Why blog for your small business? Guest Column from Feedblitz Founder

Feedblitz is a blogging service that enables bloggers to have their posts emailed to readers. I asked Phil Hollows, Founder and CEO of Feedblitz, to write a guest column.
What, you, blog? Surely you’re too busy running the business to have time to blog. Feel that you don’t have anything to say? Worried about learning yet another new technology?
All these are legitimate concerns. But you’re reading a blog now. I’ll show you how blogging can be an easy, effective and fun part of your online marketing efforts.
What is a blog again?
Technically speaking, a blog is merely a web site. Nothing fancy there. Just a web site. Simply put, what sets a blog apart from other sites is that the technology producing it – content management – is really, really easy to use. All you have to do is write your article (or “post” in blog-speak), press the button, and it’s done. The blog software or service you use automates the web site’s formatting, organization and navigation for you. Put another way, blogging is powerful but painless web site production. No IT gurus needed to update it.
So maintaining and adding new content to this web site (I’ll call it a blog from now on) is really easy. Anyone can do it – just post your article; done. And because it’s so easy, blogs are frequently updated. Posts are usually short: easily written and easily digested.
Better yet for the entrepreneurial small business: they’re excellent value. Good blogging solutions range from free to under $100 per month, for the really heavy duty ones. They’re proprietary or open source, software or service. You have plenty of excellent choices.
So What?
Now this is where it gets interesting for small businesses like you or me. Blogs include commenting facilities, so now the web can talk back to you. Immediate, free market feedback. You get engaged with your readers, and they with you.
You can also be much more informal in your blog. None of stiffness, cost and painful approval process associated with shipping a formal press release. You can be yourself and talk about your firm, your industry, your community, in a much more relaxed and personal tone. Since you’re passionate about your work, this is where it gets to be fun.
Timely and Relevant Marketing Communications
Blogging, because it’s fast and easy, also brings immediacy to your marketing communications that you can’t get any other way. Use your blog to simplify:
ï Announcements and press coverage.
ï Industry analysis and commentary.
ï Event notification and breaking news.
ï Thought leadership.
ï Comments on local news.
ï Customer service bulletins.
ï Sales successes and case studies.
ï Technical tips.
ï An occasional column.
ï Internal company announcements.
ï Newsletter generation.
By enabling you to be timely and relevant, in your own voice, your blog enables you to differentiate personally and commercially. By blogging little and often, you’ll find that your most avid fans – and prospects – will turn into something else: subscribers. Repeat visitors. Leads.
Leveling the Search Engine Field
Anyone with an online presence frets about the search engines like Google. What page am I on? Where are my competitors? How are my CPC and CPM ads performing?
Well here’s the thing about blogs. Search engines love them. Why? Because search engines love content that changes a lot, is relevant and often linked to. Blogs change a lot because they’re so easy to use. They’re relevant because you’re writing them. Blogs also attract links from other bloggers. Bottom line: For the right search terms, you may find a blog entry of yours quickly marching up towards the top of the search engine results pages, especially if other bloggers in your industry link to it.
Using a blog you can gain an equal online footing with larger competitors. In fact, many large, established businesses are nervous about adding blogs to their marketing arsenal, so you can use this to your advantage. A blog can help you gain more site visitors via the search engines even with rampant CPC price inflation. You can use your entrepreneurial energy and appetite for risk with your blog to run rings around the other guys.
Built On Blogging – Be More for Less Money
The other great thing about blogs and related technologies, such as the RSS feed that a blog can generate, is that there is a wealth of systems and services out there that can make you more efficient at what you’re already doing – and save some cash to boot.
For example, search engines can let you save a search as an RSS query – a machine readable form of the results. Using an RSS aggregator (a software or hosted service that brings feeds together for you to more easily read and manage them) you can set up searches on yourself and your major competitors. Every hour or so, you’ll be able to find what the web is saying about you and those other guys. It’s invaluable information, it’s fast and it’s free.
You can also use your blog to replace other services you use. Got a newsletter? Traditional newsletter services can be a pain to use. You have to upload your text, sync subscribers, decide what you are and are not going to track, choose a list, format it, test it – and finally ship it. It’s time consuming, you have limits on your mailings, and there’s no web-based archive of your newsletter – so the search engines will never find it.
Marketing 2.0 – Your Blog Can Be Your Newsletter
Blog based solutions, such as my company’s (FeedBlitz), enable you to automatically build your newsletter from your blog. Once you have the service configured the way you want, all you have to do is post your article(s) to the blog. That’s all. FeedBlitz filters the articles, formats them, sets up the link, open and bounce handling, and mails the newsletter for you – automatically. Your blog is your newsletter, and instead of all that time wasted, you’re productive again. True story: One of our customers used to spend three days a week managing multiple newsletters with a traditional vendor. With FeedBlitz, they have all that time back, with no limits on the size of their mailing lists or how often they can mail. What could you do with an extra hour or 24 a week?
Blogs also let you explore other ways of distributing content, such as RSS feeds. By giving your readers a choice of how they read your content – online, via RSS or via email – you’ll grow your audience, and ultimately your business.
So why should you blog?
ï It’s easy and fast: you have the time.
ï It’s affordable: you have the money.
ï It sets you and your business apart: easy differentiation.
ï It gets you more engaged with your market: leads.
ï It’s great for search engines: Google, anyone?
ï It can save you time and money: chore-free newsletters.
ï It’s easy to try: sign up with a free service.
ï It’s fun!
Convinced yet? No more excuses. Why aren’t you blogging for your business?

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