At yesterday’s Plato marketing training event, the topic of business blogging came up. Seems like our 100,000+ unique visitors is nothing in the blogging world, but most Small to Medium Irish Business (SME’s) would kill for that kind of traffic. So since I’m an ‘expert’ (and when exactly did that happen ?!) here’s the 10 minute guide to get your business on it’s way.
Plato rules presume that member companies remain confidential (until they choose to break cover!). So, if you want to leave a comment below (feel free to link back to your website) I’ll be happy to apply the advice below to your business. I don’t sell blogging advice (although there is a business idea!) – more Irish Business Bloggers there are the better (all, hopefully, linking from their websites back to here!)
What is blogging?
- A Blog is a new way of doing that same old things. You already network, talk (and listen!) to your customers and are passionate about publicising the thing you love (your business idea). A Blog just helps you do the same things online.
- A Blog is the easiest way to update a website. If you can email (remember how scary that used to be?) you can blog. And yes, I can give examples to back that one up. And that’s you updating it, not paying some web design company to do it.
- A Blog is the quickest way to get a good website. If you haven’t a website, a blog is the quickest way to get one. It does most of the Vodoo Search Engine stuff out of the box. Likewise, a blog can easily added to your existing website.
- A Blog is an online Diary. Think one of those reality TV shows. But about your business. And without Jade Goody in it. There is a reason that ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Blogs’ score highest in the ratings – they’re all about people. Remember ; People don’t buy your business, they buy you.
- A Blog lets you have conversations with your customers. It allows customers to say what they think about you on your website.Scary? Yes. But not as scary as not hearing what they are saying about you.Yes you can delete offensive comments, but I’ve only had to remove 2 out of 700 comments in the last 3 years.
The Who, What, When , Where and Why of Irish Business Blogging
|Who should blog
- You, as the owner of your business. If you have people who are equally passionate, then (a) you’re very lucky and (b) you should let them write as well. But chances are, it’s going to be you.
- Blogging works very well for people in the professional services area. There are hundreds of people in IT, but blogging lets me stand out and gives me credibility.
- I’m confident (and can give examples) of ways of how Hotels and Tourism, Shops and Engineering Companies can blog successfully), but it’s a little be fuzzier (i.e. not direcly linked to my personal experience)
|What should they talk about
- Talk about what you love – your business. But remember who you’re talking to; your customers, and people who will either link to you online, or recommend you to new customers.
- I find a personal style works best. We’ve all seen the bland corporate website and we don’t believe them. Speak personally of your experience.
- Set your own red lines, and respect them. I don’t blog about my personal life (or lack of it!). I don’t reveal customer details. But outside of that, if it’s interesting, I’ll talk about anything it.
|When (or how much time is involved)
- Like all marketing , you’re in this for the long haul. It’s important that you measure using Google Analytics (free). You’ll be surprised at what works and what doesn’t.
- Blogging is cheap in money but expensive in your time. I reckon about 1hr per week for a post like this one, sometimes more, sometimes less.
- Don’t forget the extra time involved in publicising your blog; leaving useful comments / links on other sites back to yours. But you’d be doing this anyway as you surf the web.
|Where do people find out about your business /blog
- Those comments on other (relevent) sites and more popular blogs link back to yours. If somebody likes your comment, then they will often come back to your blog.Remember, useful comments not spam! – your comment /link should always add to the site you are leaving them on.
- Google loves blogs, because of all those incoming links.
- The links on the top left of the page allow you to subscribe to this blog as if it were an email newsletter. Some people like this. Most people prefer RSS; Like an email newsletter RSS notifies you of new content but, RSS gives you a summary of all the blogs you are interested in. And it doesn’t clog up your inbox. I use Google Reader, but there is plenty of choice out there.
- Because you’d like more business. You do want more business, right? The only question: ‘is blogging the best use of my time?’
Two main choices, the second one being better as it gives you more choice.
- Sign up for a free blogging account at Blogger.com (backed by Google)
- Ask your (existing / new) web host for the following. It should cost a lot less then Eur500 , including the first year’s hosting.
‘I’d like WordPress (free) setup on my website at www.mywebsitename/blog. Use one of the standard templates. Please add Google Analytics (free) to the this template. Please explain where I can get the number (from Google) that you will need for the analytics. When finished let me know the address, username and password to log into my blog.
Remember, blogging is cheap to try out (in money , if not in your time) . It’s still new enough to forgive people who make mistakes. Dive in , give it a go, and when (not if) you learn something new, tell me about it.
And after all that, you couldn’t be bothered blogging?
Try LinkedIn.com. As a business networking tool , it’s excellent, with more Irish business contacts than anywhere else.
One of the best guides for business blogging I’ve read. Seen far far too many cowboys say stuff that is wrong and dangerous for a business.
Praise indeed. You did a session on this topic recently (if I remember correctly). Was dropping it into conversation that you might be available to repeat it for the Plato group …. don’t know if they’ll bite or not.
Indeed I did and I will (when I get my ass in gear) put all the material online. No point it in it being offline.
I’d be interested in seeing that – if only for the same reason Denise made on the day – blogging is not just for the kids and the geeks any more 🙂
Suggest converting the presentation to PDF (using Open Office) , make sure the slides all hava link to Mulley.Net … bit like this set of slides for the Irish Java Technologies Conference, but without the 10 year old Toyota Corolla.
Paul – what a great guide and I’m really pleased to see you emphasise the ‘be personal’ aspect. I’m so weary reading business blogs that are merely recycled press releases giving no sense of who the people are behind the company – congratulations!
Glad you found it useful – the only thing worse than ‘press release on a blog’ syndrome is when the comments on a blog are turned off.
But that’s a rant for another day.
great summary, thanks. Might just inspire me!
From looking at Yardstick.ie, you’re not that far off from being a business blogger; a few more updates , leave the articles open for discussion, and you’re there.
Great quick hit toolkit! I’d just ad that if a business is considering blogging as an option, that they should be READING blogs too…maybe even before launch. They should continue the conversation and contribute to the larger community. This network effect will come back to them eventually.
The result is “poor mans Search Engine Optimization” without even understanding what that means! I hold numerous first page results because I passionately talk about some subjects often.
I’m findable and “relevant” because of blogs and I’m not paying for those results.