What kinds of business blogs do you read?

July 10, 2006

Lorianne posted a comment on my last entry and I think it deserves a bit more space on the main page:

Lots of folks here in the States at least see business blogs as being a silver bullet: start a blog, and instantaneously you’ll have a following, your website will get tons of traffic, and you’ll get loads of new clients. Of course, blogs don’t work that way. Although a “blog buzz” builds virally, it still takes a long time to build a faithful readership. In order for things to spread by word of mouth, you have to attract “mouths” one at a time, at least in the beginning.
That’s where the “betweeness” comes in, I think. I’m sure a lot of folks are reading this because, like me, they started reading your personal blog first: in one sense, this business blog is 3 years & 3 months old. Unless you’re in the business consulting/coaching biz (and those folks are your competitors, not your clients), you probably don’t want/need to read about business consulting/coaching every day. BUT, if a blog has enough “between bits”–if it includes interesting things about human nature, books, current events, etc. in between the strictly business stuff–people will keep reading.
It’s a lesson I learned while doing retail sales in a previous life. If *all* you talk about is the product you’re trying to sell, potential customers tune out. Sometimes you have to ease your way into their confidence by talking about other, seemingly unrelated things.
You know this, of course. I just wish the folks hyping business blogs as the Next Biggest Thing new this, too.

I think there’s loads of material here to think about. I know that I’ve maintained a long list of business blogs in my bloglines account (most of which isn’t published here on the side bar until I work out how the tech bits work) and while there are a number of favourites, I am changing the list regularly depending on the voices I hear. I do get a wee bit weary of blogs that are established to push a particular book or a training course or authors who consistently reference their own published work..I feel as though I’m being given the “hard sell” or that posts are contrived so that the link with the published work can be made so I’ve become a bit more ruthless in my pursuit of interesting stories and compelling voices. I wonder what other readers think?

4 People reacted on this

  1. Thanks for the hat tip. 🙂 In response to your comment yesterday, I *do* think this blog-hype is the current equivalent of the ’90s dot-com craze. Just because something is ONLINE doesn’t make it automatically & magically effective: you have to have good & compelling content or an interesting, engaging voice to make it worth people’s while to check in with you every day or so.
    I don’t read many business blogs, but I’ve been thinking about a paper newsletter I got from the guy who sold me my car. Naturally, I don’t think about car sales everyday: that’s something you think about every few years, when you’re looking for a car. But since Anthony prints recipes in his newsletter, I know I’ll read each issue: I buy a car only every few years, but I eat everyday!
    So a good biz blog, in my mind, gives folks something to “eat”: useful content, entertaining stories, thoughtful insight, etc.

  2. When I find a “business blog,” I automatically understand it’s there to hype and market the author’s buzz, else why do it? While some people are of the “give back to the community” flavor, if you’re in business you’re there to earn a living, most likely, and one’s business blog is there to help spread the word on whatever it is one does. The blogs that work (in my opinion) are the ones that offer enough tips, tricks, and information to offset the required self-promotion, thus making the latter seem palatable. I, like you, have moved away from those that seem to constantly push their agenda. Ultimately the challenge, like all good marketing, is to make the sale (or establish a connection that will bear fruit later) without the buyer realizing they’ve been sold. Thus providing good, original information surrounding a theme would seem to be more important that a constant “here I am, aren’t I wonderful” message that some biz blogs tend to follow.
    Another aspect of a biz blog that is sometimes overlooked is that the author may merely need a platform to expand their voice, to work some issues he or she is dealing with. Such a place offers (usually) a professional audience and a platform to “talk shop” that isn’t there in a personal blog. But even then, isn’t the ultimate motivation financial? Don’t most biz blog writers hope the effort will spread their name, solidify their expertise, and in some cases, sell more of their product? There’s certainly nothing wrong with any of that, of course, and the trick is how to achieve the right balance with those motives.

  3. I agree with you both but the main difference for me is in how conversational the blog is. If I’m merely peddling a way of doing business then why not just put up a web site? If I’m interested in kicking around ideas with the hope that difference emerges then it makes sense to go the blog route. So many of what pass for business blogs should be static sites because the content does nothing to invite discussion.
    Lorianne – what kind of recipes??

  4. So far, I’ve gotten only one issue, and that recipe was for an Italian pasta dish. (The salesman is Italian, so any family recipes he includes will probably be Italian!)
    Using a fairly standard sales ploy, he asked readers to send in their own recipes for future issues, offering a free oil change at his dealership to anyone whose recipe he uses. If he gets a big enough response, folks will read the newsletter to see whose recipe is included, and he’ll have a large reservoir of recipes to pick from.
    I guess this points, again, to your comment re. conversation: what wisdom do your *readers* have that you can provide a forum for? Certainly Gary’s right in saying you want to position yourself as the “billable expert” we all want to hire, but while we’re all gathered here looking for tips, tools, and the like, what sort of input might we readers add to the mix?

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