By Stephanie Chandler
A blog is essentially an online diary that allows you to post information, tips, thoughts and ideas in a running log format for others to view. Blogs are used by companies large and small to build an audience, promote a business and gain valuable online exposure.
Not sure if a blog is right for you? Here are six key reasons to start blogging now:
Search Engines Love Blogs: The major search engines provide higher rankings to sites that update data frequently. When you post to a blog several times each week, you content is constantly changing and growing. The search engines will reward your effort with improved search engine rankings.
Build an Audience: A good blog can attract many new customers. People who like what you have to say will pay attention to your blog by subscribing to your blog feed.
Content is Archived Forever: Each post to your blog adds to your growing index of content. The more content you have, the more reasons you give the search engines to find you. For example, if you wrote a post last month about the lifespan of a blue butterfly, when someone searches the Internet for that particular subject, there is a good chance that your post will be returned in the search results (depending on the competition for the related keywords).
Establish Yourself as an Expert: Hosting a blog is one of the quickest and easiest ways to showcase your expertise in your subject matter. When you share valuable tips and resources, you engage readers while building credibility in your industry.
Get Media Exposure: The media is constantly on the hunt for sources to interview for stories. From magazine and news reporters to major radio and television producers, blogs are becoming a strategic place for the media to find talented industry experts.
Leverage and Repurpose Blog Content: It doesn’t take long to build up a substantial amount of blog content. You can repurpose your posts into articles, ebooks, books and reports. Many bloggers have found publishing success by building a loyal following online and then impressing publishers with a ready-made online “platform.”
Ready to get started? Here are the steps to take:
1. Search the Internet for blogs in your industry and do a little research before you start. Studying other people’s blogs will help you identify what you like and don’t like and how you want yours to look and feel.
2. If you already have a website, check with your hosting provider to see if they provide a blog plug-in option. If not, popular blog services include www.Typepad.com, www.Wordpress.com and www.Blogger.com.
3. Establish several categories that appeal to your target audience. For example, my business growth blog has more than a dozen categories including articles, book recommendations, technology tips, resources for authors and online marketing. Categories make it easy for readers to browse through your past entries.
4. Develop content ideas for your industry. Your blog can include personal opinions, book reviews, links to helpful resources, industry statistics, product recommendations, excerpts from books or white papers (from which you own the copyright) and much more.
5. Keep it simple. Blog entries do not need to be long-winded. In fact, online readers prefer brief content that is easy to scan. I recommend writing just one to three paragraphs for each post. Use sub-headings and bullets to make the text easier to read. Photos and videos can also add visual appeal.
6. Add outgoing links to your blog posts when appropriate. For example, if you mention an article you read in XYZ magazine, make sure to include a hyperlink to the article. Not only will your readers appreciate the option to view the sites you reference, but having links pointing to other sites can further improve your search engine rankings.
7. Schedule time to work on your blog. You should be posting at least three times each week for best search engine optimization. Instead of logging in several times each week, write several blog entries at once and then schedule them to publish on specific days.
8. Promote your blog by including your blog link in your e-mail signature, on your website, in social networking profiles, and anywhere else you can find to share it with the world. You can also submit it to directories such as www.BlogCatalog.com and www.Technorati.com.
9. Consider minimizing some of the effort involved by inviting others to contribute. Your blog could include posts by employees, customers, peers or strategic partners.
10. Maintain your momentum. Be on the lookout for fresh topic ideas so you can avoid getting “bloggers block.” When you come across something interesting, get in the habit of writing it down so you have it handy when it’s time to update your blog.
It may take some time to build momentum for your blog, but in the long run, the rewards can be significant. When the call comes from a major media source or a big client referral, you will know that it was all worthwhile.
About the Author:
Stephanie Chandler is the author of several business and marketing books including FROM ENTREPRENEUR TO INFOPRENEUR: MAKE MONEY WITH BOOKS, E-BOOKS AND INFORMATION PRODUCTS. Discover hundreds of resources for entrepreneurs at www.BusinessInfoGuide.com. For author and speaker details visit www.StephanieChandler.com.