What Are They?
Blogs (short for ‘Web log’) are Websites (or subsets of Websites) that allow for regular postings of information, news, events in text & graphics form by a person or team. The ‘posts’ on a blog are recurring; the newest post occurs above the last one posted.
Blogs are also interactive; they allow for visitors and readers to leave comments and interact with the author and themselves, enabling strong Social Media features and tools that can ensure you get more leads and interaction from your prospects/customers. Blog posts may be may be categorized into categories created by the author for retrieval based on topics such as industries (Medical, Aerospace, Automotive, Defense, etc.), technical processes (5-Axis Machining, Milling, OD Grinding, Wire EDM, Gear Hobbing, etc.), materials (Composites, Aluminum, Bronze, Steel, Plastics, etc.), or any other categories that match your business and its strengths or features.
Why Are They Important?
Blogs are tailor-made for small & medium manufacturing shops looking to maximize value while reducing costs. Whether building your primary Web presence as a pure blog or adding a blog to your existing site, there are many benefits that can specifically serve contract manufacturer:
they are relatively easy to set up
they are often free, or are extremely inexpensive to create
they offer a level of control that sedentary, traditional Websites usually do not – additions, deletions and changes are made on-the-fly
creating content is as easy as creating a document in Microsoft Word
they are well-suited for search engine optimization (SEO) – techniques that ensure your Website shows up prominently in search engines like Google
little to no professional assistance is needed
the industry leader in this space – WordPress – is also evolving into a sophisticated content management system, which allows for content to be easily categorized and stored topically (a tremendous advantage for discrete parts and custom manufacturers that serve many industries and provide many capabilities)
a very large collection of customized, free tools that are easily added to any WordPress platform/Blog, such as calendars, photo portfolios,
a substantial support network of contributors around the world & a collection of online tutorials are available for assistance via the WordPress Website
Here’s an example of a contract manufacturer that has launched its Website on the WordPress platform: Potomac Photonics
Key Elements & Considerations:
If assistance is needed to create and begin a blog, assets are relatively inexpensive to acquire and east to find. Your existing Internet Service Provider (where your Website is hosted) or other local Web development companies often charge much less to create & launch blogs, including training you on how to maintain your own
Often overlooked resources to assist in building a blog are through friends, families and employees. For example, students (high school and college) are often well-versed in building blog platforms like WordPress and its code base (PHP). Ask employees, local colleges and schools, and friends for referrals to those types of resources, as they can give you a functional site/blog quickly and affordably
Blog posts can (and should be) based on all elements of your company – projects and parts you’ve made for others, new equipment purchased, new contracts/jobs/customers, training obtained for your shopfloor personnel, community support, new employees, trade shows attended, accreditations earned (ISO, corporation- or industry-specific, etc.), or any other business-related information that distinguishes your business in the eyes of a potential business partner. Examples include:
• new equipment purchases/additions
• training initiatives
• new projects
• new markets or processes
• completed projects
• product line information
• qualifications (new or updated)
• industry news
• personnel updates
• industry events your company will be attending
You don’t have to be a ‘writer.’ Blog posts are intended to be short, concise and to-the-point – exactly what manufacturing professionals looking for you prefer. Flowery words and long-winded prose can do more harm than good. Keep it simple
Blogs offer an easy and effective way to share opinions. Your business blog should present your views on business, economics – whatever relates to your industry and those of your prospects. But don’t rely too much on opinion – this blog is about getting more exposure for your business, not necessarily you as a person or pundit.
Search Engines love blogs. They are updated regularly (or should be), including via reader comments. By adding posts with category tags (see above), search engines will recognize content being accumulated in those categories which will raise your relevance in them. And blog posts are easily shared between prospects – with each other directly or on Social Media channels, which can give you the benefits of Social Media exposure without the demands on resources
You don’t have to post frequently (like, say, daily), but do post regularly. Once every week or two – or when you have something important to say, is sufficient
Blogs are very ‘social’ – they allow for comments from and interaction with readers. Posting comments on other industry Blogs can have strong search engine optimization (SEO) impact for your site (be sure to include a link!), and they are great ‘channels’ to work.