Fall Tips To Help Your Business Have A Strong End-Of-Year Finish

Although most of the year has already passed and we’re now into the autumn season, don’t panic if your business has fallen a little bit behind on its goals. It’s not too late make changes that can help lead to a strong finish in 2016.

Whether you’ve just started your business or have been running yours for years, the key is to take action sooner rather than later—and to focus on efforts that will improve your bottom line now and into 2017.


  1. Nurture Customer Relationships.

If you’ve fallen out of touch with some customers, now’s the time to reconnect. Just be careful to do so with their best interests at heart, so you don’t come across as desperate or pushy. One easy way to start conversations is by emailing them an interesting article that has information they can benefit from. I recommend reaching out to each select customer individually rather than in a mass email. By personalizing your communications, you’ll make them feel special—and more engaged in revisiting the status of your business relationship.

Also, consider putting a formalized customer relationship management process in place, so there’s a method (rather than madness) in how you follow up with customers after certain actions, transactions, or lack of activity. A number of customer relationship management systems (at varying price points) are out there that can help you track customer activity and automate personalized communications.

A little goodwill and top of mind awareness can go a long way in generating more sales, so it pays to check in with customers regularly to show you care.


  1. Upsell, Upsell, Upsell!

Why would you not seize the opportunity to sell more products or services to the customers who have shown they’re raving fans of your brand? If you haven’t been sending emails or postcards or calling loyal customers with information about your other products and services, you’re missing sales opportunities.

Afraid you’ll seem pushy? You don’t have to fear that if you approach customers with the intention of helping them solve a problem or benefit in some way. As I mentioned before, showing you care fosters goodwill and can generate sales as a result.


  1. Streamline Your Administrative Activities.

Take a moment to review your administrative processes and discover where you might have excessive paperwork, duplicate work, and bottlenecks that are slowing down productivity. From accounts payables to billing to project management to customer data entry, look for ways to save time by streamlining tasks.


  1. Keep Spending In Check.

Although you should always be cognizant of your business’s spending habits, it’s especially critical now if you’re behind schedule on reaching your financial goals for the year. Look closely at your costs, and zero in on the “must haves” versus the “nice to haves” so you can cut out unnecessary expenses. Lowering costs has a direct impact on your profit and loss statement, so if even if you ignore all other suggestions, pay attention to this one!


  1. Make Sure You’ve Met Your Business Compliance Requirements.

Rather than discover you’ve dropped the ball, check to make sure all your t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted now regarding your business compliance responsibilities. If required, have you filed your initial and/or annual report and complied with your business license and permit obligations? Corporate compliance services like those from CorpNet can help you ensure you’re up to date and won’t be hit with penalties. Best of all, when the New Year begins, you’ll be able to focus on activities that will drive revenue rather than put out fires.


  1. Think Ahead About Your Business’s Direction.

Whether you’re just starting your business or planning to close it, taking care of matters before the end of the year offers some potential advantages.

If you plan to launch your business in 2017, you can avoid becoming over-stressed during the busyness of the New Year by taking advantage of CorpNet’s delayed formation filing process. It allows you to submit your formation paperwork before the end of the year, but make the effective date of your business the first of the year.

If you know you’ll be closing your business in the near future, you might consider taking care of filing for dissolution now. Doing so before year-end might help you avoid paying additional taxes and penalties.


Move Your Business Forward This Fall—And In The Future

Also, think proactively about what you can do to succeed in 2017. All of the things I mentioned earlier will help, but also consider reviewing your choice of legal structure for your business. By making a change to an LLC, S Corporation, or C Corporation, you have the opportunity to gain liability protection and possibly some tax advantages, as well.

By putting more effort into your customer relationships, running your business more efficiently and cost effectively, and paying attention to compliance requirements, you’ll be taking positive steps toward a strong finish in 2016 and a successful start to 2017.

Why Customers Love Us – CorpNet Reviews

Fall is in full swing, and we are getting the warm fuzzies from all the love from CorpNet clients!

Here’s a look back at some fantastic 5-star reviews of our services these past few weeks. Do you need to incorporateform an LLC or file a DBA? Check out all of our reviews on TrustPilot and reach out anytime for a free business consultation at 888.449.2638.


CorpNet Reviews

By | October 20th, 2016|CorpNet Reviews|0 Comments

Hiring the Best Candidates: 3 Filters to Add to Your Interview Process

Some studies estimate that the cost of hiring someone is approximately six to nine months’ of their salary. An employee making on average $40,000 might cost $20,000 or more to find if you factor in the time to recruit, screen, hire and train new employees. With so much on the line for finding a great candidate, it’s critically important to do your best to screen potential employees as rigorously as possible.

Weeding out those who aren’t qualified is easy, but screening the final group for the star performer in the mix is difficult. These three filters to add to your interview process can help.


Three Filters to Add to Your Interview Process

The typical hiring process includes:

  • Creating (or updating) a job description for the vacant position.
  • Writing and placing a help wanted ad.
  • Receiving resumes.
  • Screening resumes.
  • Telephone interviews to screen candidates.
  • In-person interviews with the best candidates.
  • An offer and someone hired.

Keep in mind, that selecting the right job boards to find employees online is important to your hiring process as well. Of course, at any point in the process, you may add steps or people, which lengthens the process but helps hire better candidates. Many companies now ask that a potential employee’s manager, coworkers and subordinates interview candidates so that they can assess how well candidates get along with people throughout the organization.

Adding the following three steps to your interviewing process won’t slow it down too much, but it will help you narrow down the candidate pool to the best-qualified applicants. This will actually save you time later since there will be fewer resumes to review and consider.


#1 Enhanced Job Description

When you start with a specific, enhanced and updated job description, you already start the process of being specific and choosy with your applicants. A highly-specific job description immediately attracts only those with such specific skills, while turning away others who do not possess them. The enhanced job description should detail every aspect of the position, including educational and experience requirements, specialized skills, and more. Take this information and include it in your job posting to encourage candidates with the best fit of skills to respond. When you are posting to job sites, the enhanced position description will make it easier to set up your job posting so that only the best-qualified will respond. This significantly cuts down on the number of unqualified candidates who apply, and saves you a great deal of time reviewing resumes.


#2 Pre-Employment Survey

After you receive resumes and cover letters from the initial job postings, it’s helpful to ask the most promising candidates to take a brief survey. You can ask them after the telephone interview or before it via an emailed response to their application. You can even add it to the application itself, before they even submit their resume. The survey can be created on a site like Survey Monkey to make it easier to collect the information. Ask questions pertinent to the job you’re hiring for, and make them specific so that it is difficult to fudge the answers. Provide scenario-based questions to see how potential employees would handle difficult situations, or ask questions that only someone with the right skill set can answer. The survey shouldn’t take too long to complete, but it will yield insights into the candidate’s’ qualifications and knowledge, so that you can save yourself time by scheduling telephone interviews with only the most promising candidates.


#3 Give homework.

A paid test assignment, or a homework assignment of some sort, is the final task that many employers can add to find great candidates. If you’re hiring freelancers, always offer compensation for their time completing a paid test assignment; many professionals won’t touch a free assignment even if the actual gig is promising. The test assignment can be a small sample of a larger project that the candidate would be expected to complete if actually hired for the job.

For full-time employees, a simple ‘homework’ assignment demonstrates several things. First, it shows you how committed and interested they are in the job. Next, it provides proof of their ability to complete work independently. Lastly, it provides you with insight into how well they can meet deadlines. These are three tasks that are difficult to assess from a resume but critical for job success.

See how the candidate responds to the test assignment. Those who are eager for the job will respond positively. Also listen for how well they negotiate deadlines and the questions asked about the assignment. This yields important clues about their work habits, ability to understand direction, and interest in the position.


Don’t Settle for Second-Best

It’s tempting to rush the hiring process along. A vacancy means lost productivity and extra work for your current team. However, rushing the hiring process never yields the best candidate. Take your time to find the best fit for your business and your business will prosper.

5 Types of Insurance Every Small Business Needs

Ready to take your small business to new heights? As a small business owner, you’ll need every advantage you can find in today’s highly competitive, global business landscape.

Becoming the next startup like Uber or Airbnb that now are valued at $1 billion or more by venture capital firms worldwide remains an uphill climb. As such, small business owners may devote substantial time and resources to grow their companies, yet many of them will fall short of achieving their long-term business goals.

Attention to detail is what separates an average small business operator from an extraordinary one. With the right types of insurance in place, small business operators can protect their assets as they grow their companies.

Here are the types of insurance you may need to achieve your business goals:

1. General Liability

General liability insurance offers broad protection for small businesses. It ensures they are covered against a variety of risks, including:

• Bodily injury
• Property damage
• Personal injury

The costs associated with general liability coverage often vary based on risk. Thus, if you work as a roofing contractor, you may be forced to pay more for general liability insurance than a food truck operator. Or, if you run your business out of a home office, your general liability insurance expenses will likely be minimal.

Regardless of your business type, general liability insurance can make a world of difference for small businesses across all industries. This insurance guarantees that even if your company makes a mistake along the way, you’ll be protected. You’ll be better equipped to maintain your business’ day-to-day operations and focus on what’s important—growing your company.

2. Property

Like general liability coverage, property insurance protects the future of your business by safeguarding your office equipment, inventory and even others’ property.

Furthermore, property insurance protects your company in the event that a major disaster damages or destroys your workspace. This means that even though a fire, busted water pipe or major storm could devastate your business assets, you’ll be covered until your company can return to its regular operations.

3. Auto

If you operate a vehicle to deliver flowers, carry equipment to and from work sites or use a car or truck to perform various everyday work tasks, you’ll want to purchase business auto insurance.

In many cases, a small business operator may own a car and use a personal vehicle as part of his or her business operations. Your personal auto policy in some cases may not cover you if you suffer an accident in a car that you use primarily for business, therefore it is important to discuss with an agent to determine if you need a business auto policy to protect you against certain risks as you travel from place to place. If you purchase the right business auto insurance and set appropriate coverage limits, you’ll be protected whenever you use your vehicle for work.

4. Professional Liability

Don’t let a single professional error bring down your business. Instead, purchase professional liability coverage, and you’ll be able to protect your company against accidental errors and omissions.

Let’s face it—even a diligent small business owner will occasionally make a mistake. From an accountant who processes a client’s tax return incorrectly to a hair stylist who damages a bride-to-be’s hair before a wedding, accidents can happen at any time, and these problems can become major issues quickly if you’re not careful.

Fortunately, professional liability insurance will enable you to cover the costs associated with damage or other problems due to a professional mistake. This coverage may prove to be exceedingly valuable for startups, and ultimately, it may even help a small business operator become more comfortable performing day-to-day tasks. Professional liability insurance can allow small business owners to work more confidently and efficiently without having to worry about how a single professional error could potentially harm his or her business.

5. Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation coverage is a requirement for businesses in every state except Texas. It provides a small business owner and his or her employees with protection in the event that an employee suffers a work-related injury or illness.

In addition, workers’ compensation coverage provides small business operators with a great opportunity to build goodwill with employees. If an employee suffers an injury or illness and is unable to return to work, he or she will receive sufficient compensation thanks to this coverage.

Small business owners are all too familiar with risk. With the aforementioned types of insurance at your disposal, you’ll be better equipped to manage business risks both now and in the future.
Image: Adobe Stock


About Ryan

Ryan Hanley is the Vice President of Marketing at TrustedChoice.com and the Managing Editor of Agency Nation. He is also a speaker, podcaster and author of the Amazon best-seller, “Content Warfare.” Ryan has over 12 years of insurance expertise and blogs frequently to help consumers understand complicated insurance topics.


By | October 13th, 2016|Business Operations, Running A Small Business, Startups|2 Comments

Back to Basics: LLC or Corporation? Which Is The Better Choice For Your Business?

Both forming an LLC and incorporating your business safeguard you by protecting your personal assets if legal action is taken against your business. They also give your business a boost of credibility by having either “LLC” or “Inc.” behind your company name. But there are differences that could make one or the other the better choice for you.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of knowing the pros and cons of the legal structures available to you before you decide which will serve your business most effectively.

The Low-down On LLCs

Many owner-managed businesses opt to form as LLCs.

LLC owners are referred to as “members,” who each own a certain percentage of the business. Single-member LLCs are uncomplicated from a compliance and management standpoint. When you have multiple members, however, you should have an operating agreement that documents who can make decisions and how transferring membership interests should happen if a member leaves, dies, or files bankruptcy. Some states require that the remaining members dissolve the LLC under the circumstance of a member’s leaving, death, or bankruptcy.

From a tax standpoint, you can choose to have your LLC treated in one of two ways.

  • As a pass-through entity, with the profits and losses of your business passed to your LLC members’ personal tax returns. If your business isn’t profitable, that will lower your personal tax obl
  • As an S Corporation, whereby only salaries and wages are subject to self-employment taxes (FICA and Medicare), not company profits taken as distributions to members.

Because there are notably less formation paperwork and compliance requirements with an LLC than there are with a corporation, business owners who want legal protection and tax flexibility without a lot of complexity find the LLC structure an attractive option.

One potential disadvantage of forming an LLC, however, is that you cannot sell stock to raise capital for your business. And if you seek funding from venture capitalists, you may get turned down because many will only invest in corporations.

Insight About Incorporating

Whether S Corporation or C Corporation, the owners of corporations are called shareholders. Their percentage of ownership corresponds to their percentage of shares in the business. Unlike with an LLC, it’s typically simple to transfer shares (ownership) from one person to another. That means the business can continue onward when shareholders leave, die, or sell their shares.

S Corporation

With an S Corporation, a business’s income, losses, and deductions pass through to its shareholders. Typically, the shareholders report corporate income on their personal income tax returns.

Unlike LLCs and C Corporations, S Corporations are limited to 100 members/shareholders. So while they can sell stock, their potential to raise capital in that way is somewhat limited.

While S Corporations require more paperwork and ongoing compliance than LLCs, they don’t come with as much formality as C Corporations.

C Corporation

Tax treatment of C Corporations involves what is often called “double taxation.” A C Corp pays corporate income tax on its profits, and then its shareholders pay personal income tax on the profits they receive as dividends.

C Corporations don’t have a limit on the number of shareholders that can invest in them, and they may be more attractive to outside investors.

Because C Corporations operate as separate legal entities from their owners, they provide more personal liability protection than other business structures.

Note that potential drawbacks to incorporating as a C Corporation are the higher formation costs, extra compliance requirements, and additional oversight they are subject to.

Do Your Due Diligence, Then Decide.

With both legal and financial aspects of your business affected by your choice of legal structure, make sure you carefully evaluate your options. I encourage you to seek professional expertise and guidance, so you fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of each structure.

In the meantime, you can get off to a great start by using the CorpNet Business Structure Wizard for gaining a better idea of the structure that might work best for you.

Applying for an EIN – FAQ

We are excited to bring you another post in our monthly FAQ series!

This month, we are discussing an integral part of business formations – EINs. An EIN (Employee Identification Number) is also known as a Federal Tax ID Number or FEIN. Whether a corporation or LLC, obtaining an EIN is an important part of starting a business!

Check out our CEO Nellie Akalp‘s answers to your burning questions below:

Q: What is an EIN?

A: An EIN (Employer Identification Number) is like a social security number for businesses It’s how the IRS identifies your company and tracks its activities.

Q: Who needs to get an EIN?

A: Your business is required to get an EIN if any of the following apply:

  • Your business is structured as a corporation or partnership
  • You have employees
  • You have a Keough plan
  • You file any of the following tax returns: Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
  • You’re involved with certain organizations as defined by the IRS

In addition, you’ll most likely need an EIN in open to open a business bank account and credit card.

Q: I’m a sole proprietor without any employees, can I get an EIN?

A: Yes, if you don’t fall into any of categories listed above, you’re not required by law to have an EIN for your business, but you still can get one. The main advantage in filing for an EIN as a sole proprietor is that you won’t need to give out your personal social security number to clients, vendors, and other business contacts.


Do you need help applying for an EIN or have a questions regarding the process? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

Image: Adobe Stock

By | October 6th, 2016|Business Banking, Business Filings, FAQ, Starting a Business|0 Comments

Is Fear of Failure Holding Your Business Back?

Ghosts, ghouls and goblins—oh my! While children clad in Halloween costumes may fear witches and zombies, many entrepreneurs are equally terrified of failure. But since failure is an inevitable part of launching and growing a small business, fear of failure could be holding you and your business back from success. Whether your business is already underway or just getting started, here are six ways to overcome your fear of failure:

  1. Go step by step. When we’re scared, it’s easy for fear of failure to paralyze us and we end up doing nothing. Instead of taking an all-or-nothing approach, break down what scares you into small, manageable parts. For example, if you’re afraid to approach potential investors for financing because they might say no, break it down into smaller tasks: researching potential investors, making a list of the most promising possibilities, finding connections on social media to introduce you, developing your pitch and so on. Going step-by-step, you’re more likely to succeed, and each success will build your confidence.
  2. Do things right. Failure often occurs when we’re in a hurry and take shortcuts. In your excitement to launch your business or your next big idea, it’s tempting to skip the boring stuff and jump straight to the fun part. However, paying attention to foundational elements such as writing a business plan, choosing the right legal structure for your business, trademarking your business name and getting a business license can greatly increase your odds for success.
  3. Get help. You’re less likely to fail if you get advice from more experienced business people, professionals and mentors who have “been there, done that.” They can help you foresee possible problems and figure out how to surmount potential hurdles. Perhaps even more importantly, they can build your confidence by providing encouragement and support. SCORE and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) are two great, free sources of business advice and expertise.
  4. Celebrate your successes. It’s human nature to be critical of ourselves and focus on everything we’ve done wrong. Unfortunately, this can lead to a crippling fear of failure. Instead, focus on all the things you do right. Take some time to write down risks that you’ve taken—not just in business, but also in your personal life—and the successes you’ve enjoyed as a result. Giving yourself credit for all the good things you’ve done will build your ability to take on challenges with less fear.
  5. Do what scares you. Did you notice I said “less fear” in the prior paragraph, rather than “fearlessly”? No one is fearless, no matter how they may look on the outside. True courage means doing what scares us in spite of our fear. Really, the only way to overcome fear of failure is to try new things, knowing full well that you might fail—and that’s OK.
  6. Learn from your failures. No matter how hard we try, we’re bound to experience failure, especially when undertaking something as challenging as starting and growing a business. Make failure your friend by learning from it. Step back and assess exactly what happened, why it happened, and what you can do differently next time to prevent it from happening again. The more you learn from your failures, the less likely you are to repeat them.

Image: Adobe Stock


Nellie in the News: September 2016

Can you believe the month of September has already come to an end? We’re fast approaching the end of 2016, and with each ending comes new beginnings! We are here to help you incorporate a business, form an LLC, file a DBA and more across all 50 states.

This past month, our CEO Nellie Akalp has been busy appearing and speaking at various events and writing informative articles to help business owners grow and maintain their businesses.  Here are some highlights from the month of September, as well as some upcoming speaking appearances where you can see Nellie in person.

Want Nellie to speak at your next event or share her tips on your podcast? Contact her today


Upcoming Speaking Appearances

Los Angeles Women Business Expo & Boutique

Nellie will be the featured speaker sharing her insight for other women entrepreneurs.

October 20, 2016

More info: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/los-angeles-women-business-expo-and-boutique-tickets-26669920450


Interviews & press Mentions

Boss Mom Podcast – Making Sure You’re Setting Up Your Business the Right Way with Nellie Akalp http://bit.ly/2bYDoha

Hustle n Rose Podcast – Legal Tips with Nellie Akalp http://bit.ly/2bRcjh5

SMB Guru – Interview with Nellie Akalp http://bit.ly/2c88mjJ

Play Your Position Podcast – Nellie Akalp is in It to Win It Again http://bit.ly/2c7qKtd

Businessing Magazine – Creative Perks to Offer Your Employees http://bit.ly/2bZdafG

AstUtemy – What Business Structure is Best for your Business? Webinar with Nellie Akalp http://bit.ly/2cRTXOk

Business2Community – 70 Female Business Executives Share Advice They would Give to Their Teenage Selves http://bit.ly/2d418Q7

Lets Get Radical Podcast – Getting Started in Business: An Interview with Nellie Akalp http://bit.ly/2cBJnoy

Success is the New Black – Nellie Akalp Shares Her Experience with CorpNet.com http://bit.ly/2dtFmIA

When I Work – The 10 Biggest Tax Mistakes Small Business Owners Risk Making http://bit.ly/2drYDWD


Expert Contributed Posts

Small Business Trends -Want to Change your Company’s Name? Here’s How – http://bit.ly/2bBKgBO

AllBusiness – Could Your ‘Facebookanality’ Be Hurting Your Business Reputation? http://bit.ly/2bR1gQH

Huffington Post – Back to School, Back to Business. Your Fall Startup Business Checklist http://huff.to/2coRreR

Accounting Today – Are You Ready to Start Your Own Accounting Firm? http://bit.ly/2cM9izT

Entrepreneur – Apply for a Trademark Before It’s Too Late http://entm.ag/2cmoSy3

AllBusiness – Could the LLC Structure Be a Smart Choice for Your Business? http://bit.ly/2cG0fLO

AllBusiness – 7 Things Every Partnership Agreements Needs to Address http://bit.ly/2cFIRJA

Entrepreneur – 5 Things We;ve Learned Competing Against the 800-lb Gorilla http://entm.ag/2d1D80A

By | September 29th, 2016|Nellie in the News|1 Comment

The Series LLC – All You Need to Know!

What Is The Series LLC (SLLC) Business Structure?

The series LLC (or SLLC for short) allows multiple “series” within a master LLC to operate as separate entities (with their own names, bank accounts, and record keeping). Each series can conduct business independently in this way because series LLCs’ articles of formation explicitly allow them to have unrestricted segregation of membership interests, assets, liabilities, and operations.

Different members and managers might run each series, and their rights and responsibilities might vary from series to series. Each individual series may secure contracts, own property, sue, and be sued without affecting the other series under the series LLC.

Most significant about the series LLC is the liability protection it provides. Similar to a corporation with subsidiaries, one series’ assets are protected from the liability risks of other series under the master series LLC. What’s particularly attractive about a series LLC is the level of protection it offers comes without the cost of setting up new legal entities for each series. The series LLC is subject to just one formation filing fee, no matter how many series are a part of it.

Where And How Can You Set Up A Series LLC?

Not all states allow the formation of series LLCs, so the structure is not an option for every business everywhere. States currently allowing formation of series LLCs include: Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

Forming a series LLC works similarly to forming a traditional LLC. It involves filing articles of organization in the state for your master LLC. (Most likely the state will require that your articles of organization express that the LLC is authorized to form series under it). You’ll also need to create operating agreements to document the rules for overall operations of the master LLC and for each series you know you want to form. The operating agreements for each series will define any unique rules that apply to the individual series. (Note that you can add more series as needed in the future.)

What Types Of Businesses Might Benefit From The Series LLC Structure?

Series LLCs offer a good deal of flexibility and simplicity. Business owners such as real estate investors with multiple properties, franchisees with multiple locations, and other companies with distinct profit centers might benefit from forming a series LLC to separate and protect each operation.

What Else Should You Know?

With series LLCs being a fairly new legal structure, not all tax issues are completely clear across the board. While federal proposed regulation considers series to be their own entities for income tax purposes (which means they must file their own tax returns and pay their own tax obligations), tax treatment at the state level could be different.

No matter what legal business structure you’re considering, I strongly encourage you to get trusted professional legal and accounting guidance before making that all-important decision. And after you’ve done your homework and have all the knowledge you need to choose wisely, don’t risk missing anything mission critical during the formation process. At CorpNet, we’re here to help you save time and headaches by taking care of all the filing details for you. From series LLCs to regular LLCs to S-Corporations to C-Corporations, contact us to cover all your business filing needs!

Image: Adobe Stock

5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Blog

More people are purchasing goods online than ever before, and adding blog content to your website helps capture the attention of digital shoppers and beyond. U.S. eCommerce sales in the second quarter of 2016 reached $97.3 billion, an increase of 4.5 percent quarter-over-quarter and a whopping 15.8 percent increase year-over-year, according to the Department of Commerce. When your company provides blog content your potential customers are searching for, you build trust in your business and increase positive sentiment about your brand, which leads to sales when blog visitors need your product or service.

Your competitors are already blogging. The Content Marketing Institute reports that 77 percent of businesses have a blog they use for content marketing, and the same percentage planned to produce more content in 2016 compared to 2015.

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to add a blog to your marketing tool set, consider these five advantages.

1. A Blog Is Agile Marketing

Unlike ordering hundreds of T-shirts for a giveaway donning a logo that may change next week, or investing in banners and flyers that become useless and irrelevant when your next promotion is over, a blog is changeable in an instant with minimum cost to your marketing department. You can update it quickly with breaking news about your company and post trending content based on popular hashtags on Twitter. You can also create evergreen content for your audience, which can then be re-purposed into everything from eBooks and info-graphics to podcasts and webinars for years to come.

It’s also fairly easy to measure a blog’s effectiveness, so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. Compare that to spending big money on print materials, where performance is much more difficult to track. Content marketing expert and author Jay Baer presents an easy way to calculate blogging on his site, Convince & Convert. And by working with content creation and management software such as ClearVoice, you can scale your efforts more easily.

2. A Blog Boosts Search Engine Optimization

If your business sells a service or product that has dozens, hundreds or thousands of competitors, ranking higher in search results makes you more visible to those who are searching for your solution online. GE Capital Retail Bank reports more than 80 percent of shoppers who are making a major purchase conduct research online before deciding on a retailer. By tailoring blog content based on the content those shoppers are looking for, your brand is more likely to appear in their search results.

For example, if you’re a flooring installation company, and you discover your target customers are often searching, “Is carpet or hardwood better for my floors?”, you could create a blog post using that exact question as the title so that it shows up in results to that query.

Regularly creating new content — at least weekly is optimal — based on keywords that relate to your brand and what your target customers type into search engines provides a cue to search engine bots to continue to crawl your site and index your posts in their results. Featuring guest bloggers who link back to your blog on their own credible sites, creating content that is so valuable that other reputable sites link to it as a credible source, and guest blogging on other legitimate sites in exchange for a link back to your blog page mean your blog builds authority to search engines and boosts your entire website’s search engine optimization, which in turn benefits your product pages, too.

3. A Blog Increases Your Brand’s Exposure

In addition to gaining more traction on search engines by blogging, by producing content your web visitors will enjoy and feel compelled to share means your business is equipped with a powerful new arm in your marketing department: brand advocates. These content consumers share your blog on their social media pages, they email its content to their friends who need it, and they reference it when someone mentions a need for a product or service you offer.

While it is obviously relevant to include content on your blog that relates directly to your service or product, the better content strategy is to aim to be helpful, not sales-y. Blog content should educate, entertain and delight, so that it maintains attention and keeps visitors coming back for more.

By promoting blog content through your own social media channels, email newsletters, etc., you’re allowing it to be picked up and spread to completely new audiences by people they place confidence in. Since Nielsen reports 92 percent of people trust the recommendations of friends and family over all over forms of advertising, using a blog to engage your customers so much that they want to tell their friends about your business is of paramount value.

4. A Blog Establishes You as an Authority in Your Space

Speaking of trust, creating blog content that gives actionable advice to readers, video viewers or podcast listeners extends your reach beyond content creator to one of dependable expert.

Say you sell gluten-free flour. By producing content related to delicious gluten-free recipes, how to navigate ordering at a restaurant when you have celiac disease, and how to be a better baker with instructional cooking videos, you’re presenting content that benefits your current customers as well as those who haven’t bought it yet. You’re going to show up more in search results related to these topics, so you’ll reach new audiences — people who need your product but haven’t discovered you yet. Plus, you’ll gain return visitors who keep coming back to learn more about how to thrive in a gluten-free lifestyle.

Producing trustworthy, educational, useful content may also lead to significant publicity opportunities, such as guest spots on morning television news shows or being included as a source in a larger story. A blog legitimizes your leadership in your industry, since it allows you to become the site large audiences turn to when they want to learn about topics related to what you offer.

5. A Blog Connects You With Your Customers

Your competitors have blogs, and your customers love to read blogs. Blogging platform WordPress reports more than 409 million people view more than 22 billion blog pages per month. They read them while they’re at work, they read them while they’re waiting in a doctor’s office, and they read them on the subway. You have an audience who is thirsty for content.

By blogging, you not only provide them with knowledge or entertainment, you also build a relationship with your visitors. By integrating a commenting system, you can glean insights on the demographics of your readers. You can learn about their thoughts and opinions and what types of content or products they want from you. They can tell you what they’re loving about your brand and what they wish would be improved upon.

Get Going!

The possibilities of what your business can achieve by launching a blog are vast. A blog allows for real-time marketing, for you to improve your website’s and brand’s reach among current consumers and new prospects. A blog enables you to give helpful information to those who can turn into significant, loyal brand advocates for your business. With dozens of free blogging platforms to use and the power of content ideation within everything from your staff’s ideas to what people are talking about on your social media channels, getting started can bring more positive exposure to your business and improve your marketing efforts.

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