Sometimes it feels like the way we do business has changed so dramatically that up is now down and right is now left. What happened to personal relationships? What happened to building trust over time? What happened to recommendations and connections?
The other day, I attended a virtual conference organized by Marketing Profs that described the way business was done before technology entered the mix. This was one of the slides:
The argument the speaker made was that things have not changed that much; it’s just the tools that have changed. Good business is still done person-to-person … but maybe through an email. Transparency is still important … especially on your website. Immediacy matters … because people expect an instant response to digital inquiries. Word of mouth reputation … spreads via shares on social media. Primal need for connection … is apparent in the number of ways we connect to each other digitally.
Okay, but what does blogging have to do with this? Actually, everything.
What a blog is for
Forget what you think about blogs, especially if your last contact with them was in the early 2000s. They have evolved beyond the online diary and are now fully-fledged business tools. Some businesses are basically just blogs that sell advertising because they have a high readership.
For small businesses and solopreneurs, blogs can be many things:
- First point of contact with the community
- Delivery system for expertise
- Customer service tool
- Brand awareness medium
- Product or service promoter
When I covered Google Authorship, I talked a bit about some of these elements. But I didn’t really tell you about what to put in your own blog.
What to put in your blog
If you don’t have a blog set up on your website, I recommend you attend some of the many WordPress training sessions held in Victoria. There’s a Meetup group and Camosun also has a course.
If you do have one set up but have no idea what to do with it, don’t worry: you’re not alone. A big proportion of blogs that are opened never make it beyond a few posts. Lack of time, lack of ideas and changing priorities are some of the reasons … but I personally believe that it’s because blogs don’t have an obvious and instant return on the time and money investment. (They DO have a significant ROI, however; see this infographic for more data.)
So, what is it that you should put in your business blog?
- Questions to frequent customer questions
- News and changes in your field
- Your opinion about trends in your business
- Lists of favourites, most remarkable, etc., things in your field
- Personal anecdotes (as long as they’re related to your business)
- Analysis on studies and reports published in your field
These are just a few ideas; if you follow at least a few successful blogs, you already have a model to follow and adapt to your own situation.
How to keep blogging
The biggest obstacle to effective blogging is time. Before blogging was my job, I didn’t blog. I still don’t blog for my personal site, because, well … I spend my time blogging for pretty much everyone else. But if your job is building your own business, blogging is definitely time well used.
Building blogging momentum and energy is, of course, a matter of priority. If blogging is not high on your marketing priority list, you probably won’t get to it very often. But if you build an editorial calendar, hold yourself accountable for meeting your blogging deadlines, and motivate yourself with the fact that readers expect to see regular posts, you will develop a healthy blogging schedule.
Also, it gets easier with time. What took me hours to write a few years ago is now done in much shorter a time.
- Write on a schedule
- Start an accountability group with other business women who blog
- Build a swipe file of ideas
There are plenty of blogging tips and help out there, so these are just a few basic ideas.
In the course of my posts for WWBN, I’ll explore more advanced blogging topics, but I’d also like to know what you’re interested in learning about. You can email me directly with questions you’d like me to answer in future posts. ~Annabelle
Anabelle Bernard Fournier is a content strategist at Stikky Media, a Victoria-based digital marketing firm. She manages and writes for several blogs as well as email newsletters and other content channels. She enjoys well-crafted sentences, knitting lace shawls and riding her bike to work.