The word blog is derived from ‘weblog’, essentially meaning a web page that provides commentary or news on a chosen subject. Blogs make up part of a new era of Internet growth and are rapidly becoming essential to any marketing or PR strategy.
There are blogs on the internet that cover pretty much every subject. A cutting edge blog is updated regularly, like an online diary and has the potential to build a loyal following of readers. Read this guide to business blogging and its benefits from SmallBusiness.co.uk and Hayden Allen-Vercoe from blog network Orbital Media.
Why do you need a blog?
As a small business, a blog relating to your subject can provide you with a level of exposure that even the keenest business plan can’t approach. By posting regularly on your blog with strategically placed keywords, it’s not long before search engines will pick you up and improve your listing position.
In addition to getting your business free, natural exposure on search engines, you can show you’ve become an online specialist in your field overnight, network with your peers and be at the forefront of new developments. Your blog can become a personal magazine attracting a loyal community of opinion formers. You don’t need to be a professional journalist; just writing in a passionate and interesting manner about what you believe is the key.
A blog keeps you up to date with your industry. By researching for exciting and cutting-edge stories for your blog, you start speaking to all the people who matter within your industry and learn more about your market.
You’ll become an industry expert with a loyal following. By sharing your opinions and views on topics related to your industry, reporting on trends and so on, you will ultimately position yourself as an expert in your field.
You’ll discover new channels to market. When you start writing about your passion it’s incredible just how many doors open and new angles are seen. You become a pro at spotting opportunities.
You’ll save money on search engine optimisation. If you use the right techniques you can improve your natural ranking on search engines. Your articles then become very valuable as part of your marketing campaign.
Customers can become more loyal when you write about them. You can use a blog to write articles about your client’s business and how you have assisted them. They will love you as you are giving them exposure.
A blog can give you the edge over the competition. If you can go into a pitch armed with a loyal following of blog readers, you more likely to come accross as someone with influence; someone worth listening to.
What are the downsides?
Like all things, a blog is no quick fix – it is a long-term strategy and a very effective one at that. It takes time and you need to be patient. Like everything, the more you put in, the more you get out. Quite simply, this means submitting interesting articles to your blog on a regular basis. If you don’t feel that what you have to say is interesting, then a blog is probably not for you.
Writing and researching a blog can be a time consuming task. You already have a lot to think about when running your own business, so you may find that you have to fit writing a blog into whatever spare time you have. It could be worth that time, if you can build a good reader base.
If you would like some more advice or like to find out more about blogging, visit www.OrbitalMediaNetwork.com,
Related: How to create a profitable small business blog
Successful company blog examples
Jane Robinson, co-founder of laser engraving business Cutting Technologies introduced a company blog in February with the intention of communicating a light-hearted dimension to the business. ‘It’s very image-led and quite topical,’ she says. ‘On Shrove Tuesday we were laser engraving some pancakes to see what would happen, and put the pictures in the blog. Sometimes differentiating yourself from competitors is about showing a bit of personality, and blogs can give you that.’
Robinson says that she isn’t convinced of the value of social media such as Facebook for a business-to-business company such as hers, but a blog can offer more. ‘As any sales guru will tell you, people buy from people and something like this gives you a human side.’
Brewing company Brewdog uses its blogs as more of a news feed. CEO James Watt says, ‘It’s also good to be able to talk casually about our plans and opinions on the beer industry. The blog is not just a place for us to post details on the company and our news, but also a hub for people to comment and discuss the posts that we write. This freedom of speech and discussion is healthy and creates a strong community for beer fans.’
Using Guest bloggers – Nick Green, founder of print solutions company Printed.com regularly features guest bloggers on his site who write content useful to customers. The subject of entries has ranged from social media to stories about customer experiences. The company is also set to launch an apprenticeship scheme and interns will write about what they’re learning in effectively their first job. Green says, ‘Blogs shouldn’t be entirely self-serving. If you’re going to start something you have to have the time to follow it through. You don’t want to launch something with three articles one week then not do anything for a month; you have to give the reader fresh content and reasons to come back.’
Sometimes benefits arise from writing blogs that feature elsewhere. Green contributes about twice a month to a print industry magazine (PrintWeek). He says, ‘Print can sometimes end up a bit negative, with all the talk of advertising moving online. I think print is a great medium and an industry magazine is a good place to share some views and spread some positive energy in our sector.’