Using blogs to improve your business
Showcasing a business online is an increasingly effective tool for attracting new customers. Blogging is a great way to start to communicate with your target audience.
Blogs are highly effective tools for sharing your expertise with others, increasing web traffic and brand awareness, and for attracting and interacting with new customers. WordPress and Blogger are free web hosting platforms that make blogging available to businesses of all sizes.
What is a blog?
It’s best to think of a blog like an online journal – a web page made up of chronological posts published at regular intervals. Unlike personal journals, blogs have a comments box accompanying each post. This element provides feedback and creates a direct link with readers, sometimes generating a hotbed of discussion that drives repeat traffic.
Blogs first drew widespread attention in 1999, around the same time web-hosting tools became commonly available. Since then blogging has snowballed, with The Nielsen Company estimating that there are now more than 170 million blogs online worldwide.
The benefits of business blogging
Blogging is a low-cost, easy way to establish a presence on the Internet, start communicating with existing customers and find potential new customers.
A blog can be a powerful channel of communication to share business-related knowledge with a large audience. They’re generally shorter than articles making them easy to read, topical and sometimes lighthearted.
You can answer Frequently Asked Questions on your blog. It’s both useful for your readers and saves you having to answer questions by email.
You can also share business news, advise people when your website has been updated with new information, promote sales or discounts, encourage people to sign up for newsletters, provide sneak previews of what’s coming up, or even run contests to generate some interest.
How to start blogging
To start blogging, you’ll need a computer, an Internet connection, and a webhost to host your blog. You can either add a blog to your website or cut your teeth using one of the free blog options like Blogger or WordPress.
It won’t take you long to set up an account, choose a blog name and start blogging. Define your target audience – people who’ll read your blog and why. This’ll help you choose an appropriate name and description for your blog site.
Before you invite everyone to comment on your first blog post, take some time out to plan your blogs. How often are you going to post on your blog? One of the keys to successful blogging is consistency. What are you going to blog about? Brainstorm ideas ahead of time and plan your blogs in advance each week.
Basic rules of blogging
There are a few basic rules of blogging that’ll get you up to speed:
- Put time aside to blog regularly. The most successful blogs put out new content at least a few times a week and stick to a regular schedule.
- Blogs are part of the social media mix. They’re about online conversations not promoting your product. You want your content to be personal and engaging.
- People expect blogs to be open, honest, and personal.
- Cross-promote your content over various social media channels. If you’ve just posted a new blog entry, tweet about it on Twitter and link to your Facebook page.
- Keep your writing short and make it easy to scan. Most people will scan your posts before they decide whether they will read them or not. This means writing short sentences, using subheadings and avoiding long blocks of text. You should also make use of images and bullet points, and highlight key words.