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Marketing through blog posts

Special to The Times

Dear Karen: I notice that large companies are sponsoring blog postings that mention them favorably. Is it worthwhile for a small business to do this?

Answer: Sponsoring blog posts, also called “pay-per-post,” is a search marketing trend that started last fall, when major websites began requiring bloggers to disclose when they were being paid. Small companies can take advantage of this opportunity, which is similar to word-of-mouth marketing, said William Leake, chief executive of Apogee Search based in Austin, Texas.

“With frequent mentions in blogs across the Web, small businesses can increase their chances of coming up in keyword searches, boosting search engine optimization efforts,” Leake said. “Advertisers can sign on for as little as $10 per blog post and begin working directly with bloggers.”

Read blogs that cover your company’s niche and contact bloggers with a brief description of your products and services, he suggested. If you want greater exposure, try attracting bloggers through websites such as PayPerPost.com.

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Along with a boost to your search engine ranking, you’re likely to get valuable feedback from blog readers. Leake said his firm began experimenting with pay-per-post last fall and was now up to 100 postings per month. “Our site traffic is three times higher than it was a year ago, with more than half of that traffic coming from blogs,” he said.

Finding a niche

in an industry

Dear Karen: As president of a small recruiting firm, I’d like to find an industry niche in which I can become the preferred recruiting expert. How would I go about doing this?

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Answer: That’s an excellent plan, particularly with the level of business complexity in most industries today. If you have the expertise to understand what your clients are looking for in their personnel, you’ll become invaluable to them.

“Being a generalist is a very tough road for a small firm,” said Charles Miller, president of People 2.0, a staffing consulting firm. “When you specialize in one or maybe two niches, you’ll learn the terminology, attend the trade shows and be able to deliver the best people to meet your clients’ needs.”

Investigate the industries that drive the economy in your region, look at what your competitors have focused on and find an area that you can get excited about, Miller said. If you already have some expertise in a particular niche that seems underserved by recruiters, that might be a logical place to start. Alternatively, you could specialize in recruiting niche employees such as engineers, information technology experts or healthcare employees. Then you’d be working with employers across various industries.

Online ads for

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a shop owner

Dear Karen: Is online advertising worthwhile for a small shop owner?

Answer: If you’re interested in attracting regional clients or thinking about selling products online, Internet advertising can help expand your presence beyond your community.

“Online advertising can help capture potential customers from neighboring cities who may not know about your business,” said Emily White, director of online sales and operations for Google’s AdWords. Online advertising tends to be reasonably priced, and typically you pay only when a potential customer clicks on your ad.

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As with any advertising campaign, you should monitor your online efforts frequently for effectiveness. Most sites have free online analytics that can help you do this.

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Got a question about running or starting a small enterprise? E-mail it to ke.klein@ latimes.com or mail it to In Box, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012


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