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What is a Blog or Weblog?
A blog (aka weblog or web log) is a Web page that is frequently updated, usually with personal insights and Web links. Each blog entry is typically short and to the point, sometimes with a link to a longer, extended entry.
How are Blogs Used?
Traditionally, blogs were used as something like an online diary. They included links that the author had found interesting that day as well as life stories.
But as blogs became more and more popular, businesses started to use them. The first industry to really embrace blogs was the news media.
Journalists post their stories to the blog and readers subscribe to the blog news feeds to receive up-to-the-minute information on a variety of topics. Now, blogs are used for many different purposes.
- Personal diaries
- News feeds
- Hourly, daily, weekly updates of Web sites
- New information on a topic
- Product updates: reviews, new versions, new products
- This day in history
- Birthdays and other special events
- Almost anything you can think of
What do I need to set up a blog?
Since blogs are just Web pages, all you really need to set up a blog is a computer, space on a Web hosting server for your pages, and time to create the blog. But there is an easier way to go.
There are numerous applications created to help you build a blog. One of the easiest is Blogger.com. This site allows you to set up a Weblog in about 10 minutes. Radio Userland is another popular hosted option.
But I have my own Web server, are there blog tools for me?
Yes, there are a number of blog tools that work with the server you already have. My favorite is Movable Type. Another good one is Greymatter.
How can I post to my blog?
There are many different tools to use to post to your blog. Many of the applications allow things like posting from a desktop client, email posting, and even posting by phone. I have used a cell phone with Web access to post to my Weblog.
Are there other tools I can use to post?
There are many tools you can use to post to your Weblog. Most blog applications these days offer support for the Blogger API which allows desktop and mobile client tools to connect to the blog for posting and management.
Why would I want to use a client tool other than the blog application?
Blog client tools or assistants are used for a variety of reasons.
- They are easier to use than the blog application, as they have fewer features.
- Because they are desktop and not server tools, they allow you to work offline and publish once you're ready.
- Some provide better WYSIWYG support, for those who don't like HTML.
- Some integrate directly into your browser.
- Some offer management tools that are easier to understand.
What is RSS?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and it is a way to tell other people about your new blog entries. You post your Web log entries in the XML specification RSS. Then readers all over the world can view your blog entries on content aggregators. Or you can post content from other blogs on your site using RSS tools.
I run a business, what good is a blog to me?
Weblogs are a great traffic generator, but only if they are honest, and not just marketing hype. There are many uses for a business weblog - not just for personal diaries.
What is a permalink?
Permalink is short for "permanent link". It is a link that readers can use to bookmark the current blog post. This is important, as most blogs change regularly, and without a permanent link, the posts would be impossible to find later.
Permalinks are usually indicated by a pound-sign (#) or the permalink at the end of the post.
What is Trackback?
TrackBack is a tool to allow you to notify other blog authors of your blog posts. Most bloggers use it to comment on a blog post as an entry on their site, rather than as comments on the other blog. It's similar to linking to a permalink (permananent link) but it adds the functionality where you actually tell the original blogger that you've linked to them. This is called "sending a ping".
What is a Blog?
According to Pyra Labs Blogger, "A blog is a web page made up of usually short, frequently updated posts that are arranged chronologically—like a what's new page or a journal." The term is actually weblogs coined by Jorn Barger in 1997.
The boom of weblogs happened in 1999 when several companies & developers made easy blogging software and tools. Since 1999, the number of blogs on the Internet has exploded from a few thousand to to millions.
Weblogs can fall into two general categories.
Personal Blogs: a mixture of a personal diary, opinion posts and research links.
Business Blogs: a corporate tool for communicating with customers or employees to share knowledge and expertise.
Business blogs are sweeping the business community. Blogs are an excellent method to share a company's expertise, build additional web traffic, and connect with potential customers..
What does Blogging Provide to Small Business?
Blog software is easy to use. Simply write your thoughts, link to resources, and publish to your blog, all at the push of a few buttons. Blog software companies such as, Movable Type, Blogger.com and Typepad all offer easy blogging tools to get started.
Blogging is a low-cost alternative to having a web presence. For small business owners without the time to learn web html or the money to hire a designer/developer, blogging offers an inexpensive method to get your company's name out on the Internet.
Updating the weblog is a much quicker process than contacting a web designer with changes or doing the coding and uploading yourself.
Business blogs provide your small business with a chance to share your expertise and knowledge with a larger audience. A powerful benefit for consultants and knowledge workers.
A Blog Can Help Your Business Even if You Don't "Blog"
One of the most common complaints that new writers have about weblogs or blogs is that they are too personal or informal. But it is very possible to have a business and still use a weblog to get more promotion, more pageviews, and more customers.
Why Blog for Promotion?
Blogging is very popular right now. And having a business weblog that provides good information for your customers while being timely and fun can add a new dimension to your Web site.
Blogs are a powerful tool for marketing and promotion. Because the entries are short, and often full of links, they are more keyword heavy than standard articles often are. Plus, being short, they are easy for your customers to read (and you to write), so they are more likely to come back daily to see what you might have to say on that day.
If your company is very formal, a blog is a place to show your customers that it is made up of people just like them. You can do this without becoming too personal or diary-like.
Using a Blog for Business
There are lots of ways you could use a blog in a business:
- Frequently Asked Questions
If you get a lot of mail to your webmaster account, you can post the common questions up on a blog. This will provide your customers a place to go to see questions and answers, and as new questions come in, you can post them to help more people.
If you do promotions every week or few days, you can use a blog to highlight them.
Daily contests and games are a great promo in a blog. They are fun, and bring your customers back.
- What's New Pages
If you add lots of new articles, information, or products regularly, sometimes it can be difficult for your customers to find out what's new. A quick blog entry can show them what's updated on your site.
- What's Coming
You can use a blog to peak interest in future products or projects. It's also a great way to keep notes about what you're planning for your customers, the entries are archived so nothing is lost either for you or your customers. Plus, if your blog tool has a comments feature, you can use that to judge interest before it goes live.
- Photo Blog
Rather than writing, you could put up a daily photo for your customers. A photo and a short description can be very compelling.
- Developer Notes
If you're a software company, this can often be fascinating for your customers, to see what the software developers are doing and how new projects might be moving forward.
The most common use for business blogs is news, usually about the specific topic relevant to the company.
Why Blogging Matters to Business
Use Blogs for Information and Communication
The current revolution in personal writing and instant publishing is called blogging. A business blog is an informal, easily maintained way to regularly communicate with your customers and employees. Unlike traditional media that require lead time for publishing, blogs are frequently updated, often daily, online journals of opinions, information and links to interesting content online.
According to About’s Susan Ward, “What sets blogs apart from other online writing … is their dynamic nature (as opposed to static Web pages) and their voice (style).” The voice of the writer (or writers) of the blog, in a successful blog, is unique to that blog.
Blogging matters to business because blogging can represent your company in a positive light.
Blogs can pinpoint employees you don't want to hire and help you do market research. Yet, blogs can also criticize your company and review your products unfavorably. You need to know about business blogging. There are seven reasons blogging is important to your business or organization - to start. Here are the first four reasons blogs matter.
- A business blog is an informal, easily maintained method for regularly communicating with your customers. A business blog offers a more approachable, informal information-providing approach in which customers find enjoyment, get to know your company, and learn about your products, achievements, and innovations.
- A business blog is an informal, easily maintained method for regularly communicating with your employees. Whether you host your internal employee blog on a commercial site, on your webpage in a password protected location or on your Intranet, you have created a strong communication tool. Multiple people may post on the blog and information can be shared daily. No more waiting for the weekly one-page update or the monthly newsletter, employees can read company news every day. The blog differs from email in that a permanent record of posts is maintained by category. The second advantage is that all employees receive the same information at the same time.
- A business blog can provide a “voice" for your company that educates and informs your website visitors; it is more easily updated than traditional web pages. These are several good examples of company blogs, that are supported by the company. They tell potential employees about your company’s culture. They make customers feel as if they know your company. They inform your current employees and your customers about new products and services. Take a look at:
--GM's FastLane Blog
--Butler Sheetmetal Ltd. or Tinpot Alley
--Stamping Out a Living
--Companies like Sun Microsystems encourage blogging and provide blogging space.
- Your employees may also be blogging. You want to ensure their blogs do not give away company confidential or proprietary information, or trade secrets. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, two surveys in November, 2004, “established new contours for the blogosphere: 8 million American adults say they have created blogs; blog readership jumped 58% in 2004 and now stands at 27% of internet users; 5% of internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and content-rich websites…” Indeed, the study reveals that 12 percent of Internet users have posted comments on blogs.
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