Ted Demopoulos is a frequent speaker at conferences, conventions, and other business events, author of What No One Ever Tells You About Blogging and Podcasting: Real-Life Advice from 101 People Who Successfully Leverage the Power of the Blogosphere, and coauthor of Blogging for Business. He’s also a friend of mine, and he contributed to The Great Big Small Business Show podcast. Since then, we’ve been talking about doing an interview, but never quite connecting, until now! I cornered him, via email, to talk about his new project, Effective Internet Presence.
Ted, I’ve written a bit about having an active online presence, but you have a major project starting. What can small biz owners learn from it that will help their business?
People are more and more commonly going to the Internet for information, whether they are looking for a local dry cleaner, a bottle of wine from their birthyear anywhere that will ship to them, or checking out their sister’s new boy friend. Obviously this trend is continuing to pick up speed as well.
I’ve even been known to google businesses in the same building as myself in order to call them, rather than walking the 20-30 feet to their office.
If you are a small business, whether local, national, or international, you had better be easy to find online. Most small businesses need the three following — at a minimum.
1) A Web site. Simple, non-fancy, even one page Web site works fine for many businesses.
2) The ability to easily and quickly modify your Web site yourself. Even if someone else designed and built it, which is normal, you need to be able to change it yourself to do things as simple as changing the hours you’re open or upload the specials of the week. You cannot depend on someone else and their availability for thing like this.
3) Googleability. You need to show up appropriately in the search engines, which is relatively simple if you’ve designed a good Web site and/or use some kind of search engine pay per click advertising.
For a local business, this means show up on geographic searches, for example “Ford Dealer, Memphis TN” or “Dentist, Hampton New Hampshire.” This is not hard.
A business should also keep up with any reviews and comments about themselves online. You should know what others are saying about you.
What types of small local businesses can benefit from blogging and other internet presence tools?
I can’t think of any businesses that wouldn’t benefit, although I’m sure there must be some. Maybe businesses that don’t want new customers or ONLY operate on the basis of referrals? Even “illegal” businesses are online and benefiting from it; I don’t find any hitmen, but certainly prostitution and other illegal businesses are online.
Is there a way for a small business to tell if they will have enough content to blog successfully?
I think the right question is whether an individual has enough excitement about their business to generate content, not what the business is. A friend of mine is an accountant. Not just an ordinary accountant, but one that (in my opinion) works in the most mundane and ordinary areas of accounting possible. But when she speaks about accounting, there is such passion and fire, that I get excited even though the underlying topic is hideously boring to me. She would make a great blogger due to her passion!
How have you used blogging and your overall internet presence to promote your own services?
Potential clients both find me and hire me online, and when it’s a decision between me and other consultants or speakers, my rather vast online presence is a definite edge. There is no question it positions me as a credible expert, and can do the same for you.
Of course you need to back that up with real experience and expertise as well!
Tell us about your small town connections. How are you managing to maintain an nationwide business from a small town?
Although I grew up in a small town, I’ll admit I love the excitement of big cities. They are like zoos; great places to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I’m home now, and since it’s winter and the leaves are off the trees I can sort of see one neighbor’s house through the woods, and I love that!
With the Internet and modern connectivity, I can work and live almost anywhere in the planet. Although I do fly a few times a year to speak at conferences and other events and visit clients, the majority of my work can be done from anywhere.
If I lived in a city I might travel less and spend more nights at home. For example if I lived in Las Vegas or New York I could probably earn a great living speaking and consulting only locally, but I chose to live in a very rural area and travel maybe once every month or so. It’s great to have choices, and an Effective Internet Presence allows that!
I asked Ted if he had a picture of him in a small town setting to post. He sent this one, and said, “Well, at least I AM outside in this picture :)”
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