The prospect of business blogging can terrify the inexperienced blogger. They may wonder: "What if I do it badly?" "What if I somehow manage to damage or destroy my or my company's reputation?!" Scary thought! But once you start blogging, I think you'll find those fears just melt away....

Having a "safe haven" where the newbie business blogger can experiment with their new craft can be just the thing that eases their initial fear and insecurity. By "safe haven" I mean a private blog on their intranet or extranet, or a blog that's password-protected where access is only granted to a select audience. Then they won't have to worry that all of their customers, competition, and the media will be watching their every move as they find their feet.

Practicing a speech is quite a different thing from giving that speech in front of a live audience of a thousand people. So too is blogging on a private test blog versus crafting blog posts that you know will become public as soon as you hit the Publish button. Thus, don't be surprised if the posts published to the sandbox don't pass muster. They won't serve as a very accurate indication of the blogger's potential either. The exercise of blogging to a private test blog is really only meant to build confidence, nothing more.

There is another important aspect to getting acclimated to the blogosphere that is sometimes neglected by newbie business bloggers. That is the practice of commenting on others' blogs. The number of comments that the newbie blogger posts to others' blogs should far exceed the number of posts published to the sandbox. If that isn't the case, then that blogger is not adequately engaging in online conversations during their training/residency. Toby Bloomberg of blog consultancy Bloomberg Marketing makes a strong case for the benefits of commenting:

"As with any relationship, the more you interact with a person, the stronger and faster friendships form. So it is with joining the conversations in the blog-world. The more consistently you reach out to new colleagues, through value added comments, the sooner and stronger those relationships are built. Within a short time something interesting happens. You find you are part of a community of people who have similar interests. You've extended your resource network ... the lines of online and offline begin to blur. There is a light bulb moment. You realize that blogs are one more medium to foster and manage communication among friends."

A blog is a conversational medium, not just an opportunity to 'get up on one's soapbox'. It's through comments that a blog blossoms into a community. Comments are key -- both on the bloggers blog and out in the greater blogosphere.

Go forth and blog!

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Dipping Your Toes into the Blogosphere

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Stephan Spencer is the founder of Science of SEO and an SEO expert, author, and speaker.

LinkedIn: Stephan Spencer

Twitter: @sspencer