Monday, October 02, 2006

Blogging as a Business Tool: Reading and Writing Effectively
Laura Watkins

Simply put, gaining relevant and cutting edge business information should be at the forefront of any good business plan. There are tried and true ways of accomplishing this: subscribing to business magazines geared towards your industry, attending trade-related conferences, or networking with colleagues; all serve their own purpose but essentially target the same result—to acquire valuable, industry-relevant information.
Whether you provide corporate information or intend to supply it, one avenue you may not have considered is blogging. “Blogging,” or writing a blog or weblog is an online journal of sorts, whereby the blogger self-publishes information that he or she deems relevant. Regardless of whether or not you are all that familiar with the blogosphere (a term created to reference the culture of all things blog), you should begin to ask yourself, “How does blogging impact me and my business?”
There are a number of ways in which a blog can benefit those interested in pursuing its offerings, particularly those in smaller businesses. According to Darrell Zahorsky of About.com, “Blogging is a low-cost alternative to having a web presence. For small business owners without the time to learn web html or the money to hire a designer/developer, blogging offers an inexpensive method to get your company's name out on the Internet.”
Even the blogging industry itself has become a business. Businessblogconsulting.com is dedicated to “demonstrating how effective weblogs can be for communicating with customers and marketing to new customer prospects.” Proof that blogging is becoming a significant business opportunity. Blogging also offers quick results to those with precious little time. “Updating the weblog [blog] is a much quicker process than contacting a web designer with changes or doing the coding and uploading yourself” (Zahorsky). It also allows for fresh material to be added at the poster’s convenience, so it seems more current and up-to-date than traditional business sites, which also gives visitors a reason to keep coming back to the site. Sheila Ann Manuel Coggins, writer for About.com, agrees:
“Brick and mortar stores put up new items in display windows regularly. Retail shops are always looking for new items to add to the list of products available. Services are often reviewed and updated. Even restaurants and cafes with a regular menu come up with a 'Special of the Day' for a bit of variation. All business owners know this: customers love seeing new things. If they know that they like the things they see in a business establishment, they would keep coming back. They like to check for what's new or what's different.”
Blog readers and writers alike may also be drawn to the unique look and feel of a blog. In fact, many blogs, (even those with business content) give the impression of that of a personal journal laden with exclusive ideas and suggestions, rather than the stiff, unwelcoming refuse that a fair deal of business sites employ.
Businesses should essentially view the blog as a tool in which they can affordably and quite easily project the image of their choosing, while those individuals seeking industry-related information can relish in the fact that the vast, cold world of the corporate Internet is made to seem a little smaller, and a fair bit friendlier, one business blog at a time.

About the Author:
Laura Watkins is a contributing business writer for
http://www.goliath.ecnext.com Goliath is one of the Internet’s largest collections of business research, news and information.
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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Tips on the Art of the Blog
Mary Baker

1) Blogs that are event driven are easier to write.
I have three blogs. The most successful blog is the blog about where I live, Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Newburyport is a wonderful small seaport New England city with a whole lot of interesting things going on. The blog is called the Newburyport Political Blog.
The Newburyport Political Blog is the easiest of my three blogs because it is event driven. There are days when I put up 2-4 posts. I do not have to come up with new and exciting information, because new and exciting things are happening all the time in Newburyport, MA.
2) Search engines appear to like blogs that post on a regular basis.
3) I have found that the tone of the blog is really important.
Instead of using verbs like "can, will, should," I use verbs like "would, could, might, may." That one tip is huge. It helps readers listen to what is written, whereas otherwise they might be on the defensive.
4) A fourth tip would be to keep blog posts relatively short, 450-700 words. My experience is that Internet readers have a much shorter attention span than readers of the printed word.
5) If there were a long post, another tip would be to break the post into shorter blog postings.
6) I find that if I use the first person and state that it is my opinion or my understanding that also makes the blog more reader friendly.
7) If I would like to introduce a subject, I try and do it slowly and incrementally, often over 3-7 posts. This is another huge tip.
Often I begin by introducing the subject at the end of the first blog post. The next post has the subject at the beginning of the blog post. And then following blog posts have the subject in the blog post headline as well as in the text itself.
8) The last tip is that I find that search engines tend to pick up key words in the blog post headline much more easily than they would in the actual content of the blog post.
© Mary Baker 2006
Mary Baker is a professional artist whose studio is in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Mary has her own art website, Mary Baker Art and her own art blog Mary Baker Art-Blog.
Mary is also very involved in Newburyport issues and politics. In the civic world in Newburyport, MA, Mary is known as Mary Baker Eaton.
The The Newburyport Political Blog is about issues and politics in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Even though you might not live in Newburyport, MA, the Newburyport Political Blog is fun to read. The blog has been written about in a number of publications, including The Boston Globe.

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