How a blog can help your business

feature-blog-200bOver the weekend, Melbourne hosted the annual Problogger conference, a gathering of around 300 bloggers who met to swap tips and network.

Many of the attendees were bloggers who are looking to turn their blog into a business, following the lead of Darren Rowse who founded the Problogger site and generates income from eBooks, affiliate sales and conferences, or Sarah Wilson who makes most of her money from speaking engagements and her “I quit sugar” eBooks.

However, there are also a rising number of business people who write blogs as a way of raising the profile of their business, generating leads and improving the search engine optimisation of their business website.

SmartCompany talked to those businesses, which now have “write a blog” on their list of daily or weekly tasks, about the benefit of blogging.

1. Building a brand

Valerie Khoo, founder of the Sydney Writers’ Centre, spoke at the Problogger conference about “How to use your blog to build your brand”, a strategy she has used successfully.

Khoo told SmartCompany that blogging has “definitely” helped her build her business.

“It is all about content making. It is helping establish that you are an expert in an area and helps establish your credibility,” she says.

“You can give opinions and showcase expertise, giving a fuller picture of what you are about.”

While Khoo loves to write, she says that business people who are not comfortable writing should not be put off blogging.

“They need to work out what they are going to do; some people hate writing, so if you hate writing then then do a video or podcast. It has to fit without your personality and skills.”

Khoo says her primary concern in writing a blog is not improving search engine optimisation.

“My goal has been around creating quality content. I believe if you produce quality content people will keep coming back,” she says.

2. Marketing without using traditional media

Shelley Winkel, publicity manager at Tourism Queensland, spoke at the Problogger conference about bloggers working with businesses, following Tourism Queensland’s success with its Best Job in the World competition and the tourism body’s recent partnership with Problogger to send 10 international bloggers to the Great Barrier Reef.

As well as working with bloggers to market the destination, Tourism Queensland also started producing its own blog two months ago.

“What was missing was timely and relevant information for people who want to find out about Queensland,” Winkel says.

“If the media does not want to pick up on a story we can bypass the media and post it on the blog.”

Winkel says the Tourism Queensland blog, while still in its infancy, provides customers with first-hand experiences and provides richer information for people who are looking for a holiday in Queensland.

“The nationalisation of daily papers means it is harder to get content in if it is not appealing to a national audience. This is a way of going direct to the customer,” Winkel says.

3. Forming relationships with customers

Jodie Benveniste, psychologist and director of Parent Wellbeing, attended the Problogger conference and says blogging helps her build relationships with her customers.

Benveniste’s business is about making parenting enjoyable and less worrisome. She started blogging as part of her online business model after finding it hard to get people along to face-to-face events at a particular time.

“I think it is a really good way for businesses to connect with customers and is about offering really good high value information and it helps build our database and relationships,” Benveniste says.

She says online businesses need good content on their websites, which a blog provides, as well as giving people a taste of what a business does and how it does it.

“The benefit is I can really connect directly to parents who are my customers as masses of them are online and it also helps with search engine optimisation and it also helps as an avenue for working with brands,” she says.

“For example, Officeworks is sponsoring one of our online programs so we are also doing a giveaway through our blog.”

Benveniste recommends using a schedule to blog (she publishes two blog posts a week) and rolling that content into a regular newsletter.

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