“I see classes offered at the library all the time…how to use the Internet, etc. I guess for seniors who don’t have a clue about it, I kind of feel like them, but how to go about promoting my business online. I don’t know if a blog is the way to go and if it is, where and how do I do it right? It is not in my budget yet to build a quality website” – a CompuKol reader.
Yes, a blog is definitely a great way to promote a business online these days – now that everyone can become a publisher at NO cost, or at relatively low cost. Anyone with an Internet connection can post his or her thoughts, opinions, and activities on the Global Whiteboard for people to read and comment on.
Here are 10 basic reasons to start blogging:
- Publishing platform
- Control your message
- Delivery system for your messages
- 24/7 Online network
- New skill development
- Increased perception through Web 2.0 sources
- Reputation management (your silence allows your critics to win)
- Build Google presence
- Research increases your expertise
Follow these 5 steps to get you blogging
Step 1: Before proceeding to Step 2, make sure that you really want to start a blog.
- Are you passionate enough about a topic that you want to write and publish your ideas on a regular basis?
- Can you commit to a consistent schedule, eg, once a week? Twice a week? Twice a day?
- Will you be comfortable learning as you’re doing? Think of Picasso, who said, “I am always doing that which I don’t know how to do in order to learn to do it.”
- Can you be patient about putting in effort before you see the big “payoff,” ie, results and lots of readers?
- Will you make time to read other peoples’ blogs and comment on them?
- Would you like to be an authentic, honest, interesting Voice in the blogosphere?
If the answer is YES to all six questions, proceed to Step 2.
Step 2: Spend a little bit of time searching the Internet for How to Blog articles. Many may be more advanced than a beginner can understand, but that’s OK. Reading them will still help you, and they may provide links to more basic articles.
Step 3: Do NOT wait until you think you will write a perfect blog post. If I had waited, I might never have gotten started. Common Wisdom suggests that you listen to Nike, ie, Just Do It. You will learn from your mistakes. After all, when you do get started, few people will know you are “out there,” so you can build your chops and publish content, which can always be revised and/or deleted later on.
Step 4; Choose a blogging platform. My suggestion is that you go with WordPress – the most popular and well supported blog tool and publishing platform. Here you have another choice: the absolutely FREE http://wordpress.com or the companion platform http://wordpress.org, which requires you to (a) have a domain name that will cost you less than $10 a year and (b) a blog hosting company that will cost around $10 a month.
Why would you pay when you can blog for free?
Actually, my suggestion is that you do choose the free option, wordpress.com, for a month or so to make sure that you want to commit to the practice. My blog post: http://sharisax.com/2009/10/08/how-to-start-a-blog-step-by-step-and-voila-youre-a-publisher/ will help you set up a free blog.
Again, why would you want to pay to blog?
Self-hosting, ie, a blog on a platform like wordpress.org, will offer you much more control, including options like the following:
2. An almost unlimited number of designs (or themes) that can be found free online or designed uniquely for your blog by a professional web developer
3. Opportunities to sell products and services as well as include advertising
4. Addition of a large variety of “plugins” or applications that will extend the capabilities of your blog
Step 5: Just do it! Get started. Here is how to write your first blog post on the free platform: http://sharisax.com/2010/04/09/how-to-write-that-first-blog-post-on-wordpress-com/.
Conclusion: Basically, a blog can put a human face on a company, and people do business with people, not organizations. Bloggers are the new influencers. You can build your authority and influence by knowing your audience and writing relevant, original, interesting, keyword-rich content. Use your blog to become the Go-To source for information in your area of expertise.
This article topic was suggested by Jean Linder.
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Shari Weiss is a writer, teacher, editor, and marketing consultant who is working full-time on All Things Social Media. With a journalism degree from Northwestern University and a master’s in PR from Kent State, Shari has taught college courses in journalism, marketing and English for 20 years. In addition, she has edited an array of publications from Harcourt Brace Jovanovich trade magazines to a city-wide student newspaper.
Currently, she is the Chief Blogger for SHARISAX IS OUT THERE, in which she writes articles on a variety of social media categories, including How-To Lessons for social media beginners; Interviews with industry professionals; reports on meeting presentations; and strategies for social media marketing. She is also the Community Manager for Performance Social Media and leads workshops for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and university students. Her website is http://shairsax.com.