Most businesses are at least on board with having a website now. Some will run their whole operation via a website. Others will use it as a place to find the address and contact details with maybe a brief description of what they do. I use business websites a lot in my work – I ran my website in my own business; when I was targeting some partner businesses in my last role I would research them beforehand; and as a buyer in retail, I used them to find suppliers. Websites I commonly encounter usually have a home page, about page, contact page and some sort of services page. There may also be a link to a Facebook or Twitter presence. Frequently now, though, we are seeing blogs on websites.
For this reason alone, other people are doing it; people are bolting on a blog to their website with some vague notion they will write the occasional article about their business. Your nephew might have told you, you need a blog. Your friends who know something about marketing all have blogs and you have heard that some businesses even have blogs that create their own revenue stream.
You think it’s worth a shot and send an email off to the web guy or girl to add a blog to the website or think about signing up to one of the many blog platforms and ‘have a go’. But before you do, I ask you to think about these points.
1. Why are you blogging?
What do you want your blog to achieve? Is it part of a strategy that you are working on? Is there a story you are particularly desperate to tell? If it’s because you think you should be, but you don’t know why I urge you to give it more thought.
Blogs can be fantastic resources for your customers – a place where they can come to have their questions answered, a place where you discuss problems with your products, you talk about why your products are priced as they are, you compare products and you review relevant services for your industry. You can stand out from your competitors by doing this.
You can truly become an authority in your industry by honest and consistent blogging that educates and informs your customers. If you are ready to be a teacher, then you are ready to blog for your business.
2. How committed are you to blogging?
A blog that is not consistently updated does more damage than no blog at all. Visitors to your website will see it and may assume you are not that committed, you start things you don’t finish and you don’t care about their experience.
This is a long-term game and without the commitment to making it happen regularly then, you are not going to make an impact. Think about who can hold you accountable for getting it done.
3. When will you blog?
Unless you schedule time for writing and publishing your blog it won’t happen. The good news is that you can just about blog anywhere. So whether you get to work an hour early on a Wednesday, you carve out time on a Tuesday afternoon or you take your laptop to the coffee shop while you wait for your youngest to go to their Saturday dance class you can get this done if you really want to.
4. How can you serve your audience?
If you are going to blog and help your customers understand your industry and what problems you solve for them, you have to be prepared to give away a lot of information. In order to build trust and offer clarity, you will have to share industry knowledge that might make you feel uncomfortable. By telling you business’s story, maybe even sharing your personal story you can best serve your audience. By being human you might feel a little bit vulnerable at first, but it is the only way to be trusted.
Put your ego, your vulnerabilities and your fears aside to be the best teacher you can be to your audience. I have friends in the business world who started out wondering how they would find the courage to write a weekly blog when their peers might judge them, or someone might publically disagree with them. They are now making videos of themselves talking to a camera, debunking industry myths and sharing their knowledge. They are winning admirers, fans and new customers. Their peers? Well, they probably wish they had started years ago.
5.What are you going to write about?
Well, sales copy is not going to help you. Writing endlessly about features and benefits without acknowledging your customer’s questions or concerns will turn them off straight away. The mantra of good business blogging is helping, not selling.
The best way to get started is to answer your customer’s questions. Write down every question you have been asked by a customer or prospect and start answering them openly and honestly without trying to sell your products. If you’ve answered their question you’re already on their shortlist to buy from.
Then you can start addressing issues around cost. I would encourage you to publish your prices or at least discuss what the range is and which factors affect them. Whether you sell birthday cakes or new roofs you can discuss your prices.
Be open about problems with your industry or products. Compare products or services that are relevant to your industry (without preferring your own). Talk about the best companies that do what you are doing (again, without mentioning yourself, the customer is already on your blog). Review products that compliment yours. For example, if you sell fishing rods, review bait for certain catches.
6. Do you know who your audience is?
You should know your audience better than anyone. Think about the customers you talk to every day. The prospective customers you would love to convert. The people who have a problem you solve but don’t even know about you yet. These are the people you are writing to. Don’t worry about your competitors. They might be paying attention to what you are doing but this information is not aimed at impressing or intimidating them. Don’t try to be smart. Just be of service to your true audience – the people who have the most to gain by reading your blogs.
7. How will you know if your blogs are achieving what you want?
You notice I haven’t mentioned sales yet. That’s because you need to be writing regular and quality blogs for some time before people will notice you. It could take up to 18 months. But when you start showing in Google search terms for your industry and your content is shared by your customers and peers you will start to see enquiries and sales rise. Even better than that, the enquiries will be solid leads because you have already answered your customer’s questions and they are making touch with you. In the majority of these cases, their decision has been made.
8. How will you make sure your blogs are the best they can be?
At this stage, I do not expect you will know that much about blogs. You may not think you are very good at writing. You might not know what kind of blog to get or how to set it up. You might not even have a website yet. There is so much advice for you out there these things can be overcome. What you need to be at this stage is committed, focused, enthusiastic and eager to learn.
I have some brilliant resources to share with you.
To get started with blogging…
You need to hear Marcus Sheridan’s story. Blogging saved his pool business and has changed his life in a dramatic way. THIS will bring you the motivation to stay committed to the process.
Mark Schaefer has a great introductory book, Born to Blog.
If you are still not sure you want to give away your industry knowledge for free, then read Jay Baer’s, Youtility. You will see that helping people is the best way forward for marketing your business.
So, have you made your mind up?
Are you definitely committed to consistent, quality blogging that serves your audience with honest and helpful content? Do you know what is important for you to get out of it? Good luck! I’ll be writing more to help you.
Still not sure?
If you think blogging just isn’t a priority, what is?
Send me your questions or concerns. I would love to know what the barriers are to blogging.