As a small business owner or freelancer, having a blog is one of the best ways in which you can keep in touch with your customers and receive timely feedback from them.
You do this by posting articles to your blog re your company's happenings, new product/service releases and product updates, whilst allowing your visitors to post comments in response to these articles.
With the current global economic crises still affecting most countries, however, it's quite easy to find a blog host whose services are much cheaper than they were over a year ago.
But there are important features that your blog host, no matter how cheap, should provide, so that your blog development efforts can be successful.
1) Stable and user-friendly blogging software...with the most popular ones being Wordpress and B2 Evolution.
(Wordpress is for beginner bloggers, whilst B2 Evolution is for more advanced users who wish to host more than one blog).
2) Email integration - This enables you to get email@example.com from your blog host, thus adding legitimacy to emails being sent from you/your company, to your customers.
Some blog hosts like webhostinghub offer unlimited emails, which ensures that you have enough emails to accommodate growth in your staff compliment.
3) Ecommerce integration - This allows you to sell your products/services via your blog.
Popular ecommerce applications include ZenCart and OS Commerce, but your blog host should also allow you to integrate Paypal and Google Checkout in your shopping cart.
The availability of SSL Certificates are very important, as these enable your users to see "https" or a lock in their address bar, when visiting your site - which signifies that your site is safe to conduct business on.
4) Enough disk space to host your files and images. A general rule of thumb where disk space is concerned, is that it takes 2MB to host about 10 web pages and 4 or 5 images.
Use this measure to determine how much space you'll need based on the number of web pages and images you'll require.
5) Enough bandwidth to accommodate increased traffic to your blog. They key, here, is to estimate how much text versus images and video files, your users will be downloading from your site,daily.
Video files are are much larger to download and require over 763 kb/s bandwidth, whilst text files require much less at about 4-20 kb/s.
Use this estimate to determine how much bandwidth you'll need.
6) The ability to post scripts and widgets on your blog. These give your blog additional functionality, whilst enabling you to earn revenue.
E.g. weather widgets allow your visitors to access their local weather forecasts and Google Adsense allows you to earn revenue from ads placed on your blog.
If your blog host offers these features, in addition to being reasonably-priced (cheap), then you can be rest assured that you are indeed getting value for money.
...That's the blog host that you should choose to have a long-term business relationship with.