Guest post: Is a Business Blog Really Worth It? by Daniela Baker
You’ve heard that starting a blog for your business is a good idea, but will it really be worth the investment of your time and money? After all, starting a great blog takes some capital so that you can get a great design and a functional site, and it also takes lots of time, since you’ll need to post at least two or three blog posts a week. The truth is, though, that a business blog is probably worthwhile for your business, no matter how much effort it will take to get started.
What do businesses blog about?
According to the Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2011, about 8% of bloggers are corporate bloggers, and another 13% are entrepreneurs. What do these bloggers use their blogs for? The State of the Blogosphere found that about 70% of corporate bloggers simply share their expertise, and about 52% try to attract new clients. Among entrepreneurs, blogs are used to gain recognition in the field and to attract new clients.
The thing that makes a blog worthwhile for most entrepreneurs is gaining more business by attracting potential clients, but a blog can also be used to maintain contact with current customers. When you blog about your industry, give tips for using your products or services, or let readers in on specials your business is running, you can keep customers coming back for more. Just having people read your blog regularly because you have interesting content on it can help brand your business, keeping your name and information at the forefront of their minds so that they’re more likely to use your particular business when they need products or services like your own.
What does a blog cost to run?
Small businesses can set up basic blogs for free, though you might want to invest in some design services to set your blog apart from the crowd with a different look and feel. If you don’t have the capital to move forward with a new blog design right now, a small business loan, or, of course, your business credit card can help. You can also simply set up your blog for free now and wait until you have the cash to cover the design. Whether or not to take on a small amount of credit card debt for your blog will depend on how important it is to your business that you have a branded blog right from the start.
The cost of running a blog is mostly time, and will depend on who is posting to the blog. One unique way that some small businesses run blogs is to have most or all of their employees contribute to the company blog. This can be a fun way to spread out the work load so that it becomes very light for individual people and to get different voices and perspectives on your blog. Of course, you’ll still need to have one person control the overall direction, content, and tone of your blog, and probably screen and edit blog posts before they go up on the company blog.
What can you get out of a blog?
As a business owner or manager, your perspective is ruled by what you’ll get back out of your investments. So what can you get back out of a blog?
- A cheap or free web presence. A blog can be a great way to start your business’s web presence from scratch or to add to a basic static website. With a blog, you can have a web developer create a three or four page website with your business’s basic information, and then you can add in a blog where you can put up new content whenever you want. It takes no technical skills to add to a blog, so you don’t have to continue using a web developer to maintain a dynamic presence on the web.
- Search engine marketing. With a web presence comes the ability to get into search engine marketing. Basically, when people search for keywords related to your business, you could pop up in their search engine, drawing new customers you may never have had before. It takes work, expertise, and time to get highly ranked enough with search engines to be found by lots of customers, but it can definitely be done.
- Branding. These days, marketing is very much about creating a brand with an excellent reputation. With a blog, you can set yourself up as an expert in your field, answer customer questions, field potential complaints, and set yourself apart as a provider of great products and services.
- Research and development help. Wondering whether a new product line would sell if you decide to launch it? Curious about what customers think of your latest service menu? A blog can help you figure this out! Once you get a good following on your blog, you can post questions like these for your actual customers, and if you’re good about interacting with them through comments, chances are likely that they’ll answer. Voila! Free research and development help!
These are just a few of the things businesses can get from a business blog. You can also use a blog to attract new employees, to communicate internally about big events, to advertise sales and promotions, to develop relationships with customers and even suppliers, to connect with other social media platforms, and to start dialogues with customers.
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