Blogging all the way to the bank

Journalists and business analysts are sitting up and taking note of business bloggers. Can it be profitable? Does it really create more business for the bloggers? Is it worth the time and effort? How can small businesses blog for success?

The New York Times profiled a few blogging success stories, and readers are starting to agree that blogging can be good business. The appeal of blogging is simple: It's a low-cost way for a business to generate buzz. The biggest "cost" is typically the time spent developing materials for the site. Yet experts estimate that only about 5% of small businesses (those with 100 or fewer employees) use blogs for marketing and promotion.

The real success in blogging is for the select few who have mastered that fine combination of engaging content, regular updates, and loyal readers. Not everyone should blog, and indeed there are certain industries that lend themselves better to blogging. A business consultant will probably have more reason to blog than a grocery store owner. Companies in innovative industries with constant change are more likely to find success blogging than other slow-paced, traditional industries.