This is another post aimed at those thinking of getting a blog. All you experienced bloggers are welcome to leave comments and links to their own posts that will be helpful to newbies.
In promoting my upcoming workshop Hands On: Your Own Blog (Set up your own blog in a morning!) I’ve been asked this question many times so thought a post was in order.
Why you need a blog:
1) If you don’t have a website already. Setting up a blog with an easy to use blogging platform like WordPress, Blogger, Movable Type, etc. gives you an inexpensive site that you can update yourself. If you have a little experience with computers, are happy to use a free blogging platform and a free to use theme, the blog could cost nothing to set up. If you need to hire a professional designer to install the blog for you or to do a custom design, with your own domain and hosting; the blog could cost from a couple hundred euro on up. See more about choosing a blogging platform on the post Before You Start Your Blog.
2) If you do have a website your blog can be added as a separate section where you can include news and other current information that would be of interest to your visitors. If you are concerned about portraying a certain image on your site, you can use your blog to lighten up a little — as people expect a blog to be a little more personal and conversational. Your blog is also a way to show off your expertise in your field with your insights on news and current trends.
3) Most of the popular blog platforms (as noted above) are developed to be EASY; easy to add posts, easy for your visitors to add comments (that are easy to delete if they are just rubbish) and register to find out when the blog is updated, easy add-ons with cool features (like lists of friends, calendars, videos, etc.)
4) Easy, also, for search engines to find and index so search engines love them and index mostly on a daily basis. There are easy to install Search Engine Optimization plug-ins that make your blog have even better results in search engines. Some search engines, like Google, have a separate blog index as well, so you may get double coverage.
5) RSS Feeds – RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and it’s true. The blogging platform generates a feed (which is really just a file in a specific format) that can then be picked up on other sites, wherever you or your subscribers want to see the feed – like a feed reader. This means that people don’t have to remember to come back to your site to see if you’ve added something new. They can read your posts where and when they want to. RSS feeds can also be used in Widgets so your posts can be displayed on your main site or a social networking site (like MySpace, Facebook, etc.)
6) Media professionals use the Internet to research story ideas. These days you will see so many ideas started in bloggers or with references to blogs. With your blog you can be part of it.
7) The Irish Blogging community rocks! You may not be looking for a new group of friends, but a lot of bloggers in Ireland (and probably other regions) are very helpful to those starting out and you can build a network of blogs and bloggers in related fields that will help promote your own blog and business.
8) Blogs integrate well with your whole online marketing strategy – yes you should have one of these to make sure you are taking advantage of all the Internet has to promote your business! I have a friend that says email marketing is the glue between your online marketing efforts and I say that your blog can be the petrol that really gets it moving.
9) Your blog won’t take over all your spare time – at least it shouldn’t. If you are focused and organise your time you can have an interesting and current blog without spending more time than you can afford to give.
Who shouldn’t have a blog?
If you absolutely:
– cannot stand the thought of putting your thoughts down for the world to see (many people are like this);
– will not find 2-3 hours at least once a week (as there’s nothing worse than a blog that has a couple of posts from a year ago);
– do not have a target market that uses the Internet at all (but it’s very hard to imagine any businesses with many customers like that).
If you still have questions, you can comment here and I will reply, or come along to Hands On: Your Own Blog workshop this Friday! If there is a demand we will be putting on additional workshops.