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Build business relationships with a company blog.

This story appears in the December 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Blogs have gone from fad to phenomenon, so it's not surprising that blogging has made its way into business. "Most business owners who use Web logs [want] to communicate with customers while preserving a human voice," says Mena Trott, 26, co-founder of San Mateo, California-based Six Apart Ltd.-which offers blog publishing services Movable Type and TypePad-with her husband, Ben Trott, 26.

Before you allow customers, partners, investors, employees and even competitors a glimpse into your company via a blog, it's crucial to determine what you want your blog to accomplish. Also think about how you can develop a relationship with your readers without being too marketing-oriented or too personal. "Keep it professional, but with a strong personal voice," Mena counsels. If the words on-screen sound like a conversation, you're on the right track. And since Web pages can live forever in cyberspace, Mena advises you don't post anything you don't want on your company's "permanent record." Make sure the design is professional, and edit for spelling and grammar. Mena also suggests doing practice posts for two or three weeks before going live so you can work out any problems.

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