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Yesterday a new business was born. Let's explore how Jody Anderson, an artist, spent $80 to start marketing herself and her skills using common weblog services and tools. The lessons I learned here can be applied to any company, from a small one-person affair (Jody is an artist) to a multi-billion-dollar product like Microsoft Windows.

Jody Anderson is an artist. She does murals, among other things. She had a problem: how should she market herself? It was obvious she needed a Website, right? But she had a limited budget. She wasn't technical and didn't know how to do a Web site. She had limited time every day to dedicate to the site.

I learned about Jody a unique way: a coworker, Jeff Sandquist, blogged about a project she was doing for him. A mural.

So, instead of starting a traditional Website and learning to use something like Macromedia Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage she started a blog. And, she got a blogger to link to her and talk about her work.

That's a good tip: If you have something to sell, figure out how to get bloggers to talk about you. In Jody's case, she got lucky. One of her first clients was Jeff. I linked to Jeff's blog, which had pictures about Jody's work in his home. Soon people all over the world were asking Jeff about his mural and the person who did it. Over the past few months Jeff would occassionally show us updates as Jody did more work.

Today, however, Jeff wrote on his blog that he had helped Jody start a Web marketing campaign. Er, a corporate blog. All for less than $80.

Now, why are corporate blogs the way to market yourself? For several reasons:

1) They are easy to do. Jeff wrote about the technical stuff.
2) They are low cost. Her blog is being done using Google's Blogger service, for instance.
3) They encourage business relationships. If you are interested in seeing more of her work, you just need to subscribe to her RSS feed with a news aggregator. Don't know what RSS is? Or what a news aggregator is? Ask. These things make reading the Web and building relationships much more efficient.
4) They encourage repeat visits. Come on, you're far more likely to visit again if you know a site will have new information on a regular basis. Blog technology (and the culture) encourages you to post often.
5) It's easy to discover a corporate blog. Just go to Technorati; Feedster; or PubSub. Google; MSN Search; or Yahoo works too. Just add the word "weblog" or "blog" to any search you do and you'll find lots of blogs. (I use all those search engines to watch what people say about Microsoft — they all bring back different results. I'll explain the differences in a future blog. For now, start with Technorati and Feedster if you're looking for blogs).
6) Blogs encourage other bloggers to talk and link. That makes your site go higher in Google and other searches.

Thanks to Jeff and Jody for showing me how you can be a "Fast Company" with very little time or money to invest.

So, what's your "Fast Company" doing with blogs and other word-of-mouth marketing techniques?

Oh, if you live in the Seattle, Washington area, you can meet Jody (and see her work) at the Chalk Walk in Bellevue Square on August 20-22.