If you're considering starting a blog as a method of marketing your small business but you aren't sure where to start this post is for you. I've learnt so much about blogging since I started around 10 years ago. I had no idea back then but I've learnt the hard way, through writing many different blogs, trial and error and sheer persistence to crack the code! Last year my food blog was awarded two national blogging awards, including the Cosmopolitan Magazine's 'Best Food Blog' so I'm keen to pass on some of the tips that work to anyone getting started now!
Getting started is one of the hardest parts. Once you're up and running you will learn, evolve and get better. Like with anything in life it's so much easier to improve things once you have it set up than actually get going in the beginning. So my first piece of advice would be to do some thinking and planning for you blog up front and then just do it!
Here are some of the key questions to ask yourself:
What's the purpose of your blog?
Don't be tempted to skip this questions as the 'airy fairy' one. This is the one which will help you answer all the others!
If you can pinpoint exactly what you want your blog to do for your business it will be much easier to decide what to post about and when. There's no point you investing lots of time and energy in writing a blog just because you think you should or because everyone is saying it's a good marketing technique. You need to really understand what you want it to do for your business.
Here are some of the key reasons you might want to blog for business:
- To build the know, like and trust factor with your potential clients and therefore make them more likely to buy
- To establish your credibility as an expert in the industry
- To educate your potential and current customers about your products or services
- To provide additional value to your current customers to keep them engaged, loyal and transform them into advocates for your brand
I would advise focusing on just one of these. If you experience any of the others then fantastic, that's an added bonus!
So what will be the purpose of your blog?
What to post about?
Depending on what you identified as the purpose of your blog as above this will inform what to actually write about. Now you can ask yourself how you could achieve this goal, what content would help you reach it? Here are some examples that correlate for each of the purposes we identified above:
#1 - If you're key focus is building your "know, like and trust factor" to encourage sales you might want to consider more 'behind-the-scenes' or personal insight posts. You could share sneak peaks into your journey as a business owner, your creative process or fun snaps shots of your team working.
#2 - If you're aim is to build credibility in the industry I would focus on content which educates and gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and experience. For example how-to tutorials, discussions on key issues or relevant industry topics.
#3 - To educate your customers and services you could consider posts which explain how your products are made, how they can be used and use your blog to answer frequently asked questions or potential objections that a new customer might have before buying.
#4 - If your blog's purpose is to provide additional value to your customers you need to go thoroughly think through what 'extra's' you can give them in terms of information, tips or support. Really understanding their feelings and questions as they use your product or service is crucial to going beyond their expectations.
Now that you've identified what you want your blog to do and the types of posts you are going to publish the next step is to sit down with a blank piece of paper and write down as many possible blog post titles as you can. Don't sensor yourself at this point, just give yourself a 30 minute time limit and note down anything which might be relevant - challenge yourself to come up with at least 25 blog post ideas!
How often to post
How many times a week or month you'd like to post has to be a personal decision depending on how much time you can dedicate to your blog, how much energy you want to invest in it and how much you enjoy writing it.
For a small business owner my honest advice would be that blogging once a week is fantastic if you can but once a month, as long as your posts are really high quality, can equally create good blogging results!
Whatever schedule you decide though my advice for a success blog is that a) you post quality over quantity and b) you post consistently. It's important for building trust with your readers that you stick to your schedule so whether you choose to post 3 times a week or once a month just make sure you are committed to it so that your readers (and potential customers) know when to expect new posts from you.
Once you've decided on your posting frequency go back to your list of post titles and pick out the top 10. Choose the best ideas that you feel passionate about, think you could write a really valuable post on that your audience would love, then get writing!
Every month or so repeat this process to generate new blog post ideas, also taking note and learning from the success of the posts you've published recently to keep your pot refreshed and relevant.
Did these tips and questions help you clarify how to get started with your blog? What is purpose of your blog for your business?