Blogging has permeated cyberspace. More than 160 million blogs worldwide host everything from personal ramblings and political musings to highly technical how-tos, financial planning and investment advice. Most blogs (short for weblogs) are about hobbies or other personal topics, but recent years have seen an explosion of business blogs developed by companies seeking customers and clients.
Although only about 5 percent of all blogs are business related and only 2 percent are corporate, this is still a sizeable number. Blogs have become a trusted means of getting business messages out to the public. While being about your business, blogs that possess a personal tone succeed in putting a human face on your company by allowing constructive feedback from clients and customers, building long-term relationships and driving traffic to your main website.
Business blogging is a growing phenomenon and the benefits can be real, but is blogging right for your business? Before jumping on the bandwagon, you will first want to determine a need and assess your blogging readiness.
Do You Need A Blog?
As with any project, without a tightly defined purpose or goal, your blog will flounder. Do you need to establish your company as a leader of ideas in the industry? Do you have a product or service to promote? Do you want to build your reputation and trust with clients and customers? Or do you just want to get the word out about who you are, what you do and what others think about you? Blogs can even be used internally on the company intranet to communicate the latest marketing strategies, product research, human resource policies or IT system upgrades.
Do You Have The Resources?
Before you commit to blogging, determine whether you have the resources in place not only to create one, but to keep it going. Who will create and manage the content and comments, set up the blogging tools, design the theme, respond to reader comments and develop guidelines? If you lack the in-house technical and creative resources, you will need to hire an outside consultant or a new employee.
Can You Get The Traffic?
If you already have a business website, analyze your traffic statistics. Are you getting enough daily traffic to justify a blog? If not, you will need to develop a plan to increase traffic before you start blogging.
Can You Consistently Produce High-Quality Content?
Strong content is the most important foundation of any blog. To be successful, you must have something relevant to say. Many blogs start out strong but wither due to a lack of fresh, ongoing and relevant content added to the blog daily, possibly even two to three times per day. Without high-quality content, you won’t be able to attract and retain readers.
If you’re a business owner, are you capable of writing your own content or will you need to hire an outside consultant or a new employee? Can you identify someone already on staff with the skills and knowledge to create content? In some cases, it might be best to have multiple writers contributing to your blog. You will also want to consider incorporating graphics and video into the project, so you might need to leverage expertise in those areas as well.
If you determine that a blog is right for your business and you are willing to commit the time and resources, a good first step is to study other blogs similar to the one you envision.
Additional preliminary steps include:
- Identifying the purpose. Why do you need a blog? What niche does it fill?
- Determining your audience. Who will be reading the blog, why and what are they looking for?
- Depending on the size of your company and the number of content contributors, you might need to develop a blogging policy that includes legal guidelines.
Starting a business blog might seem overwhelming, but tools available today make it relatively easy. A WordPress blog, for example, is simple to install and easy to update.
Of course, creating a blog is only the first step; making it successful will require a commitment to first-rate content and skillful search engine optimization marketing. Determine whether your business can benefit from a blog before you invest in setting one up.