What is a blog? Short for “weblog” Originally meant as kind of online journal early blogger Jorn Barger Robot Wisdom, just a list of things he really liked and wanted to share.
Essentially it is now a website updated frequently and constantly by the holder of the website URL. Can be text, video (vlog), links, podcasts, anything It’s an open forum It’s a direct link to the public where they can leave comments and you can interact with them
Let’s go out and see what a blog actually looks like. Just type that URL (address) into your browser.
Why should a business use a blog? It’s an easy “no-pressure” way to interact with customers both current and future. You can explain your company and products, naturally, conversationally and without any “hard sell” Provide information easily and cheaply about yourself, your business and products. Give your customers a better understanding of your company. Can give you insight into customer needs Can help guide the direction of your business Determine areas of focus Develop new products and services to meet customer needs. It can make your company “come alive.” Also makes your company approachable because they are interactive. Helps you build “buzz” about new products, your company or services Gives your company a voice Helps build customer loyalty Cheap! Most blog sites are free or cost very little Can be added to your existing site Easy to set up and maintain Virtually no training required. if you can type, you can blog
First of all, think about whether or not you have the time and resources to write every day, every week or a few times a week. Do you have the ability to put those thoughts together in a compelling way? Can you keep it going month after month even though, for maybe the first six months, it will seem like you are just writing for yourself.
Then think about where you want the blog to be.
Decide if you want to add it to your existing site Easy way to update the company site on a nearly daily basis Updates the site quickly and easily with new information. If you have an announcement to make, you can make it immediately. Provides instant interaction between customers, vendors, trading partners, etc. Not Wordpress.com! That is a hosted site Also Moveable Type Textpattern
Hosting it elsewhere You may want to buy a domain name anyway Get the blog hosted via a hosting site (GoDaddy.com, for example) Install blogging software: Wordpress.org, Typepad Keep it connected to your company site so it can have some impact on your business. Installing a link is the easiest and customers may not even realize they are at a different site.
Let’s check out one of these blog-hosting sites, so you can see how easy it is to sign up. Let’s go to BLOGGER.COM. See the Create a Blog button? That’s where you click to sign up
This is where you go to fill out the form and sign up for your blog. DO NOT DO THIS NOW!!! Do it after you decide if you want to host the blog on your site or offsite.
This is where you choose your blog’s name. This can be very important. It should be simple, and be about whatever your blog is about. However, notice that the address you get for your blog: [WHATEVERYOURNAMEIS].blogspot.com. NOT your website. This is a separate blog. Yes, you can put a link on your company website and it can transfer to that URL without anyone noticing, but it they will no longer be on your company site which can affect how they get back to your site, or change pages on your site or look up services, etc. Etc.
OK, whatever you have decided to do…now what? Now, you need to stop and think again…
Try not to pick anything too broad – not just “travel” but a specific type of travel, maybe. Something you are passionate about - you have to be comfortable writing about this particular topic almost daily. Make it something that interests you Make it easy – if you have to spend too much time doing research, that isn’t productive. Make it easy for you to write about and post about. Make it effortless – goes hand in hand with above. Make the topic something you can write about effortlessly, because you are passionate about it, know a lot about it, or have a strong opinion about it.
Start posting ever day (good six months of this) Give people a reason to keep coming back Have give posts up before officially “launching” so people have things to read. Create an “About” page for your blog as soon as you can. It shows you are friendly Gives people an idea of what your blog is about Connects with readers immediately Use interesting but to-the-point headlines. Lets people know if they want to read more right away. Internet users and blog readers don’t want to waste their time with too-clever headlines. Give people a reason to keep coming back Have give posts up before officially “launching” so people have things to read. Create an “About” page for your blog as soon as you can. It shows you are friendly Gives people an idea of what your blog is about Connects with readers immediately Use interesting but to-the-point headlines. Lets people know if they want to read more right away. Internet users and blog readers don’t want to waste their time with too-clever headlines. KEEP WRITING!!!!
Let’s people subscribe to your blog Feedburner – good example. Run by Google Can even get updates via e-mail, letting people know when you
These are sites that let you post links to article, videos, photos and things you find interesting online for others to see and comment about. It’s what blogging started out being. But you can also post links to your own blog articles, and increase traffic to your site. These are just a few examples, there are dozens of them. Sign up at these sites and start posting links for each blog article on them. The more you post, the more people you will get back to your blog.
Let’s go out and visit one of these sites. One my absolute favorites is Reddit. That’s www.reddit.com. Just so you can see what the registration form looks like, click on where it says REGISTER at the top right.
Once you click on it, you’ll see a page like this. Just fill out the part on the left and you are ready to start posting links. This is what that looks like
When you head back to Reddit you will login where it says to login, entering your user name and password. Then you will click on the spot that says SUBMIT A LINK.
You will find yourself here. Enter the URL in the URL section and then either enter a title or click on SUGGEST TITLE and it will do just that. At the bottom of the page you will be asked to enter a code and then click SUBMIT
You will then be taken to a comment section. This is where you can enter whatever you want, describe the article, add your opinion, do anything to get the conversation started. Then hit SAVE and you’re done. Now, you can then call or e-mail all of your friends the link on Reddit and ask them to leave comments, but be careful because if it looks suspicious or all of the people who comment seem to be working for you, Reddit can remove your story and ban you from posting. Be careful trying to cheat. All of the others have similar sign up and submitting forms. They are all very user-friendly.
Use something called “chicklets” Little boxes that can be added to the bottom of each entry that directly link to sites like Digg and Delicious. Let’s those who like the entry post them there, spreading the word and taking the entry viral.
Use keywords There are certain words in whatever you specialize in that people use and might search for. Use them in your blog entries Seed broad and narrow keywords throughout your blog entries (travel as well as safari travel, cruises, etc.) It helps keep your blog showing up on important search engines
Leave comments Search for other blogs that talk about similar topics Start leaving legitimate comments in the comment section. Don’t become obvious and “commercial.” Chat and talk to other commenters. Make it a conversation
Take advantage of the buzz When you first launch, if you plan it out right on your website, there will be some initial “buzz.” Take advantage of that. Post good content! Keep people wanting to come back Fill your blog with links Other bloggers do check to see if they are being linked to Add links to a “links” section – other blogs and things that you enjoy reading. Your audience will appreciate it and those who are linked to will as well. Add links directly into the blog entries as you write them. If you talk about Carinval Cruises, then make sure the word “Carnival Cruises” is a link to their website. Their website manager will then “ping” back to your blog, which increases your traffic. Use giveaways If you have something that you can give away – do it eBooks are huge – can give away at first and charge later. Give away things that make sense for what you are blogging about. You are the expert – give away your expertise (or at least some of it) E-mail and interact with other bloggers Stay in contact when other blogger reach out to you or if you reach out to them There are even blogging conventions you can attend. You can do guest blogging on certain sites.
Use blog directories Use your search engine to find blog directories and start submitting your blog’s URL. Submit your blog to web directories DMOZ, Yahoo and Aviva Directory are good examples. There are also web directories – DMOZ, Yahoo, Aviva
Let’s head out to a blog directory really quickly so you can see how easy it is to sign up. This is www.blogarama.com. See where it says “not yet registered?” That’s where you click to sign up
You’ll need to fill in this information. Use the SITE URL and Site Name for the exact URL of your blog. So, if you put it on your website, use the URL for the page of your website that has your blog…not just your company website.
Now your blog has been entered in their directory. They even give you a code, as a kind of turn-about is fair play, that you can add to your blog directing others to Blogarama. This can be as part of a “links” section in your blog.
Start placing a link everywhere E-mail signature On Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn profiles Comments and forums where you leave information and comments.
Keep Posting As often as you are comfortable. More at the beginning to gain an audience Start creating “pillar columns” Blog entries that are not time sensitive such as definitions, explanations, lists of terms. Remember who your audience is Keep the content relevant to them. Try to keep the content related to business Use Soft Sell Don’t come across like you are advertising Keep things conversational Respond to comments Keep it interactive Encourage discussions amongst commentors Create a “community”
Build up an archive Pay attention to which posts are getting readers Start linking back to popular posts in your newer posts Create “sneeze pages” Newer posts with links to other posts arranged by theme, time, popularity, etc.
Use Search Engine Optimization Notice which postings are getting the most comments or hits Try to pay attention to what words are used and that people are searching for Google can provide you with information about who is searching and finding your blog. It can provide information about what they are searching for and what searches are returning your blog. (Google Trends, for example or 103Bees) You can increase the key-word density on popular blog entries. Don’t overdo it or it becomes obvious and annoying Increasing it by adding 1 or 2 more keywords should be fine.
Start featuring readers and encourage participation Find comments that you particularly like and feature them in an article of its own. You can comment on the comments. Encourage people to comment within your articles. Ask for suggestions, ideas, and comments on topics you discuss in your postings.
Keep readers involved Use weekly polls and quizzes to keep readers interactive Invite select readers to contribute content. Do what you can to become a “cheerleader” to encourage a community around your blog and keep readers interacting with you and each other. Give readers “jobs.” Have some of them moderate comments to coming up with poll topics or being judges in contests. Give readers “homework.” When you give out tips or suggestions, give the readers something to do and have them try whatever you are trying to teach them on their own. Encourage them to leave comments and their own experiences. Create a forum or newsletter It can be a lot of work, but creating a weekly or monthly e-mail newsletter makes “fans” out of your regular comment-leavers. Forums allow people who leave comments and fans to more easily interact. It’s a great place to find more content and see what your readers are talking about so you can tailor your blog articles.
Realize that a brand is going to develop even if you do nothing. As you keep posting and your blog gains readers, it becomes a “brand” just like any magazine or publication Learn to shape the brand. Try to figure out what you want to be know for. Is there a segment in the travel industry you specialize in? An area of expertise you have? Then write about what you want to be known for and do so consistently. BE what you want to be known for. This means in content, design, logos and title for your blog. Keep track of what people are saying about you. Not only your own blog, but signing up for a monitoring service you can track other people on other blogs. Then, make comments and participate in those conversations.
While it is possible to earn some money with your blog, do NOT try to make your blog your career. If you go into blogging thinking you will get rich doing it, you will be disappointed – and broke. Do it because you love writing about it and giving your opinion.
Google Adsense Easy to set up. These are simple text ads that Google puts on your blog, in a location you determine, and you earn money when someone clicks through your blog to the advertiser’s website. Some people earn great money using these, depending on the popularity and number of visitors on your site. Google determines what ads are placed there, but they are supposed to be related in some way to what your blog and postings are about. Will not pay out until you reach $100 worth of click-through dollars. Text Link Ads Links that are put into your blog entries that are also ads. You sign up at one of several sites and explain what your blog is about and companies contact you if they want to advertize. Be careful – as of right now Google has decided to crack down on blogs with Text Link Ads, knocking them down lower in search engine results. The issue is still up in the air, but right now it may be risky. Direct selling Sell ads directly to potential advertisers yourself. Set up a rating system. Reach out to advertisers yourself or put a link and e-mail address on your blog so potential advertisers can contact you directly. Will require you to invoice these advertisers and perhaps do collections if they are late in paying.
Just like public television or public radio you can solicit donations from readers. Post a link and offer them options for payment Set up an account with Paypal Make sure to offer subscribers something for donating Sign them up for a newsletter Send them special deals and coupons Give them some incentive to want to part with their money for you. It does exist, but there my be legal considerations and accounting situations to consider. Consult or friendly neighborhood accountant. Never seen it for a blog associated with a company. Normally used for people who ONLY have a blog, so they make their money just from blogging.
Selling eBook Compile popular posts into an electronic book you can sell directly from the site Affiliate Programs Make money when someone clicks through and purchases something Amazon.com – one of the best You can search for Affiliate Directories and find affiliates for nearly everything on the planet. Writing Reviews Companies pay you to write reviews of their products Can be perceived as “selling out” Puts some of the control in the hands of over but not in your own hands
Expecting too much, too fast Don’t publish one article and expect a thousand readers. It takes time Most bloggers publish to no one from six months to a year. Be patient Don’t try to put ads on your blog from the first posting. You will be disappointed
Attempting to crush negative comments If someone starts commenting in a negative way, address the issues. Silencing comments can create a bad rep for you Cease and Desist If you find yourself being talked about at other blogs, do not attempt to make them stop Again, address the issue, but attempting to stop them just creates further resistance and makes you look bad
Talking about things unrelated to your business Temptation will exist to opine and expound upon everything and anything now that you have an open forum. DON’T Stay on topic – if you really want to talk about other things, start other blogs! You don’t have to write just one. Writing about personal things on a business blog Putting information about your family and personal life out there has risks. You can do it if you think it adds something to your blog, but be careful.
Are you sure you have the time and resources? Do you think you can dedicate yourself to writing a blog daily without the immediate results? What do you want to write about – do not take this lightly. Give it serious thought. Research and make sure others are not already talking about it in such numbers that you won’t be heard. If it is a popular topic, what can you do that’s different and will set you apart Determine where your blog is and what format you want to take. Think about what your first post will be
Blogging For Business presented by Bryan W. Alaspa