December 10, 2010
If you are an online entrepreneur – or any kind of entrepreneur for that matter (offline, bricks and mortar, professional, whatever) you may have wondered if you should start a blog to promote your business. Should you start a business blog, and how should you approach it if you do?
In this article I want to suggest what an effective business blog is, and the attitude you should have when you consider creating one. This may help you decide if you should put in the effort to create and maintain one.
Business Blogging is Marketing
Starting and maintaining a business blog can be a lot of work, so it is important to know why you are doing it. Almost without exception, people in business have blogs for some marketing objective. They don’t blog because it is good for their health or they have a lot of spare time on their hands. They blog because they are trying to “sell” a message.
That doesn’t necessarily mean your business blog should be constantly hawking products or talking about special deals. But it does mean that it should reflect your business objectives and offer relevant information to your primary target market – your customers and prospects.
Sometimes the “marketing” objective of a blog is not very obvious. To take a fairly extreme example, let’s say you are a writer or a “commentator” type – you know, the kind of person who likes to express opinions, “rant”, or just hear him or herself talk.
Put yourself in this person’s shoes for a minute. Having a blog gives you a platform for getting exposure and enhancing your professional persona. It doesn’t have to be your only soapbox – you may also want to post videos on Youtube or start a radio program on BlogTalkRadio.
Or you may already be one of those popular opinionated radio talk show hosts. Having a blog can be the focus for your empire – the thing that ties it all together and helps you establish a consistent presence.
Business Blogging is about Publishing
Second, business bloggers should view themselves as publishers. Publishing is different from just writing things occasionally. Publishing is done in an organized and focused way with the intention of appealing to specific readers – your audience, your community, your people.
Unlike a diary, or even a traditional blog (which is sort of like a diary) you are not primarily writing for yourself in a business blog. A diary is not meant to be read by others. A business blog is the opposite. A primary objective is to give as many readers as possible something interesting to read, watch or listen to. And, of course you want to create a tie-in with your company products or services at the same time.
There is a parallel here with book publishing. Traditional publishers will only publish a book if they think it has a chance of recouping costs and (hopefully) making a profit. When you submit a written work to a traditional publisher you are subjecting your work to the evaluation of a somewhat detached third party. Their primary concern is not to spread your message, but rather to sell your book in order to stay in business.
On the other hand, when you self-publish you pay the costs up front and are not willing to accept some third party’s opinion of the marketability of your writing. This is often called the vanity press because people who self-publish are prepared to pay to have works printed that have no hope of making a traditional publisher any money.
Blogs have been compared to the vanity press because they are self-published, have virtually no cost of entry, and often have no chance of getting a lot of readers.
But business blogs – at least as I have described them here – are more akin to traditional publishing. It is only worth doing if it is marketable – if people want to read it – and if it can give your business some fairly tangible benefit. You should not waste your time and effort on a business blog if it has no chance of giving you some kind of return.
In other words, as a publisher you should be prepared to do what it takes to make your business blog a worthwhile investment. First, that means evaluating your target market and coming up with a game plan. Second, it means creating content that has a chance of getting readers. And third it means promoting your blog because you recognize that without readers you are basically wasting your time and the resources of your business.
Rick Hendershot is president of Linknet Promotions and publishes a marketing blog called Linknet Forum. It focuses on SEO, social networking, blogging strategy, link building and other online business marketing topics – < a href="http://www.linknetforum.com">www.linknetforum.com