I received an email this morning from a business contact who wants to get into blogging. Some may think blogging is being displaced by other social media such as Facebook or Twitter, but I still think it's a huge opportunity for business professionals with specialized expertise and an interest in sharing it for the benefit of clients, prospects and others.
In case you are still thinking of starting a blog, here is an copy of my response to her. It has been slightly edited to preserve confidentiality.
Hi, xxx. Thanks for your note. I just looked at your website and yes, I think you are a prime candidate to blog. You obviously possess high-value information and expertise in a narrow but crucial niche, and one that can make a big impact on company strategy and performance.
My definition of a successful business blogger is someone who has a lot of information that his/her clients would love to understand better, and who keeps him/herself updated on an ongoing basis. By sharing some of that knowledge, you A) help companies recognize the value of your service, and B) position yourself as a uniquely confident specialist who is open and easy to do business with. And of course Google will love you and position you highly in its search results.
After you get the blog up and running, you should also look at buying pay-per-click Google ads to make sure that anyone looking for your keywords (name of industry, product or service, location, etc.) will be more likely to find you. It's cheap and very targeted, and you pay only when someone clicks on your ad and goes to your site.
If it is important to you to be seen as a high-end blogger, I suggest you contact an Internet expert who can set you up with your own custom-designed site and custom blog tools. That is the best way to create a professional (and professional-looking) site. If you want to play around for a while to discover if this is for you before you invest any money (not that it's that expensive), then the free service I use is perfectly adequate: http://www.blogger.com/
Blogger.com is owned by Google and is one of several popular free blogging sites. You can go there, register, then pick a design from among the free templates on offer. You can be posting articles in 10 minutes. You can also post photos and other graphics. There are also lots of choices for added tools and "sidebar" gadgets, such as favourite links, accessing older content, serving up related business headlines, linking Facebook and Twitter, etc.
The coolest thing about blogging is that you don't have to write everything yourself. It is perfectly legit, and useful to your readers, to post links to (and maybe summaries of) other interesting articles on the Web you run across that relate to your topic.
If you can be a one-stop shop to update your readers on all the significant ideas and issues in your space (ie, both an aggregator and a filter, giving them only information of value), you will be providing a welcome service, which again positions you well as a preferred advisor.
One other point: a blog can take some time to develop traction (ie, people find out about it and return regularly). So you need to work actively to promote it, by linking from your website and emails, mentioning it as often as possible, putting the URL on your business cards, etc.
You might also propose a "link exchange" with other sites in your industry, in which you agree to post links to each others' site/blog in order to provide a more well rounded service to your readers/clients.
One final note before I overwhelm you: Blogger will give you a URL that reads something like http://www.yourcompanyx.blogspot.com/ . You should create an alternate URL to point your readers to (shorter, more professional looking and easier to remember) as soon as possible. Best thing for you would probably be to tuck it into your current site (eg, www.yourcompanyX.com/blog). Any web consultant can help you do that.
Best of luck. Let me know if you have any questions.