An All-Business Approach To Blogging- Part 1 of 2

This piece was originally published in the Ellsworth Chamber Of Commerce newsletter.

Blogging has come a long way from computer savvy types writing their personal lives for all to read online. In the past few years, blogging has become a force itself, gaining credibility as it becomes mainstream and breaks some major news stories before traditional media. Some bloggers are now considered experts, intellectuals, and even celebrities.

A blog, which is short for “weblog” is a type of web site where entries are listed in order of date. Entries are used to share ideas, thoughts, and web site links. All entries (called posts) are archived and searchable by date and keyword, making information easy to find. They can be categorized by type of weblog (a photo blog is a photolog for example) or by genre (such as political, personal, or business). Blogs can be found through a search engine like Google or blog directories like Technorati. Between 27-45 % of Americans currently read blogs and this number continues to grow. Worldwide, bloggers (people who write blogs) number over 112 million. More information about blogs and how they work can be seen in this short video: The best way to understand the purpose of blogs, however, is to read a few; many of your favorite authors or journalists as well as larger companies have their own blogs.

Blogging may seem to be a frivolous way to spend precious business resources of time and personnel. There are ways, however, that your business can benefit from a blog. The first part of this series will discuss how blogging increases your web presence. The second part of the series will explain how blogging can enhance relationships with your customers as well as ways to start a blog for your business.

It may not be news for you to think of your business web site as a publication. To move your web site beyond general information, however, you must consider how you use the internet. You probably don’t use the internet to search for new businesses or ways to spend money but instead, you search for answers to questions. If your business web site provides this information, your web site is more likely to come up in a web search and people are more likely to visit it. Also, updating your web site regularly with information will keep customers coming back to your site to see what else is new. According to some studies, blog readers spend longer on a web page and often have more disposable income than other web users, making them exactly who you want to attract to your site.

Blogs can help with the age-old questions small businesses struggle with: how to get people to their web site and how to keep people coming back. Your business blog could be used answer some frequently asked questions, highlight new products and upcoming events, or instruct people on how to do something with a product you sell. These strategies will no doubt increase your web presence and, more importantly, your web traffic. 

Next Post: How blogging can enhance customer relations and how to get started blogging for your business.

Budgets Are Sexy!

I forgot to mention this morning my crosspost at Budgets Are Sexy. The guy who writes it totally cracks me up so it was fun that I got to put something on his site while he's marrying/honeymooning with Mrs. BudgetsAreSexy. Enjoy!

My Six Word Memoir

What Would Your Six Words Be?

Waterski Clever Dude posted a six word memoir challenge on his blog. I'm tagging Give Me Back My Five Bucks, Northern Cheapskate, The Baglady, My Small Cents, and Debt Free Revolution.

My Six Words: Do Your Best And Be Happy!

Bland, yes, but also true.

If I didn't tag you, please participate anyway by leaving a comment and a link to your blog/web site!

Rockin' vintage photo from

Why RSS Rocks

It’s RSS Awareness Day!

This is an RSS logo. Now that you know what it looks like, you'll start noticing it everywhere. At least, that's what happened to me!

This is an RSS logo. Now that you know what it looks like, you’ll start noticing it everywhere. At least, that’s what happened to me!

Happy RSS Awareness Day! Thanks to Centsible Shopper for making me aware of it.

What the heck is an RSS feed anyway? Have you ever seen this orange logo anywhere? Well that’s just one of the major ways to indicate that a blog or website site has an RSS feed.

RSS (which stands for Real Simple Sindication) a way to keep track of all the blogs and websites you like without having to go to each individual website everyday. Neat, huh?

If you have many blogs you read everyday for example, going to visit each website could take hours. With RSS, you can “subscribe” to a website or blog, and get all the new headlines from all the sites and blogs you like in one list.

That one place where your RSS list is created is called an RSS Reader, and it gathers all the headlines from all the websites and blogs you have subscribed to.

How Do I Put An RSS Feed on my blog or website?

Most blogging software comes with a way to incorporate them into your blog easily but if you need to go it alone, here is an article about how to make one.

How Do I Subscribe to an RSS Feed?

1. Get an RSS reader. Here is a list of them. Being a Google stockowner, I use a Google Reader. You just download your reader of choice as you would anything else. (Don’t worry; they don’t take a lot of memory or anything!)

2. Go to (or your other favorite blog- sorry couldn’t resist some self promotion). Click on the orange icon (see picture in this blog), click “RSS”, or click “subscribe to this blog’s feed”.  UPDATE FROM THE FUTURE: Most RSS readers will now detect an RSS feed automatically so you can just type in your favorite website URL and automatically find the feed right in your RSS reader!

3. You click on your reader of choice to tell my feed how it should deliver the content to you (in my case, I click the “Google” button).

Then you’re done. The latest content from Breaking Even, Inc. is in your reader. You see just the headline and click on it to read more of the post.

RSS feeds allow me to keep track of about 100 blogs and websites daily so I know what’s going on in the world of personal finance and Maine (well, mostly).

As a blogger, I appreciate any web traffic I get but I do get a special smile to see when my “subscribers” go up (that is, those who read my site with the help of RSS). All websites want (and appreciate!) repeat readers. It helps build community around a blog. Here’s me appreciating RSS…

Do you need more info than I’ve explained here? Back in Skinny Jeans has an article that explains it all: How to Explain RSS the Oprah Way

Have you hugged your RSS reader today?

Some Updates At Breaking Even

You may have noticed some recent (though minor) changes on this site. I’d like to explain.

First of all, I’ve successfully purchased a new domain: A friend has helped me make it so when you type in, you will get to a page which talks about my freelancing (though to get to the blog, just click on the link). You will notice in the header that the blog is now titled "Breaking Even, Inc." to go with the new, easy-to-remember web address.

Breaking Even, Inc. is still a personal finance blog with a personality. The free content of the Breaking Even, Inc. blog gives people not only a reason to visit this site daily but also gives me a reason to write everyday about a fun and fascinating topic. Breaking Even, Inc. in addition to being a blog is also now a site where my freelance communciations work will be anchored. Check out the Breaking Even, Inc. Communications link to the left to learn more about what I can do!

Besides a slightly changed name and a web-based communications business (as if that wasn’t enough, right?), I’m also now part of the BlogHer ads network. This means I may actually generate funds to break even on the costs associated with this blog. I hope you don’t mind a little advertising. Just think of it as good things for your friend Nicole. And if you want to click on the ad, feel free but certainly don’t feel obligated.

So Breaking Even, Inc. is still Breaking Even, just a little bigger and better. And I hope you think so, too.

Some Marketing Advice?

Some of you may know that I work for a local newspaper. We have a current promotion where local businesses can pay to have a photo and write up about their business in a special section called "Business Neighbors". For $50 a year, this profile and a link to their site will be on our newspaper web site.

Our web site is well spidered (meaning monitored closely by search engines) and since it’s been in existence for almost ten years, it’s a well established and highly ranked site. And we get around 20,000 to 30,000 page views on just our news stories every week.

"Why don’t you advertise your blog on Business Neighbors?" one of my co-workers asked. I guess I hesitated because I’m not really a business. Ideally, I would like to write a lot more than I do (and get paid to do it) and maybe this is one way to increase my freelancing locally. Worst case scenario is that I’ll get more locals reading my blog. Did I mention I get an employee discount on advertising?

So I’m pretty sure I’ll do this advertising because, as far as advertising goes, this is a deal. A few questions though from those of you more experiences in marketing then I am:

1. Should I be Nicole Ouellette, Breaking Even, or Breaking Even Freelance? I need to have a title of my business.

2. Should I spend profile space talking about the blog "personal finance from a local perspective" or about the freelance "Nicole launched this blog…. and is interested in freelance"? Would talking about both the personal finance blog and freelance writing in the same paragraph be confusing? I have 150-200 words to work with to give you an idea.

So if you have an opinion on this, even if it is that this is a dumb idea, I’d love to hear it. For those of you with your own web sites, have you tried advertising like this and found it successful? Thank you for your help!

Next time: Medical Bill Blues and How You Can Beat Them

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