If you are already maintaining a web site, having a blog can add to, or enhance, your existing web presence. The ability to provide your customers, and readers, with fresh content on a daily, or weekly basis can keep your business running even during lean months. Blogging is also a great way for small business owners, with little web design knowledge, and small budgets to establish a professional, attractive, web presence. Many designers charge much less for a completely customized blog design and installation than they would charge for complete, traditional, html or flash website design.
When blogging first began becoming popular among businesses I was slow to notice the change. It seemed to me as though more and more of my competitors were shutting down their traditional websites and replacing them with well designed blogs. Other competitors kept their existing websites up, but added links to their websites that sent surfers to there companies newly created blogs. I decided to start learning more about blogging, but I didn’t want to change my entire website format until I was sure blogging was right for me and my business.
I played around with a few different blogging platforms on a personal level trying to find out what all the fuss was about. I set up a small personal blog on Blogger and later a weight loss blog on Typepad. After trying out all of the major blogging platforms I realized that using a blog platform to power my site rather than the current html design could do wonders for my business. In addition to being able to make my blogs look, and feel, professional with little design knowledge, I was also able to easily add photo and text content to these personal blogs with no assistance. This was something I would never have been able to manage on my traditional site.
While any of these discovers would have inspired me to turn my existing site into a blog, the deciding factor for me was a confrontation with my website designer. I needed my site updated to promote an upcoming concert my business was affiliated with but the designer would not be available to complete the update until after the concert was over. I immediately began researching how to create my own blog on my own domain so that I would no longer be dependent on a web designer.
Being able to take charge of how, and when, information was posted on my new blog site immediately increased my sales, site traffic, and general interest in my domain. Clients no longer felt that the site would always contain the same, stale information. They knew that in order to catch my latest promotions they would have to subscribe to my blog or bookmark my site to return to it often in order to avoid missing anything important.
I invested a great deal of time in setting up my initial blog posts and interacting with my clients. In many cases my posts for the entire week were prepared by Monday and published on the blog at set intervals throughout the week. Each and every time someone commented on a blog post I did my best to respond to, or acknowledge these comments. Even if it was just to say ‘thank you for commenting’.
Allowing users to comment on your blog posts can increase your companies business and reputation tremendously. Many prospective clients make their decision to buy a product or use a service based solely on testimonials and reviews left by other customers. Since comments often offer feedback on your products and services, they can sometimes be more affective than the most expensive, well thought out, advertising campaigns.
These comments can also serve as an unofficial Frequently Asked Questions section. Often surfers are more likely to read the comments on posts that relate to a question or problem they may be experiencing than they are to visit your sites FAQ. By making it possible for clients to post comments publicly, and answering comments publicly, you might keep someone else from asking the same question. This will cut down on the amount of emails you have to answer and phone calls you might otherwise receive.
Also, answering these comments and communicating with the comment makers (saying thank you) shows readers and clients how you and your company treat customers.
I can not tell you how many times a client, or potential client, has posted a comment to one of my blogs telling me that they found an answer to a question they were planning to ask by reading comments left by other users. On a few occasions, clients of competitors have left comments saying that they were searching on the internet for a resolution to their own issue with another site, and found the answer thanks to my blog. This is extremely gratifying and tells me that my blog is providing more information than those of my competitors.
Please keep in mind that if you are allowing readers to comment on blog posts you need to take steps to monitor the content of these posts. While there is software available to help prevent comment spam there are always times when some spam will slip through the cracks. Manually monitoring comments will avoid embarrassing situations of inappropriate comments being published on your blogs.
If you are someone that has an existing site, establishing and maintaining a blog is going to drastically increase your traffic to that site. Many blog readers are attracted to a blog site by one, or more, posts on a specific subject. Once the reader is at that blog post they will more than likely explore other products and services they might not have otherwise shown an interest in. If there is a link to your previously established traditional site in your blog, chances are readers will visit that site as well which increases its traffic.
This also creates an opportunity for free publicity and advertising. Many blog readers are often trying to find news and content for their own blog site. Your existing traditional site might be just what they were looking for. There have been many times when I have been checking my backlinks and found out that the blog of one of my readers, or past clients, has a link to my blog promoting a certain interesting post or product.
Even if you do not have a specific product to sell, or message to spread, it doesn’t mean that you can’t earn revenue from blogging. Many profitable blog owners are those who started their blogs to use as a personal diary and began doing little things to earn income. First adding ads to the blog and then doing other things to capitalize on traffic and make a profit.