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Blogging 101, Part 1

One of the most powerful social networking tools is, literally, at your fingertips.

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But have you ever heard that blogging once a week can bring buyers to your store—and increase your items’ ranking in search results and maybe even get you a few sales?

It’s true. In fact, blogging is one of the most powerful social networking tools you can harness to market your online business and increase Web traffic, says Internet and social media marketing expert Marlene Gavens.

“Blogging works well for online sellers for several reasons,” she says. “A blog can be used to increase Web traffic to those sites. If a merchant is selling on their own website, a blog can drive traffic to the site, establish them as an expert in the field and as a reliable vendor.”

But those aren’t the only ways a blog can help you get the word out about you, your business and the products you sell. Below we have a few more reasons why you should consider blogging to make the imprint you want online.

To blog or not to blog?

We know what you’re thinking. You already have so much to keep track of with sales, inventory searches, packing, shipping…
Blogs are a great way to create valuable and relevant content to improve search engine rankings for your target keywords

We understand. All of these tasks take time, and blogging will, too. However, the benefits outweigh the investment. Once you get into a routine of posting regularly, you’ll see blogging as another part of your business plan—a part that will help you connect with potential customers.

Blogs help merchants establish a sense of community with readers, Gavens notes. They humanize your business, take the anonymity out of online sales, help buyers get to know you and make them more likely to consider you when they need something.

“It gives sellers the opportunity to develop a relationship with their customers, and customers who feel an alliance with a seller are more likely to make additional purchases and tell friends,” she explains.

Plus, blogs are a great way to create valuable and relevant content to improve search engine rankings for your target keywords, increase Web traffic, and help products become easier to find online, Gavens continues.

What should you blog about?

Coming up with ideas for regular blog posts can be tough, we’ll admit. Based on our experience, it can be one of the hardest aspects of having a blog.

Web-marketing consultant and mom-blogger Melissa Culbertson agrees. But as she tells her readers, there are probably a “gazillion blog post ideas” right in front of you, maybe even right on your coffee table.

“Sometimes you may read a headline on a magazine and say, ‘I wanna write about this, too!'” she explains. “Change the headline, tweak the focus, or keep it as is and use your own perspective. Be sure, though, that you don’t copy or paraphrase the article. Instead, write the post from your own point of view.”

Gavens recommends merchants blog about topics that interest them—and would interest others in their niche. For instance, if you sell scrapbooking supplies, tell customers about the best glues to use with delicate tissue paper, new designs you’ve seen, or explain how to make a special gift for some you love.

This will foster a relationship with you and your readers, and keep them coming back, knowing that they will gain helpful or fun information when they read your posts. They won’t have to worry about continuously hearing sales pitches.

That’s not to say that you can’t blog about the items you sell, or that you shouldn’t tell readers you’re an online seller. You should include this information and little bit about yourself in your blog’s About page. Just be sure to keep the blogs about your items to a minimum.

“A ratio of 90/10 or 80/20 is considered desirable, where the larger percent of posts are quality content that the customer will find useful,” Gavens notes.

When you blog, do it in a way that provides good information, not just a sales pitch. For example, if you have a product that requires assembly, write a blog post or post a video showing buyers how to assemble the item, or how to get it to function best. If you have questions from buyers, use your blog to respond to these and create a continuous discussion with them, she adds.

How often should you blog?

When it comes to blogging frequency, Gavens says “there are no set rules.” You may have to experiment to see what’s right for you and your readers. She admits that daily posts will probably be “overkill” and could alienate readers.

Why is that? Because blogs should be filled with valuable information, helpful tips, industry insights, or fun tidbits about you or your business. In a sentence, they have to have a point. Readers will know if you’re just posting for the sake of filling space.

Use analytics to see how many visits your blog gets, and when readers stop by, so you can tailor the frequency and the time and date of your posts accordingly, Gavens suggests.

Regular posts, be they weekly or monthly, are better than daily posts for two weeks [followed by] none for several months

Depending on your audience, a once-a-week blog might be sufficient. Or you might find that two or three times a week is more beneficial. Try a few variations and see how many clicks your posts get and then decide which frequency is right for you. Regardless of how often you decide to blog, though, keep your posts consistent, Gavens notes.

“Regular posts, be they weekly or monthly, are better than daily posts for two weeks [followed by] none for several months.”

Blogging regularly not only helps you add new content to feed the SEO spiders and increase Web traffic, it also gives readers an expectation of when they can find new content on your site. And it gives them a reason to check back.

An editorial schedule might help keep you posting regularly. Though, at times you may not be able to prevent a last-minute post, she adds.

The look of your blog

The look of your blog is another important factor to consider, but this doesn’t mean you have to hire a designer to set up your blog. Many of the popular blogging platforms like Blogger, WordPress.com, WordPress.org and Tumblr come with blog templates you can choose from to make your site look professional and attractive. You’ll save money this way and have more time to focus on the star of your blog: the content.

“Blog appearance is important,” Gavens notes. “But proper grammar and spelling are equally, if not more important. If there are misspellings or incorrect grammar, you won’t be giving the impression that you’re knowledgeable or an expert.”

But as you’re designing your blog, or looking at the blog you already have, take a moment to consider its appearance. Is the site easy to navigate? Is the font you’ve chosen easy to read? Are your paragraphs short enough? Do you have any distracting elements?

If you want a more sophisticated or tailored design that will further your branding efforts, you may need a professional designer to create a custom template for you. A Google search might be helpful here.

Share your blog

Lastly, once your blog is live, you’ll need to tell others about it. Invite customers to subscribe to your blog to hear about other items you offer and learn about the niche in which you specialize. Consider generating a feed to atomically notify readers and blog directories when you post a new entry. (Google’s tool for this is called FeedBurner. Many blogging platforms offer some type of feed generator).

Also, be sure to add Twitter and Facebook icons so readers can easily share your blog posts with their friends.

“Blog posts shared via Twitter and Facebook generated 55 percent more comments than those not shared at all,” Gavens adds.

And don’t forget to be interactive. Your blog is meant to establish you as an expert and give readers an easy way to talk to you. So ask your readers to comment. If you share a post on your Facebook page, ask them a question related to your blog.

Think you might want to blog now? We hope so. In Part 2 of this article, we’ll tell you about a few blogging platforms and some plug-ins you should consider to make your blog stand out, and help increase Web traffic.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Jpassi

    where do i blog at
    to who do i blog to
    i have never bloged before

  • Tonya Travelstead

    I have a blog with a tab to my Ebay store in case anyone wants to shop.  Mostly my blog is about life, photography, family, although I do have several posts on the how-to’s of Ebay.



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