Can Every Biz Benefit from a blog?

Editor's Note: The video of the Blogging for Biz panel is now available at WordPress.TV – it is also added to the end of this post.
I had a great time at WordCamp Boulder.  Beth J. Hayden – of – and Jim Turner – of – shared the Blogging for Business Panel with me (Bethany Siegler of UniqueThink).  I heard there was video of it, so I won't repeat much of what was discussed.  And once I find it, I'll link to it.  In the meantime, I did want to add to the conversation we started about what types of businesses should be blogging.

It has long been my belief that ANY company CAN benefit from blogging.  As a panel we came up with the following, as some of the top reasons to consider blogging for your own biz:

  1. Get found online
  2. Build a community of people who trust your company will take care of and listen to them
  3. Communicate your meaningful difference, to let folks see how your products/services help resolve their situation

When our panel was asked if blogging was REALLY for every type of business, there was a discussion about whether a Dry Cleaner could truly build a successful blog.  My response: “YES, definitely!” and then I think I gave a few examples off the top of my head, like Green Cleaning Pros OR Cons.  I could come up with tons of post ideas people would like to read, there are endless topics, like treating your garment when the stain first occurs TO how to care for that antique quilt you inherited from Great Aunt Sally.

Then, to prove my theory about ANY business benefiting from blogging, I offered the audience an extreme example of a business blog. I was once in a conversation where someone asked, “Is it appropriate for a Mortician to have a business blog?”  And, to me there is no question, YES!, so I gave a quick example of a possible topic to the WordCamp audience.  Not everyone might be interested in that specific topic I mentioned, but if done correctly the overall blog could offer readers a great deal of trust and a level of comfort when picking out a funeral home.

As I mentioned earlier, I don't want to take the time to talk about what we already talked about at WordCamp (but you can find the video, if you want to hear the whole panel discussion.  And, if you do find the video before me, please let me know!).  For the rest of this post, I'd like to focus on how blogging can be good for every kind of business:

Now, when I say ANY company can benefit from a blog, I have to state the conversation Beth and I had after the panel.  We both agreed we should have stated:

There is one ‘type' of company who should not blog: A company who is NOT willing to make the commitment to blogging

However, what does that mean?  What is ‘the commitment to blogging'?  The commitment is about figuring out why you should be blogging and coming up with a strategy to make it happen.  And then, making it happen!

Below are some tips to get you started:

  • Understand the purpose of your blog.  Determine what you want your company and, most importantly, your readers to get out of the conversations. For instance, here are some good reasons to want to blog (you should want to do more than less of these):
    • Answer Frequently Asked Questions: Let people get to know your product/service better
    • Get visitors familiar with the company's philosophy: Helps to assure it's aligned with the customers' needs
    • Encourage Involvement: Gets the customers' to take actions, like commenting, to build a community and even share insights and ideas to help others
    • Become a thought leader in the industry: Share your knowledge of the overall industry, not just your products place in it
    • Learn from your clients:  Listening to what your readers have to say can help to create future services and products they want, instead of what you assume they might want
    • Engage with your community: Having a blog is a great way to get to know your customers' better.  The more back and forth dialogue, the better
  • Lay out a successful, effective and easily maintainable strategy:
    • Decide who will be contributing or better yet, ask the staff which portion of the following tasks they might be good at helping with: content manager, editor (if needed), writers, researchers, media/arts department (don't worry if you are all of the above – there are always tools to help)
    • Figure out how frequently you want content added and if that is a realistic goal, with staffs' other obligations – you can always adjust, but don't overload at first, or it may never happen
    • Determine the appropriate tools (WordPress is at the top of that list)
    • Plan an editorial calendar – just like the newspapers and magazines do.  This does not mean you can only write when something is on the calendar – it just makes it easier to know when some important dates or material needs to be added.  But go ahead and blog on a whim, if you have something of interest to share!
    • Set realistic goals, maybe you are unable to blog as often as you'd like, but when you do, it is great content!  Or maybe you only have time to do short posts summarizing things you read somewhere else, instead of heavily researched articles prepared in-house.  As long as it is relevant and informative, that is fine!
  • Follow through, start your blog and make sure to maintain it!

Please keep in mind, these are just suggestions, and they can be tailored to work for any company.  Maybe instead of you writing the content in-house, you hire a copywriter.  Or maybe you go to the local college and get an intern, if your budget is tight.

As far as a ‘type of business', there really aren't any businesses that I can think of who could not benefit from a blog.  If you have a business and don't think your readers would be interested in reading your blog, why not give me a chance to brainstorm an idea or two, by commenting below.  And if you just want to challenge me, just name a biz that you don't think could find material worth blogging about, to their specific audience and let me see if I could come up with a couple of content ideas.  Post your thoughts and challenges in the comment box below…

Watch the Blogging For Biz Panel at WordCamp Boulder: (Note: It is a 45 min video, so may take time to load – and looks like nothing is happening.  If you have issues, you can also go directly to WordPress.TV to view it there, along with the rest of WordCampBoulder).

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