Following on from my rebrand and blog audit this month, I have decided to write a series of posts about the absoloutely essential things you need to consider when you are running a home business. Today a question – do you really need a business blog?
In business, it can feel like everybody is using Facebook, Twitter, blogging and a host of other social media options for their business, and for the uninitiated, this can feel very daunting, especially if you feel compelled to follow suit without really knowing why – this is why you see so many unloved Facebook business pages and abandoned Twitter accounts and blogs. So do you need a business blog?
You certainly need to be online in some way
Every business nowadays needs an online presence of some kind. Even the businesses who have resisted having a website (I know, shock horror), are dragging themselves out of the 20th century and recognising the value and utter necessity of having a presence and a reputation online.
Have you seen the size of the Yellow Pages these days? It’s tiny and that is because it is no longer the first place people look when they are trying to find a local business. They have a smartphone in their pocket so they look online….
Most people do some level of searching online about a business, whether they’re looking for further information about you, or are on the hunt for ‘social proof’ – evidence from others that you/your services/your products are great, and when they search for you, ideally it’s you that they should see first, not something dodgy or otherwise that someone else has written. Even if you don’t sell online and aren’t hugely fussed about having a ‘website’, a blog is actually a very low cost alternative.
So does every business need a blog?
Let’s look at it this way, every business needs to find ways to communicate with their customers and communicate news and information about their products and services. A business blog is one very good way, and social media channels are another. So do you need to have a website, a blog, social media or all three?
Understanding who your customers are and what they do will tend to make the decision easier. As an example, there may be 400 million people using Facebook, but if your audience isn’t actively using it, it wouldn’t make sense to throw all your eggs in one Facebook basket and focus all your social media energy there.
One of the main benefits of a blog attached to your website is that your website gets new and interesting content posted to it on a regular basis. That will normally make the website more attractive to Google and the whole website will then be shown to more prospective searchers. However this strategy will only work if your blog is interesting and compelling – not too spammy or salesy.
So here are my tips for helping you to decide:
1) Do a bit of planning and research.
Who are your customers? We should all know this anyway but it’s good to segment your customers rather than do a one size fits all. If you think they’re likely to be online, using stuff like Facebook etc, then blogging could represent an opportunity.
2) What will you write about and how?
Better to think about this beforehand because if you end up losing sight of why you started or appear to run out of things to write about, you’ll get very frustrated, very quickly.
While there is obvious stuff that you can write about based around your business, if you’re looking to stand out, you’ve got to tell it differently and find your angle. What can you share that will inspire, provide knowledge, excite your customers/potential customers about your business/product/industry that they will remember you, buy from you, or tell people about you?
Do you have anything to say other than buy from me? If you don’t then a blog may not be for you as you will alienate more people than you’ll win over if you cannot strike a balance between informing and selling.
Content is the big area that people get stuck on and so while you can no doubt come up with some initial ideas, this is one area where I suggest you spend some time brainstorming and getting creative.
You’re not the only business to consider starting a blog and what you want to avoid is creating the feeling with a reader where they say ‘Oh…here’s another business trying to search engine optimise their site by having a blog’. Even if you are, you need to be genuine in your efforts to connect with users/readers/customers because unfortunately being online is one place where dodgy efforts come across quite transparently.
3) Do your ‘competitors’ have blogs?
This can be a very strong indicator as you have social proof that your market is not only active in social media but creating an impact and getting a response, but you can learn from them. Find out what resonates with you and what makes you uncomfortable. Get inspired. And remember – people in the same or complimentary space represent an opportunity to network and collaborate, for example with guest and cross posting on your blogs etc.
4) Would you like to engage with your customers?
If you have a genuine desire to connect with your customers or potential ones, blogs and the likes of Facebook and Twitter are great. However you don’t have to do them all! I think you can control the frequency of how often you post to your blog more because Facebook and Twitter tend to compel you to feel pressured to post frequently and be super interesting.
5) Are you prepared to make the time?
You need to have about an hour a week to post on your blog. If you’re already complaining of feeling overloaded, you will not be committed to your blog plus you will regard it as a time suck especially if you don’t get instant results. Use that hour or however long you have to write as many posts as you can and that will allow you to keep some spare. Agree to post once a week and that way you don’t overload yourself. Anything extra is a bonus.
If you are wondering if you should start a business blog, or if you have one and are not sure if it is doing you any good, why not book a mentoring session with me. I can help you to reach the right decision based on your particular business and circumstances, and if you like I can also help with blog writing or promotion. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org