If you have a business card and a BlackBerry, then you probably have a blog, too.
Blogs—a sort of online, ongoing diary mixing commentary and often graphics—are the buzz among special event professionals today. According to a recent online poll from Special Events, half of respondents now have a blog.
But besides giving authors a chance to publish what they want when they want, are blogs really good for business? Sixty percent of those who have blogs say they can't tell if their blogs have brought business but do believe their "Web logs" have raised their profile. The rest say they can't tell if their blog is doing anything for their business.
Here, Special Events looks at four event industry blogs and how they're performing:
TWO BLOGS THAT BUILD BUSINESS
started June 2009
goal "My goal was to create a forum where I could share all kinds of news and knowledge with my fans, clients, prospective clients and business partners."
time investment Anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the number of posts on a particular day
what has changed "I definitely post more often! When I first started, I was doing a few posts a week. Sometimes now I do a few posts a day! My approach is that www.adoseofsass.com is a place for everything Steve Kemble, such as my projects, my events, places I'm visiting, industry news, etc. For the past several months, I have also been uploading my blog post to my Facebook fan page to spread the word even further!"
Is your blog helping your business? "It is definitely helping me! My blog is the reason I feel I have reached the maximum amount of friends on Facebook (5,000) and now have over 3,600 people following me on Twitter daily. I use my Facebook and Twitter posts to drive traffic to the blog. Additionally, it has helped me gain new business partners and sponsors because it allows for the opportunity of great cross-promotion of their product on my blog, and my products on their blogs and more! The blog has been mentioned in US Weekly, USA Today, Everyday with Rachel Ray, the Dallas Morning News and almost daily on my celebrity gossip radio segment I do every day for CBS Radio and more! Additionally, the ads you see on the blog are ads that are purchased by business partners, which during these economic times has been an excellent source of revenue."
Melissa Musgrove, Wedding Photographer
Santa Barbara, Calif.
started January 2008
goal "When I first started blogging, I really didn't want to. Who has time? It is one of those 'get on the train, or get run over by it' propositions. It's dangerous when there are so many businesses to choose from, to be 'comfortable' and not make changes. So, although I wasn't really wanting the extra work, I got busy."
time investment "I think the best use of your time is to have an 'idea folder.' When you think of something that may be interesting to blog about, jot it quickly and stick it in the folder. Set aside one hour, a week, bimonthly or a month. Schedule it. The important thing is to be consistent. You don't want to irritate people that look forward to a new blog from you by letting it get old or stale."
what has changed "I thought I would blog mostly about other event professionals I work with, but over time, I realized that wasn't personal enough—it was too 'businessy.' Santa Barbara is a destination site for weddings; it is not unusual to not meet in person with someone who is considering your business. The info they get from my blog gives them a reasonable clue about who I am as a person. In the 25 years I've been in business, I've come to know people prefer to mix and work with their 'own kind.' Knowing that, I can also talk about things that I think the folks I want to attract will want to read."
Is your blog helping your business? "Absolutely. I have booked jobs because of it."
TWO BLOGS THAT BOOST AWARENESS
David Merrell, AOO Events
started September 2008
goal "Actually, when we started it, we didn’t really know why we were doing it and what our goals were."
time investment "We find two entries a week—Tuesdays and Thursdays--is easy to maintain, easy enough to get enough content for, and doesn’t inundate the readers with too much. We are now up to about 4,000 to 7,000 hits a month--and growing--and won in the first-ever event blog awards for 'Best Eye Candy'! It helps having pictures of every event that we do, and because of that, it makes it easier to have a lot of content. I have a ghost writer who takes my bullet points, narratives and pictures and turns them into the final content form that gets posted. I normally have to spend about two hours a week pulling content and writing."
what has changed "I made a commitment in the second year to start really opening it up for an industry dialogue of event design. This is when we have really seen the growth in our blog. It drives people back on a regular basis for the constantly changing content, but every time I add a new guest blogger, I add their mailing lists to the 'fans' of our blog. We are currently talking about where we want it to go. We are starting to play with ads on the site; it would be great to have enough on there that we could actually have the costs of it paid through advertising, or even make a little profit. I do like the fact that it seems to be less about self-promotion of AOO and that it is more about an industry conversation that everyone wants to be involved in."
Is your blog helping your business? "We have started to pair this social media up with Twitter, and we do seem to have some type of 'elevation' of our awareness to others. I remember handing out my card in the past few months to people who see Design Dawgs on the card and say, “Oh, you are the Design Dawgs guys!' It’s great for that to have a separate personality from mine. Gut feeling mostly tells me that the social media-driven marketing for Design Dawgs and AOO is paying off—I'm just not sure how I can quantify it yet."
Fred Hageman and Gary Stansberry, Hageman, Stansberry & Associates
Cameron Park, Calif., and Arlington, Texas
started February 2010
goal "Our goal in creating the blog was to share some of our real-life experiences we’ve had in dealing with rental businesses. We like to say that we’ve seen a lot--over 3,000 rental stores over the past 22 years--but each assignment we have has its own unique set of challenges and opportunities that can be learned from. Through our blog, our goal is to share some of these lessons on a weekly basis in the form of a guideline, benchmark or tip that can be applied by rental store owners to their own operations. At the same time, it gives our readers--who are also our potential clients--specific, tangible evidence of deliverables from our services that have benefited other clients. The blog gives us a forum that allows us to go beyond what a general description of our services on our Web site provides."
time investment "We chose a weekly format because rental store owners are busy, and once-a-week communications seem to work well for other rental trade e-publications such as Eventline, Rental Pulse and RER Reports. We have both had to fight the impulse to write a 'three-page article' for each post, and we are trying to keep it to no more than three or four meaningful paragraphs per week. The time commitment for a weekly post is approximately two hours per week."
Is your blog helping your business? "In terms of results, we can tell you that the blog immediately had more readership than we expected. Before we even began to publicize it, the blog was getting 15 to 20 hits per day. After the blog got some exposure, we have had several days with well over 100 hits, and traffic to our Web site has more than doubled. We understand that blog visitors, like all relationships with the industry, are cultivated over time. Certainly we have had increased exposure and had more inquiries to our services in the past 45 days since the blog has been up and running; part of that may be attributable to the blog and part of it is likely attributable to the time of year and increased economic activity as of late. We would like to see more 'feedback' written by readers of the blog, but we also understand that a very limited percentage of all blog readers actually comment in writing on any given post."
Photo by iStockphoto.com / © Alex Slobodkin