Start blogging today!

With an increasing number of people reading, writing, and commenting on blogs, the way we use the web is shifting in a fundamental way. Instead of being passive consumers of information, more and more Internet users are becoming active participants.

Blogs allow you to increase the number of readers and followers, increase your profile and show people that you are current. Once you have the followers, a blog can easily help you network between the groups and build relationships that you never had before. Having a link from your website to your blog, simplifies the process for clients and fans to connect with you.

A weblog, or blog, was intended to be a personal journal on the web. Weblogs express as many different subjects and opinions as there are people writing them. Some blogs are highly influential and have enormous readership while others are primarily intended for a close circle of family and friends. However everyone would have noticed that blogs are now being used by businesses to allow a continuing relationship with their potential, current and past customers.

The blogging phenomenon
A few years ago, web search was revolutionised by a simple but profound idea — that the relevance of a site can be determined by the number of other sites that link to it, and thus consider it ‘important.’ In the world of blogs, hyperlinks are even more significant, since bloggers frequently link to and comment on other blogs, which creates the sense of timeliness and connectedness one would have in a conversation.

The power of weblogs is that they allow millions of people to easily publish their ideas, and millions more to comment on them. Blogs are a fluid, dynamic medium, more akin to a ‘conversation’ than to a library — which is how the Web has often been described in the past.

The benefits of blogging
Your favourite thing about having a blog may be that they naturally attract search engine traffic. Blogs already have optimised site architecture. Most are set up with a clear navigation, where every page is set up to link back to the other main pages. They also have the inherent potential to be well-linked.

Increasingly, savvy companies are turning to blogs to complement their communications arsenal of press releases, sustainability reports and investor conference calls. What’s more, some start-up companies are forgoing press releases altogether in favour of blogs.

For a business, blogs also:
• Build your profile as blogging demonstrates expertise
• Allows you to shares information with customers
• Informs people about other things your business is doing
• Generate powerful referral networks
• Creates an opportunity to network and share information with people from around the world
• Permits the kind of conversations that are necessary to truly connect with modern customers
• Creates an opportunity to build relationships with your customers
• Search engines are attuned to finding blogs

How to blog
Starting a blog is easy. Several companies, such wordpress.com offer free blogging tools, and other Australian businesses like picaholic.com offer a website subscription service where you can add a blog through their proprietary Side Bar. The Picaholic Side Bar tool acts as a home for custom links and is prefect for your blog and social media sites. Upon rollover, text is displayed and which can communicate your current posts.

You don’t need to a technical whiz, they are take care of almost everything everything. It does take a little time to do the initial set up but once you have done that all you need is the story ideas and away you go.

What you write is up to you, but try to spark discussion and share experiences, ideas and relevant information. To build traffic, read other blogs and comment so that it links back to your own blog.

Tips for using a blog

1. Pick a topic for your blog that is related to you or what you do. Identify your focus so that readers can quickly decipher if your blog aligns with their interests.
2. RSS Feeds. Make it visible and also offer an email subscription form as a way of keeping track of your subscribers.
3. Profile. Tell them a little bit about yourself and include a photo so that readers can relate with you.
4. Add media. Visuals can tell a thousand words. Make sure to include images and/or videos to your blog to break up the text. This type of media reinforces your message.
5. Don’t ramble. Posts should be kept short and to the point. Otherwise make sure you use headings to separate block text.
6. Links. Link to other sites as this increases readership and lets people know you are writing about them, as they can see the incoming links in their blog. Blogs collaborate and link conversations, so make sure you also comment on other blogs that can be linked back to you.
7. Use categories and tags. Category lists and tags help users find posts that they are interested in.
8. Contact Information. Include a contact email as an alternative way of getting in touch with you. They may want to ask questions about your ideas, ask you to become an expert writer in your field for a magazine or offer you to speak at an upcoming conference.
9. Blog url. Make sure the url matches your name or the name of your blog. This will always make it easier for readers to remember you and your location.
10. Encourage Comments. If a reader leaves a comment, make sure to thank them for commenting. This shows readers that you are real and your posts turn into a conversation.
11. Regular posts. Make a schedule of how often you would like to post and stick to it. Whether it is daily, weekly or monthly, once you build a readership base, they will want to be kept up to date on a regular basis. It will help you build a greater community who will leave more comments.

Monitoring crisis situations through blogs
From a PR perspective it may be very important for you to see who is commenting on your business or your products. Certainly if you are managing a crisis situation you will need to monitor it, not only through the media, but now through blogs.

Tracking company, Technorati tracks the number of links, and the perceived relevance of blogs, as well as the real-time nature of blogging. Technorati automatically receives notification from weblogs as soon as they are updated, it can track the thousands of updates per hour that occur in the blogosphere, and monitor the communities (who’s linking to whom) underlying these conversations.

According to Technorati data, there are about 75,000 new blogs a day. Bloggers update their weblogs regularly; there are about 1.2 million posts daily, or about 50,000 blog updates an hour.

To search for comments in blogs, go to http://www.technorati.com/ and type your search terms.

Relevant links:
Monetizing your blog – www.problogger.net
Adsense (Make money from Google by displaying Google ads on your blog) – www.google.com.au/adsense
Measuring the traffic – www.google.com.au/analytics

Story contributions sought from Catriona Pollard @ www.cpcommunications.com.au and www.picaholic.com

About CP Communications
CP Communications provides public relations and marketing services that are vital to building your business. CPC offers truly strategic and creative solutions that achieve positive media coverage, increase brand awareness and improve sales results. P: (02) 9922 1063, cp@cpcommunications.com.au, W: www.cpcommunications.com.au blog: www.PublicRelationsSydney.com.au

About Picaholic.com
Picaholic (www.picaholic.com) is a web design service catering for the creative industry, Picaholic enables their members to establish a web presence on a subscription basis. Clients pay a low monthly fee then using basic computer skills, subscribers can edit the site and immediately deploy sophisticated, configurable, state of the art, flash website.

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