Every once in a while there is something in the news that makes me smile; and on a Friday no less!
The following is an article I wrote for the Nevada Business Journal:
Blogging for Business
Why should businesses care about blogs?
There has been a lot of talk about blogs lately. Politicians and businesses alike are entering the blogosphere at a surprising rate. Why? Currently, more than 57 million American adults read blogs.
For a long time blogs were simply thought of as conduits for personal expression by individuals who were not in the buying stage. There seemed to be no real application for business. This popular misconception turned out not to be true.
Blogs are in fact websites. They are hosted on a server, built on the same programming languages, and most importantly, indexed by major search engines like Google and Yahoo. The major difference is blogs give businesses a personal voice, and they can be built and launched for far less money than it takes to build a website.
The Power of Search
“Internet penetration has now reached 73% for all American adults,” according to Pew Internet, which is an authoritative source on the evolution of the Internet. This means there are millions of potential customers that are online every day looking for specific products and services that you offer.
Internet users search for products and services by entering specific terms or keywords into search engines. These keywords or terms produce immediate results that introduce users to many different companies vying for their business. But how do they find you?
Search Engine Optimization
Search engines place a significant amount of importance upon fresh, keyword-rich content, and the more relevant content a business puts online the better. Blogging software helps you publish this information easily and frequently.
Search engines also put a lot of value into linking. Companies will find online conversations that are based around what their company has to offer. One blogger links to another blogger because they find value in what they have to say. This continues the conversation until multiple bloggers and websites are linking back to original creator of that content. This helps push your website or blog to the top of the search engine results.
Differentiation & Demonstration of Expertise
Consider for a moment that a potential customer is shopping online for a particular product or service that you have to offer. They type in a specific keyword or phrase, and several competitors appear in the search results. They click through to one of the websites and begin to analyze their offerings in regards to price, benefits and presentation. They return to the search results to compare that initial experience against other competitors. After a few more clickthroughs, the potential customer has not found any distinguishing differences.
But then they find your company’s blog. Your blog demonstrates a personality with a voice and a willingness to share information to further empower their customers to make the right decision about what they want to buy. Instead of representing an impenetrable and impersonal corporation with no direct connection with its customers, you are seen as a personable and interactive company that wants to engage its’ customers.
Bringing Businesses and Customers Together
Blogs not only help with search engine optimization and differentiation from competitors, they also offer a way for companies to understand their customers better. Blogs are a chance to establish ongoing dialogues with customers and receive useful feedback that empowers a business to become better at what it provides.
Blogging is a time commitment, and it is not for everyone. But if you love to write, and you are passionate about what you do, then you will find that blogging is a powerful tool for attracting new business, creating loyal customers, and developing a deeper understanding of what can make your company even more successful.
It’s official. According to Blue Rhino, a company that sells propane tanks, Reno ranks No. 2 among U.S. cities as a great place to grill. It trails only Sacramento in a study based on summertime weather conditions.
In my opinion, Sacramento can’t hold a piping hot briquette to Reno’s wide open spaces, close proximity to Lake Tahoe and skiing, and ever evolving downtown scene complete with a whitewater park right smack dab in the middle.
So with that being said, what other reason do you need to pack up your Weber and move to Reno, Nevada? It’s time to crack a beer and throw some shrimp on the barbie.
I love WordPress. Not only is it an incredibly powerful piece of blogging software and a fantastic content management system, it is free!
The founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg is a very cool guy. He and his crew operate with a set of principles that I think are really having an effect on technology, business, and people’s personal lives.
Not only are they empowering people to express themselves online, but they are big advocates of open source and the sharing of new ideas. Matt maintains a very busy speaking schedule, and he quite often travels internationally spreading the gospel so to speak.
The success of the business, as far as I can tell, is their genuine focus on developing and providing the environment for a continuously evolving product. Better themes, new plugins, and more features all geared towards improving the way we communicate.
In the future, I believe there will be less and less of a distinction between what constitutes a website and a blog. They will become further integrated to the point that the end user will hardly be able to distinguish between one or the other. A blog is a website, it’s just a matter of the variations in content and purpose.
With that being said, the beauty of blogging is that it pushes people to write. Writing facilitates introspection and reflection on the world around you. Even if you blog in a vacuum, it still has the potential to move you forward and hopefully make you a better person.
Started off Thanksgiving with an enjoyable mountain bike ride in Reno. Chose the well-known Galena Creek trail. Even though it was late in November, it was a beautiful day with most of the trail being fairly free of snow. I earned my turkey credits.
The highlight of the trip was definitely the de Young museum. A beautiful structure located within the Golden Gate Park, the de Young is an architectural work of art.
Because the former museum was heavily damaged by the earthquake, the new structure is quite insulated from future tremors. It sits within a bowl complete with breakaway zones. Once the ground begins to shake the de Young will happily roll around in its shock absorbing seat.
The shell of the de Young is quite extraordinary. Pocked metal panels make up the exterior of the structure, and because they are computer generated the artist was able to make each panel design unique.
As homage to the greater forces of nature, one of the first exhibits are man-made cracks or fissures that run the length of the entrance walkway. They snake their way through the bricks and continue through large stone blocks that are positioned around the atrium.
The interior is modern and cool, and the Gerhard Richter positioned just off from the main foyer immediately captures the eye. It is a representation of the atomic particle, strontium, and it is one of his larger works.
A visit to the de Young is not complete without a trip up into the tower. The views encompass much of the City and the Bay, and the only thing that detracts from the experience are the museum concessions within the floor space. My advice – confine that sort of thing to the gift shop.
The Ruth Osawa exhibit is notable. A graduate of Black Mountain University, Osawa developed a talent for creating unique shapes out of metal wire. Her hanging sculptures capture the light and cast shadows that are almost as impressive as the works of art.
There is always something going on in San Francisco, even is unusual places. Here’s how to turn a tunnel into a very effective speaker.
This past week I appeared in the Reno News & Review along with my colleague, Josh Kenzer for an article titled, “Up all Night: It’s a brave new world called the blogosphere. Meet some of its denizens.” This photograph was taken by RNR staff member, David Roberts.
I posted about the article on the Horse Power blog, but I wanted to at least acknowledge it on my own blog because, well, it’s partially about me.
We were the lone business featured in the article, which I think says a lot about the approach we have taken with the blog.
We made a conscience decision in the very beginning NOT to make the blog a selling proposition. We try our hardest to provide information and analysis of the industry we are in without selling our business too aggressively. In other words, we hope our expertise shines through, so we do not have to go on at length about what we can do as a business. Plus, that is what the website is for, right?
Regarding the podcast, it is about local business professionals and not about Twelve Horses. Sure, it is an excuse to meet new people and put a voice to the company, but we really wanted to construct a forum that highlights interesting individuals in the community, and the fantastic work that they do.
I blog for business, but I also enjoy having a personal blog. I guess I could take up knitting or whittle a stick, but instead I choose to have a blog. It gives me a chance to express myself outside of my profession, and it introduces me to people that I doubt I would have otherwise known existed.
If you want to read the perspectives of some other bloggers that were featured in the same article, check out Reno and Its Discontents post about it. People get fired up about why they blog and how it effects them internally, as well as the external world around them.
In the end, it is the resulting actions that take place because of what is said or written. The rest is an exercise. The problem is you never know the end result until after the fact. So, you use your judgment, which hopefully consists of solid values and ethics, and then you forge ahead. But you have to be constructive in your approach, or eventually no one will listen to you.
When you blog about someone else, do it as if you were standing directly in front of them looking straight in their eyes. And, right before you do a blog post or comment about a topic, think about the fact that it is has been recorded, and can be forever attached to people’s perceptions of you. Hopefully that will keep you honest and fair.
I have been asked by several people to explain what my header graphic is. One reader even emailed and told me it made her skin crawl. Yikes! I guess it is does have some reptilian and big cat characteristics.
The image is in fact a photograph I took on the East Fork of the Chattooga not far from Cashiers, North Carolina. It is just downstream from one of my favorite places – a mountain house my family has shared with 9 other Charleston, South Carolina families since my birth.
The Chattooga is famous for the movie, Deliverance, as well as the fact that it was one of the first rivers in the United States to be designated Wild & Scenic. Its headwaters start at the base of Whiteside Mountain, which is considered by geologists to be one of the oldest mountains in the world. Whiteside is about 30 minutes from the mountain house.
The house and accompanying property used to be a fishing camp. It has a trout pond, and to this day the entire length of the river that runs through the property is still stocked with Rainbow Trout.
From an architectural and environmental standpoint, the house is perched over the East Fork, which under present day law would no longer be allowed. Most of the riverside portion of the house is glass, so it creates a very dynamic relationship with the river. Open the windows and doors, and you are immediately greeted with the rushing sound of water over rock.
Needless to say, the Chattooga watershed and our mountain house hold many fond memories for me. It has played a significant role in shaping me into who I am today.
When I look at the photograph that makes up my header image I think about the Chattooga and the mountain house, as well as my youth, my family, my time so far on this earth, and how fast it is all flowing by.
It gets carved by artists, smashed by restless teenagers, cooked by mothers, and eaten by all of us. Yet, it keeps coming back.
Filled with water, seeds, and stringy guts, the pumpkin has been cast into a spell of bizarre human history.
We take its natural shape and conform it into an expression of evil and unusual because it is orange, round, and possesses a hard outer shell.
Poor pumpkin. Did you ever guess that your existence would be perpetuated by our fascination for death, evil, and the desire to portray something else?