One of the most challenging marketing requirements that new business owners face is blog development.
Many small business owners are not inherently comfortable with writing and most struggle with conceptualizing relevant content for their market and relating it to their services or products.
The pressure to deliver consistently interesting and dynamic information to your audience can be especially overwhelming, and many small business owners expect to see immediate results and are swiftly disappointed.
These blogging tips for small business owners can help shift perspective and ease the anxiety of tackling the blog behemoth. You’ll also gain insight into critical mistakes to avoid as a new blogger.
Blogging is a marathon, not a race.
There is no easy button to instant notoriety and high engagement. Blogging is a long-term, on-going marketing strategy that supplements and grounds other marketing campaigns over the life of a small business.
It takes time to develop a reputation as an authority in your area of expertise and even longer to develop the loyal following that triggers purchasing.
Begin with the end in mind.
Visualize the arena in which you would like to establish your small business as a market leader and trusted authority.
Brainstorm a variety of topics that would showcase that expertise. Write yourself towards the end goal, with each blog post serving as a step towards consumer loyalty and active engagement.
Effective blogging tips for small business owners
Develop a mindset that revolves around your reader and put these tried and true tips to the test to expand your reach within the blogosphere.
Service, not sale
The surest way to develop trust and long-term loyalty is a selfless and generous approach that shows authentic interest and consideration for the needs of the reader.
Focus on blog topics that help your audience in some specific, actionable way. Blogging is not an opportunity to sell yourself or make constant pitches to your customer base to drive sales.
Blogging serves as a way to develop a personality and conversation with your market that allows them to explore their relationship with you without the pressure of purchasing.
- Listen – Take time to consider what your audience is talking about in the social media arena. What are their areas of interest? What questions are they asking? What challenges are they facing? How do they engage? Listen with a “servant heart.” Aim to identify their needs because you want to help them, not because you want to sell to them.
- Offer a useful solution – Once you have identified what your readers are asking for, develop a response that answers their question or solves their problem. Generously share tips and tricks, suggestions or experiences solely with the purpose to help. Do not write to sneak your product into the solution. As often as possible, make an effort to not even mention your company, products or services at all. Stay reader-focused.
Commit to quality
Your small business blog is not an area in your marketing strategy where you can skimp. In a world where content is virtually endless, readers demand captivating, high quality content that consistently respects their expectation for purposeful writing.
Your customer is giving you their most valuable resource – time – every time they click through to your blog, so it is imperative that you commit to providing a quality experience each and every time they visit.
- High quality images – Many bloggers make the mistake of treating blog images as placeholders instead of storytellers. In the sea of available content, readers are visually drawn to the most captivating images. Blurry or poor quality images suggest laziness and/or disrespect for the reader’s experience. Use high resolution, appropriately composed images that highlight your writing and work collaboratively to deliver relevant information to your audience.
- Mind your p’s and q’s – Proper grammar and sentence structure are pivotal to an enjoyable reader experience. Be sure to implement editing and review processes and outsource writing if it is not a best fit within your team. Poor grammar and sentence structure can frustrate readers and send the wrong message about your attention to detail.
- Useful topics – Regularly “gut check” your editorial calendar to be sure your topics are truly useful and relevant. Have a co-worker, consultant or other party review your topic list to identify potentially weaker topics that need some attention and redirection.
Encourage engagement and action
Every blog post should have a very specific “call to action” for your reader. A call to action is a detailed task or concept that the reader takes away from the blog post to immediately put into action in their daily workflows.
If your blog post is properly meeting a need to a question your audience is asking, the call to action should provide specific steps to achieving that resolution on their own.
- Submissions – Ask your audience to engage by submitting a story or image that relates to your blog post. Ask them a specific question that you’d like them to answer in the comments or take a poll. Bring them into the conversation.
- How to’s – Readers are instantly drawn to a step-by-step guide to answering their question. Use images and numbered steps to clearly demonstrate how they can apply this newly learned skill with relative ease.
- Resource links – Include related links that propel readers to similar content on your blog. Encourage them to read more than just one post by planting seeds to other resources on your website.
- Round ups – Create lists or collections of helpful posts on a relevant topic. This encourages your audience to trust you to find the best curated content instead of site-hopping on their own, and also engages industry peers in a positive way. Develop resources for your readers to use in a truly helpful manner that will simplify their search and inspire gratitude.
Explore the blogging world outside of your own “home base.” The blogosphere has become a lively, interactive conversation. Beyond your own blog posts and communication with your readers, there are countless opportunities to connect with other bloggers to develop mutually beneficial partnerships.
Applying the human element to your blog by giving it a “face” in the online arena can foster growth and drive interest as your personal reputation and desire to “get involved” becomes clear.
- Network with influencers – Actively seek to create relationships with established social media influencers in your marketplace. Engage with them – share content, give mentions, support – open the lines of communication and introduce yourself as their peer. Invite them to contribute to your blog to share their expertise with your readers.
- Contribute to top sites – Don’t hide your brand solely within your website blog. Spread awareness and increase your reach by contributing blog posts to other top sites in your industry. Beyond the SEO benefits of backlinks on other respected websites, it gives you the opportunity to pop your voice into new marketplaces and develop new relationships.
Build an email list
Email marketing continues to be one of the few avenues that puts your brand right in front of interested prospects every time.
When done correctly, email marketing campaigns can be hugely successful when you are working from a list of people who volunteered (opted in) to receive information from you. They’re already qualified! But you can’t run a campaign if you don’t have subscribers.
- Subscription ops everywhere – Develop several creative ways to give readers a variety of options to subscribe when they come to your website. Look into resources like LeadPages to integrate subscription opportunities with other platforms and interest groups. Have buttons and prompts in different places so that active visitors are constantly reminded to hop on board. This post covers the process in more detail.
- Compelling reason – Potential subscribers ask themselves one specific question before hitting the “subscribe” button. “What’s in it for me?” Your subscription windows should be delivered within the framework of a compelling and specific reason that your prospects would want to engage regularly with your brand. Clearly state the benefits of subscribing, list any perks, or offer a solution to a particular pain point that your market consistently experiences. Make your readers go “I have to know this. I need this. I don’t want to miss this.” and your subscriber list will explode.
The best part about blogging is that rules are made to be broken.
You may discover that certain strategies don’t work within your marketplace. That’s ok! The key is to regularly evaluate your strategies and how they are standing up against your competitors. Be flexible and quick to evolve and adjust as you continue to define the path of least resistance to your prospects.
Marketing as a new business owner is a constantly moving target. Be agile and be aware. Avoid complacency and stagnation by keeping things fresh with new campaigns and series.
Be your reader – Remember. Service, not sale!