FREE eCOURSE ON
    BUSINESS BLOGGING

    Everything you need to set-up, develop & promote a successful Business Blog

    Full Name

    Email

    Referred by


    FULL COURSE DETAILS HERE

  • Warren: Blogging and Social Media definitely go hand in hand. Having a successful social presence can do a lot for a...
  • Jennifer Rai: All points mentioned above are very well put together. Blogs having purpose and a focus on certain...
  • jessica@lukeroxas: I ran a small home based business, and lately I’ve decided to put up my own website,...
  • Rob: Rather weird that a blog on blogging hasn’t been updated since 2009!
  • Ayala Land: Perhaps I was one of those companies who, as you put it “think they can avoid it” but thanks to well...

    Join me on Twitter at @BlogCoach




    Uncat: here are all the key posts


    Blog sidebars: adaptable in any situationAs we put together new posts for our business blog, our main focus, time and effort is centred on what appears in the middle of the screen, the place where we write and display the content for our readers. It’s the key area and it’s right that the effort we put in reflects this.

    Use your sidebars to your advantage

    Nevertheless, there is more to a successful business blog than just the writing. We have specific goals for it and we need to both maintain and direct our readers’ interest to what those business goals are. The blog posts will do a lot of this work but there is also a lot that can be achieved by careful use of both the sidebars and the header of a blog. Some of this will be to highlight our own services/products, others will help readers find other posts or pages in the blog and others will highlight certain aspects that we want to encourage them to look at.

    They play key roles in achieving our blog’s aims and the sidebars are “prime real estate” on the blog which we need to use effectively. We may find that a single sidebar works best for us, however, wider screen sizes that are now the norm give us the opportunity to include two sidebars without compromising the area displaying our main content. More area to work with! However, what we put in them and the order they appear are important considerations which combine good blog design and achieving our business goals.

    Many options – here are just some!

    There are lots of different options that could be used (and space is after all limited) but here are some ideas which you might like to consider as you develop your blog:
    • Contact Details: could be on a separate page linked to from the sidebar but should be prominent. It’s no good someone liking your work and then not being able to contact you!

    • Author Profile: blogs are personal so it’s important to let your readers gain an insight of the blogger whose posts and articles they are reading. Give them an overview of who you are and what you do, then let your writing fill in the gaps;

    • Purpose of blog: it’s often a good idea to give readers a snapshot of why you are writing the blog and what you want to achieve with it – it can help to give context to the posts and encourage them to read further and pass it on;

    • Promotion of future events: if you are running seminars, courses or presentations, then this would be a great place to make your readers aware of them and promote them to them;

    • Promotion of products and/or services: in the same way as you might promote your events, then you can also make them aware by linking through to your products or services and introducing them (in an appropriate fashion!);

    • Social Networking profiles: with the proliferation of social media sites and networking groups such as Linkedin, Twitter, del.icio.us etc. links to your own profiles on each of these platforms helps promote your presence on them;

    • Photo of the author: taking the idea of blogs being personal one step further. Let them see what you look like! Make it relevant to the tone of your blog, though.

    • Most commented posts: one possible way of demonstrating what has created most interest with your readers and inspired most comments;

    • Last 5 posts: let people have easy access to your latest posts. This is particularly good on the individual post pages rather than the main blog page where, of course, the most recent posts are generally visible;

    • Recent comments: whether you show the last 5 or last 10, let people see who is commenting and on which posts. Additionally, it can act as a small “thank you” to those who have taken the time to leave comments as well as inspire others to do so;

    • Recommended sites: a list of sites that you are recommending to your readers as being well worth visiting. Adds value and helps make your blog a central resource of information;

    • RSS Subscription (RSS reader and email): you’ll want to encourage readers to sign up to receive your regular blog updates, so make it clearly visible and make sure that they can do so via email too! Not everyone loves RSS (unfortunately).

    • Newsletter Signup box: you should be running a newsletter in conjunction with your blog (there’s great complementary value) so explain what it offers and then get the signup box clearly visible;

    • Categories: one of the key structural elements and a principal tool in navigating your blog is through the categories, generally divided along main topic lines. Make them visible and keep them to 10 or 12 [unlike me :( ];

    • Monthly archives: again a key structural element of a blog though probably less used by readers now;

    • Search: the search box should be a standard feature on every blog so make sure it’s easily accessible and that it will look through both posts and pages;

    • Tags / Tag Cloud: a way to demonstrate the areas that the blog focuses on and a second navigation method to supplement the categories;

    • Testimonials: either testimonials or even customer logos can be a good way to link through to case studies or project overviews as well as showing the range of clients you work with;

    • RSS Feeds from other sites: bring in relevant industry news from other sites can be a good way to add specific information to your blog – and of course it’s all automatic;

    • Polls / Surveys: conduct your own poll on a topic relevant to your blog. Helps increase the interactive element and should provide you with some useful information as well;

    • Favourite books: recommended books which will interest your target audience, perhaps linked through to Amazon with or without affiliate code in the links;

    • Adverts: if you are looking to monetise your blog then adverts will feature prominently … but remember the distraction value;

    • Industry News: perhaps using the RSS feeds as suggested previously or using other inputs.

    As you can see, there are wide variety of elements that you can place in the sidebar or sidebars of your blog and this is probably only scraping the surface. What you place there and the order you show them will depend very much on the goals that you have for your blog, though, so choose wisely.

    What do you have on yours? Let us know below!

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    7 Comments 
    Tags: , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Feedburner: using your RSS Feed more effectively
    2. Diary of a successful business blog (part 1 – the decision)
    3. Business Blog Design
    4. Optimizing your Blog for your Business
    5. Walls, Balloons and Blogs

    Linking Business Blogs and Corporate BlogsLinking is part and parcel of blogging and its an important part of it as well. The blogosphere thrives on links & connections and those blogs which create those outbound links will tend to thrive with it.

    Put simply, linking out is good good for your blog and good for your business.

    As you link to others, you strengthen your own position. Partly because you are validating and supporting the content of your posts but also because you are developing a repository of information which will benefit the readers who are attracted to your blog.

    In fact, there are lots of positive reasons for linking to other blogs and sites which I tend to categorise as follows:

      Informing your readers and Supporting your posts

      Links are probably the sincerest way of recommending other blogs as valuable sources of information – you are effectively giving them a big thumbs up. Equally, they are an important way of providing reference sources to support and corroborate the arguments or assertions you are making in your own posts.

      Business & Blog Promotion

      By linking out, you will also be spreading the word about your own blog. If you use trackbacks to the sites you link to, then youll appear in the comments section of the post you’re referring to, giving more people the chance to find your blog. Owners of blogs are also generally interested in who’s referencing them, so you’ll often get a visit from them, and hopefully they’ll like what they find!

      Developing Reputation and Creating Value

      You will get more readers using your blog as the start point for their research, primarily because they trust the information and the links that you provide effectively, in your area of specialism, you act as their online directory and general resource. For them, you become THE person to go to.

      Creating Community & Networking

      By linking to other sources, you are creating a mini resource in your area of expertise this in turn can start to generate a community or network of readers using it with you and your blog at its centre. The links you provide help your readers to learn more about the subject and direct them to discussions going on elsewhere. Essentially your blog becomes the place where your readers know they can get up to date information on issues that they consider to be important.

    So next time you worry about linking to other sites, blogs or resources of any type, try to think instead of the business benefits instead – not just to your readers but to you as well.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    Comments Off 
    Tags: , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Linking out isn’t negative, it’s essential!
    2. Why on earth do you link to your blog?
    3. Blogs and Search Engines – is the love affair over?
    4. The 5 ‘R’s of Better Business Blogging – Recommend
    5. Business Blogs, Social Media and Welcome Mats

    Blogging Guidelines and Blogging PolicyEarlier this month, I wrote briefly about company blogging policy as part of my commentary on a piece covering the Blogging Guidelines issued by the IOC ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

    Yesterday, I read a news story by Anne Broache at CNet News.com entitled Corporate employee blogs: Lawsuits waiting to happen? which looked at some legal issues that Cisco are currently experiencing regarding one of their managers who had been anonymously running a blog on patents where he had commented on cases regarding Cisco without revealing his connection with the company.

    This particular case is quite specific but there are certainly some lessons to be learned from it which have a more general impact on companies, irrespective of their size, which are developing blogging guidelines of their own.

    One element which Cisco has added to their own Blogging Guidelines following this case, covers the premise that where there is responsibility then there also needs to be clarity. This may be simply that the blogger works for the company in question or that they have a specific commercial role covering the subject area of their blog which means that their opinion is no longer objective. Their addition states:

    “If you comment on any aspect of the company’s business or any policy issue the company is involved in where you have responsibility for Cisco’s engagement, you must clearly identify yourself as a Cisco employee in your postings or blog site(s) and include a disclaimer that the views are your own and not those of Cisco.”

    To restate this in general terms, I’d normally advise that bloggers do not hide their identity and certainly not their business affiliations – they should also clearly state on their own blog that the views expressed are solely theirs and do not reflect those of their employer.

    This is of course presuming that they are discussing subjects related to their work – if it is on a hobby or non work related topic then clearly there is no potential for professional bias coming into play and hopefully no conflict of interest. This is nicely summed up by Bob Pearson, VP at Dell who makes the comment:

    “If someone is a fisherman and they want to talk about fly fishing outside of work, then that’s not our business, it’s personal. But if someone is going to talk about notebooks and anything related to Dell, they have to say they’re from Dell.”

    The same is also true of leaving comments on other blogs, something which should also ideally be covered in a blogging policy. If it is a subject related to the company you work for then you would be wise to state your connection – in these matters transparency is everything and it can be potentially damaging if you are discovered trying to pull the wool over the eyes of others. You may remember the fall out from the “Walmarting across America” fake blog – if you are leaving ‘fake’ comments in a close knit community that you want to work with, then the impact on your company’s reputation can be equally damaging. So don’t!

    For me, I think that in many respects the less formal take on it that Microsoft adopts is good, and focuses on the use of common sense. However, having said that, I have come across a noticeable absence of common sense from time to time, so their use of a list of FAQs which deals with how employees should apply existing company policies on confidentiality and other matters to the blogging world seems to be a sensible approach to take. When you create your own guidelines, do make sure that they are readable, accessible, understandable and applicable -then you won’t go far wrong.

    If you are looking for help or guidance in creating a Blogging Policy or Blogging Guidelines then please get in touch. Alternatively, below you will find some links to documents which cover either internet or blogging policies from a range of companies that you may find useful as well:

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    7 Comments 
    Tags: , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Olympic and Corporate Blogging
    2. Online media guidelines from an unexpected source
    3. Overcoming the Fear of Corporate Blogging
    4. Corporate Blogging Profiles: are you a Sleeper or a Host?
    5. Survey indicates corporate blogging taking off

    Sony BlogsWell the last time I looked at a Sony blog, it was with mouth open wide in disbelief as the ill conceived and executed ‘All I want for Xmas is a PSP’ fake blog hit the blogosphere and was in turn hit by it.

    Things have moved on and, over the past two months, Sony has launched two new blogs for different parts of their business:

    • one is the Sony Playstation blog aimed fairly and squarely at game players and developers of the Playstation product range;
    • the second is the Sony Electronics blog from that arm of the company which intends to focus on “Electronics-related activities, products and customers in the U.S.”.
    Two very different blogs, aimed at different audiences and done in very different ways but both ostensively Sony corporate blogs.

    Sony blogs: Sony Playstation blogSony Playstation Blog
    The Sony Playstation Blog is run by Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) and is a highly stylised blog built on a WordPress platform which is being written by a host of authors across a range of different departments within the PlayStation division. Development was carried out externally by Josh Hallett together with marketing firm Clark/Nikdel/Powell according to The Ledger.

    Posting is both regular and frequent as you would expect with the number of authors (though that takes a real level of organisation, I can assure you), but that is no more than the readers would expect in this market sector. The content is generally good with a mix of games information, firmware details and a more strategic view in some posts from “the top”. Good use of imagery and linking as well.

    The blogs colour scheme uses a black / dark grey background with the white text and the colours from the Playstation logo featuring on top. Altogether, very slick and supports the overall branding really well – though a slight concern that the colour scheme might prove difficult on mobile devices due to the smaller screen size, something that might be relevant considering the blog’s target audience.

    Even in its structure, the blog has been nicely put together with friendly permalinks, judicious use of categories and emphasis in the sidebar highlighting the comments that the posts are attracting a nice way to both encourage and emphasise them.

    Sony Electronics BlogSony Blogs: Sony Electronics Blog
    The Sony Electronic Blog has a totally different feel to it, not only in look (obviously!) but in the way that it is put together and presented. This would be fine it has a totally different target audience after all but there are aspects which struggle in its current state.

    Like the Playstation blog, this is also built on WordPress and while visually clean, the overall look and feel is relatively standard and uninspiring. It also gives the feeling of not yet being finished with:

    • the URL as part of news.sel.sony.com rather than its own domain;
    • calling it the “SEL External News Blog” in the Title Tag rather than using any specific Sony branding;
    • no link back to the blog homepage on the blog itself;
    • and, indeed no real homepage but instead going directly into the latest posts.
    Reinforcing the lack of posts with a (current brief) Recent posts box at the top of the sidebar is probably not the most sensible move either.

    In this start up period, there is a single writer who is Rick Clancy, the head of Corporate Communications for Sony Electronics. While clearly someone skilled in writing and who has both the ability and the authority to speak openly all good characteristics for a corporate blogger he is currently writing alone and the resulting weekly post is probably not sufficient for the sort of blog that this is trying to be.

    In short there needs to be more content though the quality of what is there looks to be good and certainly has managed to elicit responses and indeed readers leaving detailed comments, appraisals and criticisms. It’s difficult to know whether there is a follow up which is going on off blog to answer the comments but that would probably be sensible – perhaps some additional resource required? In any case, they are certainly throwing up topics which warrant posts focusing on the areas being asked about, thereby allowing Sony to put their side of the story.

    Summary
    I should start by saying that it’s great to see Sony using blogging to communicate with its customers and developers – for a company which is not known for its openness, this is a great move and one that I hope we will see others following.

    However, in looking at the two blogs, you will have no doubt gathered that, as they stand, I consider that the Sony Playstation Blog to be an excellent example of a well constructed blog while the Sony Electronics blog has had a less auspicious launch.

    And yet, which has the greatest potential? Well, this time my vote goes to the Sony Electronics blog and not just because of the relative position it is starting from. Its Playstation neighbour is vibrant but may find it difficult to create a real central personality because of the large number of authors and the nature of the gaming industry.

    Conversely, I get the feeling that the SE Blog has a potentially important role to play in the Electronics side of Sony’s business and presents a huge opportunity. The type of comments coming in show the areas which are most of interest to the readership and are giving Sony the chance to address these concerns for a whole raft of their customer base – what an opportunity and the ideal mouthpiece to achieve it through at their disposal! Let’s hope they grab this opportunity with both hands!

    As it stands: Sony Playstation Blog, a straight A grade. Sony Electronics blog, a C but with signs of real future potential if handled correctly.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    3 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Comments – Noise – Common Sense – Good Practice
    2. 3 Key Blogging Questions: Question 2
    3. Monitor your brand, company and industry using blogs
    4. What makes a successful corporate blog?
    5. Pharmaceuticals enter the fray with corporate blogs

    At the end of 2006 and perhaps prompted by Time’s lead article declaring “Person of the Year: You“, there was a lot of talk about user generated content, thats to say information on sites being supplied by those using the site rather than those who set it up and run it.

    There are many good examples of websites which work primarily on content which has been generated by the users themselves. Sites such as YouTube and MySpace are ones which have attracted a great deal of press coverage at the social end of the spectrum.

    Business and Networking Examples

    In business, there are equally impressive examples. Amazon contains a huge amount of product information but arguably more valuable are the reviews written by people who have read the books. Similarly, sites such as TripAdvisor contain lots of information but the dynamic part comes from guests who leave their own opinions on the hotels and holidays mentioned.

    In social and business networking, many sites are primarily online structures or shells which allow their members to post articles, share information and advice or generally interact in forums. Their challenge lies in creating something which is appealing and then attracting users with similar interests who will use them and participate. Many do this very well and it shows in their success and their growth.

    Collaboration on Business Blogs

    But it is not only sites of this size which can benefit from this trend towards online collaboration and sharing of information. Your company blog offers the ideal place for exactly this type of cooperation and community building after all, it is targeted at a specific group

    So, for your own business, look at the benefit that you can accrue by getting some of the stakeholders in your company working with you:

    • Sales & Partner Networks: companies with non competing sales or distribution networks can use their blogs as a central source of information that their partners can use to increase their sales and coverage, as well as share their own experiences

    • Internal Communications: from a company perspective, tap into the collective ideas that bounce around inside of a company with nowhere to go. Give them an outlet and a chance to be expressed. Using an internal blog, you allow them not only to be put forward but also developed as others add to the initial idea

    • Market Research: tap into the combined ideas of your most valuable assets your customers. Give them a place (open or private) where they can suggest new ideas or show how they are using your products and services already. It may be quite eye opening

    • Product Development: in certain industries, particularly in hi-tech, allowing developers and customers to put forward new ideas extends the type of research and product marketing that you can achieve 100 fold. You also increase the chances of developing a group of product evangelists into the bargain

    As you can see, you don’t need a site the size of Amazon to enjoy the benefits that collaboration can bring – your business blog has all the elements that you need provided that you focus it correctly.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    2 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. No blog is an island
    2. Treat your Blog as your online home
    3. Why on earth do you link to your blog?
    4. Predictions for 2007
    5. Internal Communications, Information Sharing and Internal Blogs