I was looking back over some posts from the earliest days of this blog, back in 2004 and noticed that in October that year I wrote about using a blog as a launch pad for a home based business.
The links that were in that post were by now way out of date, so I’ve just removed them, but I felt the basic points made in the post were worth repeating and expanding upon in the new world of social media. These were that you can:
- use your blog as a journal, to map where you are going and track where you’ve been
- use it to get known
- use it to link and share with others in your line of business
- use it instead of a fancy web site – for which you may not have a budget right now anyway
Using your blog as a journal
This of course goes back to the origins of blogging (“blog” as short for “web log” etc) but still works.
I’m going to generalize wildly here, but I believe it is generally true that when we start a new business we are usually excited, inspired about what we want to achieve and how we aim to do it.
If not, why would we do it? To make money? That’s fine, but I doubt that the momentum can be built or maintained without some passion (as I indicated in a recent post).
So writing about what you are doing, sharing your excitement, sharing photos if you have them, is one way to build awareness of your business and to provide a reference point for friends and family to share with their circles of connections the word about what you are doing.
And you don’t have to blog just about your successes. Not that you have to share everything that goes wrong – that in fact could be a very bad idea – but by sharing some of the challenges you remind people that you are human, something a lot of businesspeople make the mistake of being unwilling to admit to.
I see it as a bit like those restaurants where the diners can see right into the kitchen, see their meals being prepared. And like the people in the kitchen, if we decide to share via our blog how things are going, we will need to be on our toes!
As with the chefs who open their kitchen to the patrons’ view, this one is probably not for the faint-hearted. But if you are good with that idea, you could make it a feature of your blog.
Use your blog to get known
Even if you decide to skip the previous suggestion and not use your blog to chronicle publicly your ups and downs in getting your business moving, you can certainly use it to get known.
In fact, that was my main motive in starting blogging back in 2003 and that decision has not only helped me promote my business locally, nationally and internationally, it has led to book deals, public speaking in Australia, the USA and China and, by no means least of all, a whole raft of friends and colleagues across the world.
There has been more to all that than just writing blog posts, but setting up the blog was a crucial step and continuing to blog has helped me maintain momentum and helped keep me up to date in my key areas of professional interest.
Through a blog, you can provide your clients and your prospects with a better understanding of your grasp of your field of expertise and also your style of communication and your values, than they are likely to get from one meeting with you, say at some networking function, or from a PR style brochure (offline or online version).
Use it to link and share with others in your line of business
One of the many great things about blogging for business is that it enables multiple conversations with your professional colleagues and peers. Even with your competitors!
The whole system of hyperlinking from and to blog posts, the use of RSS, and more recently all the cross-platform sharing with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and so on, give us unprecedented opportunities to share with others and learn from them in return.
I like to think of this feature of blogging as being part of an ongoing, international, virtual think tank.
And while there are many things we can share via other social media platforms, the long form style of blogging gives us, in practice, the opportunity to share at greater length, and in greater depth, than more instant forms of communication, notably Twitter with its 140 character limit, or Facebook, where the short and sharp usually trumps more extended communications.
Use it instead of a fancy web site
Actually, with the evolution of blogging platforms since I wrote that post back in 2004, it’s possible now to have a quite fancy site, but the key point I wanted to make back then is still relevant, namely that blogging software gives you the ability to have a perfectly good web site, even if you do not have a budget to pay a local web site developer the thousands of dollars they might indicate it will cost you to have a functioning web site.
Explaining how you do that, and particularly what it might cost, is a subject for another post.
In 2004 I suggested you might not have to outlay any money on the process, which was true in a sense, but could have benefited from a bit of explanation.
Even now, assuming you are going to pay for a web site to be hosted somewhere, it might cost you – even with a quite ambitious plan for a home based business, such as the HostGator Baby plan with unlimited sites – less than $7 a month.
Add to that a domain hosted by, say, Namecheap for under $10 a year, and you have a budget commitment of literally less than $100 for a full year’s operation.
That presupposes a lot of work by you to learn how to set up your site, configure it and manage it. If that bothers you, we can get you set up, through colleagues of ours, for under $1,000 provided you have a reasonably simple set of site requirements, and still very competitively if you have more complex requirements. Just get in touch via the Contact page here.
Where to next?
Back in 2004 I was able to recommend some sources of advice and guidance on getting started with blogging. All the links in that original post are out of date so I’ve removed the links. Now I feel I need to provide some more up to date information to answer the “where to next?” question.
So I’ll be providing some information and links on that in the coming week. Watch this space.
In the meantime, any questions on the subject will be welcome.
Image credit: Hellenic Republic restaurant kitchen, by avlxyz via Flickr, Creative Commons licence