Even though I've had several personal blogs for years, I've only been officially business blogging since 2003. So in going back over expenses for the last quarter, you can imagine my shock when I realized that my overall business costs were down about 19%. What saved me so much money? Surprisingly, blogging.
How can you save money with your blog? It's pretty simple, so I'll be brief.
Attract search engine traffic without paying the big bucks
If you want Google, Yahoo and MSN to pay attention to you, blog.
It doesn't have to be a whole new site, just add a directory to your existing site and start blogging. Most blog software solutions are either cheap or free.
And you can find out most basic blog information online for free (really, sometimes just typing your question into Google will do it.) by people who've actually done it. For less than $100, you can build a small library of blog tips and secrets, written by successful business bloggers.
Instead of buying links, get one-way links from blog search engines and directories, as well as getting your RSS feed content displayed at other sites.
Linking is a great way to get search engine attention and click traffic. Some people get links by trading; others by including their links at the end of freely distributed articles. Others pay to be listed, or to get linked.
In each of these scenarios, some type of trade takes place, money, free content, or a link back.
When you blog, you'll find plenty of search engines and directories that are willing to list you free of charge. For the most part you won't need to link back - you'll get a one-way link from site favored by search engines, often using text that you select yourself.
If 90 or more of these free, legitimate links back to your site is worth your time, then get you blog in motion.
Not only that, if you update frequently, other sites may want to display your RSS feed content on their sites. To encourage them to do so, put a link on your page with instructions on how to do so. Ever since I put one on the front of my site, various feeds from my main site have turned up in the most unexpected places.
Cheaper way to study your audience.
As your blog gets more popular, you may start to find that on any given day, you have a representative cross-section of prospects and clients at your site. If you have a question for them, you can just... ask.
True, you can post a link to a survey in your newsletter or on your site, but these are not as interactive as the ability for your audience to comment. They will comment, and you can reply to ask them to expand, or clarify. Conversation gets going and before you know it, a bond is formed, a much stronger bond than occurs in a one-way conversation.
Cheaper (and faster) way to start a resource or authority site.
Five years ago, if you wanted to start an authority site, your best bet was to build a portal with a specialized directory at its core. Three years ago, you were better off starting a forum with a resource section attached to it. Last year, your top bet was a feed-enabled content management system, especially as more parts of content management systems began to have content feeds related to them. (I have 12 feeds for each of my PHP-Nuke based sites, though they don't work as well with Google Tap.)
Now, if you want to be the expert, you want to start a blog.
If you're blogging consistently, you have a hub of information collected that will inspire return traffic. You have a collection of links to articles, sites, and tools. You can constantly write up your own opinion editorials on each of these items, as well as fact-based analysis of news and events that can help your audience make better choices.
As blog software matures you can now categorize, and alphabetize your links, and with the ability to ping multiple sources as well as leave trackback links to other sites, you can send your readers through a ring of related, freshly updated information that ultimately leads back to you.
Spend less money on advertising as your blog becomes more popular
I can't promise you that you'll never spend another red cent on advertising costs. However, the amount of free advertising you get from having your blog link or RSS feed listed in dozens of search engines and directories, and popping up in feed readers is not to be underestimated.
You'll probably still want to do some ezine advertising when your new ebook or software release is debuted. But you may not need to buy as much advertising or purchase as often.
Then there is the fact that many newsletters that are also published to RSS feeds have wider reach. I've found that it's worth the extra money to appear in both versions ? ask your favorite publisher for details. For publications that allow this, it's normally only 20% extra
Save money by retaining visitors
You've probably heard a thousand times that it is easier to sell repeatedly to an existing client than it is to find a new one. So how do you get that visitor to come back, and possibly buy again?
A constant stream of new information on a particular topic work is enough to keep people buying a daily newspaper, subscribing to a magazine or viewing a television series.
Frequent updates can work the same way for your site.
With bloggers being named People of the Year by Time magazine last year, if you're not blogging in 2005, you're going to be left in the dust by other sites in your industry that do. It doesn't have to take up a lot of extra time, and the time it does takes is made up for in the money you can save.
Read more about how a blog can help you get spidered by search engines within 24 hours at http://www.freetraffictip.com/gbc .