The business value of blogging

Blogging about blogging may seem a bit incestuous but as the lines between social networking, business networking and blogging become increasingly blurred you might want to think about starting your own blog as a means of generating awareness about you and your business. As with any comms medium there are some key rules and best practice guidelines you should follow - we've put together a ‘Top Ten' below.

1. Identify your audience and decide what you're going to say that will make them want to read what you write.

2. Choose a blog service that has features to help build traffic, such as trackers that identify recent posts and the most popular message threads.

3. Don't just vent marketing-speak about how great your business is, or chatter about news and current events for which you offer no expertise. Instead, aim for a fresh, unique take. Provide a perspective that is heartfelt, compelling, and has the potential to help you market yourself and your business.One way to get up to speed on what to say is to read other blogs and, in turn, offer your own viewpoint on an industry or business topic for which you know something about.

4. Building traffic between blogs is another central element to luring repeat visitors. Here, ‘blog-rolling' is an effective tool. This, in essence, is a set of links on your blog site that identifies other sites on the Internet - related to your business, industry or expertise - which you find valuable.

5. Emphasise keywords. Search engine hits are another element of generating traffic. One strategy to attract search engine interest is through careful use of keywords in both your headlines and blog copy. For instance, if your topic focuses on marketing a business overseas, use of the words "marketing" and "overseas" as often as possible and in varied permutations can help push your blog site toward the head of the search engine line.

6. Blog often. Nothing is more discouraging to prospective readers than returning to a blog site to find old or outdated material. So, be prepared to work at keeping your blog as fresh and current as possible.

7. Watch your traffic closely. Monitor the amount and quality of the traffic you receive. If things seem slow or stagnant, don't be shy about varying your themes or subjects to boost interest, but don't stray too far from your business or expertise.

8. Use a human voice - be yourself

9. Follow the New York Times rule .... How would this post look if quoted on the front page of the New York Times?

10. Respond to comments, blogs work best when they are two-way

If a starting a blog appeals to you, take a look here for a summary of five free blog services. Also, check your local newspaper - a lot of local papers are online now and some offer a free blog to local residents.

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