The Value of Having a Blog
A couple of editions ago I talked about informative and good the Austrade e-Business Seminar I’d attended had been. Well I’m still incorporating lessons learnt from the seminar and the new Blog is a prime example.
So I thought today I should go through why Blogs are good to explore for a business and how to launch one.
At the seminar we were shown the Blog of a successful local chef who was building credibility for his website and his writings through a Blog he regularly updated.
The Blog looked good – the first blog I’d seen that looked smooth and stylish. Most blogs I’d explored before had comprehension problems such as white text on black backgrounds (so hard to read and comprehend what the message is. Some people think they look good but I don’t, I think it is distracting and they fail in the aim to communicate a message).
Another issue the chef’s blog challenged for me was content based. His blog had good quality information for foodies. I’m not a foodie but I can tell when information is good quality or not. All the previous blogs I’d seen where ramblings about nothing much, sometimes even nasty and cruel, usually just bland and tedious. If I’m going to spend my time reading something I want it to add value to my life. I want it to make me smile, teach me something, enlighten me, delight me; to do something positive.
And here we were being shown a blog doing just that. I was impressed and suddenly saw possibilities. I could see how a good looking and well designed blog could be part of the solution for making channels for an online community to grow – you, my customers and newsletter readers could communicate directly with me AND each other (!!!). I see if front of the market table and at jewellery parties how well my customers communicate and share knowledge, information, ideas and suggestions with each other about designs, clothes, business ideas and initiatives, hopes and dreams and I receive emails each newsletter about it all so why not provide an environment where we can all talk and share?
So the ability to grow the online community appealed immediately to me and then the business head started kicking in.
A good blog is really well connected into the search engines and the key words and other meta tags are primed to be very successful. So a blog could bring more traffic to the website.
More traffic to the website is always good. But the blog will bring targeted traffic that will be interested in the jewellery and the business tip articles (I plan to build these up into guides so you can buy them and easily refer to them when building your business – but all part of future plans so stay tuned).
Targeted website traffic improves the rate of sales (hopefully).
Another benefit brought to the website by the blog bringing visitors is how the search engines favourably rate click throughs. So the more click through visitors from different websites to my website tells the search engines that my website is good and should have a higher listing in the results – always good to have.
By showcasing the chef’s blog I had the blindingly obvious realisation that I could have my own blog with quality information on it. I didn’t have to have one that rambled on with much to do about nothing, I could have information on there that people were delighted with and came back to explore further, finding it useful and interesting.
Just as these Sea Change articles have built up quite a repertoire in the Business Tips area online, the Blog articles will grow and develop into a useful collection that will help other women building their small businesses as well as have information about jewellery design and show case my work.
To create my blog I took the lead of the chef and went to the blog site he used: www.blog.com. Being me I took the free version first. When I’m testing out initiatives online I take the free version first. If there isn’t a free version to explore and find out if it works for my business and pays for itself then I go elsewhere and find a solution that works and is free.
I made the blog last Sunday when I was rained out of market before I caught up with a market friend to go to the movies. So the starting of the blog took about 1 – 2 hours. I talked to my friend Sara (www.saravictoria.com.au – check out her designs!) about the blog and got more ideas about initial articles to launch with and did some more work on Sunday night. I added images for the Album and learnt more about the process as I went. I stopped by 7.30pm and felt very satisfied with my day!
But the thing is it was simple to start – nothing scary about it at all. It doesn’t have to be perfect to start with, it needs to be good and to be moving, to be happening. It can only improve, I can update it as I learn more and have more feedback. Yes, I keep checking it to see if there are any comments there yet but I’m hoping you’ll go and at least write a hello note on it for me and get inspired to explore it yourself.
If your business isn’t ready for a blog yet then create a folder in Favourites called “business resources” and add the website to it so when you are ready you know where blogs are easily available.
So what are some other issues that might have you hesitating about having a blog? For me I was concerned about the frequency of entries. Some blogs seem to be written in daily but my life is just too full to do that. I have a hard enough time keeping up with friends each week. So taking the lead from the chef again I found that he’d sometimes have weekly entries, other times there would be 10 – 14 days between entries and as a visitor I didn’t have a problem with that. So I figured you probably wouldn’t either. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Entries aren’t as detailed or lengthy as my newsletters are either so I don’t have to allocate as much time. I can do a blog entry within half an hour or less, depending on the topic.
I created a page on my website about the blog so people could access the blog from the site easily as well as find out what it is about. It is a way of introducing people to the idea of blogs and to what my blog is about.
A concern that was raised in the seminar about blogs is the actual name “blog”. It doesn’t sound good and it does have negative suggestions (or that could be showing my age?). It could be called an “Online Journal” yet the industry name that seems to be sticking in “blog”. OK, not the best name in the world for many of us but there is a growing audience who take it as a perfectly normal name and that audience is growing the use of these tools online to make them one of the most popular places to visit. Another fine reason to have one.
The look and feel of the blog is another consideration. I realised when I was creating mine that the chef had gone to a paid version and that was why his layout was so nice. But I’m sticking with the free version to start with and see what happens with it. Once it is paying for itself I’ll pay for the service and invest in developing the graphics myself. I would like it to look better than it does at the moment but that is alright, it will grow into its own entity. What is important is that I have started. The next important step is the follow- through. So I posted a second article. And I have ideas for the next lot.
So if you’re thinking of a blog here are some key points to consider:
* they are quick and easy to set up
* blogs are great tools for building an online community
* it is your choice what sort of quality your blog will be
* black text on a white background has the best comprehension rates – people can read it easily and better remember the messages you are wanting to communicate – white text on a black background is the worst for communication.
* trail the free versions initial to see what you like and need – have the blog pay for itself.
* blogs can create credibility and generate website traffic
* have direct links from each blog entry and the blog itself back into your website
* create a page on your website about your blog and providing direct access to your blog.
* update your blog regularly but be kind to yourself about how often you can get to update it.
* you can create a series of entries that can be quickly and easily added to your blog – so maybe in a Word document write out some entry ideas or even the entries themselves so you can quickly add them when you’re pushed for time but you want to update the blog.
* good blogs are tightly tied in with Search engines so their key words and other meta tags bring your blog traffic – always a good thing.
So there you go, the benefit of a quality seminar continues and the new Creatively Belle Blog is out there, so please go visit and share your thoughts and ideas with me and the rest of us.
Just a quick note on last newsletter’s piece on Change – you may remember I said I wasn’t really good with change unless I’d made it happen, well the birthday card my mum choose for me had the message on the front of it “Cats don’t like change without their consent” – typical, there’s mum seeing a nice card with cats on it like my beloved cat with a message she knows applies to me. And in the last month I’ve changed my phone after 7 years with the same one, bought a car, launched new features on the website, and worked on new designs. Lots of change – but brought about by me. (I find that rather funny but there you go.)
So go exploring and find out what is out there and how it can benefit your business.