Good morning, dear readers. Jane would like to make a short announcement before posting today: yesterday Jane spent the better part of an hour turning categories on in Lip-sticking. We hope that having the Tuesday Fit by 5, the Wednesday book review (which starts tomorrow) and the Thursday interviews in categories of their own, will help readers locate a particular post s/he wishes to access at a later date than the post was actually made. We anticipate developing more categories as time goes on.
Today, Jane wants to show businesses how blogs can help them build their company communication levels, offer customers real-time information, and more. Here are the Top 5 Reason Every Small Business Should Blog:
1. Blogging is about words, and words are the tools we use to communicate. When Jane started this blog back in March, it was just a fun thing she thought she would do on a weekly basis. However, being the true woman she is, Jane fell in love with this new tool...this immediate connection to readers...this interactive tool that builds friendships easier than a Friday evening mixer at your local beer joint.
Blogging isn't entirely about words...as Jane quickly found out, writers can use words and pictures together, in the very same way one does on a website! Many of Jane's favorite blogs have images that work with the words -- in an engaging manner that stimulates brain cells and gets one thinking.
Small businesses, especially, can use blogs to communicate value and respect to their customers by writing posts in response to customer questions or comments, whether those came from a phone call or an email. Chances are if one customer is questioning or commenting on your products, services, or your company in general, there are a dozen others thinking along the same lines. Responding appropriately in a blog reaches everyone!
2. Blogging is easy to do. Having a blog is easier than having a website. We talked about the differences in the Business Blogging Boot Camp held this past weekend here in Rochester, NY. Most newbies, those who are not familiar with blogs, can't differentiate a blog from a website, especially when we show off some blogs that are websites! (like Tom Peters' blog.) Essentially, a blog IS a website, in a smaller form. Building one is simple point and click technology, with the added benefits of developing categories, lists, and links. For a small business that hasn't yet built a website, a blog can do very well for you, as a start. Blogger, offered by Google, Typepad, Moveable Type (the bigger version of Typepad needing its own server), and other web-based blog programs take the mystery out of building an online presence. As for content -- an area that makes the customers Jane talks to blanch in horror -- should never be an issue. If you know your industry, if you know your company and your customers (or who you would like your customers to be), you have ready-made content.
There are dozens of blogs out there willing to link to you, and they are also willing to share content. You may cite a sentence or a blog using the Permalink feature or a trackback. If you read the NYTimes regularly, or the Washington Post, if you subscribe to business magazines and newspapers, surely there is relevant content you can cite on your blog. A blog post needn't be any more than a sentence and a link to the source of your comment or announcement. Conversely, if you or someone in your company likes to write, it's advisable to have daily or weekly posts that provide readers with information (not mission critical or proprietary information) about you, your company, and your products or services -- complete with graphics!
3. Blogs are search engine friendly. By nature, the fresh content in a blog, coupled with link exchanges, make blogs search engine friendly. We encourage readers to do a Google search on Yvonne DiVita's name and see what turns up. Many, many pages of links to...her websites, her writings, and...her blog! In addition, the links to blogs connected to Yvonne show up. If you want more attention online, start a blog and join the blogging community in your area of expertise. You will make friends, get referrals, and build a stronger online presence.
4. Blogs promote you without you even knowing it. The blogosphere is growing exponentially. Blogs are so popular -- partly because of their interactive nature (the ability readers have to post comments on certain blog topics, or to trackback to a particular blog post), and partly because they are authored by people with sincere dedication to that topic. Jane has shared many blog links with her readers, blogs that exist to inform, to educated, and to entertain, and each one has an author -- or, in some cases, authors -- that are writing on topics they have a passion for. These blog authors willingly share their thoughts and advice with anyone who cares to visit the blog. In a world where intellectual property is worth more than any physical product built by man, it's uncany to see so many professionals willing to connect with each other, and with you, dear readers, in an effort to be sociable. Being a sociable media, bloggers who cite each other's blog posts leads to other bloggers doing the same, and, in a true snowballing effect, your blog may be talked about in circles you would never, otherwise, have ventured into.
5. Having a blog will teach you things about yourself and your company that you never knew. Yes, dear reader, building and maintaining a blog will eventually force you to face both the good and the bad in your business approach. No matter how smart you are, no matter how successful you are, once you begin blogging, you will meet others who are smarter and more successful. You will learn how to improve your business by connecting with folks who have already made your mistakes...and are talking about it on their blogs. You will meet other folks who are anxious to be an online success, folks who will be looking to YOU to give them answers. All of this interactivity, all of the postings -- yours and other bloggers' -- will make you sit back and take a second look at how you're doing things. Imagine the time you will save...the energy you will save...the epiphanies you will arrive at...through the interactive, real-time connections of blogging.
What's not to like about that?