The Internet is a constantly changing environment. What’s a small business to do?
First it was a website that would launch our business into the worldwide online marketplace. Then it was search engine optimization that would take our business site to the top of every search engine quickly and efficiently. Now it’s a blog that will effortlessly link us to thousands—maybe even millions—of potential customers all over the world.
What should small business owners believe, and where should they start?
Nothing but the Facts
You’ve heard of blogging. You may have even tried it a little yourself. But is anyone really paying attention to blogs? Will it truly do you any good? Overwhelmingly, the answer is yes.
According to the Blog World Expo:
Are you convinced that blogging could help you build your business?
The Purpose of a Blog
In order to make optimal use of a blog, we need to understand how it differs from a website.
Your website is for advertising. It provides the standard information that people need to know about your company and its offerings. It gives a sales presentation to any prospect that comes across your site.
Your blog is for building relationships with potential clients. We can add our own personality to a blog, almost like in face-to-face networking. When you are physically meeting someone, you see body language and mannerisms; you get a feel for the personality of the other person. Often you decide to buy because you connect with the person.
Those same characteristics can come through in your blog, especially if you are adding photos and video. The more personality you put into your blog, the more your readers will feel connected and the more likely they are to buy from you. If you’re sharing stories and providing a wealth of information, people will resonate with it. This will allow you as a business owner to reap the rewards.
Blogging opened up a whole new world for small businesses. It suddenly gave us an easy way to provide fresh, quality content in an easy-to-manage way. No longer are we at the mercy of an overbooked web designer. Now we can add information, video and photos ourselves, any time of the day.
The Focus of Your Blog
As a business owner, you wear many hats throughout the day and you may wonder how you can you possibly add one more item to your to-do list. In reality, the key to blogging is that it comes from the heart, and it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes of your time on any given day.
“What if I don’t enjoy writing?” I hear this question a lot from business owners. We’re not all cut out to be award-winning writers, but that’s not what blogging is all about. Blogging is about sharing your ideas and developing relationships with your readers. You don’t have to be proficient in writing: nobody expects you to write a novel.
The easiest way to write a blog is to start with the end in mind. What do you want your blog to accomplish? Do you want your readers to live healthier lives? Do you want to show them how to travel at the lowest possible costs? Do you want to teach them skills to grow their businesses?
Blogging is not about promoting your product or service; it’s about the desired results. Your prospects have no desire in your product or service unless they can see how it will improve their lives. Your blog should show them the way.
If you sell nutritional supplements, your goal is to help people live healthier lives.
If you sell discount travel services, your goal is to teach others how to find vacation packages that fit their budgets.
If you sell a business opportunity, your goal is to showcase the lifestyle that comes with having a successful business.
Once you make the distinction between what you sell and the desired outcome, you are ready to start blogging.
Taking the First Step
As soon as you have your focus in place, it’s time to plan out your posts. Don’t think one entry at a time; instead think of themes and series. If you’ve just started with a networking company, maybe your goal is to write a series of posts documenting what steps you take during the first thirty days. A thirty-day series can be a great way to have subject matter every day, and also prod you into action so you have things to write about.
Sometimes the hardest step is the first one. It’s easy to put off starting a blog or making your first post, but once you do, it becomes almost addictive. It’s exciting to share ideas with your readers and give them advice on the best tools and resources; it’s exciting to have them comment back to you and solidify your relationship.
Start with a plan and let your content follow. Then when your first series is posted, start up a new one. You’ll be surprised at how easy the content comes, once you get into the practice. Don’t worry about perfection; just let the words come out as if you were speaking face to face. The content will flow better and your viewers will enjoy reading it more. And they will take action. That’s what blogging is all about.
LORI OSTERBERG has created many businesses over the
past fourteen years, and has discovered the secrets of turning
a local small business into a worldwide success. She speaks, writes and
mentors others on using technology to grow their small businesses.