GET THE EDGE
Blogging for Business Coaches
By Les Brown


Since you're reading this article, you're obviously aware of the benefits that come from a published e-zine or online newsletter. Recently, we've seen the introduction of weblogs (called blogs). Blogs have all the features of websites, e-zines, and online newsletters plus they have three major advantages: immediacy, manageability and interactivity.

Important facts that came to your attention just this morning can appear in your blog almost immediately. With no publishing deadlines and a quick publishing process, how fast you can get your information to your reader is limited only by how fast you can write. It is as immediate as you want (or need) it to be.

If you'd like, you may employ Web designers to make your blog look pretty, but many people can create an attractive, professional-looking blog from scratch in only a few hours. Blogs are easily manageable. If you want to make changes to the design of your blog, it's fairly easy to do so with just a few minutes' work. As an experiment, I created a blog from scratch in about half a day. Look for the results and some blogging resources at www.ProActivation.typepad.com.

Once your blog is online and your articles are in the hands of your readers, you have the opportunity to receive immediate feedback. How often have you wanted to write a letter to the editor after reading a provocative article? Blogs let your readers do just that: they can interact. If you allow readers to post comments, they can start a discussion with you or among themselves.

One of the biggest concerns for anyone who has a website, e-zine or online newsletter is, "How do I get my site noticed?" Blogs help to solve that problem. True, you may restrict your blog to a private audience; or you may even password-protect it to limit your readership to subscriptions only. Yet, if you choose to make your blog publicly available, it will get noticed quickly. One useful strategy is to draw people to your blog, then redirect them by including link to your website. Blog hosting sites are one of the first places search engines go. In fact, one free blog hosting site is owned and operated by Google. 

If you publish a blog, you'll want to know what an aggregator is. An aggregator is a small (low-cost or free) program that you can download from the internet and run on your desktop. Aggregators, like all browsers, read HTML (hypertext markup language -- the "source code" that creates websites). Aggregators can also read XML (extended markup language), a brand of HTML that allows the aggregator to read and digest web contents electronically.

This electronic reading ability is called RSS (really simple syndication). When you see a small orange XML logo on a website, you know that website is available in RSS. You simply copy the link found at the XML logo and paste it into your aggregator's address bar and click on the syndicate button. Once your aggregator has syndicated the selected e-zine, online newsletter, or blog, it begins checking that site for new content regularly. It then delivers the new content to your desktop automatically. If you're the publisher, YOUR content will automatically end up on all your syndicators' desks!

Is a blog right for your business? The answer very much depends on what you want to accomplish. Blogs are not good for keeping static content: things about you and your business that seldom change. That belongs on a static website. If you create a blog, your readers will expect to see content regularly. Also, remember that public blogs can be very public. Yet, for immediacy, manageability, interactivity, as well as for price, building community, and promotion, it's hard to beat a blog.

 
Les Brown, MA, CFCC, co-founder of ProActivation (http://www.proactivation.com), is an innovator and change strategist who helps clients to effect deep and lasting change in their personal and professional lives. Read more about Les in the WABC Coach Directory. He may be reached by email, at: lbrown@ProActivation.com.

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