After having such a positive reaction from my first business tips post
, I’m really excited to write more about the nitty gritty bits of business that I’m learning about. I would love to grow a little community of us small business owners where we can talk about what we’ve discovered and empower one another to make the best out of what we’re building – we all have unique skills and experiences that we can continually share. I’ve created the hashtag #behindmybusiness if you’d like to join in too with your thoughts and stories on starting your own business. I truly believe we can learn so much from each other by tackling challenges and problems together and eradicating that feeling of being alone whilst running your own business.
That being said, this week I am going to delve into why you need a business blog. I’ve read many an article telling me that I *must* have one on my website. I ignored the advice (like many businesses do), as I “just knew” it didn’t really matter. I mean, I had everything else I needed to focus on and my blog was barely on my to-do list.
I think I was mainly put off because I just didn’t get it. I simply couldn’t see the effort vs. the reward and I didn’t understand the business benefits or reasons for having a blog, nor why I should spend valuable time writing content. I’ve written a personal blog in the past (it was actually one of the things that lead me to start my own business) but the content wasn’t anything too riveting, as it was just a space for me to share things I liked and that was about it (think pictures and a small caption). Since then, blogs have evolved rapidly, and I felt so out of touch with how to write one that it was far easier for me to shy away from building a proper blog for Qtique than trying to understand why it was important.
It was only after a particularly candid (but necessary) questioning with someone who knows all about this stuff told me I was harming my business by ignoring my blog. Eek. This someone was Amar, who is an expert in internet marketing and runs MonetizePros.com
– a leading resource to help website owners improve their traffic and make more money from their website. Amar was kind enough to not judge my prior unenthusiastic approach towards my blog and answered my queries about why it was essential that I started right away.
So, why bother with a business blog?
Having a blog can benefit your business in two main ways. Firstly, it is a great way to connect with current and potential customers. You are able to offer them bonus content and information about your business and products, which can help them make a buying decision. A useful article on your blog can mean the difference between them picking you or a competitor.
Secondly, it’s also essential for SEO (search engine optimisation) to help bring in new visitors. Ranking for additional search terms has a huge impact on your website’s traffic, lead generation and conversions. The higher up you rank on a search engine, the more likely targeted visitors are going to find your company and click on your site. If you’re not ranking, you won’t be seen and obviously for any business you want as much exposure as possible. I’ve worked with companies who didn’t keep an updated blog on their site, and on average, within 6 months of regular quality posting we saw their organic traffic increase by 8 times.
Keeping a business blog is a relatively inexpensive (free if you do it yourself) and effective form of long-term marketing.
But no one else really does? And the ones I have seen are normally quite rubbish?
These days this is increasingly the exception rather than the norm. If a business’ blog isn’t any good, quite simply, you’re looking at the wrong businesses’ blogs and I wouldn’t use these as your benchmark. Instead find businesses with blogs that are interesting to read (they exist!) and use these as your starting point. Blogs I enjoy are seamless and typically don’t solely post about their core offering, instead they talk about other relevant topics and create great content on this too.
Why do successful businesses not have an active blog?
It depends on their business model – if it is an offline business, it has a completely different model to an online business. These kind of businesses are able to try many different online marketing tactics that will not affect their day to day as they still sell their products offline, and are supported by these sales. Any business that is predominately online should have some presence, especially if you are bootstrapped and don’t have money to spend on paid advertising, or if you don’t have a product to sell that would have a ROI from paid advertising.
Some businesses have been around so long or have such a strong brand already that they don’t need a blog, but even then it’s still good to have one. Having a blog allows a business to connect with their customers in a slightly less informal manner, just like how brands use social media. It shows that a company has a personality, with some posts even going viral when it has been done particularly well.
But no one is going to read it?
The great thing about the internet is that it removes barriers to entry and is equal to all users, so the notion of writing content theoretically is equal for all businesses – big or small. Online, there is as much chance as someone reading your article as there is to reading someone else’s. However, marketing in the offline world is much, much harder and you really are a little fish in a very big (and scary) pond that is very unlikely to even be seen, let alone heard. Provided you create good content that is marketable (i.e. people wanting to link to it because they find it useful or interesting), there is no reason why your article cannot do better than anyone else’s.
Providing useful, creative content that is presented in a unique way is key to getting people to link to and read your articles. This is true of a small or large blogger.
Traffic and stats are nice, but I want leads!
As they say - if you build it, they will come. Having highly targeted traffic coming to your site is the first objective. Once you have the right visitors (and in good numbers), you can work on optimising your conversion rates. However, there is no point having the most optimised site but no traffic – that would be like having the most beautiful retail store but no footfall because no one can find it. You need to make sure the right traffic is coming to your site by putting the right kind of content out there. Writing relevant content and going after relevant keywords will ensure you are getting the right audience to your website.
How much time should I be spending on creating content? How many posts do I need to put up?
This really is dependent on your time resources. In an ideal world, I recommend for new blogs to be creating content daily, otherwise once a week is an absolute minimum. The main reason for this amount of posting is to keep users engaged as well as attracting new visitors. Whatever you do, do it consistently – don’t post three times in one week, then one the next, and still expect your visitors to come back for more. Visitors are very habitual and if they are used to new content daily, weekly, or even monthly, they will expect this to continue. This is part of generating a sticky user base that will return to your site and complete a purchase. This may take some time (6-12 months) but a returning visitor is far more likely to share, comment and convert than a new visitor.
If you don’t have time to build content for your blog, you could alternatively use ghostwriters. Ghost blogging is when you pay for someone to anonymously write articles for your site and you put your own name on them. It can be a time efficient way to get content created if you use a professional writer who has specialised skills or knowledge in your industry. However, good writers can be hard to find and overdependence on others can reduce your own learning. It can also become costly should there not be a direct ROI from the post. I wouldn’t really recommend using ghost writers for a small business, the benefit of writing your own content outweighs the convenience of paying some else to do it for you.
It is worth noting that if you produce content of subpar quality, you’re going to do more harm than good and you will not see results. If you’ve only got time to do one post a week, that’s fine, as long as the posts are good and you are posting consistently.
What kind of content should I be writing? Who is my target audience?
Use your blog to provide information on the unique selling points of your products and talk about the features in more depth. Explain why your product is better than your competitors and what makes your business stand out. It’s what makes you different that will earn a special place in the minds of your potential customers. However, I wouldn’t recommend just posting about your offerings, as you’d quickly run out of things to say. Ultimately, it would become very boring and no one would want to come back to your blog and read more.
For all marketing efforts, you should create an avatar of the types of customer you have. By getting to know your audience well, you can create content to solve their problems or provide information that they might need. Get into their mindset and think of the questions they might have and write content around that. Rather than solely talking about the benefits of your products and business, you can experiment with other content styles too, with; how-to’s, tutorials, list posts, linkbait, reviews, interviews, infographics, audio, videos or open letters.
If you’re stuck for where to start, see what your competition is doing and what they’re writing about.
But I’ll never get there, so why bother?
It can be disheartening at the start when you have few readers, but all blogs have to start somewhere. To give you a little encouragement, check out how some of your favourite blogs used to look by popping their URL into Wayback Machine
. No one has had a perfect blog from day one! Blogs will grow and change, and the more content you create, the better yours will become. It takes 3-6 months to see results from your blog content and organic search traffic.
Creating content does take time but it is a free method of marketing that everyone is able to do and it is the key to getting people through the door. It would be unrealistic to expect instant results from your first post, and if you are looking for immediate results then paid advertising is a good option. Content strategy should be one of the many marketing strategies you have, and it shouldn’t be the only thing you do. It is one of an array of marketing tools available to a business owner that you should take advantage of.
Hopefully you can see why a website alone is not enough for your business – you should have an active blog too. Your blog will complement your website, add value to your online presence and acquire more customers. Winner! And yes, it does take time to maintain and grow, but when I started to see results from mine (and I’m still a newbie!), I regretted not starting it sooner. Please let me know if you go forth and start building your blog too, I’d love to read it! Use the hashtag #behindmybusiness and tag me too @Qtiquestudios if you like, and we can start to share and build a collection of posts from our wonderful small business blogs!