Hi, I'm Tony, a Web Services Consultant (WSC) based in Woodbridge, NJ. Most of my professional years were spent in commission sales as a real estate sales associate, real estate broker, mortgage broker and mortgage lender representative, a position in which I spent the last twelve years of my sales career before being forced into an early retirement which I hadn't anticipated. Currently I manage the online activities and business operations of TPJaveton & Associates, a Web-based entity I established at my New Jersey residence in 2009, with the intentions of generating continuous income after leaving the mortgage lending business. However, because my departure from mortgage lending came sooner than I expected, I now devote most of my time to the WSC activities.

Increasing Business Exposure Via the Blog

Blog: Practical for business!

The business blog has become a practical Web marketing tool that can save its owner thousands of dollars, while providing excellent and unique business opportunities with just a simple click of the mouse. Blogs have come to be known as user-friendly, customized and flexible media for disseminating useful information and posting effective propmotions of the owner’s products, services and/or brand cognizance.

Companies that engage in business blogging are considered to have a definite edge over their competitors, although that edge is not always immediately evident; but some of those advantages that can be recognized and sufficiently described are evidenced below.

Word-of-Mouth is the first such advantage and was identified in a survey conducted in the early years of blogging. It was determined at the time that 14 million blogs were in existence and 80,000 more were being added each day; but perhaps most stunning revelation during those years, was the finding which indicated that about 30 percent of the 50 million Web users at that time were blog readers.

Essential to the business blog

Of course the Web-use growth rate has exploded since those early days, but can you imagine how much benefit your company would have derived if your products and services were advertised through blogs even back then? And today, as was true then, information spreads so quickly via the Web that the advantages are even more pronounced, especially if an impressive write-up accompanies a particular product or service. Word-of-Mouth, if used strategically smart can ensure that your blogs will be shared with hundreds of potential customers.

Awareness and loyalty is another of those advantages of business blogging, but is dependent on open communication with the business’ customers, if that business expects to create trust and loyalty among them. In other words, being there (available) to provide prompt and satisfactory responses to customers’ questions and comments make them all the more willing to sample the business’ products and services.

Feedback is of course, a valuable resource of any business, and feedback from the readers of a business blog might be even more of an asset to that business because blogs have been proven to be good for product research and reviews in that regard. If you own a business, it would be easier to improve on your products by observing your customers’ thinking and behavioral patterns via your business blog; and you would also be able to take immediate action to allay your customers’ concerns.

The daily trade show effect

The community halo-effect, although not as distinctly identifiable as feedback, is nontheless a desired result of the business blogger; because, as has been said on more than one occasion, bloggers are reasonable, friendly and helpful people who are more than willing to create a blogosphere of comments regarding any product they like, and if the product is yours, you get that benefit. The only thing you have to do is embrace ongoing events and take an active part in the culture which should lead to product being considered in their next stop to the supermarket.

For better marketing results, actively promote your business blogs by submitting them to blog search sites and directories; but be mindful to paste your blog URL in with the title and description of your blogs; and be sure that your blogs contain exclusive information with value and are kept updated so as to keep readers visiting your site and reading your blog; and before moving on to the next site, clicking again for updates.

A business blog is like a setup booth set up daily in the biggest trade show on earth with marketing possibilities just around the corner waiting to pump up sales volume. Add to that the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, which are as important as anything else mentioned already; and when used in conjunction with your blogs, RSS feeds will likely improve your business bottom line. Use effective keyword phrases to generate high ranking status in the search engine traffic, which will also help to improve the chances of people finding your website leading to your blog and increasing traffic which means more potential sales.

Setting up the blogging project

For this aspect of business blogging to be successful, you can use RSS for news update feeds, which can be read through the RSS reader application. This is a very useful tool for business blogs as well as internet marketing blos. But if you are already convinced of the potential of a business blog for marketing and targeting sales increases, your company’s readiness for blogging should be complete. However, you must be in tuned with your company’s business objectives and determine if blogging will really help you achieve them.

Consider the following when setting up your business blogging project:

1. Many blogs are dedicated to teaching people the do’s and don’ts of blogging, so them! Include in your reading materials blogs that are consumer-based also to get an idea.

2. Setup several test blogs right away.

If your initial effort with blogs worked well, you can start to set up your blogging enterprise along the lines of these modest suggestions:

Blogging setup considerations

1. Study blog design. Blog hosting services provide pre-designed templates. But if you opt for paid blog service, you can ask your graphic designer to create a design and layout your blog site to match the company’s identity and needs.

2. Choose a topic. Its good to have a line-up of topics you want for your blogs, but be sure they are relevant to your business objectives. This would be a test of your flexibility and open-mindedness, since results could go contrary to those objectives.

3. Remember the following safety measures in blogging:

  • legal issues are sometimes involved in blogging; it is safer to include disclaimers and limitations of liabilities;
  • corporate communication and legal department are responsible in educating the senior management on how blogs might affect business;
  • create blogging policies; set limits on who gets to blog and what information are allowed to be made public;
  • avoid outright marketing blog or you will shy away your readers;
  • make content updated, relevant and fresh;
  • reinforce the company’s core values; and,
  • encourage employees to use it.

4. Start blogging and complete 20 posts before going to marketing.

5. Regularly monitor the coming ins and outs of readers and get updates. Then, measure your results.

6. Adjust if needed. You can always play with your designs in the blog site as long as it remains to match the company’s identity.

7. Strive to be consistent with your topic all the time.

8. Try to have unrelated topics with general and broad appeal.

9. Schedule updates regularly. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday would be best to update blogs.

Once you have done all these things, you can now ultimately enjoy the benefits of business blogging.

About Blog Designs and Increased Readership

Blogs have evolved

Blogs have increased in popularity over the past years due to a number of reasons, including their ease of use, improved technology and the low out-of-pocket cost associated with starting one; and many people have created personal blogs to express their thoughts and feelings, as well as to publish business-related content. Web-based companies have also started blogs to inform consumers on the latest product news and reviews.

Because of their popularity, blogs are also being used by major corporations as Web marketing media, a departure from the pattern of how Web marketing was done before, which is the placement of banners and links on popular websites, such as news and information sites. These banners and links were also included with newsletters and marketing materials sent to members of the company’s mailing lists.

The truth is that many people spend time reading blogs; whether they be their friend’s blogs, their favorite author’s blogs, blogs on topics in which they are interested, and/or blogs on product reviews; and with the continued popularity of blogging, some established news entities even fear that people will rely on blogs more and more to get the latest news.

While getting news reports from blogs isn’t always reliable, some people look for product reviews published to blogs, because in some cases, this is more dependable than a traditional marketing website or Web page, both of which are designed strictly to making the sale. While it is true that some media persons are being paid to write good reviews about certain products, blog writers blog about their actual experiences with products and services from particular companies.

Traffic-pulling blog content

Since there are Web users who read and start their own blog-sites, blogs are considered today as a good medium in which to market a product; and with the increasing blog traffic comes increasing product sales. Blog traffic can be increased by joining affiliate programs and sites, which will list your blog under a certain search category or name; and a blog owner can also have his/her blog advertised on popular websites. This, however, will cost some money and is not advisable if you have just started blogging.

A writer who has just launched his/her blog will want as much traffic as possible in order to increase advertisements on the site; and it is important to attract the right businesses, because some advertisers pay every time their link is clicked, or the page that has their link is viewed. And when you, as a blog owner, have increased traffic on your blog, you should try to keep your visitors coming back as well as recommend your blog to friends, relatives and colleagues.

Part of attracting a large readership to your blog is by having informative and, sometimes, amusing content and good blog layout and design. You can develop your own content or you can acquire the services of a web-based content writer to provide you with the most interesting and compelling blog articles. The blog’s layout and design also plays a big role; but most companies that offer free blog hosting provide pre-selected templates, even though there are a few that allows customization which, if you utilize this feature correctly, can increase your blog’s traffic.

Blog-growth tips and designs

The few tips provided below can be used to make your blog stand out from the millions of blogs out there that have standard designs.

Customize the banner, which usually have the most generic designs common to blogs from a blogging company or service; but you can personalize this banner by having your graphic meet the required dimensions of the banner. You can also edit the graphic so that it will include the title of your blog also. In this case, you can create your own graphic or you can purchase professional looking graphics online for less than $10.

Personalizing photos will certainly help, and most of the photos you’ll be posting are likely to be your own – not necessarily of yourself, but photos you have taken of other people and objects. However, if you don’t customize the photos before posting them, you may miss maximizing the enhancing benefits graphics can add to the page. Adding photo borders can help the photo stand out from the page, which can add to the design of your blog. You can choose a standard border or you can create your own border which might be associated with your blog’s templates.

Adding a favicon to your blog has wide appeal among blog users and owners. Do you agree with those who think that sites with icons on the address bar before the website’s URL are cool? Many people share this belief. These favicons add a professional look to the URL, and its easy to do using photo or graphic editing software.

Blog template additions

Check out blog templates, layouts, backgrounds, textures and skins from sites, since there are a number of sites that offer free blog templates, layouts, backgrounds, textures and skins. You can make use of these so your blog will not look generic like most of the blogs hosted by the service provider.

Include RSS feeds, since this inclusion is really a cool way to inform people with newsreaders about your blog headlines. You can find tutorials on RSS feeds and how to create and install them on the Web.

Audio makes your blog more personal, not only from a standpoint of personalizing the blog, but it can also keep your visitors coming back. You can try to utilize streaming radio stations, mp3 files or playlists loading with your blog.

Advertisements are excellent sources of income for blog owners who are committed to growing their audience; and one such advertising source is Google AdSense. So if you have signed-up with Google AdSense, which many blog and website owners have done in an attempt to monetize their sites, make sure that the ads are conveniently practically placed so that they will not hinder your readers’ ease in accessing the information on your blog.

Etc., etc., etc.

These tips are provided to help you increase and retain traffic on your blog; but they are only good aad effective when being used correctly and appropriately; so do your research, get as much information as you can about these elements of blogging and make sure you understand clearly what you are supposed to do before proceeding the implementation of the them.

Software and Hosting for the Topical Blogger

Blogging: The adaptable medium

The Internet has certainly made great strides since those heady days of the “dot com boom;” so much so that today anyone who has writing ability, or aspirations of being a writer has probably already written a blog on the Web. This is because there are various types of blog software are simple to learn and easy to use; and this means that both the individual who is technically proficient, as well as the one who is technically challenged, can easily acquire a blog and write regularly.

For some individuals, blogs serve as projects about every day living, as they talk about their daily activities and make tributes to friends and family. Furthermore, blogs assume a profound meaning when written to compose and assemble political statements, endorse a product, provide information on research, and even offer tutorials. Chances are that any subject which is of interest to you has already been written about in a blog.

Modern-day blogs are now being written by musicians, politicians, sports figures, novelists, newscasters and actors, as well as other known figures. However, the kind of blog excitement (fever?) that existed at the onset of this newfound vocation has also raised its share of controversy. The fact that anyone can compose a blog post regarding any subject matter under the sun invites complaints about certain write-ups that are at issue. In many blogs people’s names have been mentioned in not-so-flattering ways, and this is often the source of such consternation and threats of legal action.

It is therefore important to keep in mind that, although an individual may have the freedom and tools to write anything that interests him/her in a blog, it doesn’t mean that s/he should not be responsible for the manner in which s/he put content in the public domain, expecially when that content includes information about others. In other words, bloggers should avoid making statements which can become controversial, unless those statements are fully sourced by other reputable media. So be prepared, and be very careful about the content provided in your blog.

Why people blog

Some folks blog for personal reasons which might include their acquaintances and relationships, while others blog as a hobby. An individual can write a blog about his/her daily activities, and about things related to his/her life as a way of telling family and friends certain things that s/he might not have been able to express verbally (in a face-to-face talk). Likewise, an individual may also write a blog just so s/he can express certain feelings about self, or about a certain subject matter that is of interest to him/her.

Other bloggers prefer to be more topical, in the sense that the blogs they maintain are committed to a specific topic, which could be as broad in range as it is different; and might be about computer hardware, religion or politics. These types of blogs are read frequently like magazines, and similar to print media they have a regular and devoted following.

Then there are those who blog for profit by using their blogsite as a marketing tool. This category of bloggers might also include corporations, which also into blogging; and when these blogs are well written and implemented, they can be powerful instruments for business communications, thereby creating eagerness and anticipation about the their products and services they offer. The corporate blog have also been used as tool within the company to keep employees well informed about company issues and news.

The choice of software

A typical Web designer or software developer might get a chuckle at the notion of utilizing software developed by someone else. This is because most software developers, while knowledgeable in the field of digital technology and computer science, often adhere to the architecture and fundamentals of their own software platforms, especially when software features and platforms that a client may have differ greatly from ththat of the developer’s. When it comes to a Weblog software, however, there is no reason for concern when using a package that is pre-written, as most packages were developed through years of study; not just shuffled together over a couple of days.

In addition, one may study a platform’s feature set; but for a developer, it would take a lot of time and effort to write and compose from scratch, every single feature in the blog software packages of today. For most people, a blog is there for one main reason, and that is to publish or make known his/her literature and content that exist on the Web, which meanst that the blogger can spend more of his/her time creating and writing content, instead of coding, if s/he has the ability to code.

Hosted services

Finding a Web hosting service for a blog is perhaps one of the easiest and most affordable (many are free) of all the tasks a blogger might do when s/he decides to start broadcasting on the Web; so not having web host to provide space for your blog should not be a deterent to blogging. In fact some of the services that s/he might consider looking into, are Web hosts that include Blogger, TypePad, Live Journal, and WordPress (the hosted version) in their hosting packages.

These services are operated or handled for an individual, so there is no need for a new blogger to concern him/herself one about technical upkeep of the blog; instead, s/he can concentrate on the blog’s appearance and content. In just minutes, after signing up for a hosting account, the blogger can actually start his/her own blog. Many of those services, such as blogger, are offered free, except TypePad, which charges a minimal amount for monthly service fee.

Self-hosted services

When a blogger has Web hosting on hand, or is eager to buy hosting, in which s/he feels that the advantage will prevail over the problems of keeping up his/her own blog connection and installation, then s/he may want to consider a package that is self-hosted. These platforms include Movable Type, Textpattern and WordPress (“5 minute installation”).

Other hosting companies did construct processes of making installation easier, by permitting installation with just a click from a control panel that is browser-based. It is important that a blogger checks with the hosting company so that s/he can determine whether or not this function is offered. Similar to hosted services, some self hosted packages are made available either for free or for a small fee which is dependent on the type of package that a blogger chooses, as well as the basis upon which s/he is using it.