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By Adam Swisher
July 19, 2011

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Blogging 101 (Part One)

How Business Can Benefit from Blogging

In our last post, we talked about Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and how this technology is useful for keeping track of online content. The chief generators of online content are blogs and bloggers who are regularly churning out a wide variety of information. Today we will explore the world of blogging and how businesses can benefit from investing time in blogging.

 

What is a blog?
A blog is an online publishing platform. Anyone with access to an Internet connection can start a blog at any time for free.  Free blogging sites, such as www.blogger.com and www.wordpress.com are two of he most popular blogging platforms, not only because they are free, but also because they are very easy to use.  A person wishing to start a blog can have their blog up and running on either of these sites in a matter of moments.  If you use one of these platforms, your domain name will be part of the provider’s domain, e.g. www.yourblogname.wordpress.com or www.yourblogname.blogger.com.  There can only be one unique name per blog on free hosting sites like these, so if the name you want is already taken, you will have to identify a creative variation of your preferred blog name.

Blogs can be public or private.  Blogs can be about whatever the content creator wants to talk about or put on display for public consumption.  Some blogs focus on broad topics such as: parenting, politics, leadership development, entrepreneurship, etc., while others may focus on the author’s personal life, causes, passions, hobbies, etc.  There are no rules governing what kind of content can be placed on a blog, the options are as limitless as our imaginations.

 

Why do Businesses Blog?
In short, businesses blog to make more money. Businesses who blog successfully are those that generate online content that attracts audiences to their services. Based on the amount of traffic a blog receives, some blog owners make money blogging, primarily through ad sales.  Others make money selling items they create through their blog.  Charities and causes often use blogs to generate online donations to their organizations, while “brands” will offer helpful tidbits and giveaways to enhance the presence and impact of their brand.

For example, here at Cross and Crown we value blogging on topics we think are of interest to our clients, and hope that through blogging we will attract new clients who are searching for information on marketing, communications and design.  Other examples include food brands, like Pillsbury or Philadelphia Cream Cheese, that offer free recipes on their blog that can be used with their product.  Musicians, artists and others in the entertainment industry use their blogs to share news and information with their audiences, such as concert information, CD release dates, and other upcoming promotions that would be of interest to their fan base.

 

How is a Blog Different from a Website?
The major way a blog is different from a website is that a blog is social.  Blogs are intended to be ongoing conversations between a content creator and an audience.  Blog posts should always have an option to leave comments and the content creator should proactively engage in conversation with those who are viewing and commenting on the blog’s content.

While you can use blog technology (such as wordpress) to create a more traditional website, a website is not a blog if it doesn’t have a regularly updated source of online content and virtual interaction between the content creator and the audience.  Fresh, new content is a key component to a successful blog.  We will talk more about this in part 2 of this series.

 

Resources for Businesses that Blog
There are already several online resources that address the advantages, dare I say necessity, of blogging for businesses.  BusinessWeek.com has an excellent article on how blogs and social media in general can change your business.  This is an important read for all businesses to ensure you are not left behind in the rapidly developing world of online communications, as the article’s tag-line states, “Catch Up… or Catch you Later.”  Another strong source offering advice to new bloggers is the personal blog of former Thomas Nelson publishing CEO Michael Hyatt, this post entitled “My Advice to Beginning Bloggers” is a great place for aspiring bloggers to begin learning the fundamentals of blogging.  Additionally, Forbes.com offers a listing of helpful small business blogs.

Hopefully you can take some time to explore these resources and in our next post, we will discuss how having a blog is different from having a website and how you can get your own blog started right away.

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