One of the great things about having a business blog is it allows people who visit to ask questions via the comments section. Think of your business blog as an FAQ (frequently asked questions) page on steroids. Even if you have a “regular” website and even if that website has an FAQ page - a blog can still help you to illustrate all the potential benefits consumers can experience by using your products and/or services.
That’s just one reason business blogs are great for growing your business. They provide an opportunity for visitors to ask questions…. visitors who have found your business blog post while searching for information via the search engines. Recently, a visitor to this blog asked: “Is it better to have the blog on your own website or blog on another site that lets you post your blogs there for free?”
What a great question. It’s such a great -and basic- question that surely it’s one I’ve answered before.
Is it possible that over the course of 314 blog posts that I haven’t answered this basic question about business blogging? A quick search through the posts and pages on this site reveals that I haven’t addressed this topic previously and it’s definitely one that needs to be addressed.
Why would you want to PAY for a business blog when you can blog so many places for free??
Well – as in most things online – FREE rarely is truly “free”. Often times – free comes with strings attached. The same is true of blogs.
While WordPress offers an incredibly easy, world famous 5 minute installation of the software – and if your hosting includes cpanel you can install WordPress without ever connecting via FTP – to truly set up your own self hosted WordPress business blog and use it as a powerful marketing tool requires a willingness to acquire a minimal level of technical expertise. Not only do you need to possess (or be willing to acquire) a smidgen of tech savvy to set up WordPress on your own – you need to make sure you keep your installation of WordPress up to date to protect your business blog from hackers.
There is an easier way – and that’s to simply set up your blog on one of the many free blog sites. Free blogs are by far the easiest way to get started blogging. They’re easy to use and easy to set up but because they’re free – but as anyone can tell you who has launched a blog – there’s a lot more to creating a success blog than simply creating a blog post or two. To unlock the full power of blogging for your business- you need a to craft a business blogging strategy in order to create a successful blog.
Let’s say you are able to invest the time and effort needed to educate yourself on your own on how to create a successful blog to promote your business. You might be thinking that it’s better to “learn the ropes” while blogging on a free site and then migrate your site to a self hosted blog – one which YOU control.
Which brings us to one of the key “sticking” points with free blogging sites. I liken it to building a house on land you do not own.
A while back, Yahoo decided to pull the plug on their free blogging site – much to the dismay of those who had come to depend upon the free blogging service. This illustrates a key point which is when it comes to free blogs – there’s no guarantee that any free blogging site will either continue to operate or continue to remain free. (A quick read of Tumblr’s terms of service agreement will reveal that they reserve the right to begin charging for the service at an unspecified point of time in the future).
With the more successful free blog sites, you can probably rest assured that they won’t pull the plug on your free blog site because they have developed a way to make money from your blog posts. You might be surprised to learn that many free blogging sites can use a plugin which inserts a special piece of code into each blog post. This bit of code will only display ads to visitors when they find your blog post via the search engines. You might not be aware of these ads because the plugin can be configured to not display ads to the author – or to visitors who arrive at the blog via other means like when they follow a link from your business website to the blog.
In other words, when you use one of these “freebie” blog sites – very often the visitors who find your post via the search engines will also be seeing paid ads in the body of the posts. Because of the nature of online advertising – those ads will most likely be run by you or your competitors.
It’s a brilliant easy money strategy for the free blog site owners because when someone finds your blog post via a search on a search engine - they are usually very serious about finding the products and services you offer – and very likely to click on these ads. If you’ve ever run a PPC campaign, you know that such ads can run as high as $20 or more per click. This is why these free blog services are willing to allow your quality blog posts live on their site for no charge, because you’re doing the work and they get paid from advertiser dollars instead of from you directly.
Still not convinced that starting your business blog under your own domain on your own web hosting account is the way to go?
Here’s the final item I’ll submit for your consideration – blogs obey the same “rules” that govern the web. One of the “rules” of the web is that older sites (and blogs) do better than newer sites (and blogs). The search engines LOVE blogs – especially older established blogs – blogs with loads of incoming links. Most of those incoming links – when you create a blog on a free hosting service – will be linking – for example – to yourblog.wordpress.com.
So when you decide to migrate your blog to your own domain name – you may be able to pull the database and migrate the blog posts – but you won’t be able to pull the incoming links with you. Those links STAY pointing to the free blog – you’ll have to earn new incoming links to your newly migrated blog just the same as if you started from scratch. I recommend that when a business blogger wants to migrate from a free blog to a self hosted blog that they leave the blog intact on the free site and simply start from scratch again – creating a text sidebar widget which directs visitors of the free blog to the new blog – where new information can be found.
Creating a successful business blog is a time consuming process that can yield great rewards for your business. Blogging for your business is truly a numbers game. Each week – you can create just two blog posts which results in over 100 pages of content written each year. As you create those blog posts, you’ll be unintentionally targeting “long tail keywords” – low volume keywords which people tend to use when they are REALLY searching online for information about the products and services you offer. As time goes on – those blog posts can more an more “authority” until most business blogs have literally dozens of blog posts – each bringing a trickle of prospective customers into the funnel. As those trickles combine – they grow into a stream and finally a mighty river. It doesn’t happen overnight – but it can and does happen.