From The Desk Of:
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
"The advantages and disadvantages
of using blog marketing
to generate free leads."
What is a blog?
A blog is simply a different way of building a web-site - the main difference being how the content is organised. In a normal content-based web-site, information is usually organised according to hierarchy of pages relating to specific topics. The content on a blog, on the other hand, is organised according to the time that it was published. This site is a combination of both - the focus is on permanent content, however it also contains a blog that contains more time-sensitive content.
In recent years, a lot of hype has surrounded the concept of "blog marketing". Blog marketing was kind of the new kid on the block - or should I say, new kid on the blog? Sorry, I couldn't resist it... In any case, a blog is a useful marketing tool when you understand what it offers and what it does not.
The good and the bad of blog marketing
Many people who set out to start a web-site to generate free leads for their Network Marketing business are usually faced with the following problem: What type of site should you start with?
It really depends on whether you want long-term or short-term results. In the end, the focus of both methods are to get top entries in the search engines for specific keywords. For instance, among the keywords I am running for on this site are "Financial Freedom" and "Network Marketing" - the goal being that people will find me in the top ten search results by typing those words into Google (or one of the other search engines, like Yahoo!, etc.).
Blog marketing allows you to do this quite quickly, as opposed to a content-focussed site. Adding content to a blog is fairly easy and gets submitted to so-called "ping" sites which are constantly monitored by the search engines - which means you get into the search results as soon as possible (usually a day or two from the time you published).
As blog entries are time sensitive, they also get treated the same way by the search engines. They tend to give blog content priority if they are relatively new, but degrade them quickly as they start becoming older - and this is draw-back of blog marketing.
Due to the time sensitivity involved with blog marketing, it could end up being a constant treadmill of coming up with new, unique content to write - that is, if you want people to keep visiting. If you have a natural writing talent and keen on being a journalist, this is fine - if you have to split your focus on updating your blog and running your business, it becomes quite a bit more difficult.
One of the other main advantages that a blog has, is that it makes it easier to position yourself as an expert in your industry - especially if you start developing an audience of people interested in the subject you are writing about. This generates an atmosphere of trust when people visit your site and people are more likely to listen to and respect your opinion.
How to start a blog
There are a couple of services on the Internet that allow you to start your own blog. They allow you to bypass all the hassle of setting up blogging software yourself. Among them are:
If you have the technical know-how or like the idea of being in complete control, you can always buy your own domain and hosting; and then set up the blogging software yourself. For hosting purposes, if it comes to a stand-alone blog, I am currently using the services of DigiServ Technologies - they have excellent customer service, hosting options in the US and South Africa and a very useful administration interface.
To blog- or not to blog?
Basically, a blog by itself brings you short-term results that you have to maintain by adding fresh, keyword-focussed content on a daily basis. If you can deal with the daily commitment of finding and writing fresh, unique content; and see yourself doing it for quite a while after you get started, then it may be exactly what you are looking for. Blog marketing does not really require any technical skills - and all you need are the right services and software; most of which are free.
As a Network Marketing consultant, when is it a good idea to blog? Well:
- As part of a content-focussed site,
- when your main aim is to build a once-off mailing list
- or if you simply like the idea of daily publishing content.
As part of a content-focussed site, a blog helps to make sure that your site gets indexed by the search engines regularly - especially if your blog entries contain links back to other static pages on your site. It is also a convenient way of keeping your visitors updated with news related to the site itself as well as a way to show them that your site is still active - which inspires confidence and helps to position you as an expert even more.
If you decide to build a blog by itself, your search engine traffic could dry up very quickly after each post and you want to make sure that you make the most out of every visitor. The way to do that is to offer people some free information in the form of a downloadable report or article, in exchange for signing up for your mailing list. Obviously, it is a good idea to start a newsletter regardless of the type of site you build - however, using blog marketing could give your mailing list the boost you need.
Should you bring blog marketing into your marketing arsenal? I believe the answer is yes, as long as you understand the limitations. If all you are looking for is a quick burst of free leads, your time will be well spent by learning how to maintain a blog - however if you are looking for a long-term, low maintenance solution, combine your blog with a content-focussed web-site.
A content-focussed site will take a lot of work up-front - but you will reap the benefits for years to come. A blog by itself will get you results quicker, at the price of the daily maintenance tread-mill. At the end of the day, both methods work - you just have to decide if you want to spend the time up-front or spread out into the future.
If blogging does not sound like the direction you want to go in, have a look at Site BuildIt! to find out more about theme-based content sites. And feel free to have a look at my blog for an example of how to start a blog or integrate one with your current web-site.