Blogging has come a long way since weblogs began as online form of journaling. Today, blogs are well established in popular culture as a way to share experiences, expertise and news. The list of bloggers continues to expand. There are blogs for just about every topic or subject: politics, entertainment, religion, shopping, home repair services, sports and technology, to name a few. Today's bloggers include renowned retailers such as Neiman Marcus; news media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and ESPN; technology companies; churches; and even the U.S. government.
Whether you realize it or not, you have probably read something that originated in a blog. If you've ever used Yelp - or another online site that shares consumer reviews and opinions - you've already used an offshoot of blogging. The increased use of smart phones has propelled blogging and micro-blogging (a short, quick blog such as Twitter) into the big league. Consumers have been quick to use their phones to find goods or services alongside endorsements and feedback from actual customers.
What could blogging do for you?
Could blogging help you expand your business? Chances are it could. The sheer number and caliber of corporate and institutional bloggers make it clear that this is an important communications channel. What types of subject should you tackle? Depending upon your business and your customers' interests, you might choose to start the ball rolling with a variety of topics:
- Comments on a recent trade/industry show
- Sharing feedback on a new product launch
- Customer information about special offers or promotions
Just get started and inspiration will begin to flow. Remember that starting a blog is a commitment. It must be reviewed and updated regularly. Unlike traditional communication vehicles, blogging is a two-way channel. You don't necessarily get to control readers' responses; however, your blog's post options link will let you allow or disallow readers' comments. Whether you choose to display responses or not, you'll get valuable insight into customer's opinions and the chance to nip potential problems in the bud. Most importantly, blogging helps you keep a watchful eye on what your customers really think.
Building a blog
If you don't have a website where you can locate your blog, there are plenty of online services (paid and free) that supply software and hosting services. Well-known sites include: WordPress (www.wordpress.com) and Google's Blogger (www.blogger.com). These services walk you through a step-by-step process to create your own blog. Things you'll need to think about include:
- Naming the blog
- Picking a design template
- Buying a domain site for your web address
- Switching the blog¬ís address to an existing registered domain that you already own
To launch the blog, you'll need an email address. You will go through the usual ritual of establishing passwords, etc. If you want to attract specific readers who might share your interests, pick a name that helps search engines find your blog. For example, if you are a kitchen and bath designer and you want to discuss design trends and new products, you might call your blog The Cabinet Maker's Corner. If you want to add visual interest to your blog, most templates have options that allow you to use various fonts and colors, to embed photos or videos and even link your blog to a website.
Once you're up and running, it's in your hands. You can post from your office, home or smart phone and join the worldwide blogosphere community.