Why Your Business Needs a Blog, but You Should Not Have One!

Blogging can serve your business goals in many ways. However, you must recognize first it is all about communication. Or a little more accurately, a conversation. It is not a place to post re-hashed marketing materials, or to overtly sell your product! OK, that is about content… there is one more important piece than even the content when it comes to blogging: consistency & communication. Blogging requires commitment to producing good content. Producing good content takes time. If you aren’t going to make the commitment to regularly posting to your blog–or having a staff member responsible for doing so–then don’t do it! Nothing looks worse than a blog on your web site with the last post being months ago! You don’t have to post daily, but if you really want to build something with it, I recommend that pace. It will get you in touch with your customers in the marketplace and get you feedback you may have never received through another channel. Weekly is probably the lowest post rate I would like to see for a business, and something in between is perfectly fine.

Now, saying this, I’m coming off a week of no posts… which brings me to my next point: blogs are about communication. Communication is a two-way street, you have to listen as much as you speak… or as the old saying goes, you have two ears and one mouth, so maybe you should listen twice as much as you speak. Translate that into blogging by getting out and visiting your peer blogs and others that are in your line of work or related and get into the conversation. There is plenty of business in this world for everyone to have their piece. And when it comes to blogging, I can bet most of the other bloggers out there are not your competitor down the street!

Another part of this is you need to tell your regular readers & subscribers what is happening in your business or personal life if it is going to interfere with your regular schedule. If you look back at my last post, you will find I put a short two-line note at the end warning that there might not be any posts for the next week as I was preparing to sell my home. People understand changes in what you do… when you tell them! (I am thankful for my faithful readers, and have amazingly increased my subscribers over the past week!) If you don’t, they will just go away not knowing what happened and feeling like they’ve been left out in the cold. I hate to say it, but that is the experience I’m having right now in trying to sell my house… and I haven’t even listed it yet! Have you ever lost a customer before they walked into your store? That’s what I’m experiencing now–from the customer’s point of view.

While I still have more work to do on the house… I’m going to try and get back to my daily posting schedule. Though it may be spotty… I warned you! 🙂


We must have passion. Be it for our work or in our relationships. Without it, we have no inspiration to drive us forward. I have been searching for mine, for a long time. I’m about to make a major change in my life in order to further my search for my personal passion. You must find yours if you wish to be successful in life… in LIFE, not just business. Your business may be a major part of your life, but don’t let it become too much. Remember your family, your friends and your loves. People come first.

This morning, I was reading Mike Sansone’s latest Dialing 8 post, and was led to reading some wonderful work of Kammie Kobyleski’s Passion Meets Purpose blog. The first post I happened to read was, The Search for Passion & Purpose. Kammie tells us how we should live life passionately. I don’t want to give it away, but the fourth paragraph of her post hit home for me. But, as an insight, she tells us, “To live out loud and play full out!” Many of us in business don’t play enough! We need to remember the child we once were…

Posts may be light for the next few days. Tomorrow I’m listing my home for sale, and I still have things to do to get it ready.

How Brick ‘n’ Mortar Businesses Can Use a Web Site

For all the information on the web, it seems when you are running an off-line or brick and mortar business, it seems difficult to find useful web resources on how you can leverage the web for your business. Everything seems so on-line business oriented. Here, you don’t have to worry. I hope to provide you with both some ideas on how you can use the web to your advantage, as well as point you at some resources.

There are some core reasons for using the web to improve your business:


Even if the product you sell can only be delivered in person to your customer, common with a service-based business, having a web site helps people find you. Combine the general concept of marketing with tools like Google Maps, and your stores need to be findable in that interface! I did a test search for “Chinese restraunt Boulder, CO” and found many restaurants to choose from. I doubt they would deliver to my current location in Tennessee… but, I’ll also bet there were many that did not show up in the list because they did not investigate using the web for their restaurant. It’s the modern day yellow pages… and a lot cheaper!


Online sales! For those of you with products that can be shipped, or perhaps a service that can be purchased as a gift card for a local customer. It’s a must, even if you don’t sell electronic goods. Just check out eBay and the millions of dollars that pass through there daily! An online store can be simple, or as complex as you want to make it.

Vendor Research

If you are selling off-line, you need product to sell. Buy it online in bulk or wholesale, and sell in your physical stores. You may have current vendors that would welcome you doing business via their web site, as it make work easy for them too.


Meet other business owners. Either friendly competitors or peers in another market. You both can learn from each other. They may have run into a problem you have recently, and already solved it! If you own a franchise, this is great way to make connections with other franchisees. Of course you can meet other businesses that might be compatible with yours so you can send each other customers. That’s what networking is all about.

Customer Support

Today, many people look to use a businesses web site first for support before picking up the phone. Having great information about your products, and solving potential problems in their use just raises your value in your customer’s eyes. I love it when a vendor as a knowledgebase of questions that previous customers had, with the answers already there! I not only look for my current problem for solution, but browse the categories so I know what is there in case I need to return.

I hope these have given you some ideas to research and inspire you to use a web site for your brick and mortar business. Here’s a few great resources I found on entrepreneurship and business:

For other blog resources specific to your product, service or field, try searching for your product name and ‘blog’ in your favorite search engine. I also recommend reviewing online blog directories such as Technorati or Blogflux. One of the reasons I suggest in researching blogs in your field, is because it becomes very easy to network with other like-minded people whether it is the publisher of the blog or other commenters on the site. It becomes a very natural community of people with a common interest. Speaking of which… get involved! If you find a site you like and read something interesting, make a comment! Join the fun! Feel free to comment here and add to the list of ways the web can be used for off-line businesses. Everybody wins from sharing information!

Entrepreneurs Developing Web Sites Must Address These Top 5 Potential Pitfalls

Note my choice of words for this post’s title. In particular, pitfall… The issues discussed here could be a problem, but with careful planning, they don’t have to be. Hopefully raising your awareness is sufficient to help you address them.

I’ve ordered these in the most likely order you will encounter the issue. Of course, when planning a web site in advance, you can address most all of them at the same time by doing good planning.

Purchasing a Domain Name

No web site exists without an address to get to it, and that means a domain name. It’s what ties your marketing materials together, it binds your online & off-line marketing together. It’s your email address. It’s everywhere! Why would you use someone else’s brand to label your product? You MUST own your domain name! There are two important points in that short phrase. First, it must be Your domain name–identified and related to your business, whether it be your current business name or variation of, or a fanciful name you plan on marketing off-line to build as your brand image, e.g., Yahoo! Second, make sure when the name is purchased or registered, that you, as principle of your company, are shown as the Owner. Third-parties are OK for administrative & technical contacts, but You must be the Owner. There are many sad stories about someone walking away from a business and taking it’s well-known web address with them. If you don’t own it, you don’t have control.

Choosing a Web Host

I know entrepreneurs are commonly on a shoe-string budget, but that is no excuse to choose a fly-by-night web host, just because they are cheap or run by a friend. Your business’ online image will be made or lost based on the 24×7 support that a web host must provide. Depending on the services you plan on delivering on the web, the level of host must be appropriate. The average $5 host won’t cut the mustard long-term. Shared hosting is only a starting place, you must have a plan to get your own dedicated host in the long term. No matter what size your business is, eventually. A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a good middle ground for most businesses with medium web traffic. Heavy-hitters, i.e., business whose business is the web, need a dedicated server. Big bucks maybe, but worth it. It’s also not all about the server. The available bandwidth (how fast and how many independent connections to the Internet) to the hosting facility, the back-up systems, the back-up generator & UPS systems that are the infrastructure of a web host are just as important to you.

Web Standards

The web has been here long enough now for some standards to have been developed. This allows different people to choose different tools and yet all of us work together. In the web world, the key is the web browser and the leaders have over the years tried to do things their own way. Yes, there was commonality in the basics, but they tried to sell you on using their browser by adding features that other vendors did not have and could not understand. So, if one site developed with one browser in mind you better have that one if you wanted to access the content! Finally, they have (mostly) realized that agreeing on web standards is to everyone’s benefit. You benefit in developing your web site by only having to build to the standard–you don’t have to recreate your design multiple times to address all the major browsers. The key standards are those developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). They are ever expanding and being advanced, but at least the core vendors are working together on a common path. A second benefit of this, is improved accessibility to your site by the visually or motor impaired. Web Standards-based designs can easily be made Section 508 compliant. If you plan on doing business with the Federal Government, you can be required to have your web site compliant with Section 508. This same ability also allows you to be prepared for change in the future for new types of devices re-purposing the content on the Internet.

Getting Help

Unless your business is web development, you should be contracting out the setup, design and maintenance of your web site. It might be fun to get your hands on the knobs and tweak the design, but if you are not an expert in web development or graphic design, your focus on the web site must be it’s CONTENT. That is where your business expertise should be focused–on your business! Not on what makes the web site look good or even makes it work. It’s the old story, do what you do best, and hire the best to do the rest! Experienced web professionals can do what you need done in much less time than you can and probably do it better. Meanwhile, you can be doing what you do best, running your business!

Keep it Fresh!

Once you have a good web site up & running, don’t let it languish! It needs to have it’s content kept up-to-date, even if you don’t have a changing product line, you should have something like a blog that requires updating on a regular basis so there is a sense of motion and change on your site. You need to track what results your site is getting using web analytics, and tie it to any web-based or off-line sales you make if you can, to determine your ROI. Your web site should easily pay it’s own way, if only in your marketing image–which is of value itself. Oh, and about every 12-18 months it should get a fresh coat of paint! I.e., a small redesign of the site based on feedback from your customers over the past period. Particularly addressing any usability issues that have been discovered. Change makes visitors keep coming back. If I get used to seeing something different every time I visit, I visit more often! You build brand image in your customer’s mind.

Hope everyone has enjoyed this recap of these potential pitfalls, and hopefully can now avoid them! Watch for more detail on each of these areas here in the future.

This post has been my entry to the latest Group Writing Project from Darren Rowse at ProBlogger. Be sure to check out more on the project, and visit the other authors that are contributing to the project. Here’s the summary pages so far:

Why Your Website Needs Branding

While spending my time developing the new theme for this site, the reason for developing it was upper most in my mind. There are a lot of nice free or inexpensive generic templates available. However, if you want to be recognized, your look must be different. You must stand out from the crowd in many ways to succeed as a business. For your web site, the first impact and impression you get to make is the look & feel of your site. It comes even before your visitors read any text on the site! If it is not unique, your potential customers won’t be able to tell you apart! A possible competitor could go out and obtain the very same template and confuse your customers, simply by imitating your look.

Branding is almost an over-used term these days, but it still represents a core part of a successful business. Your business must be recognizable and identifiable so you can take credit for your work where it is due. But, remember that branding does not begin with the look of your site. It begins with your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Ed Roach over at Small Business Branding has a great post on what to do if you are Drowning in Competition. In it he describes the use of USP as helping you eliminate your competition by narrowly defining your target niche. While Ed calls it “Unique Selling Point,” the concept is the same. I learned it many years ago from multiple influential sources, so we agree on what it means, if not the phrase.

You must make your business identifiable by what you do and how you do it. There should be no one out there doing the same thing you do!

Andy LaPointe, also at Small Business Branding, asks if your business’ Brand has Graduated from Kindergarten, he points out three key factors in defining your USP: Industry, Geography & Product. He points out you don’t have much control in defining your niche at the Industry level, and limited control at the Geographic level. But you have 100% control at the level of defining your product! No matter what you product is, whether it be physical goods or a service, how you define it is what makes your business unique. You must make decisions at this level before you get far in your business. Or in developing your web site.

Your USP gives you a state of mind in designing your web site. I wanted to acknowledge my desire to be free and recognize how I could be of service to others by developing this resource site. I’ve always been a teacher in my life, sometimes in the classroom, but often on the job to my co-workers. I love doing workshops and making technical presentations to an interested and interactive audience. This site is meant to demonstrate my skill both technically and philosophically with my attitude for sharing what I know, or helping others find out what they need to know that I might not–yet! I love learning, and have often said that life without learning would be too dull. In a technical field such as the web, you must continually learn to keep ahead or even survive. A long time fan of Stephen Covey, I share in his belief, presented in his book First Things First, that the fulfillment of the four human needs and capacities “to Live, to Love, to Learn and to Leave a Legacy” is vital for both our personal & professional success.

Your brand may change over time, as will your web site. If we don’t change, we stagnate. That is why there has been so much turnover in companies on the web, some kept pace, others burned out, and others put up a web site to say they had one and forgot about it. Be the first, not the last. Decide what your current brand is, close your eyes and visualize it. Then open your eyes and get to work creating your vision.