by Katy Tafoya,
Ladies Who Launch member, Los Angeles
Have you ever considered using blogging to help spread the word about your business, or to put yourself out there as an expert? According to a recent BlogHer survey , “36.2 million women actively participate in the blogosphere every week.” We’re talking about women so passionate about their blogs that they’re more willing to give up alcohol, PDAs, iPods, newspapers, and magazines than their blogging habit.
All those women just might be on to something. So here’s a quick guide to help make the blogosphere a little less daunting …
What Is Blogging?
Blogging is a platform where anyone can become a published writer at the push of a button. It can be anything from a daily journal to a group of links to a source of information or even a sales pitch. Blogs can consist of text, audio clips, video, music, photos, recipes, how-to tips— really, anything you can think of. Readers of the blog can type in their comments at the bottom of each entry.
Maintaining a blog is actually quite simple. If you can chat with your girlfriends, mother, sister, or co-workers, then you can blog. Just be honest and insightful. Keep the tone casual and breezy. Use short blocks of text and try to stick to one topic per post (it doesn’t always work that way, so don’t stress over this). An easy recipe for blogging: Write about a problem and offer up a solution.
How Can Blogging Help My Business?
Search engines like Web sites that are updated on a regular basis. Search engines love blogs because they are updated regularly. In addition, with more content available in a blog than in a static Web site, there is a greater likelihood that your business will show up more than once in search results.
With blogging you establish your own voice and lay your claim on a piece of the Internet. Blogging is much like creating an interactive newsletter. It enables you to have a conversation and be part of a community where you can interact with potential customers.
What Do I Need to Start Blogging?
Starting a blog is simple and only requires a few basic tools: a computer, Internet access, blogging software (I recommend WordPress; you can download it for free at http://wordpress.org/), and something to blog about. You do not need your own Web site to blog. In fact, many small businesses use a blog as their Web site since they are often free or inexpensive. (And remember that you can also create your own blog in the Ladies Who Launch online network.)
How Often Should I Blog?
Any form of marketing takes an investment of time, and a successful blog does too. If you’re writing your own blog, you should consider posting at least two to three times a week. The more consistent you are, the more readily your readers will follow along and the more content you’ll have out there for the search engines to find. The more easily you and your business can be found in search results, the more likely you’ll be contacted by interested parties, who may either be seeking someone in your field to be called upon as an expert, or by someone who might be interested in your products or services.
If you think that you might not be ready for the time investment needed to start your own blog, then offer to guest blog for other sites that relate to your field. You’re an expert in what you do; don’t be afraid to share your knowledge. It’s a win/win situation for all involved—your name and brand get out there and the site hosting your guest blog doesn’t have to write its own content for that day.
Additionally, you should be leaving comments on at least five relevant blogs a couple of times a week. When you leave comments, you naturally leave links back to your blog (by creating a hyperlink out of your name—this is automatic). Again, these incoming links to your blog help your search-engine rankings and can lead to potential new readers and new customers. Just remember that your comments should be relevant and not spammy.
How Do I Find Good Blogs to Read?
If you’re looking for blogs to read, here are three easy ways to find some:
1. You can do a Google search under “Blogs” (use the pull-down menu under “More” on the main Google search page, then click on “Blogs”). Search using any keywords or topics that interest you.
2. Once you’ve found a blog or two that you like, look to see if they have a sidebar list of other blogs (sometimes called a “blogroll”). The blogroll is like a personal recommendation list of blogs that this particular writer reads, likes, or finds useful.
3. Pay attention to the reader comments: If you like what someone has to say, click on their name and it will link back to their site.
Like anything related to building your brand and marketing, blogging is just something you should do. Take a moment and schedule it into your calendar. If you’re confused, ask for help or take a class. You never know, you just might find yourself enjoying it. Those 36.2 million women must be having fun and learning something to keep them coming back day after day.
Katy Tafoya is a member of the Los Angeles Incubator and the owner and editor of ConstantChatter.com, an interactive online women’s community and blog.