Blogging can be a great way to get your business and your website seen. It can open up a different avenue of conversation, communicate your voice/style/ethos/expertise, attract new customers or re-engage old ones. There are a lot of good reasons to blog.
But it is an extra thing – and if you’re running your own business, chances are you already have a lot of things to do already!
So do you need a blog?
Not every business website needs a blog. If you’re a cafe and restaurant, you need a website, and you could have a blog if you wanted, but people definitely aren’t expecting it or looking for it. Unless you’ve got a particular niche, or also run events, then you can probably ignore blogging.
In fact, with most businesses, it is not essential. The website itself is. Some kind of social media presence is. But if you don’t have the time or the inclination to write regularly, then there are probably other, better ways (for you) to use your time and energy. Like just interacting on social media, or focusing on getting reviews or testimonials, or other more ‘traditional’ forms of advertising and marketing, and conversations with customers.
But… if you do like writing, if you have a business that lends itself to content or entertainment, and think there could be value in adding this to your marketing strategy or just as an extra service, then there are a few ways to approach it:
Blog to attract website visitors & customers
This can be a very successful strategy – the idea being you post content & posts that gets traffic to your website, where they will also see your other business products and services. You can build a rapport and, hopefully, sell a few things to a few of those visitors!
But, be sure to aim content at your intended audience. Who is your ideal customer? What sort of blog posts are they looking for?
The biggest mistake people make here is blogging about things that interest them, rather than their audience. For example, I see a lot of authors blogging about writing. But who wants to read about writing? Other writers. If you write crime novels, you want to post things that readers of crime novels want to see.
If you’re a photographer, don’t post photography tips and lens reviews (unless you also sell classes or guides to other photographers.) Post things your potential customers need – e.g. wedding day tips for a wedding photographer. Everyday makeup bag essentials for a make up artist. The meanings of different kinds of flowers for a florist.
It’s a lot of work. To post regularly and actually get it out there in front of readers in a way that attracts a significant amount of potential customers is a big investment of time. And you’ve got to constantly be coming up with new material, pre-empting the questions and needs and wants of your potential audience, and getting yourself in front of them.
Blogging can be a full time business in itself, so if your main focus is not blogging as a business, but blogging for your business – this might be too much. (Unless you are willing to and can afford to outsource the management and content production of the blog. Even then, that’s not appropriate for all businesses anyway.)
But there are other ways a blog can still be a beneficial thing, without consuming so much of your time.
Blog as info for current clients and customers.
This is kind of what we are doing here on Edge Effect. Posting occasional content that we feel our current customers will find helpful – as small business owners and generally sole traders, home/family based businesses etc.
Because you’re not necessarily using the content to generate new traffic (though it still can), you don’t need to dedicate as much time to it. And blog post ideas can get generated for you to an extent – just take common questions or issues your customers are having, and write your answer or advice into blog post. Chances are if one customer is having issues with something, others are too.
In the way, blogging becomes just an added service you provide, and doesn’t take too much more time than just responding to customer and client questions anyway.
And for new or potential clients who do come to your site, it helps establish you as an authority in your area, communicates more of who you are and what you do. It also encourages them to stick around a bit longer on your site which is a good thing.
It’s also good for SEO. (Search Engine Optimisation.) I might talk more about that in another post. But most simply, it’s about your site having relevant keywords that help it rise in the ranks of search engine results so your site gets found.
There isn’t too much of one here. Other than, as an alternative to the first option, it may not generate a lot of new traffic. But that is still possible – share can share it to your Facebook page, current customers might share articles to people they know etc, it might help it rank a bit better in search results.
Really, if you’re going to blog but aren’t wanting to dedicate the time it takes to create a high traffic generating one, then this option is a good one. The effort/reward payoff is pretty good.
Blog ‘behind the scenes’.
If you struggle to come up with informational blog posts for your business area, or just simply don’t want to write informative or instructional types of articles, then this could be a good option.
An example of where this is used commonly is photographers – there isn’t always a lot you need to educate your clients on. But what they do love to see is examples of your work and also your personality, especially if you do portraits, weddings, births etc.Depending on your business, this ‘get to know you better’ kind of look behind the scenes of your business could be a great fit.
It’s personal. While it’s usually good in most small businesses to come across as a real person not just a brand or a faceless corporate looking website, there’s always a limit to how much of your life you want to share with customers or clients.
Sometimes the behind the scenes of your real life is great to share. Your more personal thoughts or stories. But if it’s not applicable, or you just don’t want to, stick to behind the scenes of your business itself. How an event comes together, what your bread looks like when it’s baking, who the people are in your team etc.
And another downside is that it does take extra time. Unlike the second way, where a lot of your content can come from answers you already give to people in the daily running of your business, ‘behind the scenes’ requires you come up with an entertaining take on things, and likely a lot of photos.
It’s a bit harder to measure the benefit of this kind of blogging too, depending on your business area – it may attract new readers to your site, or entertain current customers, but it’s not a direct service like informative or instructional posts, and doesn’t always have a direct sell-on capability. The impact is more indirect.
So apart from in the case of business like photographers, where this kind of blog is like a form of their portfolio, only do this is if you really enjoy it and like interacting with your customers/clients this way.
These aren’t the only ways to blog, and of course, you can always do a combination. The most important things to ask yourself are:
- Does this bring value to my clients/customers?
- Does it bring value to me?
(And value can come in many forms – sales, information or advice, building relationships and rapport, starting conversations, your own sense of creative expression etc.)
- And does the effort/value ratio make it worth it for you and your business?
What do you think?