Hands up who’s paid a visit to a company’s website for a brief look, and ended up spending four hours on the site having discovered their blog, and getting sucked into posts from September 2007?
We’ve all been there, and while we admit this may be encouraging procrastination, it’s also a great example of why you should be considering a blog for your small business.
People love people. People buy from people. People love inspiring stories, pictures of cats, and comprehensible, tried-and-tested advice. A blog is your way to be showcase your personality online, when perhaps you have no other way of reaching out to your customers, bar your website.
Why should you blog?
Above all, blogging can be really fun: it’s your platform to produce quality content that people will enjoy and share, and if you’re doing it right, you’ll be helping people at the same time.
If your business doesn’t operate in a typically creative or ‘fun’ space, this is your chance to show a fun side; the side that people might not instantly associate with your industry: displaying an edge like this could set you apart from the competition. If you are running a creative company, open your world up to customers: show them what inspires you, what got you to this point, and in turn, you could inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs.
A blog can be the perfect destination for everything on your social networking accounts: 140 characters isn’t much when you’ve got a lot to say, so linking to a longer blog post can help you come across somewhat more eloquently, as well as allowing your community to join in with their comments.
This is also your chance to establish yourself as an expert in your industry: you can become a voice of authority, help, and inspiration. The more you build up this reputation, the more it reflects on your company. If you can help people, whether that’s by cheering them up, offering practical advice, or providing people with something interesting and entertaining to read, you’ll be doing a lot more for your business’ reputation than handing out flyers and putting adverts all over the internet.
It’s all very well us saying that posting pictures of cats and writing about your style icons is fun, but it does have a practical side. A blog can work wonders for your business, especially now: people want content to read, they want to know who they’re buying from, and they want to know that you’re not a faceless factory, chasing a profit margin (even if you are).
Why is blogging good for your business?
A well-written, well looked after blog shows clients that your business can be trusted: you’re real people, with real knowledge, real stories, real opinions, and real pets. You aren’t hiding behind customer service lines, and reams of empty promises that cover your website. The more confidence that a client has in what you’re saying, the more confidence they’ll have in what you’re providing: your company becomes authentic.
Blogging gives you the chance to build a different kind of relationship with your customers or clients. They get to chart your progress, from beginning in your bedroom, to opening your first boutique, and in turn, you’re able to hear what they have to say. You’ll be able to engage with clients on a whole new level: have conversations, hear their feedback, and ultimately build a community around your company.
Want to get down to the real details of the benefits of blogging? Firstly, it’s a tried and tested marketing strategy that gets results. Blogs are a great way to create a buzz around what you do, as well as a platform for any press releases: it’s your chance to have a strong online presence, attracting attention towards all the brilliant things you do. You can set a blog up for free, and the main outgoing is time – it’s far cheaper than a lot of marketing options.
Not only will it send more traffic to your site, but you’ll be able to reach a huge range of new people: from existing customers, to prospective ones, as well as potential employees, people in the media, and possible partners. It can also be a great way to reinforce your brand and your values, in a way where you can show what you mean, instead of just telling people.
Blogging is great – but it can easily go wrong, so we’ve compiled some of the more important dos and don’ts that you need to be aware of before you start!
• Use your own voice, but make sure it’s in line with your brand
• Be open and honest – show your personality
• Create your own content
• Vary what you post: switch between videos, images, and prose
• Be conversational: you want to talk to your clients, not talk at them!
• Spread the word about your blog: link to it on your social network sites, and make sure it’s in an obvious place on your website
• Get involved with the blogging community: comment on other blogs, find similar people to you, invite people to write for you
• Update regularly and routinely: make a schedule and stick to it
• Link to other useful sites: be a useful resource for your readers
• Be a source of help: offer information and practical advice
• Write for other blogs, and get people from other blogs to write for you: spread your authorship and authority
• Have a variety of writers: use your director, sales manager, sales assistants, allowing readers to get a feel for the entire business, not just the top end!
• Promote your business all the time! This isn’t the place, and it’ll quickly switch readers off
• Hire a copywriter who a) doesn’t understand your tone and style, and b) couldn’t care less about what you stand for
• Regurgitate content posted on other sites
• Write badly: if you’re not a natural writer, there are plenty of sites that can help you
• Forget about your audience/customers: don’t write for yourself, think about what will interest people
• Lose direction or focus – it’s good to have a variety of posts, but readers should know what to expect. Pick a subject and stick to it!
• Forget about style and design: try to create your own theme, instead of relying on the most popular designs. Make it look like yours, and in line with your website’s design
• Be salesy! People try and directly sell their products, but it doesn’t work. This isn’t the place
• Just publish: it’s vital to proofread, re-read, edit!
• Outspokenly insult people or businesses: you must be careful! Not only is it unprofessional, but it could also be libel. If you’re not sure about something, don’t post it
• Alienate yourself: unless you run a political or religious business, stay away from these subjects, and other controversial topics. Use your own personal blog for that.
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