Last week I had the opportunity to speak at Inc.'s Growco conference in Orlando.
Not only did I meet some amazing business owners, I also had the opportunity to collaborate with Deluxe (yes, the check printing company!) who is making a bold move to extend their business beyond branding printed items to supporting small businesses in their need for digital branding as well.
Deluxe hosted a dinner on Monday night with approximately 50 business owners in attendance. They invited me to be their guest speaker and lead a discussion on how growing businesses can get the most out of online marketing.
From innovative product retailers like Rich Johnston of KeyPlex Direct who had some excellent questions like "When is blog content considered too old and no longer trustworthy?" to fine art photographers like Anne Day of Anne Day Photography who was at the conference helping to produce social video content for an inspring book project targeting youth entrepreneurs, to builders like Peter Feinmann, who was "hoping that I would be stimulated by new and creative ways to grow my residential design/build business. I was not disappointed." The dinner hosted a dynamic group of successful businesses that all had unique and fascinating challenges, questions and experiences to share about how to maximize their online brand.
One of the biggest topics of discussion for almost all of the business owners was deciding whether to and how to market using a blog. It is a question many business owners are still facing. How do I get started? How do I come up with content that is interesting? How often should I post? How important is blogging for Search Engine Optimization? What else can blogging do for me?
Luckily I had answers! We had a passionate discussion about these and other topics during the cocktail hour and over a fantastic dinner at The Ritz Carlton. I thought in honor of our event I would post some quick references for you to get answers to those questions and share with everyone what was discussed at our intimate dinner.
Growco Attendee Question: How do I get started?
The Internet Strategist: Dive in! One thing you'll definitely want to do is make sure you've thought about the purpose of your blog and how often you plan to post. Make sure you're choosing a frequency you can keep up with for the next 2-3 years minimum. To test the waters you can even start posting without making your blog public. Take a look at my 10 Step Guide to Blogging and use it as your step-by-step planning guide to get you started with your blog.
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Growco Attendee Question: How do I know if my content will be interesting?
The Internet Strategist: I strongly recommend not worrying too much about this one. The best bet is to write about things you are a) passionate about, b) extremely knowledgable about, and c) will be able to stand writing about for the next several years! The wonderful thing about the Internet is that there are just so many darn people on it. There's likely to be a sizable group of people who are just as passionate as you are about just about anything. Keep in mind however that your goals will impact your topic choice - are you looking to drive advertising revenue or are you looking to build credibility in your industry? Make sure you choose a topic that is appropriate for your goal and don't worry about the traffic yet. That comes with marketing. But do be honest with yourself - if you're really not a great writer, blogging may not be the venue for you. There are so many other Internet Marketing Techniques available to you. You can download my free Internet Marketing Checklist to get your head around what they all are. When it comes to marketing it's all about the cost/benefit. If you have limited resources (as we all do) make sure you are making the most of them.
Growco Attendee Question: How often should I post?
The Internet Strategist: So I get this question a *lot*. This is completely based on your goals. If you are looking to create a high traffic blog that will generate advertising revenue, minimum once per week but even better is once per day. Time and time again bloggers have seen that the more you post, the more traffic you receive. If you are not looking for advertising revenue, my advice is don't sweat it. Do what you can handle now (monthly, even quarterly is ok) and then build up to more frequent posts if you can.
Growco Attendee Question: How important is blogging for Search Engine Optimization?
The Internet Strategist: blogging can be a great way to boost your search engine rankings and is often a large factor in choosing to blog. But note - to reap the benefits of SEO, you have to have your blog content built within the same site you want optimized. So you can't build a free blog at WordPress.com and then just have a link to your corporate Web site if you want your corporate Web site to improve in the search rankings. If you want more detail on this take a look at these two articles: "Build Your Blog" and "Blogging for Coin"
Growco Attendee Question: What else can blogging do for me?
The Internet Strategist: That's a big question. There are so many things from building credibility, creating content that can go "viral", being the basis of other kinds of social media marketing, Twitter links, LinkedIn profile content (see this post for details), being fodder for other materials (ebooks, printed books etc.), helping people truly understand what it is that you do and what your expertise and strengths are. To help you understand the myriad benefits of blogging and decide which benefits you want to pursue, I would strongly recommend referencing these three articles:
I'm looking forward to the next big Inc. event and hope I'll see you there! I've been promised some video from the dinner - if it's not too horribly embarrassing I'll try to post it here!
MAISHA WALKER is an award-winning 13 year Internet industry veteran and the President of message medium, a New York firm that works exclusively with entrepreneurs and growing businesses to maximize their digital footprint and drive revenue and sales through Internet marketing. For guidance right now, download her popular (and free) Web Site Checklist and Internet
Marketing Checklist. She is also the author of Web Site Fundamentals for Entrepreneurs.