Business basics of blogs

Blogs have been a buzz word online for several years now but many small companies are failing to take advantage of the marketing opportunities provided by them.

In essence, a blog is an online diary that anyone can read, and that is easy to update regularly adding elements like links, photos or video clips filling out a simple form. Initially blogs were used by private individuals to document their daily life or adventures travelling, artists and musicians started using them and social networks like Blogger got popular fast as people surfed around looking for blogs that were fun to read or written about an interesting life.

In the business world they’ve found a number of uses, most commonly as a type of newsletter add-on to a company website. The simple updating features mean that anyone can add the latest news to the website rather than paying out for a web designer every time. After a while the blog builds into a large archive of keyword rich content which is great for search engine optimisation as well.

These basic principles carry over well to a small business owner with a basic website, no search engine profile and no web skills; adding a blog to the site which is updated regularly is going to fill out the site and improve SEO at very little cost, whilst also showing new visitors to the site the latest products, services or photos of jobs completed.

In this way the blog becomes an online company newsletter anyone can check out and which will claim a few search engine listings and bring extra traffic in.

This simple method is a useful tool, but it doesn’t exploit the whole idea of blogs which is to build a regular following; when people subscribe to any blog they receive notifications of blog updates and so come back and visit regularly. You can’t build subscribers purely on press releases and recently completed work photos so you have to get more creative.

Take a mailing list route of making regular special offers through the blog or giving advance notice or pre-sales opportunities on popular new products coming in. Create a benefit to people of signing up for the blog and getting updates sent to them every week and they won’t mind that you’re actually advertising to them.

Push it further creatively by making the blog an interesting read. Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to have an interesting job you can write about online; of course celebrities do well but people in all kinds of creative jobs attract subscribers interested in their world. Specialist knowledge is just as useful; tradesmen can offer DIY tips alongside adverts for their repair service, stockbrokers can run hot tips alongside their trading hotline number and web marketers can