Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What is a blog?

A blog is sometimes called web log or weblog. It is a type of online journal or diary, often including personal comments as well as web links and images. Many people keep a blog as a type of personal creative exercise, but you can easily use this popular online type of writing to market your business. Blogs are very popular right now and they can be a great and inexpensive way to contact more customers. The great thing about blogs is that people read them for fun. Customers may be becoming more jaded about advertising, but they will gladly read a blog that has some interesting things to say. Many top companies are using blogs to deliver a better and more personal message about their companies – and the strategy seems to be working:-)

Start Blogging

Starting a blog is as simple as finding a space online to write – and the time to write. To begin a blog, first develop a theme idea or blog idea. You may want to look at other people’s blogs to do so. In general, you will want to develop a central theme for your blog in the same way thatcolumnists develop a theme for their articles. This helps ensure that your blog is not too “scattered.” Next, find some place to publish your blog. There are a number of sites – both paying and free –that give bloggers a chance to publish their material. You may also want to simply set up yourblog on your web site, especially if you already have an active web site.

Writing Your Blog

Once you have a place to publish your blog, you will have to set aside some time each week to develop new content. When writing your blog:

·Write simply and clearly. Use small paragraphs and spell check before uploading. Your readers will trust what you have to say if you say it well.

·Go easy on the advertising. The idea of a blog is to give readers something fun and exciting to read and look at. You will have more readers if you comment on the world and are entertaining, rather than just hype your product. Consider writing about your day, the atmosphere yourworkplace has, and culture, rather than just your company.

·Consider many types of content. Blogs allow you to upload images, create links, and allowusers to make comments. Your blog will have many more readers if you make your blogexciting with these pluses.

Promoting Your Blog

Just putting your blog online is not enough. After all, there are many millions of blogs on the web right now, so unless your blog is on a high traffic site, you may not get readers unless you advertise. You can easily advertise your blog without spending a cent by mentioning your blog in your emails and web pages or newsletters. You can also enter in online competitions – if yourblog wins a prize you are more likely to get a constant flow of traffic to your blog. You can also ask ezines and other content providers to review your blog, which will also draw readers. Here's a list you might want to look into:


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Blog Marketing Ideas That Sell

Once you develop a blog, you will want to use the best blog marketing strategies you can to sell your company. However, marketing blogs are different from personal blogs and blog marketing or advertising is very different than other forms of marketing.

Make Your Blog a Customer Draw
In order to make your blog a powerful marketing tool, you need to get your customers and clients to see it. That means that you will need to advertise and provide content that gets attention:

·Make your blog visually exciting. Choose an attractive background colour and provide photosor images. Consider sound. Develop your blog as you would a web site, with the same visualappeal. Some bloggers even add video and sound to their blogs. There is no need to spend manyhours composing art works, but know that simple text on a white background may simply not draw as many readers as you like.

·Make sure that your customers know that your blog exists. Providing some targeted advertising on the Internet is not hard. Try some link exchange programs with web sites, blogs, and ezines that have similar content to your blog. In many cases, simply providing a link to another website can convince that web master to provide a link to your blog.

Make Your Blog a Company Pusher – Without Being Pushy
Your blog needs to promote your company. However, if you are too heavy handed,you will not be terribly exciting and may push customers away. That’s why you should aim for only a small amount of content that actively pushes your company. Do suggest newsworthy items that will lure your readers in. For example, writing “today we launched a new division – now expecting mothers can take advantage of our fashions” is much better than sales copy such as “buy our hot new maternity fashions now.”

Give Your Readers What They Want
Studies suggest that as many as a quarter of Internet users tune into blogs. That means that if you can give your blog readers what they want, you can be reasonably sure of having a decent audience. Among the content that you may want to include in your blog:

·Tips and advice. Many successful marketing blogs are much like successful consumer magazines –readers tune in to read content that is useful. A computer company can offer computer tips and advice, for example, while a writing service blog can include daily ways to boost writing skills. Like the http://www.startblognow.blogspot.com/ :-)

·Interest. If your personal or business life is fascinating, then great. There are many successful marketing blogs that detail the exciting lives of company presidents who are also hobby racecar drivers or skydivers. This sort of material can ensure a steady audience.

·Humanity. One of the things that blog readers are most interested to see is the face behind the company. Many blog readers like a company run by people who have similar concerns. Building humanity into your blog by detailing your company’s efforts to help the community, for example, is a great way to build credibility and customer loyalty.

·Style. Many readers just love to see a gorgeous, well written blog. Plenty of marketing blogs simply provide interesting content and nice graphics and do quite well in drawing readers and customers.

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Get More Readers for Your Blog, Get More Customers

There are several ways to make your blog one of the “hot” blogs online. Traditionally, those companies that have the largest star-power have had the most popular blogs, since everyone loves to read about celebrity or success. However, a great many smaller companies and individuals are developing large followings on the web. You can, too, with this simple lesson.

Keep it Rich
Keyword-rich, that is. Blogs are a great way to generate keyword-rich content, especially if you update your blogs each day. In fact, for some smaller businesses, blogs make more sense than hard-to-create web pages. Blog software makes creating a blog almost automatic while the spiders on search engines seem to favour high quality and often updated keyword-rich blogs.

Steps to take:
·Keep keyword content high with plenty of keywords. As you write your blog entries, do try to use not only keywords having to do with your topic, but also synonyms for your keywords. This will help your readers find you more easily on the Internet. For example, if you offer discount fashions, use a variety of keywords, including “discount fashions,” “cheap designer wear,” “discount clothing” and others.

·Provide quality, often updated content.

·Specialize. The best way to make use of the search engine optimisation of blogs is to narrow your focus. Rather than developing a hodgepodge of ideas and themes, write with one theme in mind. It will help ensure that people looking for information on your topic will always find you through a search engine.

Join the Community
Make sure that you promote your blog by joining the blogging community. Creating a larger presence for your blog online will result in more blog readers and possibly, more customers:

·Add the address for your blog to email signatures and include mention in any ezine or email newsletter you have to let readers know about your blog.

·Mention your blog on appropriate forums. For example, if your company offers resume writing services, consider writing about your blog in jobhunt forums.

·Allow for readers’ commentary on your blog. Many online blog publishing programs already allow this. If your readers can post their comments and read the comments of other readers, they are more likely to return to your blog regularly, and so keep your company name in mind.

·Make your blog searchable through your interests. Many blog programs allow you to create a user profile, which allows readers to search for you and your blog by interest topic and locations, in many cases. Do not overlook this simple way to draw readers. Simply fill out your profile, taking care to use many “interests” to attract more readers and browsers.

Monday, August 25, 2008

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Sparkling Blog Writing

Blog writing is not like others forms of marketing writing. If you want to use your blog to draw
customers, you need to create a blog that is casual and interesting without being too sales oriented or to aggressive in marketing. Interestingly, the company blogs that do not promote and aggressively push their product and company often generate great company marketing and
advertising as readers enjoy reading the blogs more without obvious pushes to buy.

What Types of Writing to Use
To make your blog writing sparkle – and to make it spark sales – do include types of writing that readers will enjoy or find useful:

·Information about the company. Including contact information, FAQs about your company, company or product manuals and other information makes it easy for readers to find what they need about you – which encourages readers to refer to your blog each time they need to know about your company.

·Job opportunities and company culture. Listing job openings and information about philanthropic causes your company is involved in as well as information about the atmosphere of your company is useful for job hunters. It is also an easy way to get more readers interested in your company.

·Comments about the company and personal comments from workers. Personal comments are what really set blogs apart from other types of online writing. Personal comments from company leaders and employees let readers know what your company is really like. It can also improve sales, as customers are likely to develop brand loyalty if they see your company as a “face” or voice rather than just an impersonal logo.

·Value added content for readers. Providing useful and handy information is one of the best ways to get readers to your site – and to get readers interested in your product. Offer screensavers with your company logo, contests, tips, and useful articles, and you are more likelyto get a regular group of readers.

Adding Style to Your Blog Writing
· Keep it short. Like other types of online writing, blogging tends to rely on short paragraphs and small pages with links rather than big blocks of text. Also, using the active voice (“We have opened a new division” rather than “A new division has been opened”) is also good for developing a nicer style.

·Let your logo do the talking. Rather than trying to promote the company constantly in your text, try making your text keyword rich and value added content rather than too “salesy.” Instead, have your company logo clearly displayed on the page and mention the company as a workplace. Your readers will still know about your company, but without feeling as though they are reading an ad.

·Stay enthusiastic. Write about what you care about and write with genuine passion. Writing dry copy just because you feel a blog is a useful marketing tool will not get you more readers or more customers.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Other People’s Blogs

Companies are often surprised by the amount of time and effort it can take to produce one good blog. Blogging software makes the writing and publishing process easier, but responding to reader comments, finding time to write regularly, and creating links and multimedia component scan take some time. For this reason, many companies place all their effort on creating their own blogs, sometimes to such an extent that they ignore other blogs in cyberspace. This is truly a mistake, since in many cases, other blogs can have as much impact on your marketing as your own online efforts!

What Are Other Bloggers Saying About Your Company?
One of the first steps you will want to take when marketing using other blogs is to find out what others bloggers and online writers are saying about your company and your blog. Other people’s and companies’ comments are read by readers and potential customers, too.

Many blogging software packages allow you to search for links to your blog or company website in other people’s blogs. You can also run a goggle check on your blog name, company name, and URL addresses to see what others are saying about you. Regularly checking online to see what is being said can help you get a sense of how your efforts are working. Remember: blogging is a community effort, with links in other blogs and comments in other blogs affecting how readers see you. You need to keep track of how you are doing to understand how your online presence is affecting your business.

Responding to Other Blogs
Once you begin reading comments about your company and online presence, you may well wish to respond to the comments others have made. Before you do so, do take some first:

·Read and reread the comments you wish to respond to and make sure that you understand them. Make sure that you understand the tone as well as the words – you will look and feel silly if you respond angrily to a post that turns out to have been written in a teasing or tongue-in-cheek manner.

·Calm down. In cases where comments are negative, especially, it is easy with blog software to respond at once. It is better to calm down first and allow yourself the time to respond in a clam manner.

·Stay clear and on topic. When you respond to a posting or blog, make sure that you are clear and that you stay on topic in order to prevent an out of control name-calling exchange. Clearly state what you are referring to, what comments you have about it, and what actions (if any) you are going to take or want to see taken.

·Decide how to respond. You can respond to a person directly, through their blog commentary, or through your own blog. If you respond to a blogger or commentary directly, be aware that other readers who have seen comments about your company may not read your comments. Plus, your email or response may eventually end up online, anyway, possibly edited or cut from context. Responding via someone else’s blog gives you more control, but still has you remain on someone else’s space. Commenting on your own blog gives you the most control and ensures that readers will come to your blog to read your comments. Of course, you can also choose to not respond at all.

Is Your Blog Working As Well As It Should?

Just as with any other marketing strategy, once you create a blog to promote your business, you need to keep track of your results. Doing so will allow you to see how effectively blogging is working for you and also let you see what changes you need to make to create a better blog.

Step One: Keep Track of Your Blog Results
The first step in deciding how well your blog is working as a marketing tool is to evaluate your blog’s effectiveness:

·Keep track of wins. Winning contests, reviews, and positive notices for your blog not only ensures that readers are looking at your online project, but it suggests that you are doing something right. Entering and winning design contests and “best of” blog contests can help ensure that your blog works better as a marketing tool.

·Keep track of other blog mentions. A blogroll refers to the practice of linking similar blog pages from one article. Just as you will want to link to other blogs from your blog, so others may choose to offer a link to your blog. This sort of linking ensures more hits and ensures that your blog will strand higher in rankings – much as a much-quoted web page will gain high rankings in google.

·Keep track of all online mentions. You should not just look at mentions of your blog in other blogs. Keep track of where your company name and blog name appears online – in forums, webpages, and in publications. What sort of publicity are you getting for your blog and your company? Has there been a difference response to your business since you began the blog?

·Do some market research. Ask your customers where they heard of you and why they chose you. Ask your customers and readers to rate your blog. The responses may be very telling.

·Count hits. Depending on your blog software, you may be able to count how many people view your blog. This can be an important way to measure how many people you are reaching. Try Google Analytics.

·Place your blog in context. Consider your other marketing and advertising strategies. Compare the amount of time and money you spend on your marketing efforts and the results you get from each effort.

Step Two: Make Your Results Better
Once you have considered how your blog is affecting your business, you should be able to see what needs to be done. If your blog is not getting enough hits, try advertising your blog more through online groups, emails, and links. If the response to your blog is not great, then you may need to make some changes in content and style to lure in more readers. If you find that your blog is not getting the results you want, though, make sure that you have given the blog a chance. Do realize that it takes longer to build a solid loyal audience with a blog than with other forms of marketing. If you do build a regular audience, though, the promotional potential of your blog will be quite high.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Keeping Your Blog Market-Fresh

It is not enough to just write a blog. If you are taking the time to create a good and powerful blog- and if you want your blog to be a good marketing tool, you need to be doing this then you will want to make sure that you get something back for your investment. One good way to keep interest in your blog going – and to keep your blog a powerful marketing tool and not a time consuming hassle is to keep introducing fresh content.

Keep Your Blog Fresh
There are a few ways to keep your blog content interesting without a lot of hassle:

·Get new readers by getting other bloggers to link to your blog. Blogging creates community, so that if you link to others sites, they are also likely to link to yours. Feel free to contact other bloggers with similar interests and goals and see if they would be willing to offer a link.

·Update and vary content regularly. Schedule regular updates so that your blog does not get stale, but also introduce new content. If you have always offered fashion tips on your fashion designer blog, consider covering a fashion show. If you have always made personal comments, consider offering tips.

·Offer new features and sections. Offering new contests and new sections (such as a jobs section or a comments section) will make it clear that you are working to make your blog better. It will also make blogging more interesting for you, ensuring that you keep providing customers with great content.

·Blend your blog with other marketing efforts. Consider promoting your online contest through your blog, or link from your blog to your email, your web page, or your advertisements. Make your blog work with other marketing efforts and your blog will gain fresh contents with less hassle.

·Change the look. Changing the colours, layout and images of your blog from time to time helps keep reader interest and makes looking at your blog more interesting for you.

Make Your Blog Sizzle
Simply changing your blog content is not often enough. You also need to increase the interest ony our blog by creating more interesting content:

·Don’t be (too) afraid to get controversial. Although you will want to avoid offending customers by making too personal or off colour comments, making some thought-provoking comments is a good way to generate discussion – and interest. Make a comment about someone else’s comment or on the state of your industry. A healthy debate can help you.

·Keep it personal – and personable. Be wary of simply providing general and impersonal content on your blogs – that’s what other online writing is for. Do include some of your personality and interest in your blog and put your friendliest face forward to attract customers and readers.

·Consider what to do with older blog entries. Most blog entries are simply archived for a while. However, consider other uses. If your web host allows it, consider making older blog posts part of a booklet to sell or consider providing your old blogs as content on the Internet. In each case, link back to your blog so that readers can find your newest comments.

Build the Benefits of Your Blog

Blogging has many benefits, among them more publicity for your business, more hits for your company web site, and a better public image. However, these benefits will not automatically come to every blogger. You must work in order to build these advantages in your blog.

Step One: Make your blog a better publicity machine.
If you want to make your blog a publicity boosting machine, you will have to make sure that you work at making your blog a marketing tool rather than a personal expression:

·Offer something for the media. Offering free articles that web users can reprint elsewhere and offering media kits can help make it easier for the media and other online users to generate publicity.

·Add pictures and ads to your blog that can promote your company. Small banner ads or promotions can let readers know what you are offering without bogging down your blog withsales copy.

·Do not be afraid to enthuse about your company. You can easily talk about your business without sounding like an annoying salesperson. For example, note the challenges you faced to start a new project or service in your business – this will help sell the new division or service without sounding too pushy.

Step Two: Create more hits
Some experts claim that many new blogs are created each second of the day. The sheer number of blogs makes it unlikely that others will find you unless you encourage hits:

·Link from your website to your blog for easy access. Also, include your blog’s address on your business cards and letterhead, along with your email address and your web site address.

·Offer incentives for reading. Whether it is a blog-readers-only contest with a great prize or a free ebook for blog readers, offering incentives is a great way to generate hits – and to please customers. Plus, you will get a sense from the responses how many readers you have.

·Write and speak about your blog. Whether you are writing an article or giving a speech, you can mention your company blog as a place to get more information about your business.

·Offer a newsletter. Many blog writers offer a newsletter to readers. This newsletter lets readers know when an update has been added – and ensures that the blog stays fresh in readers’ minds. It can also be a good way to keep track of how many readers a blog has and can be a good way to add more value added content.

·Offer an RSS feed of your blog. Most blog software today does this, and it allows your blog to be “syndicated” in other online areas and often to cell phones, increasing your exposure and creating more readers.

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