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Blog Basics

By Joel Rydbeck

Web log, blog, bloggers. These terms are used in the news a lot lately; you've even seen them in The Green Sheet. Web logs, commonly referred to as blogs, are one of the hottest and most inexpensive marketing tools available today. Following are some blog basics: the definition of a blog, differences between a blog and a Web site, why you as a merchant level salesperson might want one, and how to create your own.

What Is a Blog?

A blog is a series of online entries that include personal ideas or interesting articles about a particular topic. Anyone can start a blog to keep a record of their thoughts or to post interesting links. Visit for some good examples of technology- and business-related blogs.

What Are the Differences Between a Blog and a Web Site?

Web sites are usually the best and most common way to market a business online. Before starting a blog, have a Web site up and running. A site provides a convenient way for merchants, vendors and partners to contact your firm. It also provides a professional overview of your company and its products and services.

Bloggers or blog authors usually keep the tone of their blogs conversational. They might post calendars, links or book reviews in addition to frequent entries about their topic of choice.

Most blogs have a list of entries, with the most recent appearing near the top. People update blogs more regularly than Web sites. Blogs are popular right now because they offer useful information in a friendly way. Visitors can interact directly with blogs by posting responses to entries or by leaving helpful tips.

Why Do I Want a Blog?

Blogging (the act of updating a Web log) is not only easy and fun, it's also a great way to generate buzz for your business. Consider creating a blog with useful business ideas for your merchants as a way to build customer loyalty and to help them grow.

Most importantly, blogs provide a space to direct clients to the latest news and updates via links to your com-pany's Web site. On your blog, post reviews of books or share information about local events or speakers.

By interacting with your blog, visitors keep you up to date on the latest trends and provide useful feedback. Most blogs are not purely commercial, but nothing is wrong with posting a link to your Web site or sharing news about a new technology.

How Do I Create a Blog?

Many inexpensive options are available to help you create a blog. When I started my blog,, I seleced TypePad (, a personal Weblogging service. TypePad is easy to navigate, provides the traffic statistics that I want and is fairly priced (I pay TypePad about $8 a month for hosting fees).

I choose the template (the colors and layout of my blog), and the type of content displayed. With TypePad, I also have the option of adding text advertisements to try to earn revenue from my blog.

Some great free blog-hosting services are also available. Blogomonster ( enables you to start a blog for free and provides a variety of templates from which to choose. The company will even send out e-mails to users alerting them of any new posts to the blog.

Blogger ( also offers free blog hosting. It allows you to publish entries, receive comments and even update your blog by sending a message from your phone to .

Blogger offers a feature called AudioBlogger, which enables you to post audio messages to your site as MP3 or audio files. The downside to this free blog is that Blogger will publish ads on your blog. To avoid this, move the blog to your own Web site. Blogger provides instructions on how to do this.

Once you select a host for your blog, it's only a matter of determining the blog's look and feel. You can also choose to make the blog public or private. People usually find and access public blogs by search engines; blogs might appear on lists created by the hosting company.

People can only access private blogs if they already know the URL. Make your blog public to help attract any new business. Updating a blog is easy. Usually, the blog hosting service provides step-by-step instructions on how to do this. After creating a post or entry, you can choose to publish that entry immediately or at a pre-specified time.

What you choose to post on your blog depends on the audience. The blog doesn't have to be all business, and you'll attract more visitors by keeping the tone of the postings light.

I recommend adding new posts as often as possible. People will only visit a blog if they think that it's entertaining or informative. To increase traffic, follow these few easy steps:

  1. Submit the blog to blog search sites and directories. Following are a few with which to start:

  2. Add your blog to lists created by the hosting company. Hosts such as TypePad feature different blogs on their homepage and provide lists of public blogs.

  3. Once your blog is established, consider promoting it by including the Web address on business cards or in your e-mail signature line. Where you choose to promote your blog depends on the audience you hope to target.

Now you're ready to create a blog. Take some time to check out the different blog-hosting sites and visit different blogs to find out what you really like.

Blogging is a great way to build customer loyalty and create a place online for your business. Once you are up and running, send me an e-mail with a link to the blog. I would love to check it out.

Joel Rydbeck, Chief Executive Officer of Nubrek Inc., brings his strong background in e-commerce and business process automation to the merchant services industry. Nubrek offers eISO, a Web application for ISOs that tracks leads and provides automated residual and commission reports. For a free demo of eISO, go to or visit for more information. E-mail Joel at .

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