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Why are blogs important for your business?
Blogs provide business owners with unprecedented ways of reaching and engaging with large audiences in a way that the traditional one-way information push of a company Web site could never do. Not only this, but blogs can help put a human face to your business while showcasing your knowledge and passion for your chosen field. For example, restaurant owners can share recipe secrets. Just about anyone from a landscaping business to an IT security company can share tips of the trade that connect them with their customer base. And unlike the static content of a business Web site, blogs are collaborative and invite comment - a great way to engage with and solicit feedback from your customers!
Blogs can even be lead generating. If you can create content that's relevant and useful to your audience, your search engine optimization will go through the roof.
Of course, if you are thinking of starting a blog you need to have an underlying strategy in place to ensure it is a success. Here are four things to consider before you enter the blogosphere:
1. Identify a Purpose, Goal and Intention for your Blog
While you obviously want to promote your business, don't be over-promotional in your blog content strategy. Decide early on what you want to accomplish with your blog - and this should drive your content.
Most blogs are typically centered on positioning businesses or business owners as thought leaders in their space or for sharing information and tips that readers find useful. For other ideas on how to shape your blog strategy, including the use of case studies and interviews, take a look at this article - "*5 Winning Post Ideas for Your Small Business Blog" - from *OPENForum.com.
Once you have defined your goal, be sure to adhere to it. Consider publishing your blog objective on your blog home page. For example, the objective of a hypothetical company - JJ's Landscaping Services - might be to provide tips that help consumers maintain a thriving garden in all seasons, which could be summarized and published as: The Better Garden Blog Tips and Tools from our team of experts to keep your garden looking its best year round!
2. Getting Started - Blog Software
Once you have decided to start blogging, you will need to consider the software options available for hosting your blog. Many social media experts advise businesses to be wary of some of the free blog tools available, since their basic features don't offer integration with existing business Web domains or allow for brand customization.
Truth be told, however, if you are just getting started with a blog, free blogging software can be a cost-effective and easy solution for many small businesses. If your blog does take off down the road, you might want to consider migrating to blog software that is installed on your domain and integrated with your Web site. And don't forget to devise a communication plan to let your readers know that you are moving hosts!