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Blogging for business, Part 1

Apr 24, 20033 mins
Collaboration SoftwareEnterprise ApplicationsMarketing

* Consultant John Lawlor replaced his Web site with a blog. Here’s why

Weblogs, or “blogs,” have found their place as a marketing and community-building tool, a collaboration device for work groups, and even a pedestal for sharing your thoughts with the world. But as a business application, blogs can help small businesses market more aggressively and share content and projects online between remote teams or contractors. This week, we’ll look at how one small business owner is using a blog for all his online marketing.

John Lawlor used to pitch his Boca Raton, Fla., marketing consulting firm the traditional way, with a Web site, online newsletter and other Web-based programs.

Today, his Web site is shuttered and he no longer manages cumbersome e-mail lists. Instead, Lawlor uses just one online tool for all his marketing: the blog.

Weblogs are hitting the big time. In February, Internet search engine Google acquired Pyra Labs and its site, which helped popularize online journals, or blogs. Other players in the niche are Movable Type, and Userland Radio; some are free, some are fee-based.

The key to a blog is frequent updating. Unlike a Web site, which many small businesses build then let sit static, blogs should be updated daily, or even several times a day, depending on the topic and conditions.

Blog topics range from tax and business advice to celebrities to the news. USAToday writer Angela Gunn has an Iraq War Weblog. Mattel has a Barbie blog. Dr. Pepper even launched a blog for its new milk product, Raging Cow.

For small businesses, the blog is the ideal way to meet the customer’s needs directly. Using Userland Radio software, Lawlor updates his site ( daily. He acquired his four blog domains for about $15 each and hosts the lot for $45 per month. Blogger and others sites offer free blog domains, but they’re posted off the host’s primary domain, which appears unprofessional.

With a Userland Radio client on his desktop, Lawlor posts links and commentary as if he was sending an e-mail. It’s a four-step process: collection of material, organization of thoughts, publishing or posting of content to the blog, and accelerating the push of content to the Web – either through publishing the content or exchanging links with other blogs and complementary sites.

Lawlor posts conversational threads, articles, personal writings – anything that will enrich his content and boost his exposure. “What you post depends on who you are, who your audience is, what you have to say and what they want to hear,” he says.

Next time: Blogs as a small-business collaboration device.