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Explore the wonderful world of ‘business by blog’

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in Office Technology

If you could reach a pool of 50 million prospective customers each day, you’d jump at the chance, right?

Well, about 50 million people visit and use Web logs (blogs) every day. So, what are you waiting for?

Advice: Use blogs to initiate discussions about products, services, marketing and other aspects of your business. Blogs feature a journal and commentary by the blog owner, a section for comments from readers, information and articles on specific topics and links to related resources.

Any business that sells products and services directly to consumers can benefit from a blog. Blogs can even help businesses serving only limited geographic areas, especially those located in cities (because urban areas have the highest concentrations of bloggers).

Advantages: Blogs are more intimate than Web sites and solicit ongoing feedback from regular contributors. They are less expensive to set up than Web sites and they build loyal audiences. Downside: Blogs are time-consuming and require updates daily or several times a week, or readers lose interest.

Follow these six steps to tap into the wonderful world of blogging for business:

1. Read other business blogs to get ideas. (Visit http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com. Click “See all the services we offer,” and then “Yahoo Web hosting” to see examples of business blogs.)

2. Set up your blog as a companion to your Web site or as a substitute, depending on the needs of your business. Blogs can do whatever Web sites can do and more.

3. Appoint a key employee to blog regularly. Preferably, choose a person who likes blogging and does it frequently. It creates a blog “voice.”

4. Use the blog to portray your company as an expert in its field. Spotlight interesting, informative and humorous issues and trends in your industry. Caution: Don’t post dull passages from company brochures and press releases. That turns off bloggers and could spur a negative reaction.

5. Respond to blogger feedback to keep people coming back to the blog. The more times they return, the more chances you’ll have to eventually sell them something from your Web site.

6. Utilize a blog resource and search engine to “tag” your blog with a subject category such as “marketing” to make it easier for Web surfers to find. Go to www.technorati.com.

Where to go: You can create blogs for free at Google’s Blogger.com, WordPress.com and LiveJournal.com. Set up a blog for $8.01 a month at http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com.

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