Getting Started with Blogging for an Off-Line Business

OK, now that I’ve got your commitment to use blogging consistently for your business web site, how do you do it? Well, there are at least two aspects to how you approach this:

  • Blogging to draw customers to your off-line business (marketing)
  • Blogging as a new stream of income for your business

Of course these two aspects are not mutually exclusive. But, most people will initially approach what they do with one tendency or the other. You can always add the other aspect later. If you are building from an established off-line business, then the natural step would be to start by developing an on-line presence and identity for that business. As you develop that, and start getting an on-line reputation for content to build on your off-line business experience, then you can very easily extend your blog into becoming an income stream of its own. As most business owners know, it is always good to have multiple sources of income to help level out the hills & valleys of income when you are running business.

To get you started with more details about how blogging can be built into an income stream of its own, I’d like to personally recommend Yaro Starak’s just released Blog Profits Blueprint. It’s a free download PDF with a detailed description of how he developed his online business strategy & tactics he used to implement them. If you are serious about using blogs to expand your business on-line, I would seriously consider registering for his blog mentoring program, Blog Mastermind, which should be released next week. You can register now for early notification of its availability.

Be sure to visit Entrepreneurs-Journey and read how he made $6549.52 from blogging in March, 2007. It should give you plenty of inspiration of the possibilities blogging has to expand and enhance your business model.

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!

Technorati Rank from 1,456,027 to 452,359–Overnight!

Wow! I just noticed my Technorati Rank change! I guess that shows you how many blogs that exist out there, and are not being read by many people. My ‘Authority’ went from 3 to 11, so things are looking up. Guess I should add the Authority plugin to my sidebar, next to Douglas Karr’s Technorati Rank. Feel free to use it to add me to your Technorati Faves–click on the heart. If you haven’t noticed before, each individual icon of the four on the left side of this plugin gives you different information when you mouse-over it. And each is a short-cut to the appropriate place.

I’ve added most of the links in my last post to my Technorati favorites. Maybe that influences rank & authority too…

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.

ProBlogger Group Writing Project

Darren Rowse at ProBlogger has announced a new Group Writing Project to be started in the next 24 hours. This is just to get everyone primed and aware of the project, as last time there was about four days to write and publish your post. So, check out ProBlogger’s last group writing project so you are familiar with how it works, and be ready! I look forward to participating in this project myself. Sometimes, we need outside sources of subject material to write on, although I’m sure the project will be similar in concept to the last one, where you write in your niche, but use the style of post Darren specifies. Whatever the rules are specifically, I’m sure it will allow you to write in your area of expertise and target niche of your blog. I’m a big believer in defining the focus of your market, and then going for it with all you’ve got. The more finely targeted your market, the easier it is to serve your customers, and be the best at what you do!