Posted in business in SL, Shopping!

Blogging Your In-World Business

I was talking to a fellow content creator and merchant the other day about publicizing our businesses, and I asked him if he had a blog for his shop. He said no, he doesn’t really write ad copy very well, and then asked me if I recommend a blog. My answer, of course, is yes.

Why keep a blog?

It’s not just that I myself enjoy blogging (what person who likes hearing themselves talk doesn’t?); it’s that blogging is a very useful–not to mention, free–promotional tool. Here’s why.

A blog is a great online portfolio for your work.

When someone asks what kind of stuff you make, rather than give a useless answer of “all kinds”, you can give them a URL and say, “stuff like this.” All your work can be easily viewed in one spot. You don’t have to write clever ad copy; just state what it is, how many prims it has, what its permissions are, how much it costs, and how consumers can get one. Let a picture do the rest of the talking for you.

A blog can be found by people who otherwise may not hear of you.

To this day, I still get searches for dresses I used to carry in my shop a year ago. People enter keywords into search engines such as Google, and they find me. Use tags and keywords to increase the likelihood of that happening for you as well.

Blogs attract other bloggers.

Many blogs are about the awesome things the authors find while shopping. They’ll often contain pictures and links. This is word-of-mouth advertising, the single most effective (and cost-effective) means of promoting your business. Sure, if you say it’s good, people may believe you. If someone with a blog with 300 readers says it’s good, however, those 300 readers are more likely to believe that blogger–or at very least go to your shop and have a look for themselves.

Myths About Blogging

People have their reasons for not keeping a blog, but many of them simply are not true. Let’s talk about some of them.

I have to be a good writer to have a blog.

No, you really don’t. Some of the most-read blogs are poorly written, with bad grammar and spelling and little more intellectual stimulation than funny pictures of cats. This isn’t a newspaper you’re writing here; it’s more like an online catalog. And people aren’t at your catalog to read stuff; they’re here to see it.

I have to be an HTML wizard to have a blog.

Not at all. WordPress has a nice and easy visual interface, as do many other blog hosts. If you can write an email, you can write a blog.

I should have a whole ton of products.

As a matter of fact, it’s easier starting out with just a few products because then you have less of a backlog of items to list.

Nobody wants to see what I have to sell.

If you sincerely believe that, then why are you in business at all?

It’s shameless self-promotion.

Yes. It is. Who else is going to promote it for you? If you really believe in your product, there’s nothing at all wrong with drawing people’s attention to it in your own blog.

I just don’t have the time to maintain a blog.

Are you certain of that? A new blog posts usually takes about 15 minutes (and in many cases that’s a high estimate). If you take 15 minutes out of each day to make a blog post about a product, you really don’t use up a lot of time; and you’re using that time for promoting your business for free, which is a very beneficial thing. And you don’t even have to update daily; you can do so every other day or a couple times a week.

If you’re concerned about commenters creating drama and flame wars, simply set your comments so that they don’t see light of day until you approve them. Or if you don’t think comments have any place in your blog, disable them altogether (though I personally recommend against that; readers like seeing what other users say about your product). If you get a particularly troublesome poster, simply ban their IP address. You can do that.

How to get people to see your blog

When you first start your blog, it will seem like nobody visits it at all. It may feel like a waste of time early on. But there are ways to steadily increase your readership. They include:

Use Tags and Categories

Put tags such as “Second Life”/”Open Life”/etc. with all your posts. Make your business’s name a tag with each post. List Categories (which you can nest) for your products; for example if your product is a sculpt map, make a Category tag that says “sculpt map”. Lots of people utilize Tag Surfer and may find your blog for the first time that way.

Put your blog URL in your profile and/or shop.

Make the URL visible to shoppers as well as people who meet you for the first time.

Use Twitter.

If you have Twitter, then Tweet the URL of your latest blog post. Just something like: “New [item] at [shopname]! [url]” does the trick.

Swap links with friends/associates.

If friends of yours have blogs, ask them to put a link to your blog in their Blogroll. And do the same for them. You might make widgets of your logo and exchange them– that is, a picture that fits in the margin of a blog, with a link to your blog when clicked.

Update regularly.

You will want to keep updating your blog on a somewhat regular basis. Much like your products inworld, you can’t just set things out and forget about them. You keep adding new things, sending out messages to your shop group once a week, etc., so that you remind customers that you exist. Your blog also needs to remind customers that you exist. Posting a new update at least once a week is a good rule of thumb to keep your business fresh in people’s minds.

So hopefully I’ve convinced you that blogging for your inworld business is really worthwhile. I definitely recommend you do it. And if you have any questions, ask away.

This article is listed in the SL Business section of the Know-it-All Pages, where you can find even more useful information. Go now, and see for yourself!




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