Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The value of business blogs

When business associates or friends hear that I have a blog, their inevitable question is: "what does it do for your business?" A good question.

The answer: nothing at all directly. In fact, overtly commercial business blogs weighed down with advertising (here's an example), not to mention overt spam blogs, better get a lot of click-throughs because the ads are intrusive and annoying, and compromise the authority of the blog. And forget about repeat visitors. They're like high-pressure car dealerships--people never buy more than once.

But we're businesspeople, right? While there are tens of millions of virtual exhibitionists, anxious to share their innermost thoughts, day-to-day activities or even more, we're in it for other reasons. What might those be?

  1. A way to keep the knives in the drawers sharp. The requirement to post daily to a blog means you need to be constantly curious and aware of what's going on in your area of interest. You have to read a lot to find material and think some as well. Otherwise, you'll have nothing to post.
  2. A dialogue with knowledgeable people in your field. Blogs, via comments and links, allow us to have conversations without meeting or even talking on the phone.
  3. A multi-megabyte calling card. When someone asks me--a friend, a prospect--what I'm doing for business, I send them to my website, of course. And then I tell them: if you really want to know what I'm thinking about, read the blog. And they do.
  4. Last but not least, a way to interest people your services. This is admittedly very indirect. If someone reads the blog, and he likes what's in there, and happens to need help, he might reach out. It's not the main purpose of the blog, but it's a purpose nonetheless.
So, for an effective business blog: work on the content, make yourself visible, connect with people. Keep the ads, if you must have them, limited and low-key.

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