Posts Tagged ‘Blogging for Small Business’
Saturday, April 11th, 2009
Have you hit a blogging wall? Out of ideas? Not comfortable with writing in general? You’re not alone. Small businesses have plenty to do–online and elsewhere–and we tend to avoid something that “feels like work.” There is another way around this dilemma and generate an online presence that’s beneficial to you.
How? By visiting other blogs and leaving comments. You’re networking, passing along helpful tid-bits in much smaller writing quantities than blogging yourself, and leaving a trail back to your site. Smart, huh?
First, you have to find relevant blogs and website content to comment about. You do this by creating Google Alerts. Take your keywords and keyword phrases and visit Google Alerts and set up an account. Google will send you email updates on when anyone writes about the keywords you listed. Google Alerts will list newspaper and magazine articles, television and radio announcements and recaps of shows in which those topics are discussed, and it will also list blogs that mention the words you listed.
When your email box fills up with Google Alerts, you’ll feel a little overwhelmed at first. That’s okay, it’s worth it to start reading. The online world has just opened up to you. You will literally see how relevant your topic is. You’ll be able to start to track who’s hot, which keyword/topic phrase generates the most hits, who your competition is and who you should be networking with. In the beginning, you need to dedicate some time every day, or a large chunk of time once a week to begin to gather information and know who’s out there and who is making it happen on the Internet.
Create a folder of the best Google Alerts and save the ones you want to get to know.
Follow your gut reaction and visit the blogs or articles that pique your interest. Did you know that you can leave comments on many newspaper and magazine sites as well? You can, and they get read by thousands, and get indexed well because these companies have the money to spend to get that valuable SEO (search engine optimization) placement needed to get noticed online.
Next, leave a comment–and not just “Fantastic!” That won’t get you much. Leave a couple of sentences that actually has to do with the subject they wrote about. Comment about something they said, specifically. Add to the conversation–in a friendly tone. Don’t sound like a know-it-all. Sound humble. Sound generally interested. Sound like you know what you’re talking about and you’re glad to be a part of scene, but you’re not taking over. Sound nice.
How? Tell them something they said or did right. Tell them you like their blog and their content is good. Leave one or two small bits of info that’s helpful. You can even politely disagree or offer another opinon, but do it respectful. You can even comment about another comment, which can create a conversation. At first, keep it simple and get used to the system. Your goal is to make connections, get known, and quietly point someone your way. At the end, sign your name, and under it leave your website, and that’s it.
Can you link back to your website within the body of your blog comment? Yes, but don’t go heavy handed, and only if it’s not really relevant. But sometimes it really is relevant. You have content on your site or blog that adds to the conversation–then go for it.
Chances are, the blogger/owner of the site is going to come over and check you out. They do–a lot of the time. Be sure to respond, say thanks for stopping by. This is n’etiquette. People online like to know their effort isn’t going unnoticed.
It might even lead to a guest blog. If you like someone else’s style, invite them to guest blog on your site–or you guest blog on theirs. This gives you fresh content, and it also does something else that’s really cool. They’ll advertize it on their site, and their readers will come over to your site. Cool. If you do decide to guest blog, or ask for another blogger to guest on yours, talk about how to handle links and promoting ahead of time so that everyone’s on the same page.
Another great way to build an online relationship with another blogger is to request to use their content on your site. Ask ahead of time. Tell them that you really like their blog on X, and can you quote part of it and link to their site. Nine times out of ten they’ll say yes because you asked ahead of time, complimented their work, and will attribute them.
Commenting is so smart and so easy. Three to four sentences on other blogs allows you to respond to a topic already generated, network, get your name out there, and build an online presence. The old adage, “Work smarter, not harder” definitely applies.
Sunday, March 15th, 2009
Abraham Lincoln said, “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend 6 hours sharpening the ax.” In other words, preparation makes a hard job easier. It’s no different when it comes to creating a small business blog. Here’s a few tips to help you get your blog off to a great start.
1. Register your domain name. Don’t just leave it under “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Connect it with your website URL. This is more difficult to do later, so this prep step shouldn’t be skipped.
2. Don’t procrastinate, post! It does no good to sign up for a blog on WordPress or E-Blogger, and then not post. It’s not a blog until you publish something. Don’t make the mistake of getting caught up in designing your blog in lieu of actually blogging, or intimidated by all the techie info you don’t quite understand yet. Content is king in the blog world, so write an introductory post, say who you are, a little about your business, and maybe the direction your blog will take (how-to, helpful hints, product information, etc). It doesn’t have to be long–a paragraph or two is great–just get started!
3. Spread the word. Tell people you have a blog. How? Start with your email contact list. Email everyone you know–personally and professionally–and give them the address of your blog and beg for links and comments. Some of your family/friends/co-workers will support your efforts and get you off to a good start.
4. Be consistent. Once, twice a week is enough to get you rolling. Ideally, you’ll blog every day–at least five days a week, but if this feels overwhelming, then go with once or twice a week. Put it on your to-do list and commit to it. Again, shoot for a couple of paragraphs. Listen at work for conversations that can be turned into a blog post–a question someone poses, a suggestion…you’ll be surprised how many ideas you’ll pick up on.
5. Mention your website–often. Link to your own website–and not just to page one (your landing page). If you have multiple pages (contact page, photos page, products page), then refer to them as well, and link to it from your blog. Do this at least once per post.
***One for the road: Keywords. Remember developing your webpage and researching those keywords–words that people use when they’re searching? Be sure to use those keywords as you blog. You should naturally–they’re what your small business/products and services are all about. Keep them in mind as you write your blog. Sound natural, as if a customer were standing in your store chatting with you.
These five keys help you prepare for creating and maintaining a successful small business blog. It won’t take long until blogging is an easy, economical way to market and network with your clients–and potential clients.
Saturday, March 14th, 2009
Remember when going to buy an auto part meant driving a couple of miles, going into a store–and hanging out for a few minutes? You’d meet other weekend mechanics, teens and old-timers, and you’d chat (brag) about what you were building, ask a question, and even show a picture or two? That’s how small businesses used to operate. They were the local hangout–the gathering place for people who had something in common.
People still need a place to go. What’s changed is that much of the gathering happens online.
They still need to hang out with their “tribe” and ask questions, brag, show pictures, and enjoy getting to know the newbies. You can buy so much online–knitting supplies, spices, building supplies…you name it–but people still have a need to connect. So give them a place to do just that.
If you know how to do it right, your blog, and your website could be that gathering place.
How do you create an online hangout?
Keep a friendly tone. Welcome comments.
Write an article for your website or a blog post about one of your customers–their question, or something cool they did with your product that’s unique.
Ask a question or take a poll.
Answer questions–and solicit them.
Make your comment area easy to access–and encourage people to post and talk to each other.
Consider adding a forum.
Post pictures–your customers, their kid’s birthday pics, a charity event your company participated in–show you welcome community involvement.
Even if you’re an internet based small business, you still have clients who identify with you, your products and/or services. Give them a friendly place to come, chat, ask questions, and hang out.
Thursday, February 12th, 2009
Nothing is more frustrating for a small business than to jump through all the Internet hoops and then for nothing to happen. You build your website, make sure it’s optimized, register the darn thing…and then it sounds like crickets on a summer night. No traffic.
Search engines use links to find your site. It’s how they determine how valuable you are.
Even though you’ve gone to a lot of trouble already, it’s time to take a deep breath and begin to build links.
Why Links are Important:
Search Engines look for the number of links that point to your page to determine how valuable your website really is.
Links help the search engines determine your websites theme. They do this by searching the link text’s keywords–which offers clues as to what you’re about.
Links can literally be the deciding factor as to whether your site is indexed and how well it is ranked.
Links are like breadcrumbs. The search engines and search bots follow links.
They index a page, follow one link to a page, follow another link to another page, and the more links there are leading to a page, the quicker a page is indexed.
Search engines are aptly named. They’re searching. They’re looking for what matches or lines up with words or phrases people type in when they’re looking for something. Search engines analyze links to help them decide how closely your site aligns to a particular word. Search engines aren’t capable of analyzing content to the same degree, so they rely on links to guide them.
Any small business owner who has already invested in a website or blog owes it to their business to finish the marathon. Link building will provide the valuable information needed so that you can be indexed, ranked, and ultimately found by your potential customers and clients.
Friday, March 7th, 2008
Blogging for small business might seem like a waste of time if you feel that no one will look at your blog. However, many people really do prefer small businesses because of the service they get adn will be more than happy to buy from you. ItÃ‚Â´s important to remember that blogging is not the only method of gaining online publicity, however, so you canÃ‚Â´t expect to simply sit down, write a few posts and hundreds will come to read what youÃ‚Â´ve written.
Taking a multi-pronged approach to your online publicity campaign is a good way to go, and you can get started with blogging. Small business should make a point of letting people know that they are small, but efficient. Which would you rather buy from? A specialty shop that sells exactly what you need and provides excellent, friendly service, or a mega store that supplies all your needs, but has no one to help you and the clerks are grumpy?
Most people will prefer friendly service and small businesses are more likely to proportion this. So your size can actually be a great way to get started in advertising your business online. Blogging for small business is rapidly becoming the norm, since it is a relatively inexpensive method of getting your company out there. Make the fact that you are small a selling point and youÃ‚Â´ll end up with plenty of customers who might not have bothered otherwise.
Small Business Mavericks
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Monday, February 18th, 2008
Blogging for small businesses is one of the most valuable methods you can use to promote your business and yourself. The best business is one that is considered to be the outstanding expert in its field and a good way to gain expert status is to start blogging.
Having a business website these days is nothing special . . . everyone and their dog has one and itÃ‚Â´s pretty easy to grab a free, professional looking template to make your quick and easy website look great. Throw up some SEO articles and youÃ‚Â´re done. But a blog sets you apart from the rest of the businesses online.
If you are blogging daily on your blog, people canÃ‚Â´t help but notice that you have a lot to say on your topic. In fact, they will probably start to pay attention once they see that you have not only lots of content, but useful content. Offering something that visitors can use and learn from is key to successful blogging for small business.
Your blog should be related to your business, obviously. Keywords are a very important part of blogging and they can help keep you focused, particularly if you use them as your categories, too. This will enable you to focus on one main keyword at a time and help drive your blog up for your chosen phrases in the search engines. Imagine, when people start looking for anything related to your business, theyÃ‚Â´ll see your blog and website popping up all through the results, something that can really establish your expert status!
Small Business Mavericks
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