I’m a blogger. I blog. This is what I do. People ask me all sorts of questions that surround my line of work and I’m often all too excited to answer them. One of the most popular questions I receive is, “What is blogging? I mean, what do you do?”
I get it. Not everyone is up to snuff when it comes to the ins and outs of the internet world. A lot has changed in the past ten years and the folks who really never had a grasp on the business model behind print, television and radio still don’t have a grasp on the business model behind blogging. Surprisingly, whether you’re producing content that people consume in their hands via paper, watch on a screen hanging from the wall, listen to while driving or read from a tablet or phone, you’re essentially doing the same thing. You’re creating content that people enjoy. You’re answering questions and connecting with those who matter most.
In this post, I’m going to discuss a bit about the history of blogging, along with how a blog may benefit you if you’re a business owner. I’m going to focus primarily on blogs as an ancillary device to support the primary operations of a business website. I’ll also talk about some of the areas that need focusing on while creating and nurturing any business blog online today.
Let’s Define Exactly What a Blog Is
Through the years, blogs have meant many different things to many different people. For some, a blog is merely a personal journal – a sort of recording – of the day’s events. For others, a blog is a complete website or perhaps an add-on to an existing website that’s more interactive with a designated audience. However folks choose to define a blog really doesn’t affect what the actual definition is. Yes, there is a definition:
Noun: A regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.
Verb: Add new material to or regularly update a blog. “It’s about a week since I last blogged.”
I’m not sure the above definitions of a blog are very accurate. In my opinion, a blog is a website, or portion of a website, that “lives.” It’s regularly updated and displays pages as “posts.” Each post normally has a date attached to it, so viewers can gauge the relevancy of the material (written too long ago or very fresh). Blogs can have multiple authors and multiple categories and tags. It’s also important to note that blogs generally display their posts in reverse chronological order, so the most recent are the first ones visible.
Think about it this way: a website is generally, once designed and displayed, static. Sure, there may be updates to the site here and there, but overall, the pages you see on a traditional website will be there until the next overhaul. This, of course, excludes active ecommerce websites.
Blogs, on the other hand, are regularly updated. They are meant to be fresh. It’s actually disappointing to visit a blog today to find that the last post was written month or years ago because blogs are meant to stimulate conversation. Also, with the advent of email marketing in the blog arena, blogs can harness a “newsletter” effect, where each post is automatically sent to subscribers. Simply put, blogs have a heartbeat.
Why Blogs Are Critical For Business
Over the past few years, I’ve seen huge growth in business blogging. It’s almost as though someone flipped the light switch on and things are running full steam ahead. If these businesses continue to trend as I currently see them trending, blogging may actually become one of the business’ primary functions.
I suppose we have to ask the question: “If someone has a business and has information to share, shouldn’t that information reside on the business website?” Of course it should. The thing is, while websites do host a huge volume of information, blogs host a much different type of information. We can compare business websites to lectures or seminars. The information presented through those mediums are monologues. Blogs can be compared to the meet and greet after the lecture or seminar, where folks chat among themselves and discuss questions and concerns regarding what they were just presented. Blogs are effective tools to update clients or stakeholders with more informal opinions and topics. Oftentimes, stakeholders visit a business blog before any other section of the entire web property because that’s where they feel they’ll find what they’re looking for. Blogs excel at nurturing relationships.
So, what types of information do blogs present? Well, think about tips and tricks, tutorials and ideas, thoughts, opinions and finally, discussion. Oftentimes, the comment section below a blog post is the most valuable area of the entire page. Personally, when I head out to look for information on the web, I regularly visit posts that I’ve visited in the past, knowing full well that the comments have experienced some churn. I know new information may have been added by others.
In order to continue operating a successful and regularly visited blog, businesses need to be mindful of one word: value. Each and every piece of content that’s shared with the world via a business blog must offer valuable insights. If customers and stakeholders take notice of, what I like to call, generic content generation, they will leave only to never return. Generic content is worse than no content at all. So it’s critical that any author of a post on a business blog be an expert in their field with the ability to translate their thoughts into a compelling, opinionated, persuasive and somewhat unique piece of work. That’s the type of content that keeps people connected and coming back for more – because it’s trusted and valuable.
Strategies For Creating An Effective Business Blog
While this is only the first post in a series of posts that discuss how to effectively plan for and execute on the creation of an effective business blog, I will touch of what future posts will cover. And as those future posts are written, I’ll link to them from this one below.
The five areas I plan to write about are:
Goals – What exactly would a business owner hope to achieve by setting up and operating a blog? What use is it? What’s its purpose and how can the business benefit from creating timely content for its customers and stakeholders?
Strategy – This is where I’ll talk about how a business owner will get from point A to point B. I’ll discuss how the blog will sit alongside an existing website and who should be the primary “overseer” of the operation. Lastly, I’ll cover the “rules” of the blog and what types of guidelines should be implemented to assure maximum success.
Technology – In today’s world, there are almost countless choices for blogging platforms. I’ve been in this field since 1999 and I have to tell you, I’ve never seen anything like the growth and creativity that we’re experiencing today. But, with all this change comes confusion. What’s the best blogging solution? Are there pros and cons to each? Is one better suited to a business owner’s needs than another? In the technology section of this series of posts, I’ll talk about and answer all of these questions.
Content Creation – This area is really where the rubber meets the road. I’ll talk about what types of content might be most effective for a business blog as well as how to seek out and recruit the talent that will write that content. Effective content creation is arguably the most important area of any successful blog because without it, all we’ve got is another piece of software sitting somewhere online.
Implementation – In this final section, I’ll discuss how to launch a blog and how best to manage it. As I mentioned earlier in this post, blogs are living, breathing entities on the web and to remain effective, must be treated as such. This means that a publishing schedule must be adhered to and a strong search engine and social presence must be initiated and cultivated. I’ll discuss all these topics and more.
There’s a lot that goes into creating and managing a blog, but if done correctly and if the “formula” is followed, the payoff can be huge. Some of the largest websites online are blogs and, while I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, money can be made by blogging. Remember, if you’ve got something to say that’s of value to someone, they’ll surely listen.
I hope you enjoyed this first post in our series of posts on how to create and manage a business blog. For more effective tips on blogging, please visit the category listed at the top of this page. Also, to receive each of our posts directly in your email inbox, be sure to sign up for our mailing list.