blog? • Using blogs for business • Options for creating a blog • Using Blogger • Benefits of using a blog versus a website • Blogging requirements • Capabilities and tricks of using Blogger • Blogger website examples • Concluding quote • Connections to Web 2.0 • Conclusion • Just FYI: Where does it go from here? • References
  • 3. Introduction • Blogging is fascinating • I want to learn more about Blogging • I hope for this investigation to help me personally so I can create my own blog • I also hope my learning can help me professionally and be used as a fundraiser for my students • Using blogs as websites for small businesses
  • 4.  Web + Log = Blog  Virtually present content on the web  Belong to one author  Simple one-page “journals”  Have a focus  Various topics  Shown in reverse-chronological order  Interlinking and sharing options  Grants power of the media  For the public  Additional potential
  • 5. How can blogs be used in the business world?  Consumers are looking online for products and services (97% of American Internet users)  Businesses on the web have more success  Businesses need websites  Business owners may not have the money or expertise to create websites (Official Google Blog, 2013; Fazani, 2009)  Use blogs as company websites  Create these blogs to replicate regular websites (Fazani, 2009) What is the solution?
  • 6. free set-up, just buy domain name free set-up, just buy domain name hosted service, $50 per year minimum and 30 day free trial (CommunityNetAotearoa,n.d.)
  • 7. Let’s focus on • Can be found at • Uses a Content Management System (CMS) as its foundation • A“hidden gem” in the area of website development (Kutcher, 2012) • Cheap (free set-up and domain name purchased for $3+) • Free Google hosting and security • Customizable (Kutcher, 2012)
  • 8. • Little or no experience necessary (Community Net Aotearoa, n.d.) • Low cost domain name (Community Net Aotearoa, n.d.; Confluent Forms, 2011; Fazani, 2009) • No software required • Free hosting • Complete customization • Personalized domain names • Use of WYSIWYG editor (Confluent Forms, 2011) • Easily integratable with other Google services such as Google Analytics, Google Docs, AdSense, and Picasa (Confluent Forms, 2011; Confluent Forms, 2012, & Kutcher, 2011), JQuery and other Javascript libraries (Confluent Forms, 2011), free business email, PayPal, Google Merchant, and Open Table (Confluent Forms, 2012) • No upgrades are necessary and editing is easy (Confluent Forms, 2011) • Drafts can be updated and kept private until ready for public view (Confluent Forms, 2011)
  • 9. • A landing/home page that explains the business • An about page which goes into more detail about the business and what it offers • Information with contact details (location, telephone number, email) • A professional design • An appropriate domain name (Fazani, 2009)
  • 10. • Blog home page = landing page • Add pages = about, contact information, and product and services • Free templates • Business logo added to the header • Irrelevant material can be disabled – Comments – Backlinks – Blogger profile – Subscriber count – Followers – Blogger header (Fazani, 2009)
  • 11. • Features can be added – Product and company information – Testimonials – Videos & photos (Fazani, 2009) – A contact us page submission that goes right to Google email – Google calendars with company schedules/hours – Gift registries – Slideshows – Google fonts (Confluent Forms, 2011) – A search box linked only within the blog (Fazani, 2009) – Newsfeeds so others can share your site (Community Net Aotearoa, n.d.) – HTML Page editing or CSS customizing, (Confluent Forms, 2011) – Google AdSense (Official Google Blog, 2013) – Social media sharing widgets and much more
  • 12. Example 1: Luma Professional domain name Pages Read more links Buy a gift card link on separate page Scrolling images And believe it or not, this website is… (Confluent Forms, 2011)
  • 13. Example 2: Renew Pilates Up-to-date calendar Contact us form
  • 14. Example 3: Impish Blog pride! Gift registered couples Collective intelligence
  • 15. Example 4: Hooda Math (Official Google Blog, 2013) Google AdSense $$$ Direct links to games Regular blog with updates
  • 16. Search widget set to only search my blog Home/landing page with description Contactformwidget Pageswidget Changed HTML code to remove Blogger heading Purchased a professional domain name
  • 17. Created and added PayPal HTML codes for a Buy Now drop down menu Uploaded Images of products and gave titles to the artwork Removed comment options and Blog archive Left social media sharing capabilities to promote page Included contact information
  • 18. In the words of a designer from Confluent Forms On using blogs as websites: “It’s a fully functioning site of which no design limitations were encountered. Its content is fully editable by a client who is running multi- faceted business with little technical experience. As the graphic designer using Blogger in this way is liberating. For my clients it’s empowering.” (Confluent Forms, 2011)
  • 19. Connections to
  • 20. Just FYI         
  • 21. I sincerely enjoyed this project although a few times I felt as if I had gotten in over my head (especially when it came to HTML code editing!). I discovered so much useful information and was able to put it into practice. I was able to see the potential of blogging and found out how to use a blog to create a professional website that could be used for my own personal business. Although I did not get a chance to complete my own blog to the point I had hoped I do believe it provides a decent example of my understanding of blog customization. Ideally, I could have created specific prices for each individual product, written more descriptions of products, researched and added more useful widgets, delved deeper into HTML coding, etc. But I was able to see how businesses save money using this innovative Web 2.0 option. I was also able to gain a basic proficiency in creating these business blogs, and most importantly, I can now share this new knowledge with others in the future.
  • 22. References • Brain, M. (n.d). How Blogs Work: Creating a blog. [Web log comment] Retrieved from • Community Net Aotearoa. (n.d.) Blogs: quick, easy websites. Retrieved from toguides/it/publicationsresources/blogs.htm • Confluent Forms. (2011, July 28). You can do some amazing things with Blogger. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from • Confluent Forms. (2012, November 28). Using Blogger and Creating Gorgeous Websites. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from • Fazani, A. (2009, February 23). Building a Small Business Website with Blogger – Part 1. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from • Google. (2007, May 11). Blogger: How to start a blog. [Video file]. Retrieved from • Kutcher, D. (2011, July 28). You can do some amazing things with Blogger. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from • Kutcher, D. (2012, June 13). Using Blogger for your Organization’s Website. *Web log comment+. Retrieved from organizations.html#!/2012/06/using-blogger-for-your-organizations.html • Official Google Blog. (2013, June 20) America's businesses are growing. The web is helping. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from!/2013/06/americas-businesses-are-growing-web- is.html
  • 23.