This is a valid question to those just getting started in eCommerce. I’ve known about blogs for some time but until about eight months ago I hadn’t really done much with blogging. What a great marketing opportunity; what a great way to share ideas and learn new information; what a great way to make additional income via the internet. Wikipedia explains blogs in the following way:
A blog is a user-generated website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order. Blogs often provide commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of most early blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual although some focus on photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), or audio (podcasting), and are part of a wider network of social media. The term “blog” is derived from “Web log.” “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. As of November 2006, blog search engine Technorati was tracking nearly 60 million blogs.
Other explanations I’ve heard about blogs include “online journal”, “digital newspaper”, and “web logs”.
So why are blogs so important when it comes to eCommerce? This is a common question too. Isn’t a blog just something else you have to work on and spend time doing? You betchya! However, the return on investment of a blog can come in a variety of ways. Here are some of my favorite things about blogging:
- Free (or very inexpensive) Targeted Advertising: there are many free options out there. My favorites are WordPress.com and blogger.com. I use both of them but am leaning more and more to wordpress.com because of all the functionality. Having multiple blogs, in relation to your website, can be so helpful: it’s a way to build additional quality links – ways that search engines can find your website. (ie. I have 2 blogs specifically used to promote my dance bags website: clogon.blogspot.com and bestdanceshoes.blogspot.com. I also have a new blog for my customized DVD and photography website: highlightsports.wordpress.com.) As you make posts on your blog, you can create anchor links to specific pages of your new website using keyword phrases. This is offsite advertising at it best! If you want even better recognition, purchase a domain name from GoDaddy and host it with BlueHost. That’s what I’ve done with this blog.
- Build Industry Credibility: the more quality information you post about products, services, and information within your industry, the more your visitors (and potential buyers) can see that you know what you’re talking about; they can trust in the products you are offering. Without content and quality information to back up buying decisions, buyers will probably look elsewhere.
- Affiliate Marketing Opportunities: as you can see at clogon.blogspot.com and bestdanceshoes.blogspot.com, I have a few different ways to actually make money with these blogs. The first is through Google Adsense, a pay-per-click campaign that makes money as visitors click on the advertising links. Google Adsense is free to set up and can be a great supplemental income to your business plan, at least to start. The other affiliate marketing campaigns on those blogs are the products on the side navigation. These affiliates were found through Commission Junction (www.cj.com). Sign up as a Publisher and start applying for affiliates within your industry or that compliment what you are doing. The pay may not be as good as getting products at a wholesale price and reselling at a retail price but at least you give yourself the opportunity to make money (and the cost is minimal if at all). Before you start adding tons of ads to your blog, you should probably read about why it is not best to monetize your blog right out of the gate.
To finish up, make sure you remember the key word for effective blogging – Consistency:
- How often you post – whether it’s once a day, week, or whatever, it’s important that you post new information on a consistent basis if you want readers to come back.
- What you write about- if you have questions about this see my post about Focus
- Anchor links – we don’t want to overdo the anchor links to our website, but it’s important to make keywords links to your pages
- Product Reviews - if you are selling products on your website, it’s a good idea to do reviews from time to time – tell visitors why your products are better than the competition (use testimonials and feedback from clients)
- Posting to other people’s blogs - find blogs you like that relate to what you are marketing and make good comments; use the Trackback tools if you have a lot to say: this can get your comment to show up on the blog you made the comment on and on your blog too.
What are your thoughts (if you can still think after all this…)?