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When Kim Snider asks attendees of her educational seminars, "How many of you read my blog?" she estimates that 80 percent of the people in the room raise their hands. It wasn't always that way, though.

"[I started the blog] just to see what blogging is about," says Snider, the 44-year-old president of Kim Snider Financial Communications, which specializes in retirement planning and education. "It's important to keep the graduates of our program engaged with us. Blogging was a natural way to do that."

According to a 2006 survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 12 million American adults have blogs, while about 57 million American adults read blogs, and that number is rising. Pew also reports that the population of bloggers is equally male and female.

While many blogs are personal in nature, a growing number are being used to promote businesses and educate customers, employees and other constituents, says Sally Falkow, blogger and president of Expansion Plus Inc., an internet marketing and PR agency. Part of the appeal of blogs, she says, is that they give a clearer glimpse of the person behind the business. "You don't have to talk about your dog and your babies or bare your soul to give customers a feel for your business and your philosophy," says Falkow.

The number of women bloggers has grown to the point where they even have their own conference. BlogHer LLC, which calls itself the number-one guide to women bloggers, sold out its second annual conference and held its third last July.

To create an effective blog for your business, Falkow offers these tips:

  • Research. Before you start writing, dip your toe in the water. Search Google's Blog Search or for keywords related to your industry, read the related blogs and get a feel for who's blogging and what they're talking about.
  • Test. Participate in popular industry blogs by posting useful content and commentary in comment sections. This can help you build a name for yourself before you launch your own blog.
  • Engage. "Whether you like it or not, there's a conversation going on on the internet," says Falkow. "The days of putting up static content and having it be effective are long gone." Deliver valuable information to your readers, and keep comment areas enabled to capture customer feedback.
  • Refresh. Falkow says it's not necessary to blog every day, but new content should be added at least several times a week. Snider found this out the hard way. "If I don't post at least three or four times a week, I see the traffic fall off. It's very clear in our traffic numbers when I stop posting," she says. "If you have a blog, you need to commit to it. Getting those people back is a lot harder than keeping them."

This story appears in the October 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »