Friday, April 25, 2008

Blogs as Marketing Tools

When I began blogging two years ago, I was amazed by this new world that had opened up to me. Up until that point I had never heard of a blog. I thought, "Blog? What's that... a new type of slime only found on Nickelodeon?" I then became very concerned about the purpose of blogging. I remember thinking, "Who puts their personal information on the Internet?" Only weirdoes not afraid of being stalked by other weirdoes would put their personal information on the Internet!"

After conducting some research of my own, I discovered that this is not the case. That Web Logs also known as Blogs have a great deal of valid uses. Over the course of the last two years, I have seen writers develop blogs to assist in the book writing process not to mention increase potential readership. I have seen the emergence of writers as they hone their craft. I have seen news and radio stations use blogs to increase news coverage. Additionally, I have seen blogs used for both personal and business purposes.

As a crafter a common question I receive from other crafters new to the blog scene is... "Do blogs really help generate business?" Yes, I absolutely believe that blogs help generate business. The real question is how much. Unfortunately I cannot answer this question, but I can say that the benefit for small and large business owners alike is increased exposure. In the black hole we call the Internet; it is easy to be lost in cyberspace. Regular blog posting increase your searchability on the Internet thus increasing the number of opportunities that a potential buyer may find you. For example I have a dog. Last week, I was not looking for a new dog collar, but I was checking out a new blog someone told me about. When reading the blog, I discovered the blog author has a shop where she sells custom handmade dog collars. I now am in the market to purchase a custom dog collar. Looking at this from another angle, you may be in the market to purchase tea accessories - so you conduct a Google search. Amazingly, the search results return a vast number of links to websites and blogs whose tags and posts contain the phrase "tea accessories."

Another common question I have been asked, "Do people prefer blogs that are business related, personal or a little of both?" My number one answer... Your blog is what you want it to be. You will never be everything to everybody. Focus on what is most important to you and write what you are passionate about. If you are not passionate about it, blogging will feel like a job and you will not post often, if you don't post often you will not have repeat visitors or any visitors - thus decreasing your exposure. Not to mention the fact, your posts will become boring and lack energy. However, I do have a few helpful tips:
  • Once you identify the direction of your blog - occasionally poll readers to determine if there are any specific topics they would like to read.
  • Make sure you include pictures in your posts. You don't need pictures in every post, but there should be a good variety.
  • If generating sales is the main purpose of your blog include posts and pictures about your products.

Now that your blog is up and running many new bloggers ask, "How often should I add blog posts?" The short answer is daily. The long answer is you should blog at a minimum of 3 to 4 times per week. Avid blog readers are constantly seeking new content. There is always something new to discover and as the blogger you are meeting that need for your readers. Blogs with infrequent posts are stale and lack life. The more infrequent you post the lower your blog rank on major search engines like Yahoo and Google. When searches are conducted, low ranking blogs, are retrieved last. Who will find you?

If you notice your blog has little to no traffic, it is because you have not participated in one of the following activities:

  • Registered your blog in blog directories like Blog Catalog, BlogDigger, Blogher, etc. There are many to choose from. You can find several links on both my TabiHats and Tea Escapade blogs.
  • Visit other blogs weekly and leave meaningful comments.
  • Respond to comments left on your blog.
  • Ask other bloggers to exchange links with you. If you tell another blogger that you are going to add a link to their blog onto your blog - make sure you do so. Not doing so is downright tacky!
  • Register with social networking sites like: Technorati, Zimbio, Squidoo, Delicious, Digg, etc.
  • Tell your friends, family, and coworkers. You never know who may become a regular visitor on your blog.

Finally, use tags and categories wisely. Some blogs allow the use of both so I believe a good definition is in order. Typically categories are used to search your blog. Limit the number of categories used - even though you may write about a variety of topics there should be some central theme like: relationships, kids, pictures... you get the point. Tags are like subcategories - feel free to be more expansive in your use. If your category is relationships, your tags may be mom, dad, husband, wife. Again, you get the point, so I won't move into overkill. There is one caveat... If the blog software you use only allows the use of one or the other, tags or categories, then you should use them like categories as defined above. Just make sure they are highly searchable terms. If you wouldn't search by those terms on the Internet, who would?

Blogging can be extremely enjoyable, almost addictive. Use the tips above to make the most of your blogging experience. There is nothing like reading the first comment made a new reader. It makes all the time you spend worth it!

6 comments:

BeadedTail said...

Great information! Extremely helpful to novice bloggers like me!

njm said...

beadedtail,

Glad to be able to provide more information. I look forward to seeing more from you.

Helen said...

Good advise! You are so helpful with your posts. Love your blog.

njm said...

Helen,

Glad that you found the post helpful. I always hope I am enriching my readers.

Hope you visit again soon.

Always Amy said...

This is a great post. I will be back to re-read this over & over! Thanks!

njm said...

Thanks Amy!

Glad it was helpful. I do try to post relevant information.