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Thursday, March 25, 2010

NET-TECH REPORT: Planning and Marketing Your Small Business Blog

Net-Tech Report with Chris Kauza

How To Plan Your Blog

The basics of blogging include simple things like your writing style, the topic category or “theme” of your blog, and the content of your blog. Planning your blog can be difficult if you do not know what you want to talk about. It will be even harder if you don't know how to write!

However, you can overcome these things quite easily with a little effort and creativity. Don't like writing? How about “speaking” into your computer using voice-activated software like Dragon Naturally Speaking? Not sure of the specific topic you'd like to focus on? Browse through Technorati or AllTop, find an area that interests you, and check out other blogs to see what other bloggers are saying.

Blogging Categories

Generally speaking, there are three types of blogs:
  • organizational
  • businesses
  • personal blogs

Organizational blogs use blogs to communicate either externally with the public or internally within an organization. This kind of blog is designed to facilitate internal communications among employees, colleagues and other organizational personnel. Organizational blogs can publish information that is of interest by the public, i.e., seminar schedules, meetings, and announcements for their clients, customers or members, etc., but not always. One of my old employers, Sun Microsystems, was well-known for hosting hundreds of employee blogs (including the CEO) on their website, for anyone to see.

Business blogs are typically used for promotion purposes and are focused on sell more of their products or services to their customers. Companies will try to use these kinds of blogs to increase their reputation and authority with vendors, customers and partners. They do this by publishing content that expresses their expertise and knowledge within a specific market portion, niche or industry. If you make it “all about you” or continuously exhort readers to “buy my stuff,” it will back-fire and you could quickly loose your audience. Well done blogs, however, are great for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, as search engines tend to see business blogs as containing relevant and timely content.

Personal blogs are more reflective of the author's “non-professional” or personal life -- a distinction that continues to erode in our massively connected society. Normally, personal blogs are used to publish articles that voice the author's points of view on a variety of topics, events, articles, etc.. Bloggers who publish personal content usually do it because they enjoy expressing themselves and interacting with people about their daily lives. This type of writing tends to document their everyday lives. And the writing style is more stream of consciousness and reflects their moods.

Your Target Audience

Your target audience and blogging style go hand in hand. The moment you think of creating your own blog, you must first realize who your target audience is: What do they want? What do they care about? What problems do they have? Your blog should provide quality information and be interesting enough to establish communication and readership. Successfully identifying your target audience will help insure a good experience, for both for you and your readers.

Small Business Blog Marketing: What Does It Entail?

Blog marketing can be intimidating for anyone that has never even blogged before. Blogging requires dedication and patience. You have to update your blog on a regular basis in order to keep your readers happy. Doing so will keep them coming back for more and to see what you have new to say.

(Ask me how I know! ;) )

A small business blog will generally focus on things related to or about your business. It is definitely a great tool that you should use to get your business more recognition. It's not an overnight solution, however, and does require time and patience. Just because you have a blog does not mean that someone is going to find it and read it. You are going to have to make it known. Although there might be good reasons to have your company blog elsewhere, most will reside on the company's primary website.

Your blog's success can be greatly enhanced by following a plan for your blog. It doesn't matter if you are selling a product or a service; a well-managed blog can be very beneficial to you business.

When you are marketing a blog, you can take an approach very similar to what you do with your website. Who is your target audience? What are the keywords you want to try and rank for? First write for your readers, and then write for the search engines. If a human being doesn't find your blog interesting, then (eventually) neither will the search engines.

If someone comments on your blog -- rejoice! And interact with them on the blog. Respond to the comment and engage in a dialog with your readers. This makes the content come alive and can take your original article in a whole new direction.

So how do you get it noticed by potential readers? Build links and get it listed in directories. Find other blogs or websites that interest you, contact the webmaster, and ask them for a link to your blog. Allow your audience to link to your blog. Comment on other people's blogs and use it as a link back to your site. (HINT: This is a GREAT way to build links and gain potential readership.)

Directories can be a big part of small business blogging. You can get your blog listed in some directories under various categories (NOTE: Some of these are free and some are paid. Check and see which will work better for your business.) Follow all of the application steps and submit your blog to relevant directories.

Small business blogging is not rocket science. Be persistent, and don't give up. Remember that you are not only sharing information that your audience wants to know, but that you're also sharing things that are of interest to you and that you care about. So don't forget to HAVE FUN with it! :)

For more information, please visit Chris' TNNW Bio.


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