Starting a blog can completely transform a business. Without those bursts of editorial content, a business can seem like a flat and anonymous entity. A well-focused blog can give companies a dynamic voice, personality and brand recognition.
The blogosphere is no longer just a written playground for the crafty hobbyist, a political pundit or a religious ranter. Rather, Fortune 500 companies, large businesses, and well-known brands have joined the masses of bloggers because they recognize the need to be more interactive and multi-dimensional.
Keeping a blog is a valuable tool for small and new businesses too. It enables them to test out new ideas, grow external interest, and get a large following.
Of a Kind is a new site that began with a blog before launching a retail arm of their business. The company, run by Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo, constructed a business model that introduces new fashion designers. Of a Kind's blog launched in January 2010 to build hype and a strong loyal following around fashion. They discover the personality, lifestyle and genius of a designer before he or she hits it big, giving fashionistas the chance to showcase their original work early in their careers.
“Blogging is our business model and our core concept,” says Mazur. “Our plan was to start blogging first and be heard by many before completely calling ourselves a company.”
Here are some ideas behind Of A Kind’s vision, along with suggestions for how businesses can start blogging themselves.
1. Choose a place to host your blog.
There’s Blogspot and WordPress among other sites. Of a Kind found its voice on Tumblr, which has a very involved community of users who repost what they like. These sites also make it easy for blogs to be found.
“Just take an idea and start to blog to see what happens,” says Cerulo. “Once you decide the blog works for you, you want to buy the domain name and the Twitter name and really focus on having a presence. With a blog, you’re in charge and can create content right away for people to find out about you and your company."
2. Check out Tumblr.
Both Mazur and Cerulo already had personal blogs on Tumblr; they discovered other bloggers on the site were “early adopters” exactly like them.
“We’d see posts on Tumblr and then an article about a post would appear three weeks later in the New York Times,” says Mazur. “The people on Tumblr were finding things out first and taking ownership of them by reblogging them and spreading them virally. It was the perfect place for us to start the conversation.”
3. Use your blog to experiment and practice.
Mazur and Cerulo would test out their ideas with various types of content and wait to see how people reacted. They were able to determine what worked well and what didn’t through their posts and the comments (or lack of comments) on them.
4. Build hype and a following.
Having a presence is the golden ticket. By blogging about trending topics and having their ears to the ground, Of a Kind built up a community of followers before starting their business. “We already had our audience in place by getting our names out on Tumblr and in the fashion community,” says Mazur. “Without that established community, we wouldn’t have had as much success with our launch party."
5. Create a voice.
Blogging helped shape Of a Kind and really examine what Of a Kind is about. With a focus on emerging designers and no real definition of what an emerging designer is, they used the blog to find that definition. The blog helped them create parameters for what kind of designer they would featured on Of a Kind.
6. Make blogging part of your daily routine.
That way, when the company launches, you’re already used to posting as part of your day’s schedule. With a voice and tone already established, it then becomes instinctual and quick to create posts that push your brand.
7. Blogging gets the conversation going.
Consumers want to know about the people behind their favorite brands. A blog builds up the community and connects people. “Of a Kind's blog has been instrumental in building a connection to the fashion community,” says Mazur.
8. Blogs make it easier for investors to find your company.
“People take us seriously because of our presence,” says Cerulo. “They see we’ve been at this since January consistently and with dedication. They see who we are and where we are coming from before they’ve met us.”
9. Keep a consistent voice.
Whether it's you, someone else internally, multiple people, or someone hired outside of your business, make sure the voice of your blog is defined, clear, and unwavering. Multiple voices are confusing to followers.