Blogs are blogs… that’s what you’d think. WordPress, Typepad, Blogger blogs or even the free WordPress.com blogs… they’re all the same… right? That’s exactly what I used to think but over the past two years, I’ve seen evidence to the contrary.
For example, I had one client who launched a blog on a VERY popular free blogging site on my recommendation.
The plan was to use the free blog as “bait” for her sales site. The plan was to capture targeted reader’s attention and those readers who were interested would click through to the frequent references to her sales website.
She blogged faithfully five times a week for several months yet when I ran the log files on her sales site, we didn’t see a single visitor come from her free blog to the sales site. In other words, over a 6-9 month period not a single person who visited her blog and went on to visit her web site.
I probably need to add here that I wasn’t using a free “stats” counter to track this or even the free “stats” programs available for free. I was using ClickTracks to analyze her log files.
Sure, my client didn’t have any $$$$ invested in development, but she was investing a significant amount of time and effort in her blogging efforts. (She’s a WONDERFUL writer, by the way!)
During this time, I launched quite a few wordpress self hosted blogs for other clients and the testimonials from those clients were outstanding.
It just didn’t make sense.
These people weren’t blogging as faithfully as the client with the free blog nor were they as well “branded” and tightly targeted as she had been with her free blog yet they were seeing growth in their blogs. There was increased traffic with the self hosted blogs (something we couldn’t track with the free blog) but most measurably, when you typed the other blogs into Google, the blogs came up in the search. That was NOT the case when it came to the free blog.
Because of what I had seen, I advised my client to launch a self hosted WordPress blog. (I’m a boot strapping entrepreneur’s best friend and hate to recommend spending money they don’t have to spend.)
Her WordPress blog was hosted on it’s own hosting account with a unique domain name pointing to the WordPress software installation. Her new blog acts as a “free standing” web site.
I then installed the necessary plug ins to “pump up” performance and she went to work blogging on the new site with the same enthusiasm she was on the free blog. She put a notice up on her free blog account that her blog was “moving” but we didn’t port the content over to the new blog.
Within 6 weeks of launching the self hosted WordPress blog, we began seeing traffic from her new blog coming to her HTML “storefront” web site. That traffic started as a trickle and is now a reliable flow.
Thanks to this hard working client, and a few that aren’t quite so enthusiastic when it comes to their blogs…. I’ve developed a real confidence in recommending that small business owners make the investment to launch a self hosted WordPress blog.
So these days, when I get an email asking me how to create an “alive and vibrant” blog presence, the first step I suggest is to launch a self hosted WordPress blog. It’s been my experience that free blogs just don’t get the attention they deserve or the traction for long term growth.