Small biz how-to : Should I have a blog for my business?

keyboard - kathleenstephens on society6

{keyboard – kathleenstephens on society6}

 

OK, so you have an online business on Etsy. You’re in the forums regularly, asking questions and commenting to learn and also to be seen; you’re spending hours keeping up on Pinterest/Facebook/Instagram/whatever, posting new work to spread your visibility around the web; you’re checking out other people’s blogs to see what’s happening trend-wise and cramming in as much business advice as you can …. that leaves only a tiny bit of time to actually make stuff and list it…. (not to mention you’ve got to organise the kids, walk the dog, cook the dinner, clean the house, wash the clothes, repeat…)  phew! And all the business advice columns you see are saying, “You really should start a blog!”

 

o.   m.   g.

Do I really HAVE TO? I’m exhausted from everything else.
I have no time. And besides, I have no tech skills.”

 

OF COURSE it is entirely up to you, and it is something you need to weigh up as to how valuable it might be to your business in terms of the time you will have to put into it. But there are substantial advantages to having a blog.

{First, you should put aside your tech fears. Blogger is THE easiest platform ever to set up; it’s as easy as click on what you want. It comes with a bunch of free templates to choose from so you can alter colours, fonts and backgrounds to suit yourself;  Wordpress is not much harder. Un-tech folk rejoice!  Don’t worry, I will post some more info on setting up a new blog soon -both on Blogger and on WordPress.}

OK, so I really think a blog is a great idea, but I know not everyone thinks so. Let’s look at some pluses and minuses to help you decide whether it’s right for you.

 

ON THE PLUS SIDE

IT GIVES VISITORS A REASON TO COME BACK TO YOUR SITE

If you’re regularly posting new work, useful information and/or other related interesting things, your visitors are much more likely to visit your site again and again. And it gives long term results – people DO come back to read old content for many reasons, especially if it’s useful! The more your site is visited, the higher you rate in the search engine rankings.

 

USE IT TO SHOW OFF NEW WORK, OR WORKS IN PROGRESS

Especially in the creative industries, your customers LOVE seeing what’s on your worktable, and seeing your tools and methods! It can help build your brand through creating stories about what you do and why.

 

USE IT TO DEMONSTRATE YOUR EXPERTISE

When you post useful information about things in your niche (e.g. trends or how-to), you demonstrate your expertise, which helps to build trust with your potential customers. It also demonstrates your willingness to help your customers, and people always respond in a positive manner to that.

 

KEYWORDS FOR SEARCH ENGINES

Because you’ll be writing about ideas/products/how-tos in your niche, naturally you will be repeating lots of keywords, and this can also improve your rankings in search engines.

 

MORE QUALITY CONTENT MEANS IT’S MORE LIKELY TO BE SHARED

When you are consistently producing original, quality content, your fans will share that content across social media. Word of mouth is way more effective than paid advertising.

 

QUALITY CONTENT CAN BE USED IN VARIOUS OTHER WAYS TOO

Your articles can be shared in your newsletters, either by a brief description with a link, or by a pared-down version of the original article. (What?? You don’t have an email list????   O.o   HORROR! A list is essential for business – I’ll tell you why in another post soon).   Your customers will thank you for providing that useful information. You can also post links to the article in your own social media too, providing further opportunities for it to be shared.

 

IT BUILDS COMMUNITY AND LOYALTY WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS.

By writing about your customers’ problems, you encourage people to interact with you – your customers, your potential customers and your industry peers. And then you learn from their comments and questions how you can better help them, so that’s a wonderful two-way street.

 

ON THE MINUS SIDE

IT CAN BE A BE A BIG TIME SUCK.

You really have to evaluate this one for yourself. You should always aim for quality, and quality takes time. If you’re confident in your writing abilities, it’s a definite advantage; but if you’re better with images, that can also work for you. Make image-heavy posts with fewer words and let the pics do the talking for you. (Note though, that search engine always look for words, so make sure your images are labelled with useful, straight-forward labels.)

It depends a bit on your particular industry, but don’t feel like you have to post every day. Once a week or less is fine, but I would suggest that no less than twice per month – this should be enough to keep things active and ticking over.

 

YOU MUST BE CLEAR ON YOUR BLOG’S PURPOSE.

If you’re not, you’ll soon find your posting becomes more and more sporadic, and your blog will eventually languish in the dark depths of the distant past. This actually looks pretty bad when visitors come to see that there’s been nothing new for a loooong time. It looks like you’ve lost interest – which is kind of the case, isn’t it? Think about it from their point of view.

If you feel like the blog isn’t working for you, be upfront about it and make a final post to let your readers know what’s happening – for instance, let them know you want to put your time into designing new work or you have other projects you’d like to get started on. In the post you can direct them to where they might find more information about up to date works (e.g. your About page, your Facebook page, or ask them to join your email list for updates…)

When you have a clear plan and direction for your blog, you’re much more likely to keep it up. Plan for how much time you intend to devote to it each week, and stick to it.

*

Blogs CAN be a wonderful addition to your whole internet presence, as long as you understand what they are, how they work and you are prepared to commit to it.

Do you have a question about blogging? Do you feel like you’ll run out of things to talk about? Do you still think your tech skills aren’t enough to get it happening?

I love my blog, but I know blogging is not everyone’s cup of tea! I’d love to know your thoughts if you’re hesitant to start one,  so tell me in the comments below. And if you DO have a blog, what problems have you encountered in setting it up/writing/editing/finding images or ANYTHING.

 

I’ll be back in the near future with a post on all the basics of how to actually set up a blog on your website. Have you got specific questions about your particular setup? Let me know! 

Julie x

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