With so many daily newspapers having trouble keeping their doors open — and today is a somber day for the Seattle Post Intelligencer to be sure — retailers and others have a huge opportunity to develop community and relationship with their most avid fans and customers by launching and sustaining blogs that serve their unique niches in powerful, inspiring ways.

I put forth this argument to one of my favorite clients last year and did a fair amount of advocating for this new initiative. Today, I received a glowing email, thanking me for the encouragement to take passion for the product and the lifestyle it offers to the blogosphere. Alice Cunningham of Olympic Hot Tub Company tells me unique visitors at the Hot Tub Bliss blog escalated 30% in the last month. Here is the text from Alice Cunningham's message:

Nancy:

I've been meaning to send you a big THANK YOU for nagging, encouraging, urging and insisting that I do a blog. It has turned into one of my most fun things to do AND people have come in to buy because we are “so into it” (hot tubbing). The blog has proven very useful for staff. Every few days with a new post they are able to see a new angle to use with customers. And, this morning I got this amazing email from Don. He is not the one to give out compliments, so I treasure this one sent to me ultimately because of you.

Alice– Now that you're on a roll with your blog — it's so informative and inspirational — I imagine everyone on our team can't help but get pumped up about what we do and feel a new level of passion and commitment for it. I know this blog was a labor to get up and running, but it's really one of the best things you've ever done. If folks don't know how smart and insightful you are yet, they'll get it and get YOU when they read this. I love it!

Don

Many thanks.

Alice Cunningham
Co-Owner, Olympic Hot Tub Company
Blogger at www.hottubbliss.com

If you have unanswered questions about the value and impact blogging can have on your brand, reputation, and your online buzz, make a decision to learn more about this right now. I am a big fan of Problogger.net as a credible, high authority resource. Sign up and start learning from this content rich source that is among the most popular in the blogosphere today. It won't cost you a penny, and you'll learn a whole lot of valuable information fast. When the timing is right for your to debut a blog of your own, you'll know it, and you'll be armed with useful tips, ideas, and information to build a community of raving fans.

And, if you are lucky to have a friend in your world like Michelle Price of Social Media Savvy, you'll get into action as she compelled me to launch this do-it-yourself publicity blog in  September of 2007. She said, “Nancy, one arm of your business success is tied behind your back without a blog. Either that is OK with you or it isn't. I'll be here to help you get yours up and running when you are ready.” Needless to say, Michelle was the voice of reason that helped me get over the “over-thinking” hump.  She set up my blog so all I had to do was start posting.  And Word Press is a breeze.  If you know how to type, you are ready to rock and roll.  Trust me on this.  It's true.

Thanks Alice for getting into action and enjoying the blogging success you and your company deserve. Way to choose a narrow niche and fill it in a powerful, inspiring way.

Thanks Michelle for serving as the voice of reason for me and other technology shy business owners who just need the right blend of straight talk and guidance to move powerfully in a new, business and community-building direction.

Blogging anyone?  You bet!