Blogs - What Are They? How to Promote Your Programs With A Blog

UNDERSTANDING BLOGS AND HOW TO USE THEM

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
In this Lesson 25 of our ongoing online course, you will learn about "Blogs." You will learn what they are and how you can use them to promote your affiliate program.

EVOLUTION IN PROGRESS
The Internet is constantly changing. A decade ago, there were resources called "WAIS" and "Gopher." "WAIS" was a precursor to the search engines and "Gopher" was a precursor to the World Wide Web. To chat back then, you needed to be familiar with numerous complicated IRC commands that you typed in from a command line prompt. Now most chats take place from a Web-based format and are very simple to use. A decade from now, without doubt, the Internet will, likewise, be something very different from what it is today.

There are certain enduring principles that apply to the Internet, however. The "prime directive" of the Internet, so to speak, is that it is an information and communication tool. It was originally designed by, and intended to be used by, the military and research scientists. They used it to exchange highly technical information. Because of the highly technical nature of the Internet and the information it was used to communicate, a tradition of informality and personal expression evolved to soften the cold technical feel of it. That tradition can still be very much felt in the Internet today.

"Blogs" are, in a way, both a step forward and a step back from today's Internet. Blogs, while appearing to be the latest fad, really resurrect in modern form an older, more traditional way of using the Internet to exchange information with a personal touch. Blogs, which are replacing static Websites on an increasing basis, are, in my estimation, an important evolutionary step in the development of the Internet. Blogs provide current information from a particular perspective. Blogs provide information in a format that easily integrates with other information from other perspectives. Over time, the Internet will do a progressively more efficient job of integrating vast and diverse information and perspectives into a seamless whole--a universal consciousness, if you will. Blogs are a step in that direction.

WHAT ARE BLOGS?
"Blog" is short for "Web log." A "Web log" is a log that is kept and shared on the World Wide Web. A "log" in its simplest form is a record of events in chronological order. Think of a ship's captain sitting down in his captain's quarters each evening and recording the progress of the ship's voyage and the events which have affected that voyage. Each entry has a date followed by the events and progress since the last entry. That is a log. A "Web log" or "Blog" is similar. It records events and points to sources of information about those events. It is chronological, usually with the latest entries on top and prior entries below.

Many Blogs are political. For example, when the United States recently sent military troops to Iraq, I followed the events on an hour-by-hour basis by frequently visiting two or three Blogs that dealt with the events in progress. I had my choice of Blogs written from a perspective that favored the military action to those that were highly critical of it. Those on one side of that issue thought that certain events and information were very important, while those on the other side of that issue thought other events and information were very important. The people publishing these Blogs were online full-time, scouring each news release and each source of information and summarizing it from their perspective on their Blog. From these Blogs, I was able to obtain an in-depth understanding of current events from all perspectives as they occurred. I could not have done this from television, radio, or even newspapers--at least not in such a timely and efficient manner.

Blogs can be and have been used for many other subjects as well. Regardless of the subject, to be true to the nature of a Blog, the entries should be chronological and event oriented. They should contain links to each original source of the information that is being summarized. Within these parameters, however, Blogs can deal with any type of subject and express any perspective.

CAN BLOGS BE USED IN E-COMMERCE?
Blogs can also be used in e-commerce. An important characteristic of a Blog in this context is that Blogs, like discussion boards and chat rooms, bring visitors back to your site over and over again. Blogs, if done well, create an audience that will return repeatedly. Blogs help to create a relationship between you and the visitors to your Website.

Repeat visitors who develop a relationship with you through your Website are exactly what you want in order to succeed in e-commerce.

Blogs also tend to do well in search engine ranking because they are information driven. As we have said repeatedly in this course, search engines like Websites with unique and useful information. Blogs are a way to provide unique and useful information. By leading with this information, you can then offer your visitors opportunities, products, and services.

MECHANICS OF PUBLISHING A BLOG
While there are services available that will publish your Blog for you, Blogs are really quite simple to publish yourself. If you have your own Website, you can just add a page to your existing Website and use this page for your Blog. Simply format this page into a table or paragraphs with a date and caption line above each entry. Add new entries at the top of the page. That's really all there is to it.

For example, Profitpropulsion.com RocketStart customers can use the dynamic page that is available in their template for a Blog, if they want. Any Web page that you can update can easily be made into a Blog.

Blogs are more a matter of information than they are of design and formatting. Any page that has periodic entries of current information, with a date and caption line for each entry, is in fact a Blog.

GETTING THE INFORMATION
Publishing a Blog, however, will take an investment of time. What makes the Blog useful is that you are doing the research--finding the sources of information on your subject and summarizing them--so that your viewers can save time. You are also adding your unique perspective to the information. To keep visitors coming to your Blog, you will have to add entries often. You can get this information, especially news sources and announcement services--even other Blogs--on your particular subject by searching the Internet.

It has been said that writing a book is just a matter of reading several other books and articles and then condensing that information and providing a new perspective. The same can be said for Blogs. There is so much information available today that few people have time to follow very many subjects with any depth. People prefer to find sources with whose perspective they identify and get their information on each subject from a limited number of sources. Visitors who share your perspective will be attracted to your Blog. The time you put in finding and summarizing the information will save your visitors time. You are providing them a service which saves them time and effort.

USING BLOGS TO SELL
Because you are providing a useful service to your visitors, they will develop trust in you. If you prove worthy of that trust, this relationship will build. A relationship of trust is the most important element in marketing. If your visitors trust the research and the summaries in your Blog, they will also trust your recommendations for opportunities, products, and services.

Try to incorporate your affiliate links into the text of your Blog entries. It's OK to have banners and buttons in the margins of your Blog page, but the textual links in text of the entries, in context with the other information, are the ones that will really produce results. If your visitors are interested in the text of your Blog entries, that interest will flow over to your affiliate links.

Do not force the affiliate links into your context. Opportunities will arise to place the links naturally into the flow of the content. Wait for these opportunities rather than forcing links in awkwardly. Your Blog will lose credibility if there are too many affiliate links or if they are forced into the content rather than flowing naturally from the content.

It should be noted that Internet purists do not believe that Blogs should contain any commercial content or links. That is well and good, but it ignores the fact that the publisher is expending time and effort, as well as incurring costs, in publishing the Blog. It is important that the information remain objective--not just be commercial hyperbole--in order for the Blog to be trustworthy. If a Blog proves to be generally trustworthy, however, most Internet users will not object to appropriately placed affiliate links that naturally flow from the content of the entries.

AN EXAMPLE
Nutrition and health is a subject that interests many people worldwide. New studies about how various foods and chemicals affect our health are constantly being released. One thing I have noticed consistently is that you rarely see anyone attempt to integrate all these studies into a comprehensive common sense approach to diet, nutrition, and health. Instead, most writers and reporters just take the latest study and come up with recommendations based solely on the results of that one study.

I remember Jimmy Buffet (a singer and songwriter whose hits include "Cheeseburger in Paradise") saying once that if he lived long enough, someone would come up with a study showing that cheeseburgers were good for you. A few years later, a study was indeed released showing that cheeseburgers did help somewhat to prevent certain rare types of cancers.

The point is that there is no shortage of studies coming out and the results are often quite diverse and even sometimes contradictory. A Blog summarizing health and nutrition studies as they are released, as well as covering new diets and new nutrition products, would be an excellent tool to sell SFI's nutritional supplements. People frequenting such a Blog, being health conscious, would have an interest in these products.

If an SFI affiliate were to publish such a Blog, he or she could become familiar with the ingredients in SFI's nutritional supplements. Each time a study came out referring to one of those ingredients, he or she could mention, in context of summarizing the study, that SFI's product contained that ingredient. This way, the affiliate could include in-context links to the sales page of these products. This could prove to be a very powerful selling technique.

CONCLUSION
The emergence of Blogs as a new form of Internet publishing is exciting for a number of reasons. Blogs, by providing a form of expression that easily integrates with other sources and other perspectives, marks an evolutionary step in the progress of the Internet. Blogs, when used properly, can be an effective e-commerce tool. Appropriately placed affiliate links, flowing from the context of the Blog entries, can be a powerful marketing tool.

WHAT'S COMING NEXT
Stay tuned to upcoming lessons in the Internet Income Course for detailed discussions of timely and important topics in Internet Marketing.

Author Bio
Article by George Little.
For more information on the Internet Income Course and other works and courses by George Little, see www.profitpropulsion.com.
For Web Hosting services specially designed for SFI affiliates, see www.profitpropulsion.com.

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