Blog Marketing: What Is It and How to Do It
How to Use a Blog to Promote and Grow Your Home Business
What is a Blog?
The term blog comes from the combination of "web" and "log" or "weblog," and was eventiually shortened to "blog." In the 1990's when blogs first appeared, they were primarily online diaries, where people would provide personal accounts of their lives. At that time, blogs were traditionally built websites that were updated and uploaded manually, limiting the number of bloggers to only those who knew how to build and upload web pages.
It wasn't until the late 1990s, when LiveJournal and then Blogger developed platforms that didn't require tech knowledge, that blogging expanded. In the early 2000s, WordPress came along, and quickly grew into one of the most used blogging platforms.
Difference Between Websites and Blogs
One of the major differences between websites and blogs is the amount of site owner and visitor engagement. Blogs are often lumped in with social media because visitors can leave comments and talk with the blog owner. Prior to blogging, visitors to websites could sign a "guest books," but there wasn't a method to have a conversation online (except email) through the site.
Another aspect of blogs that differ from traditional websites is the frequency in which it's updated. Many websites are static, in that once they're up, the information doesn't change. Blogs, on the other hand, are like news sites, that are updated often with new content.
Like many new resources that pop up, visionary entrepreneurs recognized the blog format as a marketing tool, and began to use it to provide information and updates to their customers, and as a way to draw in new business. From there, blogs grew into a new and effective marketing strategy.
What is Blog Marketing?
Blog marketing is the process of reaching your home business' target market through the use of a blog.
Initially, business owners had a blog separate from their websites, but today, you can easily integrate the two to make it easier for you to manage, as well as easier for visitors to access. Many business owners use a blogging platform, such as WordPress, for both their site and blog. Further, as blogging has grown in ease and popularity, many people have created businesses from blogging all on its own (as opposed to having a business first and then blogging). For example, some food blogs are businesses in and of themselves.
The Pros of Blog Marketing
The very nature of blogging makes them ideal for marketing since they provide new content to draw people back, and offer a way for consumers and businesses to interact. Here are a few other benefits:
- Inexpensive to start and run. While there are free blogging platforms, such as Blogger and Wordpress.com, to maintain a professional appearance that allows for your unique brand to shine through, use a self-hosted option, such as WordPress.org. For the cost of a domain and webhosting, you can have a customized blog marketing for you.
- Easy to use. Most blogging platforms are simple to use. If you can copy, paste, type, drag & drop and upload, you can have a professional looking blog.
- Effective way to have new and returning traffic come to your site to see what's new. Offering tips, updates and other new content gives people a reason to return to your business website, which gives them opportunity to buy.
- Improves search engine ranking. Google, in particular, likes to find and rank new content, and many entrepreneurs use blogging specifically for search engine optimization (SEO)
- Allows you to show off your expertise to gain trust and credibility with your market. People like to now who they're doing business with. With a blog you can prove you're an expert, provide helpful tips and other valuable information, all of which help consumers feel good about spending money on your product or service.
- Connect with your market. While most businesses now use Twitter and other social platforms more than blogs for engagement, blogs can allow you to have a conversation with your market. This gives you the opportunity to build trust and rapport, as well as get feedback and provide customer service.
- It can make money beyond your product or service. You can accept advertising, promote affiliate products and get sponsors, adding additional sources of revenue to your business.
The Cons of Blog Marketing
Like just everything else in life, there is a downside to blogging, including:
- Time consuming. Creating new content and updating your blog can take a significant amount of time. Hiring freelance writers and a virtual assistant, or using private label right content can help.
- Need a constant stream of ideas. Along with time, having something new blog about is one of the biggest challenges bloggers face.
- It can take time to see results. The Internet is overloaded with information, so getting people to your blog takes time.
- It needs to be marketed too. You're using the blog to market your business, but for it to work, people need to know about it, which means you have to find your target market and entice them to your blog.
How to Do Blog Marketing
Starting a blog and using it to promote your business can be set up within minutes. It's the ongoing management and marketing that will take time.
- Make a blog marketing plan. What are you going to share on your blog? News, tips, resources, etc? Further, how often will you update your blog? Daily, weekly, etc?
- Create your blog. Decide on your blogging platform, and set it up, including customization that fits your business. Be sure to use the same logo on your blog as on your website (if you have a separate website) to retain consistency. If you use a free blog platform (not recommended for business blogging), have a domain name pointing to the blog so make it easier for consumers to get to your site.
- Fill your blog with several posts ASAP. Readers don't like to visit a blog with only one or two posts. Add ten or more posts quickly, and then go to your regular post schedule.
- Market your blog. It's very easy to integrate social media into your blogs, so that your blog posts go out to your followers. Include your blog on your marketing materials as well.
- Reply to comments. Remember, blogs are social, so people will ask questions, provide feedback, or share their opinion. Delete spam posts.
- Use your blog to encourage email signups. This is another great way to keep people who are interested in your business coming back to your blog, which again, gives them more opportunity to spend money with you.
Updated September 2017 Leslie Truex