Monday, October 16, 2006

Blogging Is Just Instant Publishing: Ask Before You Leap
Angela Booth

If you're new to blogging, or can't get your head around the whole "online journal" concept, relax. Blogging is merely instant publishing. If you're too concerned about the idea of an online journal, you're missing the whole point about blogging. Think of a blog as a business tool.
Essentially, blogging is not about you. It's about your audience, and what blogging will help you to do for them. Right now. Instantly.
Before you plunge into choosing a blogging service or platform, ask yourself some questions:
* Who's my audience?
* What challenges will my blog help my audience to solve?
* What do I want to achieve?
* What challenges could blogging help me to solve?
Let's look at these questions. Please write down the questions, and the answers, because the questions and answers will predict your blogging success, or the lack of it.
If you already have a blog, and you're not happy about the way your blog is performing, the solutions lie in the answers you give to these four questions.
1. Who's My Audience?
Who are you creating your blog for? If you're running a business, who is the target audience for your business? This target audience is the audience for which you're creating your business's blog.
Let's say you own a restaurant. It's an up-market seafood restaurant. Your target audiences are your current customers, and potential customers.
2. What Challenges Will My Blog Help My Audience to Solve?
As an instant publishing tool, your blog can help your audience to solve their problems. Indeed, your blog MUST do this, if it's going to be successful.
In our seafood restaurant example, the owner knows that his target audience is in their thirties, and forties, they're well off, and they're not only interested in good food, but they're also in the age group where they're starting to think about their health.
So the challenges he can help them to solve include helping them to learn more about food and wine so they can increase their enjoyment, he can also help them to learn more about eating well in order to preserve good health. Once the owner knows what challenges his audience face, many, many ideas for blog content will occur to him.
3. What Do I Want to Achieve?
Why blog? What can a blog do for you, or for your business? As an instant publishing tool, creating a blog is much faster than creating a Web site. A blog also has features which make it attractive to the search engines. Therefore, a blog is likely to get more traffic than a static site. Once you have traffic, you can convert that traffic into dollars in any way you wish.
In our example, our restaurant owner might have many aims. He may want to attract customers, but also to attract restaurant reviewers for free publicity. He may also want to become known in the restaurant industry so he can make industry contacts.
4. What Challenges Could Blogging Help Me to Solve?
Everyone has challenges. Make a list of challenges that you face in your business. Can blogging help you to solve a few of them?
Our restaurant owner has a couple of major challenges. His is the third seafood restaurant to open in the area, and he doesn't have an established clientele. Advertising is expensive, but he needs to advertise constantly.
A blog can help him to get higher search engine rankings, and pick up new customers.
Take a few minutes to answer the four questions. It will be time well spent. When you have your answers, you will not only know why you should blog, but also how you can help your blog's audience.
Angela Booth is a veteran copywriter and blogger. Her ebook, Blogging For Dollars: How to become a career blogger -- in your PJs, if you want, is available at
http://www.abmagic.com/Blog/blogging.html
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