Friday, September 12, 2008

Blogging: when is the right time to start?


One of the most glaring problems I see in people who are just starting out is that they are afraid to take that first step. Some think whatever you do must be absolutely perfect before you show it to the public.

Don't do that. You may wind up sitting on the fence forever.

You'll find many reasons to start your own blog, but it is always important to make sure your blog is your business tool, not a site for letting off steam about personal issues—there are already excellent sites for consumer complaints! The goal of your site should be to create a strong link between your company and your customers.

1. Offer reviews of the products or services you offer: Regardless of your business, if you sell a product or service it is critical to have quality reviews posted for all to see. A review from a current or former customer will go a long way to selling the product for others. People know that businesses make promises in order to sell their product; it's their job. An unbiased customer has no ties to the business and needn't mislead the public with a rave review; consumers know that user reviews are going to be honest! Try to incorporate as many honest reviews as possible. You don’t have to write a completely positive review, in fact, a review that points out any negative aspects of a product or service along with the positive will show your readers that the review is real.

2. Promote sales: The best way to promote sales is by linking clients directly to your product. Put in a direct link to the page where they can buy your product. If you’re are an affiliate for another company, like Amazon Associates, you can use their "Build Links" function to create colorful, graphic images of any item they carry. The format is simple. You simply copy their HTML code and paste it into your blog entry. The blog program knows how to read the code and does the rest for you. On your website, you end up with an attractive ad that links directly to their website where you get credit for the sale. Many online retailers use affiliate programs to draw business. You can also become an affiliate for Walmart. Like Amazon, the commission is low, but you have plenty of products to offer.

You can also visit other blogs within your niche and comment on their posts using your website link. Not only is this advertising method free, but it helps draw in traffic through reciprocal links.

3. Use your blog as a business related newsletter: With your online business, you need to reach customers. The best way to do this is by keeping them informed of new products, exciting news, recall notices and other important tidbits that relate to their needs. It is important to remember that you are there for them. If you fail to reach or satisfy a customer, it could lead to a decline in business. For this reason, you must clearly think over all of your posts. Will your post matter to them, or are you heading off on a tangent that will drive them away? Make sure it fits!

You must add new posts, at least 2-3 times a week, to your blog. Failing to keep information fresh will drive readers away. When creating your posts, remember that visitors want to read your information quickly. If you create a blog post that is the size of a small novel, you have guaranteed that readers will give up and move on. Blog posts should be short and sweet, generally 300 words or less works best. People are incredibly busy and must have time to quickly read an article. Short and sweet must always be your motto when posting.

4. Gain customer feedback: Blogs make it incredibly easy for others to leave comments. You may need to sift through Spam from time to time, but overall, a blog is a fantastic arena for debate, questions or even suggestions. By keeping a blog, you are giving your clients and potential clients a forum to ask questions, seek advice, offer comments on your product or service's quality and simply form a close, personal relationship.

One of the best examples of a successful business-related blog falls with The Consumerist ( This Web site is pro-consumer and allows readers to send in praise or complaints they have with businesses throughout the United States. Readers are allowed to comment on items they've read or share similar experiences. In the case of a negative dealing, other readers can offer suggestions on getting out of a transaction. The Consumerist also lists incredible sales for a number of companies from time to time allowing readers to tap into bargains they may have missed otherwise. With readers from all over the world, The Consumerist is a great blog to browse to see what consumers are looking for or dislike!

5. Run periodic contests: People love freebies! Free items always attract a huge crowd. Offering a free sample or prize to a limited number of entrants is one way to quickly boost your blog traffic and draw attention to your online business. You can use your blog to run contests. Make the rules clear from the beginning and use a ploy such as only those who post responses to blog entries will be entered. You can even ask entrants to leave a comment on your blog, and then have them mention the contest on their own blogs in order to be eligible. Contents will help you gain traffic, develop new relationships and give away a product that your readers will enjoy.

The prize should draw attention, but it doesn't need to be incredibly expensive. Items that seem to do well include MP3 players, new televisions, free music CDs, t-shirts and more. In fact, if you give away t-shirts, you gain additional promotion because people will be wearing that t-shirt in public. As t-shirts are not as expensive, you will have more prizes to give out. Winners are going to return to your blog time and again because of their positive experience.

Greg Cryns


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