Blogging as marketing
Mar 15, 2007

I started this blog largely with the intention of it being a marketing tool for my business(es). Well, that's what I said anyway. In reality, I didn't have much of an idea of what that meant. I'd spent enough time in the worlds of technology and public relations to know that blogs were a big deal and could make a huge difference when it comes to marketing yourself. But as I'd always been solely on the technology side of things I discovered that, while I had learned a lot about what to do to market myself, build my brand, &c, I didn't really know anything about how to do it. Fortunately that's never really stopped me from doing anything before, and I've found that I learn the best by doing anyway. So I just created this blog and started writing my story in my own way like the stubborn individualist that I am. And I've certainly learned a few things in the process. For one, when I started out I didn't really have any idea of what sort of things I should be writing in order to make my blog as effective a marketing tool as possible. I also didn't know in what ways my blog would drive or be driven by my efforts to grow my business. I started out writing pretty much only about things that were directly relevant to this blog: the process of essentially starting over from scratch in a new city with nothing but my wits, my skills, and Jessi to keep me alive. This was actually surprisingly successful. Within weeks of starting this blog I had already started to build a reader base rather than just having a few people randomly stumble onto this site through technorati. I like to attribute this to the fact that the basic story-line of my life since then has been fairly archetypical, and, I'd like to think, one of the private fantasies of just about everyone who's grown up in America. Regardless of why, my blog has been pretty successful; my daily hits are measured in the thousands and I currently have around 30 subscribers. But a successful blog does not a marketing strategy make. I suppose that my original, and somewhat far-fetched, strategy was that I'd start writing my blog about what I was doing, people who were interested in my services would find it, and I would suddenly have business coming out my ears. Clearly I was being a bit idealistic, as that strategy has an underwear-gnome-sized gap: how do people who are interested in my services find it and why do they bother reading it? Fortunately, I had actually already solved that problem before I had even realized that it was a problem. Whenever I post an ad on Craigslist, or respond to a Craigslist ad, or send an email to anyone about anything, or post on a message board, or do just about anything online, I also make sure that there's a link to my blog in my signature or profile, or whatever. My blog address in the contact info on my resume, and a permanent fixture of my business cards, and I always make sure to fill out the 'website' field when commenting on other blogs. So without even thinking about it I can ensure that anyone I contact, no matter how large or small their interest in my business, can easily find my blog and read it. And that, I've discovered has really been the key. I've never had anyone call me or email me because they found me through my blog and wanted me to do a job, but nevertheless this blog has most definitely been a useful tool in my business for the simple fact that it's a distinguisher. There have been several situations where a new client has told me that they had gotten several bids they were considering, but after reading my blog they knew that I was the one they wanted to hire. That, to me, seems to be the best indication that I could get that my blog is fulfilling the purpose I laid out for it. It also, I think, carries with it an important lesson. It tells me that it's not actually all that important that this blog be about my business or that I restrict my posts to the things I'm doing business-wise. What's important is that I express myself clearly and accessibly so that when a potential client is comparing me one of my competitors and clicks the link to my blog, they'll feel that they've gotten to know me a little bit and learn a little about who I am beyond the dry facts and numbers in my proposal or the list of experience and awards in my resume. And that, I suppose, is the whole point of public relations to begin with.
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