11. September 2012 · Comments Off on To Blog or Not To Blog · Categories: Business Issues · Tags: , , ,

Almost every client asks me “Should I have a blog?”

What is a blog

A typical blog format is an online journal. Dated entries are displayed in reverse chronological order – the most recent entry appears first.  The format can be anything from a simple list of entries to a complex multi-column layout.

veerle blog

2 column layout

 

inspiration bit blog

multi-column layout

Blogging means you have something interesting to write about daily, weekly, or monthly.

Do you need a blog or a web site or both


In some cases a blog is enough, but that’s not usually true if your business is selling products or services. A small business usually starts with its own web site and supplements its online presence with a blog. One of my favorite photographers, Bruce Percy, is in the business of selling photographs, photography books, and workshops. To promote his business he has:

  • a web site
  • a blog
  • a Facebook page
  • a Twitter account
  • Podcasts on iTunes
  • an online newsletter
  • an online store

This provides a rich online environment for potential customers to explore. (For more information on developing an online strategy for your business I recommend The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott.)

Some questions to consider about blogging:

  • Do you have something unique and interesting to say on a regular basis that will help your business?
  • When you compare the return to your business vs. the time spent in non-billable hours on blogging, is there enough pay back to invest your time in blogging?
  • What is your budget? Do you have the technical skills to set up your blog? post your entries? will you need to hire someone? how much do you want to spend on design?

Getting Started

Before you set up a blog you need to understand some basics about online content.

Who owns your content

You do, unless you give it away by using Google’s Blogger (.blogspot is part of the URL) or the free version of WordPress at WordPress.com (wordpress.com is part of the URL).

Becky Fisher at SimpleAndSane.com says it very well:

“… if you publish your blog on a free host — ie: wordpress.com or blogger – you don’t own that content. You don’t own it. Your blog service does.  Your blog service owns what you poured your heart and soul into — your blog. Every word of it. And they can do whatever they want with it.  They can shut you down quicker than you can blink.

  • Did you use a graphic without permission? (This happens a lot!)
  • Did they go out of business?
  • Did they decide one of your posts violated their Terms of Service? (You do read that, right?)
  • Are you selling something from your blog or using it for commercial purposes? That may not be allowed!  Again, read your Terms of Service! …”

To maintain complete control of your content, you must own the domain name and host your blog through an Internet Service Provider (ISP).  (And don’t forget to protect your content via copyright.)

Next Steps

  1. Forget about using free blogging. Register your domain name and sign up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP).  Find an ISP who provides WordPress software as part of the deal (most of them do).
  2. Think about what you want to do with your blog.  Sketch out a typical blog post.  Think about how you want the blog page to look. Do you have a logo or images you want to use?
  3. Think about these options:
    Build a unique blog site: Building a unique blog site means hiring a PHP programmer to build something from scratch.  Last time I checked this starts around $2000.
    Use blog templates from another vendor: There are hundreds of vendors selling good WordPress templates. They can cost anywhere from $30 to several hundred.  You get what you pay for in terms of functionality and service. The most recent business model is to license a template for a yearly fee. Here’s a warning:  One of my clients paid for a very expensive template and then it was hacked through a backdoor in the code.  The solution was to ditch WordPress and write a custom web site we know can’t be hacked.
    Use a free WordPress theme: Free WordPress themes can be limited in their functionality, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good. It all depends on what you need.
  4. Decide if you are technically proficient to set up the blog yourself. Hire someone, if needed.  Can you manage posting yourself, or do you need to hire someone?  Of all my clients who felt they could handle a blog on their own after it was set up, only one actually had the technical ability to do so.
  5. Look at other blogs to get an idea of the format you prefer.  What is your competition blogging about? Can you offer a new or unique twist?

 

Copyright 2012, Alice Gebura, All Rights Reserved.

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