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How To Use Blogging For Marketing And Higher Traffic

How To Use Blogging For Marketing And Higher Traffic

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When businesses ask the proverbial question, How do I get press coverage for my business? or, in translation, how do I get free advertising for my products and services? the answers have always revolved around press releases, newsworthy events, advertising in the newspaper, getting to know a journalist and so on.

Interestingly, many of the answers remain the same but the tactics have changed somewhat.

Blogging, that is, making regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video by an individual and his/her readers, is the new black of journalism.

According to Wikipedia, blogging is a fairly new method of communication with origins dating back to the mid to late 1990s. However, this form of diary or commentary has grown rapidly and become an increasingly persuasive form of communication and in some cases journalism.

Technorati, the blog directory, noted that it was following 110 million blogs back in 2007 and today indexes 1.5 million blog posts daily. They quote Universal McCann, a worldwide media agency, in saying that 75% of all Internet users post to blogs.

If 75% of all Internet users are on blogs, your customers are probably in that mix. And, unlike a press release that is sent to a newspaper or online press service, where it may or may not be picked up for further distribution, accessing a blog is as simple as registering and posting. The message: you need to be involved with blogging and bloggers to take advantage of this newest form of communication.

The interesting issue with blogging is that as the phenomenon develops, so do the rules. As one might expect, it did not take long for people to figure out that a blog was a great place to promote a product. In fact, if you go to Elance, a worldwide marketplace for businesses looking for freelancers, you will typically find over 6,000 writers offering blogging services and almost 700 requests for paid blogging services. The blogosohere morphed pretty rapidly into a smoky advertising arena as well as being a communications forum.

Naturally, the reaction occurred. The FTC will issue new guidelines this summer that will include authorization for the agency to seek out and penalize bloggers and the companies that pay them for any false claims or for failure to disclose conflicts of interest. The rules are expected to be quite strict. As a result, blog owners are extremely wary and businesses promoting their wares are generally not very welcome.

But that is okay. If you think about blogging in the right way, you will see that it is not all that useful to simply find ways to plug your product in those forums and hope someone will believe you. Like any form of marketing, your goal is to find those people who want and need your product or service and produce the information they need to establish why they should buy from you. Here is how you do that in the blogging world:

Target the Right Blogs

First, you need to locate your potential customers by their reading and blogging habits. Go to Technorati and keyword search your area of interest. You want to find the right combination of blogs that are popular enough to be active and have a large following along with narrow enough to be your marketplace because this form of marketing is more labor intensive than others.

Read The Blog

You know that we are going to eventually recommend that you post to this blog. Before you do, read the blog (very important). Understand what is going on there. Get a feel for who the blog owner is and what positions they take on the relevant themes.

Join the blogging discussion

Now that you know this blog group includes potential customers, and the blogger is writing in your area of business, join the discussion. Introduce yourself, do not hide who you are and what you do but do not make it the focus on your introduction.

If you sell fishing equipment, you might say, I am Tom Jones and I have been a fly fisherman all my life. In fact, I love it so much I sell the equipment for a living. I try to get out at least once a month, usually to my favorite local spots and I really look forward to my two vacations a year when I drag my understanding wife along to a new location I read about. I read John’s (the blogger) description of his trip to the Grand Tetons and I am thinking about going there myself. John, do you have any advice about helping my wife enjoy that same area you wrote about? She prefers going to art museums to standing around in waders.

You need to be real. Fakery is easily found out and called out in blogging.

Make a pitch

Once you have established yourself as a credible participant, you can approach the blog owner and ask for their help. What can you ask?

- Review of your product
- Link exchange
- Permission to use content on your site
- Advertising on the site
- Partnership possibilities

If a blog owner thinks that reviewing your product might be useful to his readers, he/she is likely to agree. If a link and/or content use will bring more traffic, that is the owner’s goal as well. If the owner is trying to monetize the site, advertising or partnerships may have appeal.

Make your pitch short, to the point and emphasize the benefits to the blog owner and blog readers.

Is it worth it?

Yes, it is a lot more work than sending out a press release. Is it worth it? The answer will be different for each business owner. Here is what you may be accomplishing.

- Building credibility with potential customers.
- Building the opportunity for endorsement from a respected commentator in your area of interest.
- Building links and traffic to your site.

Those tactics can certainly lead to more sales. The best way to make it worthwhile, apart from following the advice in this article, is to choose blogs wisely so that the time invested is made up by the return for your efforts.

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