By Laura Vestanen—It is a rare businessperson who has a blog that supports rather than destroys her/his professional image. I have only seen a few businesspeople use this tool well. The business people who use blogs effectively treat them as mini newsletters. They write very short articles containing information, news, or opinions on current events, practices, or products. Some top CEOs have started writing blogs in this style. Shareholders love them—they feel like they have a view inside a company.

99% of business bloggers write in a journal style. They talk about their personal feelings and activities. I cringe every time I read yet another blog that talks about how the author decided to become a notary and describes his or her early days in the business.

The fact is that customers and referrers could care less about your personal life. When you include details about it, they usually form negative opinions. Whether in a blog or on a website, personal information is distracting.

For example: A client of mine has a statement on her company website that she likes to ride motorcycles. The company’s target market is conservative wealthy elderly people. Wrong audience to brag about motorcycle riding.

I recently found a business blog that is wonderful. The author writes about tips and trends in her industry. Her comments are informative and insightful. Best of all – her blog is searchable! That means I can enter a term, like “identity theft” and read relevant comments.

A good reason to do a blog is that it keeps your website fresh. Google and Yahoo award importance to websites that are updated frequently. Having a blog and a brief reference to it (with hot link) on the home page with both pages having weekly or semi-monthly updates is very effective in the context of search engine optimization.

A good blog is carefully formatted. It shouldn’t read as a narrative, as virtually all of them are. It should read as the briefest of executive summaries. Bullet phrases. Lots of white space. Outline format. A few paragraphs are sufficient.

Writing a good blog is almost as much work as publishing a newsletter so starting one is a project not to be taken lightly. Keep your blog entries short. Several months later when you are busy and less excited about having a blog you will be glad you established a short entry format.

Blog entries stay on the internet forever, even if you close the blog. Use correct spelling and grammar. If your blog looks sloppy, customers will think your notary work is sloppy. If you are not an experienced business writer, have a friend with that background proof your work before posting.

Some people have two blogs: one for business, the other for family and friends. I think that is an excellent idea. Post carefully on both. If people do an internet search on your name, they can find both blogs. If you want to be more latitude with the information you post on your personal blog, then use a fake name and inform your family and friends only. By the way, message/forum posts can appear in an internet search on your name. Be careful what you write on those boards as well.

Anything you write that goes through the internet when not using a secure socket is as public as if you posted it on a billboard. I recently “Googled” my name. There were 1,480 results. As my name is highly unusual each result was truly about me. Always be careful what you say on websites and in emails.

Topic ideas for a notary business blog:

  • Pro-consumer tips like how to reduce your junk mail, spam, and information sharing. (OptOutPrescreen.com, DoNotCall.gov, etc.)
  • Resources for people considering refinancing. (MyFico.com, Zillow.com, etc.)
  • Top 5 documents to review before you sign your home loan package.
  • Why signing your refinance package with a notary signing agent (instead of at the title company) can save you thousands.
  • Why it is important to help your elderly parents and grandparents maintain unexpired ID cards.
  • Web resources for free legal forms which comply with your state’s requirements.
  • How to get a court certified copy of your birth certificate.
  • Prepayment Penalty clauses – what they are and how to spot them. (Mention TIL.)
  • Timely information. Example: web resources on writing Permission to Travel in Company of One Parent Affidavits allowing a minor child to travel outside the US in the company of only one parent. Post this topic a month before summer vacations.

Remember that a notary may not give advice or complete forms. But we are allowed to tell people where to find information they need. Government resources are best.

Make certain your blog has your contact information and a hot link to your business website in prominent places.

Blogs are powerful tools. A too-personal or sloppy one can destroy all the hard work you put into your business website and marketing materials. But a good blog can increase your internet presence and reinforce your clients’ and referrers’ excellent opinion of you.

Laura Vestanen, author of the popular ebook Marketing Your Non-Loan Signing Services, has been a notary public for over 14 years in two states and performed over 10,000 notarizations. Before launching her own full time notary public business, she was the Manager of a successful law firm for ten years and has worked in various law firms for twenty years. For more about Laura, visit her Linkedin page.