A blog can help build your firm. However, simply creating a domain name and sporadically writing entries will not yield more business. In order to give your effort and your blog justice, you must commit to writing the blog on a regular basis; be patient to see results; and promote the blog so your clients, customers, prospects, and referral sources can find you.
Here are 10 ways blogs can generate business:
#1: Commit to Writing the Blog—Got 30 Minutes a Week? In the time it takes to drop your kids off at daycare or watch an overrated sitcom, you could have written an excellent blog entry that will position you as an expert on any number of topics.
Even if you're not a fast writer, you can still produce a blog entry. No one wants to read a lot of material, so think of blogging in terms of 250 words or a few short paragraphs. You also can blog as much as you like, but try to do it at least once a week.
Blogs are ideal forums to take a stand on a subject. Take tax, for example. If you have a tax practice and feel strongly that President Obama ought to overhaul the nation's tax system, then talk about it. On the other hand, if you work in industry as an internal auditor for a telecommunications provider, then you could talk about audit risk. Vary your blogs and avoid writing about the same topics. The more diverse your blog entries, the wider net you cast in terms of attracting more readers.
#2: Be Patient and Use the Right Tools. I have a friend who says he blogs to the universe and no one listens. He gets discouraged very quickly and often thinks about ending his blog. I encourage him to continue. Blogs take time to take hold and catch on, and the onus is on him to promote it (see #3 below). You have to be patient to reap the rewards.
The good thing about a blog is that there are very easy formats available. Two good examples are Blogger and Wordpress, and best of all, both are free. I've used both sites, but prefer Wordpress because it's a bit more intuitive than Blogger and seems more like Microsoft Word. So, if you are familiar with word processing, creating a blog is simple.
#3: Promote the Blog – Extra! Extra!
Part 2 to the story about my friend who thinks he blogs to the universe is this: For quite a long time, he didn't promote the blog. If you don't promote something you're doing, how are others going to know about it and respond to whatever you're proposing?
The accounting profession is a prime example of this. Accountants are terrible self-promoters. They are very good at what they do, but usually don't take the time to tell others their story unless asked or forced to talk through a networking group.
You can blog and live inside a cave, or you can see the light by letting others know you have the blog. That will yield you some kind of feedback, either through posted comments or through regular e-mail.
#4: Create a Great Name for your Blog
As people thumb through the bookstore, a catchy title can catch their interest. That same concept applies on the web, to an even greater degree. On the Internet, people are pickier about what they read, and how much time and patience they give. While people tell me they like my blog because of its business/personal nature, they also love the name: AbsoluteCytron.com. And just so you know, I'm still waiting for Absolute Vodka to call and tell me they must have my URL for $1 million.
#5: Include Your Blog URL in Your Email Signature
Emails get passed around as much as anything in business, so why not use this as an advantage to promote your blog? Your email signature is designed to provide your basic contact info, but why not go a step further? Include the URL to your blog, and even ask everyone in the firm to include it in their signatures as well.
#6: Print Your Blog URL on Your Business Cards
Your business card is more than a piece of paper. It is an extension of your business and where and how you can be reached.
#7: Tweet about Your Blog Entries
Social media should go hand-in-hand with your blog promotion. This takes virtually no time to do, but can be integral in reaching a larger audience.
#8: Link to Other Business Blogs and Ask for Reciprocity
Blogging experts will tell you that this is one of the most strategic elements you can use to build business. Other bloggers want to be recognized just like you do, so why not link to their piece? In doing so, you can ask for them to begin doing this same for you. Not only will this build your reputation, but you might also gain some of their readers. More than that, you can bridge off their blogs or ideas, while still attributing them through the link. Remember that this is done by hyperlinking a word, instead of pasting their URL. Make sure it opens up in a new window, so that your blog entry still stays on their screen. Your software (Blogger or WordPress) includes link capability.
#9: Insert Links in Your Blog
Don't stop at linking to other blogs. In the words of blogger Rand Fishkin, "For search engines that crawl the web, links are the streets between pages." Check out his blog entry on implementing links. In simple terms, search engines pick up all blogs, so the more you link, the more likely you'll be found.
#10: Write a Creative Headline
Be creative with your headlines and you will get noticed much faster. For example, if you were writing about a new tax law, come up with some kind of anagram or ask a question in your headline. Think outside the box.
If you take the time to blog and think through your entries, it's almost guaranteed that you'll get noticed … and getting noticed leads to increased referrals and more business.