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Two newsletter experts engage in war of the blogs--one in favor, one against--and one wins.

Copywriter Robert W. Bly fired the first salvo in a DM News (11/4/04) article titled, "Can Blogging Help Market Your Product?"

He writes, "I have yet to find a single marketer who says that a business blog has gotten him a positive return on investment. I know plenty of online marketers who make millions of dollars a year from their websites and e-zines, for instance. But I've not seen a blog whose creator says that the time and effort spent on it has directly put money into his pocket."

Bob Bly wrote the article after reading Debbie Weil's Business Blogging Starter Kit (see end of this article). He continues, quoting "blogging authority" Paul Chaney (www.radiant marketing.biz), "I would say that, with few exceptions, blogs are not yet direct income-producing resources in and of themselves. Their value lies in the fact that they help raise one's stature relative to their respective field."

Blogging problems

Bly continues: "There are two major problems with blogging as a business-building tool.

"The first is that most blogs I encounter are rambling, streams-of-consciousness musings about a topic of interest to the author, largely bereft of the practical, pithy tips that e-zines, websites and white papers offer.

"As Weil says, reading a blog is like reading the author's journal or diary. And unless you are a guru or celebrity whom others worship, people are not going to flock to your blog to discover your latest thoughts on life.

"The second problem involves distribution. With an e-zine, once the reader subscribes, he gets it delivered to him electronically every week or month or however often you send it. But with a blog, the reader has to go out and proactively look for it. And since your contributions to your blog may be irregular and unscheduled, he has no way of knowing when something new of interest has been added.

"One big advantage of blogs, according to Chaney, is that having one can help pull traffic to your website.

"The search engines, especially Google, love blogs,' he says. 'You'd be amazed at how many of your posts will end up in the top 10 returns. If search engine optimization is a concern to you, blogs are the best way I know to move up the ladder as well as increase your page rank.'"

Bly then quotes Debbie Weil, "I confidently predict that blogs will soon be a key piece of an effective online marketing strategy. Ultimately, they're nothing more than an instant publishing tool, one that makes posting fresh content to the web within anyone's reach. No tech skill or knowledge [is] required."

To which Bly responds, "And that's another of my complaints with blogs in particular and the web in general: the ease with which people can post and disseminate content. 'The best thing about the web is that anyone can publish on it; the worst thing about the web is that anyone can publish on it,' a computer magazine columnist once observed."

Weil weighs in

Debbie Weil, publisher of the online WordBiz Report, responded in--where else?--her blog the same day Bly's article appeared, with a piece titled "Bob Bly blunders when it comes to business blogs."

"Much as I respect B2B copywriter Bob Bly (I consider him a friend and colleague) he's off the mark ... waaaay off the mark when it comes to his column about business blogs in today's issue of DM News.

"He writes: "[Blogs are] a complete waste of time--a pure vanity publication that won't pay you back even one thin dime for your effort."

Weil writes that "Bly blunders on several key points."

1. "You can't subscribe to a blog. Wrong.

"He omits any mention of RSS [Really Simple Syndication]. RSS is a marvelously elegant and simple way to subscribe to both blogs and news feeds and have every update pushed to your desktop without having to navigate the e-mail/spam jungle of overstuffed inboxes and filters."

2. "A business blog has no proven ROI. Wrong.

"That's like saying that a B2B website has no proven return on investment. A well-designed and organized site is often your company's most powerful, widely distributed face ... and voice. It's your brand. It's a lead generator. And sometimes, if you're selling digital information products or subscriptions, for example, a site is a channel for direct sales.

"Often as not, a business website is a vehicle to collect sign-ups, record downloads, enable members to access paid content, etc. It takes some work and effort to track and measure a precise ROI for your site, but it can be done.

"Oh, and BTW a business blog (weblog) is nothing more than a web page. In fact, blogs are really just next-generation websites. Bob, I challenge you to report the exact ROI of your content-filled site about B2B copywriting!

3. "As for that 'one thin dime,' thousands of blogs are making hundreds or thousands of dollars a month by running Google AdWords. This is one of them. Another advertising vehicle for blogs is Blogads."

And the winner is ...

To business blog or not to business blog? Who's right? Bob Bly or Debbie Weil?

Well, let's put it this way. Since that exchange, Bly has begun Bob Bly's Marketing Blog,

"I'm diving headfirst into the blogosphere--with the launch of my own marketing blog," he says.

"My new blog shows you 10 ways to improve your marketing ROI by thinking like a direct marketer.

"You can read this article, dozens of posts made in response, and post a comment of your own at: http://www.bly.com/blog/blog.htm."

Business Blogging Starter Kit

If you're considering beginning a blog for your business--or just curious about this new online trend--we recommend Debbie Weil's new Business Blogging Starter Kit. Its 128 pages cover just about everything concerning blogging:

* Why blog?

* A quick tour of the blogosphere

* Live demo of blogging

* B2B blog case studies

* Blogging tools, software and costs

* Top 7 tips for business blog content and style

* Beyond RSS: getting readers to interact

* How to promote your blog

* Advertising on your blog

* Computing the ROI of a business blog

* Interview with three blogging experts

* Resources for business blogging.

It's an easy read but packed with detailed information understandable even to the blogging novice. No blogging questions unanswered.

You may order the Starter Kit, in either print or PDF format, at http://www.BloggingStarterKit.com or http://WordBizStore.com.
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Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Nov 30, 2004
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