There is an alternative to a traditional, static website that small businesses can employ to promote their business: you can create a blog. The word “blog” is short for “web log”. A web log is similar to a diary; it is updated on a regular basis with opinions and information provided by the author. Blogs differ significantly from static websites, in that the typical heirarchical website structure does not exist. Rather, the content of the blog is organized by the date of the entry and the topic of the entry.
Blogs are popular with readers and with search engines, because the content is freshly updated. Like a website, blogs can contain Adsense and Affiliate ads, space for readers comments, and the ability for readers to sign up for automatic updates by subscribing to the blog. Many home-based-businesses choose to create a blog instead of a website; many have both a blog and a website, or a blog attached to their website.
One of the strongest reasons to create a blog is that they are much easier to set up than a website, and the can be free. Free blogs must share revenue with their host, but for a home-based-business that is just starting out, the ease of setup and use more than offsets any revenue sacrificed.
Choosing a Blogging Platform
Currently, five blogging platforms dominate amongst internet bloggers. They are (in no particular order) WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, LiveJournal, and OurStory. Which platform you choose to create a blog will depend upon what your priorities are in terms of ease of use versus customization. Ideally, you want to find a platform that provides you with a good balance between a user-friendly interface and a flexible framework that will enable you to create a blog that looks and feels unique. There is no such thing as a blogging platform that is objectively the best platform, because every blogger has unique needs. If you are new to blogs and to internet technology, you might want to sacrifice the ability to create custom backgrounds in favor of finding a platform that will make it easy for you to create a blog.
Keep It Simple, Salesman
Many websites go overboard with graphics, flash elements, pop-up ads, and countless other distractions that annoy readers and cause them to click away from the site. Remember, people surf the internet primarily for information to solve their problems. Create a blog (or website) that is reader-friendly. Keep the design simple; don’t be tempted to add flashy color schemes and distracting elements. One of the best ways to determine what your site should look like to to find the top sites in your niche, and see what they look like. If you have an e-commerce store, look around at Amazon.com. If you have an auction site, have a look at eBay. If you have an articles or review based site that is primarily text, look at news sites like the New York Times or MSNBC or CNN. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel; keep it simple, salesman.
Choosing which blogging platform to use is one of the most important decisions that you can make when you create a blog. The right platform can make blogging a breeze, and the wrong platform can make blogging a chore. There is no such thing as the perfect platform for everybody, so instead of looking for the “best” platform, look for the best platform for your specific criteria. Keep the design simple and readable, and keep the content fresh and updated regularly.
Originally posted 2011-03-09 10:16:00.