By Catherine Kaputa
Blogs have evolved from geek venue to “instajournalist” log to cutting-edge business tool. Today, a blog is a powerful way to create a dynamic brand identity and a community of loyal brand fans, also known as customers, clients and contacts. A successful blog can translate into more sales and a stronger bottom line.
In fact, blogs have the same DNA as a successful small business owner—they are hands-on and do-it-yourself. You simply type in your blog entries on your computer. Unlike a Website, no HTML code is required, so you don’t need to hire a Web designer to add new information or design a page. Blogs are inexpensive to set up and maintain with virtually no barriers to entry. Some companies, for example, Blogger, even offer free set up and hosting. Blogs are dynamic and interactive so you can keep current and up-to-date with your customers. That’s why I say, “One blog is worth a thousand brochures.”
What’s more, blogs are a cutting-edge way to promote your business. People flock to them for fresh viewpoints and information not available on company and industry Websites. That’s why the blogosphere is growing by leaps and bounds. Over 70,000 new blogs are created each day—some 50,000 postings are put up each hour according to Technorati. With so many voices in the blogosphere only the smartest bloggers get noticed.
Here are 10 tips to help you create an unforgettable blog that will help you increase hits exponentially:
- Get a great blog name. What’s in a name? A lot. So get the best, most memorable blog name you can. It’s got to be easy to remember and to spell. Make it as short as possible. You can use your business name, your own name or think creatively and go for something new and fresh that sets a tone for the blog—a tack taken by successful blogs like Instapundit, Wonkette or Boing Boing.
- Link. Link. Link. Blogs are about linking. If read something interesting in the trade or business press, chances are your clients and prospects will want to read about it too. All the articles you used to send to clients and prospects—presto, mention them in your blog posting with a link to the full article. You can link to articles or postings on other media sites, to other blogs and to industry Websites.
- Have a distinct brand look. You have just a few seconds to make a first impression, so make sure your blog looks enticing. Don’t use a template design. You’ll look like everybody else—like a generic, instead of a distinct brand. Approach blog design as a powerful packaging and advertising for you, your business or your ideas.
- Tell, don’t sell. People are looking for a point of view with a blog. Use your Website to sell products and services. Use your blog to “sell” your ideas and point of view. Focus on what’s going on in your industry—what the new trends are, what the new products and services are—anything that you think is important for people to know. Write about a new business book you read and share why it was helpful to you. Above all, have a unique message. Your blog is your opportunity to sell your USP, to differentiate yourself from the rest.
- Post frequently. What’s cool about blogs is getting updated on the latest postings through an RSS feed. You get “pinged” every time a blog you follow has a new posting. So you need to post a lot, ideally two or three times a week, if not daily. You don’t need to say a lot; it can be a few sentences with a link to a longer article.
- Convey your personality. Use color, design, imagery, graphics and above all, your writing style to create a “brand” personality for your blog. Bring your personal DNA into the equation by writing in a personal style that engages visitors and builds a Web community. Write as if you're talking directly to a business customer with whom you have a great relationship. Your style should be natural so that you can connect on an emotional level.
- Be a news source. Some blogs are so popular that they score more hits than huge media sites. Why? Because they provide news that people don’t get via traditional media outlets. Some blogs have even “scooped” the mainstream press on an important story. Provide news on industry conferences and trade shows that you attend. Invite other people in your industry to post on your blog as well.
- Don’t trash your competitors. Always remember that the blogosphere is a public forum. So don’t write anything negative about a colleague or former boss or rival company that you wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing on the front page of your local newspaper. The blogosphere is littered with bloggers who have shot themselves in the foot with ill-considered rants.
- Solicit interaction. A blog should include a comment section at the end of each post. The number of people who have posted comments is also listed. One of the delights of blogs is reading the comments on a riveting topic. As the blog master, you’ll have to become adept at closing off a discussion when it gets rancorous.
- Use the blog roll to link to other blogs. A blog roll is list of blogs that you follow and find interesting and that your readers might also like to visit. Having a long blog roll is important: your blog roll is like a giant rolodex, a network of networks. The more blogs you link to, the more blogs link to your blog and the more hits your blog will get.
About the Author(s)
Catherine Kaputa is a brand strategist and the author of U R a BRAND! How Smart People Brand Themselves for Business Success. She is founder of SelfBrand, a brand consultancy. For more information, visit www.selfbrand.com or www.urabrand.com