Pat Walsh, Marketing Director and Consultant

If your business hasn’t jumped aboard the blogging train yet, you’re missing out on a wonderful opportunity! As you can see, I decided to hop on the train, and my motivation came from watching this video of Seth Godin, author of several books I respect, and Tom Peters, a best-selling author. In their discussion, Tom said, “[The blog] is the best damn marketing tool by an order of magnitude I’ve ever had.”

If you haven’t caught the train yet, it’s not too late for you to join me and the many other small businesses already on board. In fact, last year 62% of those on the train who blog for business told Technorati they’ve seen greater visibility in their industry because of their blog.

If you’d like to join your fellow entrepreneurs, build your business’s brand and gain additional customers, I’m going to help you learn more about blogging, as well as explain some more of the benefits.

Choosing a Blogging Software

The first step to blogging for business, of course, is setting up a blog. There are quite a few free blog hosts to choose from. Some of the popular ones are WordPress, Blogger and Typepad. No matter which host you choose, I hear all three are relatively easy to learn, which brings me to my next point: Blogging won’t work unless you do it, and you won’t do it unless you can use the host’s software.

I chose to use WordPress’s software, because after a bit of researching, I discovered that the majority prefer WordPress. In addition, WordPress lets you install plugins on your blog. You don’t want to go overboard with the plugins, but installing some to help with SEO and other things is a good idea. Later, I’ll post some recommended plugins, so stay tuned for that post.

Benefits of Blogging for Small Business

Blogging can do so many wonderful things for small businesses. I’d like to mention them all, but if I did that, this post would be too long. That said, I’m only going to state some of the main benefits of blogging for business.

Let’s begin with the first benefit: gaining your customers’ trust. Since you’ll be blogging about things related to your business, it won’t take long for your customers to see you know your business well. Moreover, when you show consumers you know what you’re doing, it leads to customer loyalty. Post often enough and your customers as well as potential customers will return to your blog often, which leads to sales.

I realize you’re trying to run a business and think blogging may take up too much of your time since I said to post often. Don’t let that deter you. You can get it to where you still have time to manage your business. Now some businesses do write one or more posts a day, but if you can’t maintain that kind of schedule, here are three other options to consider:

1. If you can’t commit to a daily writing schedule, blog at least once a week.

2. Dedicate a few hours once a week to writing a week’s worth of posts in advance. Once written, schedule them to go live on the days you want them to.

3. Hire a professional writer. Not only will they be able to write your blog posts so you can focus on your business, but if you don’t have the writing talent, they can also provide you with quality content that your readers will love.

Another benefit of blogging for business is additional income. You can earn additional income with your blog, also known as monetizing your blog. A few ways to monetize your blog is by selling advertising, placing Adsense in your blog’s sidebar and an ad box at the footer of your posts, and finally, signing up for affiliate programs.

I’ll tell you more about earning money with your blog in a later post. Until then, two important things to know are you should only place ads on your blog that are related to your business, and if possible, mention the product or service in your blog and how it will help the reader. Oh, and one other thing: Don’t overdo it to the point that it’s spammy. If you have too many ads on your blog, you’ll drive customers away instead of luring them in, and I know you don’t want that to happen.

The third benefit for small businesses with blogs is the chance to interact with customers. This lets them get to know you better, so they’ll trust you more. You’ll be able to communicate with consumers through comments, by answering questions and gathering feedback.

Last but certainly not least, search engine ranking. If your business does have a web presence, a blog will help your site’s position with search engines. Sites with updated content will carry more weight with search engines, and because you’ll be updating your blog on a regular basis, it can move your site up in the search engines. It may take a little time to see the change, but most websites with blogs move up. In fact, next time you perform a web search, visit the websites on the first page and see how many of them have blogs.

I hope this is enough information to help you launch a blog for your small business. There’s a lot more for you to learn, though, so join me again next week as I share some topics you can blog about. Until that time, if you have any questions about blogging for business that I didn’t mention, post a comment and I’ll respond just as soon as I can.

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