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Business Blogging 101

I’ve had an increasing amount of readers writing to me over the past few weeks asking questions on the topic of how to develop a business blog as opposed to a commercial or entrepreneurial blog.

Here’s one reader’s question to help flesh this out a little:

“Hi Darren, can I ask you a question that I can’t find an answer to anywhere?

I have just been hired by XXXXX (ed – a well known company) to develop a blog for them. I’ve had both a personal and a more commercial (advertising and affiliate programs) blog before but haven’t ever written on a business blog. The more I look into it the more I realize that many of the things I’ve learned about blogging previously are just not relevant to this new venture. Can you give me any tips?”

This question is typical of a number of emails that I’ve had over the past month. It seems that businesses are catching onto the power of blogs (or at least are perceiving them to be powerful) but both they and some of the bloggers they are hiring are unclear on how a business should use blogs.

Disclaimer – I’ve never written a ‘business blog’ and am not really sure I’m the person to be asking these questions as any expertise I might have is more in the type of blogging that earns income from ad or affiliate programs. As a result I’m looking forward to the opinions of readers who have more direct experience with business blogging – please feel free to share what you know in comments.

However having being asked the question numerous times – let me attempt to shed some light on the topic from my perspective….

Get Objectives Clear – the advice that I find myself giving to bloggers of all types is to think ahead of time about a blog’s goals and objectives. If I was being hired by a company to develop a blog I would work very hard at finding that company’s expectations for the blog out before starting it (actually – I’d find them out before accepting such a position).

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RSS: Blog’s Friend or Foe?

Is RSS is the downfall of building relationships and commerce on blogs? First, let’s set the record straight. I’ve drunk the kool aid. I get it. I love RSS and that new orange icon is pretty cute too. The ability to read huge amounts of information in one place, receive it at the second it’s published and not worry about email spam is awesome.

When Darren asked if I would help “blog-sit” ProBlogger I couldn’t say no. Last time I guest blogged here I met the talented Peter Flaschner from the BlogStudio. It led to a great bloggy relationship with Peter redesigning the skin of Diva Marketing. However, as creative as the design is, it doesn’t matter squat if the content of the blog is read in a reader. Nor do your ads or affiliate links show you the money if your readers never click through to your site.

Oh sure partial feeds may entice click throughs and not having live links in your feeds is another (spammy) way to go. Visitors coming in from the search engines might click on a link or two but it’s the folks who know and trust you who are most likely to click and convert…and that’s what makes the cash register ring or new sign-ups for your newsletter or site visits that go deeper into your blog. Keep in mind that comments and trackbacks are useless features without click-throughs to your blog.

What’s the solution? Should we kill off RSS? No way Jose! RSS is a valuable tool. Who wants to remember to click on Favorites on a daily basis?

The challenge is ours, as bloggers, to encourage those click-thoughts to the blog by creating -

1) enjoyable on-blog experience: look and feel, navigation, layout
2) providing information that can only be obtained by clicking through to your blog: podcasts, articles, photos, videos, terrific blogroll, archive links
3) including cues in your posts that talk about value-added content on your blog: new podcast tells how to go beyond the ProBlogger status to zillionarie!

Blogger achieves 5000% ROI from Blogging

Debbie Weil writes that Charlene Li has apparently brought in close to one million dollars in business to her employer, Forrester, in the last year – all through her blogging.

That’s a 5000% Return on Investment!

‘That’s based on her calculation that her $14.95 / month account with TypePad triggered $1 million in new business for Forrester last year.’

If that’s not the best argument for business blogging going around at the moment then I don’t know what is!

Blogonomics Blog Cruise

 Content Images Port Port Sequence Carib Carib Caw Fll 42C977F LgThe last few years have seen quite a few blog conferences but here’s one with a twist – Blogonomics – the world’s first floating blog conference!

I’ve been hearing about this one for a little while now and it’s just gone public – they’re actually running a Blog Cruise which takes off from Fort Lauderdale in Florida and sails to Mexico!

Confirmed speakers so far include Jeremy Wright, Jim Turner, Scott Goldblatt, Tris Hussey and B.L Ochman all of whom are great value bloggers.

The overall focus of the conference is Business blogging and the more details sub-topics include:

* Choosing and Developing Content
* Blog Metrics
* Return on Investment (ROI)
* Blog Marketing
* Using a Blog for a specific campaign
* Business Applications and RSS
* Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Monetization
* A Study in Real Life Business Blog Success

Sounds like a fun few days!

Yahoo offers Movable Type for business bloggers

Six Apart and Yahoo have announced a partnership as Yahoo will use MovableType as to provide small businesses with websites through it’s existing small business web site management service:

‘Yahoo will effectively act as the preferred provider of Movable Type for small business users, taking advantage of its scale and efficiency, Anil Dash, vice president of professional products for San Francisco-based Six Apart, said in a phone interview.

“This is going to be our recommended (sales) channel for small business,” he said.

Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo said it will offer commercial blogs based on Movable Type as part of its existing small business Web-site management service.

Yahoo provides customers with a unique Web address, blogging tools and business-class e-mail services with spam and virus protections for less than $12 a month.’

Congratulations to Anil and the team at MT.

found via blog herald

CEOs and Blogs – Mixed Opinions

news.com reports that 59% of CEOs believe blogs are a useful internal communication tool while 47% believe that they are useful for external communication. Of course this means that 41% and 53% are not so excited by blogs:

””Most CEOs are still in a wait-and-see mode when it comes to blogs, mainly due to time limitations and concerns about what they can say publicly,” Leslie Gaines-Ross, a research officer at Burson-Marsteller, said in a statement. “Even though there is greater awareness of the power of blogs today, CEOs may feel that employees expect them to be spending their time running the business.”‘

I’ve had emails and calls today from 5 Aussie company execs interested in blogging after this morning’s interview – looks like times could be changing here in Australia at last?

Online communities and integrating blogs into mainstream marketing campaigns

If you’ve got a spare 10 minutes can I recommend heading to Rachel’s blog and downloading a PDF that she’s posted that is the verbatim of a talk that she and her partner (that’s blog partner and life partner) Regan did to the New Zealand Marketing Association on the topic of blogging.

Rachel showed me the powerpoint for this presentation a day or two before they gave it and my reaction to her was that it is perhaps one of the most useful summaries of how blogging can be used in business that I’ve ever seen.

The presentation is called – The power of online communities and integrating blogs into mainstream marketing campaigns

It’s not a short article but it tells the story of Rachel and Regan – two bloggers that have quietly carved themselves a niche as two of the most prominent ‘go to’ business blogging gurus in their country. Their most prominent work is the massively successful idolblog which is a fan site for the New Zealand, Australian and American Idol shows. In NZ Rachel and Regan have become not only sought after experts on blogging but also on NZ idol – in fact every time I speak to them these days it seems that they’ve just done some sort of media appearance or another as a result of idolblog. Their story is well worth reading.

Business Blog Consulting Revived

I’ve been watching Business Blog Consulting with interest over the past few days – its gone from a blog that had become a little quiet to something that has now got a lot more activity due to Rick’s decision to make it into a group blog and include some excellent business blogging types. Look at the list of bloggers now involved!

La Shawn Barber of The Language Artist -Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing – Bob Bly of Bly Blog – Steve Broback of Avondale Media – Rich Brooks of Flyte – DL Byron of Textura Design – Paul Chaneyof Radiant Marketing – Henry Copeland of BlogAds – Jill Fallon of Estate Vaults – Josh Hallett of Hyku – Kevin Holland of Air Conditioning Contractors of America – Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World – Tris Hussey of Larix Consulting – John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing – BL Ochman of What’s Next Online – Michele Miller of Wonder Branding – Lee Odden of Top Rank Results – Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion – Todd Sattersten of A Penny For…Stephan Spencer of Netconcepts – Dave Taylor of Intuitive Life for Business – James Turner of One by One MediaDana VanDen Heuvel of BlogSavant – Des Walsh of Thinking Home BusinessDebbie Weil of WordBiz and BlogWrite – Andy Wibbels of Easy Bake Weblogs – Jeremy Wright of Ensight

That’s quite a list of very talented bloggers. So if you’re interested in Business Blogging (and even if you’re just into any sort of blogging) you’d do well to add it to your RSS feed. I just hope that they can keep the blog ticking over after the initial excitement of the new approach wears off because it would be a shame to lose this conversation.

Bloggers For Hire

Jim Turner has just let me know about a new blog he and others have started titled Bloggers For Hire – where it seems they are looking to provide companies interested in setting up corporate blogs with bloggers and bloggers interested in blogging for a living with companies. It looks like early days so far but its a service that there will be an increasing need for.