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If you're a fashion designer, having a blog on your fashion business website can help drive customers to your site and give you insight into what they're looking for.

Hey Everyone… do you have a blog?? Do you need one?  Will it help you pay the bills??  I’m not an expert in this area, that’s for sure.  And I believe in getting help. Et voilá! Erika Gimbel, blog guru, to the rescue…

This is a guest post from Erika Gimbel, a Chicago freelance writer for businesses.

Do you have a  blog for your fashion business website?  It may seem like a pain to write one — and sometimes it is!  But wouldn’t you like it if more people just found you on the web without you having to go find them? Wouldn’t it be nice to know more about what your customers are looking for?  That’s what a blog can help fashion designers do — and here’s how.

1. A blog helps people find your fashion business on the web

Most people start their search on the web with Google (or Bing or Yahoo).  Imagine your website showing up at the top of the heap.  Even if you already have a website that uses the right keywords, you might be beaten to the top by sites that update regularly.  Search engines especially like “active” websites with lots of updated content.

If you’re continuously updating your website content with products — fantastic!  If product updates are only every few months or so, a blog is an effective way to keep your website fresh and Google happy.   And if Google is happy, and you’re using your keywords in your blog posts, it will help your business turn up higher in search results.

2. A blog keeps people excited and engaged

Give readers updates and let them into the design process.  Whether it’s glimpses into what inspires you or a quick note about when you’re going to launch your next collection, people like to be in the know.  They also like to give feedback and talk with designers.  Ask them questions — and answer!  Get a dialog going.  All this activity, while time-intensive, gets people to spend more time on your site (and keeps your site “active” — see #1).  The longer they stay on your site, the greater the possibility for sales.

As a side note, if you’re on Facebook and Twitter, that’s another effective way to connect directly with customers, and definitely use those tools.  However, these don’t replace a blog.  A blog fits in the mix because (1) you have the most control over it, (2) it’s right on your website, helping keep your content active and (3) your website is where you SELL, whether it’s direct to customers or to point visitors to retailers that carry your line.  Do everything you can to get people to your website.

3. A blog gives you customer insight

If you’re able to get a dialog going with customers, use those comments to help direct your business decisions.  Beyond comments, you also get great info from the surfing data generated from visitors — how they find you, what keywords they’re using and which pages they’re staying on longest.  All these bits of information give you insight into what customers are looking for, whether it’s specific to your design or whether the information helps you tweak the way you run your business.

Many new bloggers are afraid of getting negative comments.  Don’t be! Of course, you can monitor and delete any comments that are obvious spam, but leaving your blog open for negative comments (and responding quickly to resolve issues) can actually help drive sales.  Here’s an article about how negative comments help drive sales, and another one about ways to deal with loudmouths (that can help turn them into customers).

Next up: DOs and DON’Ts for your fashion business blog…

Do you have a blog? If you do, and it’s working, tell me more! If you don’t have one, what’s holding you back?

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