From the category archives:

Business Blogging

Gary Vaynerchuck’s Tips on Blogging for Money

by Jason Preston on September 30, 2008

Darren Rowse (of Problogger, in case you don’t know) is such a prolific blogger that even though I’m pointing you to a September 30th blog post, it’s already the fourth headline on his home page.

Darren does a nice job of summarizing Gary’s points, but the real gem is the 30-minute video attached to the end of the post, where you can watch Gary interact with the audience.

Between this video and his presentation at Web 2.0 Expo, it’s clear what Gary’s advice is all about—and it’s really good advice: do what you do best, do it loudly, and do it all the time.

Below is the Web 2.0 Expo video, but I’d also check out the video on Darren’s post, it’s much longer and more informal.


Blogging is a marketing tool more often than it is a business itself

by Jason Preston on July 14, 2008

The search for the holy grail of targeted advertising is still on. Veoh just recently announced that they’re going to start letting advertisers target video and display ads based on their users’ viewing habit.

Blogging and other web 2.0 and social media platforms are now maturing to the point where businesses are really starting to look for the business model. Nick O’Neill talks about how many blogs are turning to events or maybe even newsletters for revenue.

I think that moving to a place where consumers will pay for premium content is not unreasonable. Freemium should work as a content business model.

But I have maintained for a while that the best way to use blogging in a business atmosphere is as an architecture and a marketing tool, not a business in and of itself. If you were doing a direct mail campaign, you would not expect to make money from the mail. You expect to make money from the sales that it would generate.

Blogging is the same way. Most businesses should not expect to make money by selling ads or sponsorships or t-shirts on their blogs. They should use blog architecture to make their web sites dynamic and search-friendly. They should use the blog as a marketing tool to drive interest and sales in their primary product.

That is where I think businesses will get the most use out of blogging.


Talking About Blogging at Rainier Club Tuesday Night

by Steve Broback on May 12, 2008

I’ve been asked to talk about blogging and how it relates to business at the Rainier Club in Seattle on May 12, if you’re a member and plan on attending. Let me know what questions you have ahead of time and I’ll tailor my presentation. Steve [at] blogbusinesssumit [dot] com


Cory Doctorow’s experiment in DRM-free business

by Jason Preston on May 5, 2008

It’s abundantly clear by now that the internet is a double-edged sword for business ventures: On on the one hand, the rapid dissemination of information and content can lead to mass market exposure with the lowest cost-benefit ratio in the history of mankind.

On the other hand, this very same process can often take a gigantic chunk of the “benefit” by effectively killing a business’s ability to monetize that same content.

I saw today on Chris Pirillo’s blog that Cory is releasing a new audiobook completely DRM free AND with a generous license to re-hash the content (up to 30 minutes can be redistributed wherever). This is from the e-mail Cory sent to Pirillo:

The audio book comes with the author’s sampling license: once you own it, you’re free to take up to 30 minutes’ worth of material from it and remix and then redistribute it as much as you like, provided that you do so on a noncommercial basis, make sure that it’s clear that this is a remix and not the original, and make sure that you tell people where to find the original. This is in addition to all the fair use remixing that you’re allowed to do.

Anybody who embraces DRM-free internet distribution with a paid product is undoubtedly forfeiting a good chunk of potential revenue.

In the future I think that the “widgetization” of content will allow businesses to monetize their content via ads regardless of where it goes. But for now, when is the right time to let your product go? Should you risk the lost revenue for the possible gain in exposure?

I’d be really interested to see some data on this. Finding and downloading content of all kinds—music, movies, audiobooks, etc—is so easy already that the amount of revenue captured by DRM has got be relatively minor. For the most part, people who will steal the book will steal the book regardless of whether it is a DRM release.

Given that assumption, I’d say it’s almost always the right decision to release content without DRM. Enabling open sharing will help drive the technology to monetize it using some new model. What do you think?


Miller Beer Blog Terrorizes Rivals: Another Reason Your Company is Insane if They Aren’t Blogging

by Steve Broback on April 23, 2008

I wrote a post a year ago about how the fear of blogging had been replaced by the fear of not blogging. Boy, was I wrong about this being the case on a national level. A few months later I discovered that (at least for businesses in and around Chicago…) most of the dozens of directors of marketing I spoke to were still terrified or completely apathetic about the idea of blogging. Almost zero had any interest in our conference we built significantly for them. We had to cancel an event that in San Francisco drew 300 rabid attendees.

I’ve noticed that there’s barely a startup in Silicon Valley that doesn’t have a company blog. I dare you — find me a company that’s announced a round of funding that doesn’t have a blog. Okay, maybe a few don’t, but for every one that’s not blogging there are at least ten that are.

Now I read in the Wall Street Journal about how in the heartland of America, Miller Brewing Co. has created a very successful blog whose intent is primarily to needle their rival Anheuser-Busch:

The corporate marketing battlefield has long been strewn with pithy digs in ads and selective news leaks about others’ business woes. But it’s unusual for a company to go to the trouble of creating its own media arm to grind out news on the competition. While the site lets Miller tweak its famously tight-lipped rival, it also gives the company a platform to take a first crack at spinning industry news.

“They are trying to aggressively go around the gatekeepers” in newsrooms and the trade press, says Stephen Quigley, an associate professor of public relations at Boston University. “It’s something you couldn’t do five years ago,” before the proliferation of blogs.

The article doesn’t say if Anheuser-Busch is responding with their own blog, but the implication is that they’re largely in denial:

Anheuser declined to answer specific questions about Brew Blog or make an executive available for an interview. It wouldn’t say whether it considers the site a concern. “Our focus is on our consumers and delivering great brands,” Dave Peacock, Anheuser’s vice president of marketing, said in a statement.

Hey big companies: If this whole “transparency” thing is still terrifying to you, wait until competitor blogs are launching assaults on you and you have no defense. Hey wait, maybe your competitors will let you comment on theirs!


Out of post ideas? Write about the same thing again

by Jason Preston on April 21, 2008

I know a lot of people who are reluctant to start blogging because they feel like they’ll have a hard time coming up with stuff to blog about. And they’re right that coming up with the right stuff to blog about is one of the more daunting tasks you face if you’re aiming to blog regularly.

The first great solution, which I recommend, you can find at Copyblogger here.

Fortunately, there’s a loophole for this problem. You can write about the same stuff more than once.

It turns out that repetition is a great tool for teaching and persuasion. If you’re trying to get an idea through people’s heads, it’s actually a good strategy to approach the issue for four hundred different angles. I can’t count the number of times that we’ve blogged about how a blog should be your business homepage.

The point is this: repetition is a teaching strategy. As long as you’re not simply re-posting something you wrote before, re-hashing the same subject is fair game.


Acquia gives social publishing platform Drupal an Enterprise boost

by Jason Preston on March 11, 2008

According to George Dearing at InformationWeek, Acquia has raised $7 million to develop and sell a “suite of services it says will make Drupal enterprise-ready.”

In other words, Drupal will be getting the structure and support that many enterprise-level customers like to see.

Dearing is also absolutely right about the existence of social publishing opportunities, and I think he’s also right about the larger shift they indicate.

We’re starting to see more and more clients in the social media space looking to build ambitious and robust community systems on the LAMP stack, and we consistently recommend Drupal for the more expansive projects.

I think Acquia is making a good investment here.


Fred Wilson says: save money by hiring a blog evangelist

by Jason Preston on March 10, 2008

Last week Jason Calacanis wrote a list of about 20 ways that startups can save money. It’s a good list with a lot of sensible advice.

Fred Wilson also went through the post, and added his thoughts to several of Jason’s points. I couldn’t agree more with Fred on this one:

Really think about if you need that $15,000 a month PR firm. – There are some really good PR firms out there and if you can get one of them to work with your company, then it may be worth considering it. But a mediocre PR firm is not worth it for sure. I encourage our portfolio companies to hire a person inside the company to be an “evangelist”. That job includes blogging actively, reading and commenting and linking to other blogs, reaching out to the media and industry analysts and gurus, going to conferences and events, and generally getting the word out. That person can be young and not particularly expensive, certainly nowhere near $15,000 a month. And they have two things that a PR firm cannot offer. They work for you and they represent your company exclusively.

I am consistently surprised when startups choose to forgo blogging as a PR strategy. A startup environment lends itself so well to blogging, and no other approach packs as much bang for the buck.

Fred is absolutely right that having a dedicated, energetic blogging evangelist will go a lot farther than a monthly contract with most PR firms. It will help create personal relationships between your company and your customers, give you an authoritative, authentic outlet for new information, and can create opportunities for feedback and community involvement that surveys and focus groups will never provide.


TSA, Technology, and Public Relations

by Jason Preston on March 10, 2008

If you’ve been paying attention to travel, tech, and the blogosphere (or just Engadget), you’ve undoubtedly noted that the TSA recently caused Michael Nygard to miss his flight because they couldn’t figure out what the hell his MacBook Air was.

It’s a funny story.

I’m also willing to bet it’s an isolated one. MacBook Airs are probably zipping through security lines in airports all over the world. But it only takes one story like this to generate all kinds of negative buzz.

What not everyone knows is that the TSA does in fact have a blog: Evolution of Security. Their last post was March 4th.

Step up to the plate, guys. This is a perfect opportunity to respond and engage. You may even make a few friends if you do it right.


Can your business have 1,000 True Fans?

by Jason Preston on March 5, 2008

If you haven’t heard about “1,000 True Fans” yet, you should go read Kevin Kelly’s post.

In it, he argues (roughly) that that the Long Tail creates a problem for any creator: how do you make a living? Kelly’s solution is that an artist must find their 1,000 True Fans, and through the use of new digital technologies, rely on that “sweet spot” for a realistic living.

Or, in his words:

But the point of this strategy is to say that you don’t need a hit to survive. You don’t need to aim for the short head of best-sellerdom to escape the long tail. There is a place in the middle, that is not very far away from the tail, where you can at least make a living. That mid-way haven is called 1,000 True Fans. It is an alternate destination for an artist to aim for.

For the more detailed version, go read his post.

He writes for “artists,” but I think the concept absolutely applies to a business. In the digital “Long Tail” world, not every business can be a “hit.” But wallowing at the long end of the spectrum is not the only other option.

By using new technology — blogs, social media — you can connect with a core group of customers that will be your “True Customers.” They could provide a support base for your business and allow you to reach out and grow in different areas.

It’s an interesting idea.


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