Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Should you blog for your business?

Over the last week or so, I've started to get lots of questions from folks in my network about blogs - should I blog? What should I blog about? Can a blog really help me grow my business? The answer, of course, differs from person to person. Blogging works for me because a) I was a personal blogger and journaler for years before I ever started a business blog, so I knew how to use the technology fairly well and was used to writing, and b) I talk. A Lot. About my business. A. Lot.

So, blogging works pretty well for me. I log on, try to keep things updated fairly often (although not as often as I should sometimes), and I have links to my blog everywhere - from comments left in other blogs and in forums, to my e-mail signature and the zen kitchen's website.

Now, given this, should YOU blog? Ask yourself these questions first:

  • Do you have time to write daily or weekly, on a topic you're passionate about that relates to your area of expertise?A good blog is updated pretty frequently, at least once a week (if your posts tend to be longer) or at best daily (if the posts are shorter). I'm in the process of transitioning to mostly shorter entries updated daily. It's a challenge, but I'm managing it.

  • Do you like to write, and are you good at it? The best blogs are conversational, the posts aren't outrageously long (even some of my longer posts push the limit sometimes, although I've seen some that are longer), and they're updated pretty frequently with information relevant to the topic of the blog.

  • Do you know what you want to write about, and who you want to write for? Blogs tend to work when they're focused - you have 1-3 things that you talk about, and you're speaking to a very specific audience. I tend to cover the issues I face both as a green designer, and as an independent designer and business owner, and my audience tends to be not only other designers, but other socially responsible business owners. Once you have that target audience and subject matter identified, finding things to write about becomes much easier.

If done well, blogs can be a terrific marketing tool. They are completely paperless (always good for a greenie), and they give you a unique chance to create conversations with your target market. At the same time, however, a blog should never feel like a chore - it should be something you enjoy doing and can really put the effort into. One thing you realize quickly is that any discontent you feel with the blogging process will show in the final product - and that reduces the effectiveness of your blog.

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