Business Blogging – Benefits, Best Practices, and Blog Topics

This is a guest post by Kristi Hines, social media and blogging enthusiast, on the benefits of business blogging, best practices when starting out a business blog, and ways to find topic ideas for your industry with some examples.

When I first began blogging almost ten years ago, blogs were used almost solely for personal diaries and online journals meant to be shared with only friends and family, or kept private. Within the first two years, however, blogging as a source of income started to rear its head with affiliate programs being pitched to the most known personal blogs. Fast forward to today, and blogs are not only used for individual gain but also for businesses.

Benefits of Blogging for Business

Business and corporate blogs can be valuable assets to a company’s website, creating a strong platform for their content marketing. They can help a business:

  • Build their brand identity and positively manage their online reputation by putting positive content linked to their name out on the web.
  • Help them go beyond simply offering products or services to gaining credibility by becoming experts in their industry.
  • Allow them to build a stronger relationship and community with their customers, potential clients, and even others in their industry through blog comments and social sharing of new information.
  • Give their site fresh new content, inviting visitors and search engines to return to their site again and again, boosting overall traffic.
  • Get them ranked for long tail keyword search terms and phrases.

These are the main benefits of business blogging. Now, let’s look at how to make a business blog successful.

Questions to Ask When Getting Started

Probably the most important benefit is, if a business blog is done right, blog posts can lead to conversions and sales. What are the main things to keep in mind when starting or maintaining a business blog?

Who is Your Audience?

B2B businesses will want to write posts targeted towards businesses who are in need of their products and services, whereas B2C businesses will want to write posts geared toward their targeted customer demographic.

When corporate bloggers are coming up with post ideas, it is essential to put themselves in their targeted reader’s shoes and ask themselves:

  • What would I want to learn about this business and industry?
  • What hook would make me want to subscribe?
  • What topic would make me want to comment?
  • What kind of post wold make me want to inquire about products or services from this company?

Asking yourself these questions will help you determine just the kind of writing that you need to do to get a good response from your future blog community.

What Do My Competitors Do?

Business bloggers should do a bit of competitor research (just like you would do for link building) for similar businesses that also have a corporate blog, and look at how well it goes over with their audience.

  • Do they get a lot of comments?
  • Do the posts do well in search?
  • Do the posts get a lot of social shares? A quick way to check is by installing the Topsy bookmarklet or Delicious Bookmark history bookmarklet (all the way at the bottom of the page) to your browser and seeing how many tweets and bookmarks the posts’ acquire.
  • What elements of the posts and blog do I like? What elements do I dislike?

This kind of “competitor research” will help you more easily determine what results you want to get from your blog as well as what will help you get your results.

Blogging Best Practices

Whether you are blogging for personal or business purposes, there are some basic best blogging practices that you should always keep in mind.

  • Make each post easy to share and more socialble by using social sharing buttons and comment plugins to encourage more interaction.
  • Write like you are talking to your audience – business blogging should be professional, but is also less formal than press releases and article marketing.
  • Don’t think of your blog (or social networking) as just an advertising platform. Blog readers like information, how-to’s, and, once you have built their trust, occasional recommedations. If they feel like they’re being pushed to buy something in every post, they will likely not come around again.
  • Link out to other sites that are informational as well. Remember your goal is to create a valuable resources for your readers. Seeing you share quality information will make them trust you even more.

Business Blog Topics

Probably one of the biggest hold-ups in a business creating a blog is what to write about, especially if the business is in a very tight niche.

Finding Inspiration

If you have answered the above “Who is Your Audience?” questions, then you will have a general idea of what topics will interest your potential readers. Other ways to generate ideas include:

  • Using Twitter and HootSuite (or other Twitter management tools) for monitoring influential twitterers in your industry and what is being discussed by the general public about it.
  • Does your business have a support department or help desk? What questions are commonly asked by your clients or potential customers? These might be good topics to answer on your blog.
  • Cover your views on current events and other hot topics in your industry by following major blogs on specific niches using major news networks and sites like Alltop, Technorati, or PostRank.

You might think that some subjects have been covered over and over again and can be found pretty much all over the internet, but what you want to realize is that, when someone is on your site, you want them to be able to find as much useful information possible about your industry on your site without having to go elsewhere (and possibly end up on a competitor’s blog instead).

Specific Examples

Using some of the sponsors of the recent blogging contest by Famous Bloggers (another great resource on how to blog) and The ComLuv Network (home of one of the most comment generating plugins for WordPress), we’ll look at some businesses that do not yet have blogs, and some topics they could be talking about.

Claims.com

Claims.com, the accidents at work specialists, handles personal injury, traffic accidents, and work-related injury claims. There are ton of great topic ideas I can see just from perusing a few pages into their website, including:

  • Top 5 Most Common Workplace Accidents – What they are, and how much they generally cost if you are not insured.
  • What is Sofa Rash? – What is it, how can it develop, and what you can do to prevent it.
  • Whiplash – Where Can it Happen – Whiplash does not just happen when you are in a car wreck. Find out common ways someone can get whiplash, what the symptoms are, and what kind of treatment will be necessary to correct it.

Local Proud

Local Proud is a discount card program that helps you start your own business that will not only help vitalize the local economy, but also promotes going green (and can lead to additional promotional items for local search engine marketing). Some great blog posts for this site include:

  • Why Go Local? – A look at the struggles of local businesses, and why it is more important than ever to support small businesses in your community.
  • How Does Local Proud Help the Environment? – Describe how this program helps a community be more green by keeping things closer to home and not requiring printed out coupons. (Great link bait to possibly get on environmental blogs.)
  • Case Studies – Go beyond a short testimonial and get a business owner to describe their experience with this kind of business, as well as how it has helped them boost local businesses and help the environment.

Online Recruiters Directory

The Online Recruiters Directory is an executive search firm that allows job seekers to connect with those seeking executive talent. This site actually has a small database of articles for jobseekers that could easily be turned into a blog for more interaction and traffic. Some other topic ideas include…

  • What Do You Need to Get a 100k Job? – A look at the top earners in the most popular 100k+ careers and what they have in terms of college education, certifications, and experience.
  • Top 100k Jobs for 2010 – A list of the most popular 100k jobs available this year.
  • You’re Hired – Now What? – What to expect on your first days at a new job for career changers, from those who have transitioned from one field to another. (Could be a great interview series for those who successfully found a job through this service.)

ANS Gear

ANS Gear carries a huge line of paintball guns & gear at discounted prices. Coming from the perspective of someone who has never been involved in paintball, but has heard some very interesting stories, a few topics that would get me interested include:

  • Paintball 101 – What essential equipment do you need to get started.
  • Best Places to Compete – What are the top rated places to play in major metropolitan areas.
  • Top 5 Common Paintball Injuries – What they are, how to avoid them (ie. protective gear), and if avoidance isn’t possible, how to treat them.

Now Relevant

NowRelevant.com is the best new search engine, an alternative to the major search engines for finding relevant niche information. Some interesting things to know about this search engine would be:

  • What Makes Now Relevant Different? – Expand upon the information in the about us page and show some examples of search results for Now Relevant compared to the other major engines.
  • PPC 101 – How does it work, and why advertisers should choose Now Relevant’s pay per click program over Adwords or others.
  • Comprehensive Guide to Using Now Relevant – Cover everything from advanced search operators to where Now Relevant pulls its information from (blogs, social networks, etc.).

Your Thoughts on Business Blogging

Do you have a favorite business blog that others should follow the example of? What are your likes and dislikes about corporate blogs? If you have a business and have a blog, what positive results have you seen? If you are a business that doesn’t have a blog, what is stopping you?

Kristi is the author of Kikolani, a blog which provides blogging tips for successful personal and business bloggers alike, and an Internet Marketing Specialist providing link building services.

This post supports the some of the sponsors of the Famous Bloggers and ComLuv blogging contest. Please visit Kristi’s entry for powerful tips on how to promote your articles for more traffic, link value, and earnings.

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