The other day I came across an email that offered a link to an official response made by one group to another. I clicked on the link and was lead to a cheaply constructed WordPress page that had absolutely zero content aside from a crude cut and paste blog post featuring this response. I was far too distracted by the horror of creating a brand new domain for just one document that I couldn’t even be bothered to take the document seriously. After all, how intelligent could their content be if they couldn’t even get their presentation right?

I wish someone had told them about Scribd, bar none the best online document hosting service available for free to anyone who wishes to use it. By some luck of the gods I came across Scribd a few years ago and have since used it as a resource for all my document hosting needs. So what is Scribd and what’s so great about it?

Create Embedded Documents that Post Directly to Your Blog or Website

Scribd makes it absolutely fool proof to take your document, no matter how large the file, and upload it online. Your online upload creates a URL that you can link elsewhere or embed onto any other site. It’s great for companies that offer a resource page with informative PDFs and white papers. Scribd converts your document into a printable Flash SWF file using iPaper, so you also embed lengthier, more complex and better designed documents directly into blog posts as well.

I personally use Scribd to host an online portfolio that I link to my small business web page, allowing me to showcase samples of my work without investing in expensive graphic design services. I also use Scribd for all my marketing efforts – having created clean simple marketing proposals and portfolios that I then host on my Scribd page to refer clients to or link to as needed.

Hosting online documents is also a vastly cheaper alternative for companies that want to mirror the online magazine software that lets you host documents on your website and browse through it as if it were a magazine. If you’re not quite there yet in terms of funding or technology, but want a similar effect, then you should definitely be looking into Scribd.

Go Green by Hosting Complete Documents Online

As a committed eco-friendly business owner, I’ve long since chucked fax machines and printers – opting rather to exchange and store information digitally as much as possible. If this is your small business motto (which it should be for a number of reasons), then you too can use Scribd to host and exchange relevant documents that would otherwise need to be printed out. This way your end user can view your document, as intended, without having to deal with printing or mailing costs. It’s the closest you can get to having the real-time document in front of you on your desk. You can browse through it just as you would a print document.

Create a Community, Gain a Following

Scribd works a lot like cloud communities by being a hub for an exchange of information. This is why Scribd makes it easy for you to be a thought leader in your field. You do this by uploading documents with relevant content. Think of it as a way to blow up your blog. If you have a blog on your website, you recognize that its purpose is to attract a following as you strive to become a resource to clients and potential clients. Scribd lets you take it a step further by hosting these documents online, tagging it with keywords and descriptions, filing it in a relevant category and letting hundreds of thousands of other users gain access to them as well.

Much like Facebook, other Scribd users will then follow you – allowing you to create a new community pool that is clearly interested in what you have to offer. You can leverage this community just like you would with traditional social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook.

Get Access to Thousands of Documents in Your Field

Because you’re now part of a cloud community, as a Scribd subscriber you also have access to thousands of free documents that you can learn from and grow your business with. It’s a great opportunity to keep up to speed in your niche area.

Get Paid for Your Expertise

If you’ve created something really spectacular, you can also use Scribd to sell your document through the Scribd bookstore for an 80% profit ratio – which I can tell you is extremely generous for the self publishing industry. So what can a small business sell? You may have resources that are beyond just a simple white paper – you may even have a book touching on your industry expertise that perhaps you don’t have the time to go through the traditional publishing route for.

The Scribd bookstore is an excellent tool that should be taken advantage of, especially if your small business is in marketing, wellness or lifestyle.