As blogging has become increasingly popular, you may have decided that because everyone else is doing it, you should too. Around the world, companies and individuals are writing blogs as a way to discuss topics of interest. Some do this as a hobby while others make it a full-time job. For those who are making a full-time income from blogging, part of their revenue stream is achieved by receiving money from advertising. More on this later.

If you think you should start blogging, then I am nodding my head with you. Late last year when I wrote Next Marketing’s marketing plan, I decided that the next window of opportunity was blogging.

I had actually been thinking about it for some time but hadn’t really worked out a way to make sense of it. My underlying feeling was it could take more time than I had available. However, the opportunity was there for the taking so I began blogging in January and, so far, have managed to stay ahead and post three blogs a week.

While I have an integrated approach to blogging and have made sense of it within the marketing plan, it is a journey of discovery for me.

I was inspired and encouraged recently through a competition the Sydney Writers’ Centre ran to select the best blog in Australia. Overall winner, Styling You, provides valuable insight into how to successfully build a community of online supporters via a blog (and social media in general) in a professional manner.

Styling You was selected by the judges for the following attributes:

• Regular updates
• Rich in good writing
• Quality multimedia content and social media engagement
• Visually attractive
• Is an engaging read
• Has a strong community of supporters.

As mentioned earlier, there are many bloggers who now make a full-time income from their site and part of it is sourced through advertising. Blogs like Styling You are a good example where a business owner has created a job from blogging.

Advertising can take many forms. Traditionally, it has been a flashing banner ad placed on a blog or a graphic displayed in an email newsletter. More recently though, bloggers have started to post ‘sponsored material’ which is written in the editorial style of the blog but is in fact paid advertising. How would this work and how could you get involved? Here is an example, from the point of view of a retail café business owner.

A blogger is invited to your café for lunch (at not cost to them) and afterwards they write a review about their experience with your business. The blog post is sent to you for approval before it is published. Once approved and published, the review is read by the blog’s followers. This, in turn, builds brand awareness in target audience groups, creates links back to your website (which is good for Search Engine Optimisation) and creates positive reviews. This is a fairly new form of advertising but it is growing in popularity.

Back to marketing. The good news is that if you’re a business owner who blogs then you’re on the right path as it can certainly boost your current marketing efforts. While I am new to the practice, there are many entrepreneurs, just like you and me, who aren’t experts and have made a real go of it. Here are some tips to help you get the most marketing ‘bang’ from you blogging efforts.

1. Commit to a schedule
There is not doubt that it takes time to build a blog to the point where it draws loads of traffic. However, the first thing to do is commit to a regular schedule of updates. You can update your blog daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly – the choice is yours. My recommendation is that you choose a frequency you can stick to, because people will revisit your blog expecting to see new material. Once you have a routine it will be easy and your visitors will be coming back for more.

2. Stay informed on the latest happenings in your industry
Content is king when it comes to creating a successful blog and the best way to make sure you have something to write about is to keep informed about your industry or area of expertise. You will then avoid the common blogger’s dilemma: ‘How do I make sure I don’t run out of stuff to write about?’ If you’re in accounting for instance, take time to read other blogs, industry websites and other publications focusing on that topic.

3. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes and give them value
Blogging isn’t just about building trust and rapport; it is also about establishing yourself as an expert in the hearts and minds of your readers. To do this, the content you blog about must answer the common questions your readers have that relate to your field. Before you begin, pretend to be a reader and ask yourself, “What do I want to get out of this blog?”

4. Engage your readers
Too many bloggers, even those with the best intentions, fail to engage the reader. They make the horrible mistake of talking at their readers rather than to them. When you write your blog posts, do so as though you are having a conversation with your readers. After all, your blog will allow your visitors to leave comments in response to your articles allowing conversation to happen.

5. Promote your blog
Once your blog is up and running, be sure to promote it through your email signature, your social networking profiles (Facebook and Twitter) and also any marketing material you distribute – newsletters and brochures for example. You can also promote your blog by participating in a useful (non-spam) manner on other blog and forum websites.

6. Persist, persist, persist
It takes time to grow your blog and get some serious traffic flowing. That is why it is so important to adhere to all of these tips, and to persist. Stick to blogging, have fun and you will see positive results.

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