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Invasion of the Blogs Is a blog right for your business

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					Title:
Invasion of the Blogs: Is a blog right for your business

Word Count:
1227

Summary:
Lemmings are cute, but dumb. If you tell them to jump off a cliff, they
will. Just like the people who start blogs because everyone is doing it.
Guess what happens after a little while? The blogs die.


Keywords:
blog, blogging, weblog, weblogs, business, corporate, enterprise, writing


Article Body:
Lemmings are cute, but dumb. If you tell them to jump off a cliff, they
will. Just like the people who start blogs because everyone is doing it.
Guess what happens after a little while? The blogs die.

In managing a list of many Web sites, most of which are blogs, I deleted
countless sites from the list because the sites and blogs no longer
existed. The people ran out of steam or had no reason to start them in
the first place.

How do you know when a blog is right for your business? Learn why people
start blogs, how they find their niche and how blogging tools can be used
for more than blogs.

<strong>Blog content is king</strong>

Some people like to read blogs, others like to read newsletters, still
others like to rely on feeds and some read a few or all of them. No
matter the method the information is distributed, each medium has one
thing in common: content. Having a blog connects your newsletter and your
business with all of these readers and delivers important content in a
particular style.

I've been blogging since June 2000. If you review my early blog entries
in meryl's notes, you'll notice they're more personal. When blogs first
hit the scene in the late '90s, they were personal diaries and journals.
Like the blog business, my blog has transformed from personal to business
speak, although I still add personal notes here and there.

A few bloggers tend to talk about their work, their products and their
little world. That might work for celebrities where fans want to know
everything about them, but it doesn't work for the average business
person. Other business people want information on how to succeed and when
a blog spends time hawking products offering information of no value, few
people will return. The people whose products sell well are the ones who
provide valuable information. Readers already know what kind of
information they're getting, so they trust that when they buy something,
it will be of the same or better quality. This value must be reflected in
their blog. It's much like people who only sign up for a newsletter after
first seeing an example.

<strong>Who should venture where one has not blogged before?</strong>

No one wants to be a lemming (I would hope). How do you decide whether or
not to set up a blog? The answer isn't black or white (what did you
expect?). Ask these questions:

<ul><li>Can you regularly update it -- at least five times a week?</li>

<li>Do you have something to say other than just linking to others?</li>

<li>Do you read other blogs or feeds?</li>

<li>Can you provide information of value to others not just to
yourself?</li>

<li>How large is your newsletter subscriber list?</li>

<li>How many unique visitors do you get on an average day, week or
month?</li></ul>


The big decider is whether or not you can write in the blog almost daily.
The people behind the high traffic blogs post multiple times a day.
Though resourceful, merely linking to other sites doesn't give visitors
much reason to make the effort to come to yours. Reading other blogs or
feeds is a great way to learn how to carry a discussion. Find other blogs
covering topics similar to yours and check them out. Disagree with their
opinions? Write about it and explain your reasons. Cross-blog discussions
are common, and that's where trackback comes in handy.

Trackback is a blog feature. If you decide to comment on another blog
posting in your blog instead of in that blog's comments page, then you
link to the conversation through the trackback link. Trackback is similar
to the permalink, the permanent URL for the blog entry, but it has a
different URL for copying and pasting in your blog's trackback box.

Aside from the technical aspects of operating a blog on a daily basis,
subscriber list size and Web site traffic are good indicators of what
kind of reaction you'll get when opening a blog. Starting from scratch
with little traffic means you have a long road ahead and lots of work to
do. There is no magic formula anyone can sell you for $97 to make your
blog an overnight success. But with some perseverance and ingenuity, your
blog can engage many prospects and clients.

<strong>Pick a niche</strong>

Considering there are numerous blogs out there, pick a niche topic when
starting a blog for a better shot at attracting and keeping an audience.
meryl's notes focuses on three areas: webby, geeky and wordy. In reality,
this is too much. What I need to do for my readers is create three
separate blog entry points, so those interested in writing, newsletters
and Internet marketing get nothing but the wordy entries. Those
interested in Web design get the webby stuff and the technophiles receive
the geeky content.

I also manage a personal blog separate from meryl's notes. It's about
cochlear implants and deafness. This could fall under the geeky category,
but it's a personal blog and doesn't belong in meryl's notes. This blog
is written for a different audience.

The blogging tools for both of my blogs come with syndication
capabilities so those using feed readers or aggregators can read the
content through the software. For an explanation of syndication and feed
readers, refer to What Is This RSS, XML, RDF, and Atom Business? When
sending a new issue of a newsletter, comment on it or link to it in the
blog, that way the blog and feed readers will get the goods, so all three
bases are covered.


<strong>Blogs in disguise use the same tools</strong>

Blogging tools aren't just for, well, blogging. Such tools are an
excellent way to help you update your Web site more often than you
otherwise would. I use it to manage the list of tableless Web sites.
Using blogging tools is much easier than the way I managed it before,
updating the HTML files by hand. Though using a blog tool, it isn't a
blog. In this case, the blog tool has become a content management system
(CMS).

Small business owners don't have a need for the fancy and pricey CMSes
out there. They find it easier to use blogging software to manage their
sites or hire someone to adapt the tool for their site.

Blogs have found a place in businesses and people are finding creative
ways to use them. Some companies have a blog on the intranet for
communicating project status, jeopardies and metrics. They're used for
knowledge management. With information pouring in, blog tools provide a
way to share, organize and process the information.

Being a follower can be good or bad. No one wants to walk off a cliff
with the lemmings, but everyone wants to succeed. Best practices won't
help, since the decision to blog is based on the organization's mission,
needs and goals along with its target market's desires and needs. A blog
about lemmings? There is one, sort of. Or maybe you'd like to start your
own and talk about dumb business moves.

				
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