Outside of the fact that you happen to be reading one right now, I find that there are lots of smart, business savvy folks out there who when placed in the position of having to explain, strategize or build a blog (or decide if one should be built at all) are at a bit of a loss. Blogs are usually easy for most people to recognize but harder for folks to define.
When I hosted a free class on the subject (as I do from time to time) it "sold out" (in the way only free classes can!) the room filled to capacity.
Even those who can sort of describe a blog, often find it hard to understand when, why and how to create one so that it will actually create benefit for a business, organization, cause etc..
Of course everyone who manages a successful blog has found themselves in a similar position at least once and gotten past it, so I thought I could impart a few words of advice.
First of all, what is a blog really?
A blog is just a Web site.
Let me repeat that for the non-believers — A BLOG IS JUST A WEB SITE.
But it's a special kind of Web site.
Let's start by looking at the different kinds of Web sites that exist. Many of the students of my in-person classes will recognize this.
According to my calculations and ruminations, there are essentially 4 kinds of Web sites you can build based on how your business attracts revenue:
Web Site Types
Branding Examples: Coca Cola, Dove
Advertising Revenue Examples: Inc.com, Google.com
eCommerce Examples: Amazon, Zappos
Lead Generation Examples: messagemedium.com, razorfish.com
A branding site like Dove is working hard to immerse the viewer in the company's ethos. You can't actually buy any product from their site, they don't seem to sell ads, nor are they pushing hard for you to give up your contact information. Dove's site is all about convincing you of their commitment to improving women's natural beauty and self-esteem in the hope that this will generate an emotional affinity to their brand.
An advertising revenue site like Inc.com has articles and information as its content. It is designed and organized into categories like "Business Advice" "Tech Startup" "The Internet Strategist" to display that content in a way that's easy for you — the reader — to find, read and pass along.
An Online Store like Zappos.com has products — shoes - as its content. So it is organized and designed to make it easy for you to find the kind of shoes you're looking for. One of reasons Zappos is so popular is it provides a variety of ways to find what you're looking for.
A service Web site like message medium has services as its content. So our site is organized to make it easy for you to find our services and also to find the things that make us a credible company to work with — testimonials, articles, client samples, news clippings etc.
As a business owner, more than likely you are not looking to spend millions of dollars on a branding Web site so let's focus on the other three.
So How do Blogs fit in?
Blogs are an interesting breed of Web site. In structure, they are most like Advertising Revenue sites. Like a newspaper, they usually publish content with some predictable regularity, and the content is typically arranged by date and/or by category so that it can be easily found by readers.
But what's interesting about blogs and has made them so ubiquitous, is that they, with all of their content and social elements, can be used very effectively to support an Advertising, eCommerce or Lead Generation Web site.
My blog "The Internet Strategist" is designed to fit within Inc.com's business model of generating revenue through advertising and things like events.
The blog of Tony Hsu, the CEO of Zappos, is designed to generate brand loyalty and increase sales of the products Zappos sells.
This blog also does double-duty, helping you the reader understand my areas of expertise as an Internet Strategist, which my company message medium hopes will help us generate more consulting, Web site design and construction, and Internet marketing clients as well as attendees in our classes.
So the first thing you have to identify when considering blogging is — what kind of business do I have and how do we stay afloat? How do we generate revenue? This will help you determine your ultimate blogging purpose.
Next time — I'll discuss "The Big Payoff" what can you expect a blog to actually accomplish for you?