One of the challenges facing someone when they first decide to start a blog is figuring out what to write about, whom to write for, and how to incorporate blogging into their daily routine. This is true for businesses to decide to add a blog to their website as well.
Coming up with a blog content strategy can make those challenges much easier. The first step involves asking yourself why you’re considering blogging, to begin with. Why blog?
Small Business Blogging Objectives
One of the first steps you want to take with a business blog is to define what you want it to achieve. Those may include:
- Bringing local people and/or businesses to your shop or office
- Increasing sales or generating leads for services you offer
- Attracting potential clients/customers from outside your local area
- Helping your audience understand what you do
- Promoting your business locally/nationally/globally
- Keeping your customers informed about what your business is up to
- Building a brand – a mindset that people enter when they think about your business
An important next step is to think about the audience that you’re small business blogging is for.
Identify your audience
Whom is it that you’re writing for? You may want to educate, entertain, and engage an audience, but to help your blog achieve its objectives, you need to have an idea of who the people are who make up your audience. This can also make it a lot easier to write blog posts because it can give you some ideas on what to write about.
For example, if you’re a real estate agent, you want people to learn about the community they might be considering moving into.
If that area is attractive to younger couples who might have children, you’ll want to share information about the local schools, and events and attractions that may interest parents. If the area is a bedroom community that many commute from into an urban area, you might consider blogging about public transportation opportunities. If you’re offering resort properties to an older crowd, you’ll want to let your audience know about things like social events and recreation facilities. Both groups may be interested in things like local museums and attractions, and local history.
If you run a lumberyard/hardware store, you may have two different audiences for your small business blogging – contractors and people interested in home DIY projects. Your blog posts may include things like tips and blueprints for building birdhouses and gazebos and sheds or provide some information about zoning laws and architectural review boards, different architectural styles, choosing paints, working with a lathe, and so on. You might want to describe why certain woods tend to be used for certain projects and tell us more about those woods.
Most audiences don’t want to read blog posts that are thinly veiled advertisements for business services. If you run a bakery, there’s nothing wrong with a blog post, for instance, that announces that it’s the start of peach season in the area and that you’re going to be serving fresh peach pie for the next month or so, but make it entertaining. Show pictures of some local peach orchards, and a little history of the peach industry in the area. Educate, entertain, and make your audience hungry.
Your small business blogging may cause people to return to your site over and over until they decide that they would like to meet you in person.
If you run a travel agency, you could write about the travel tours that you offer, but…
Your blog doesn’t necessarily have to be directly about travel. For example, you could create a blog about maps. You could blog about the London Underground, the route of the Tour de France, a concert tour route for the band Wilco through the deep south, a street-level map of Mardi Gras attractions in New Orleans. Your small business blogging could be a way for you to explore your interests as well as attracting your audience to your business.
Your audience may want to know about things like extra baggage fees on flights, hotel amenities, and other mundane details about travel, but those are things that you can tell them in person. Use your blog to create excitement about traveling to new places, and having experiences that are new and exciting. Some of your audience members may be interested in specific locations and history, in museums, in immersing themselves in another culture. A post about traveling to Italy could talk about how to get to different attractions but could explore what it is like to visit a gelato shop during the summer in Italy
Others may be more interested in new experiences such as whitewater rafting, skiing, taking a cruise, and so on. They might be excited to read about things like outdoor survival tips when camping out.
When to Write
You don’t necessarily need to write a blog post every day, but some consistency can be helpful in getting an audience to come back for more regularly.
If you decide to blog once a week, or once every two weeks, make it a meaty blog post with lots to chew on. If you decide to post more frequently, keep in mind that it can take some time to create entertaining blog posts on a regular basis.
You may want to have more than one person writing posts for your blog, and that can be a great idea if your shop or office has people who are knowledgeable about different things. For example, if you run a web design business, and you have a few designers, developers, and IT people on staff who might all be willing to blog, they might consider focusing upon different categories of topics. Tom the designer might post HTML and CSS tips weekly. Carl the IT and Network expert might write about networking and security topics. Jim the developer might write about Drupal and Joomla and other platforms. Overall, the impression that you may end up creating with multiple authors is that you have an active, engaging, and capable agency with expertise on a number of subjects.
To a degree, what you blog about is going to be colored by who your audience is, and what you might write about to attract them, and keep them coming back for more. Once you’ve identified what your audience’s interests may be, you may want to start looking for resources to use as springboards for your own posts.
I was small business blogging for a Delaware based law office for a number of years and decided to focus upon writing about local and national legal issues in a language that was accessible for most people who weren’t attorneys. I also focused upon interesting Delaware events, history, and culture. To find inspiration for posts, I set up a number of RSS feeds which included other legal blogs, and monitored online news resources for legal and Delaware related issues.
Another audience for the legal blog were attorneys from other states who might be interested in working with a Delaware attorney for one reason or another. One of those reasons is that many businesses are incorporated in Delaware, and the contracts that they use often followed Delaware law, so it could be helpful knowing someone who was well versed in Delaware laws. A number of Delaware government agencies provided news feeds about new laws and regulations and changes to the ways that they were doing business and blogging about those provided those other attorneys from outside of Delaware with a well-known resource to contact if necessary. By finding and aggregating information from helpful resources in blog posts, the blog itself became a valuable resource to others as well.
Before You Blog
Actually, it can be helpful to use some of these ideas even if you’ve already started blogging.
Spend some time thinking about what you want to achieve with your blog, looking at the examples of objectives that I’ve listed above. Decide who your audience may be, keeping in mind that you might have more than one important audience as I did with the legal blog – people from Delaware who might want an approachable attorney to work with and attorneys from outside of Delaware who might want someone who knows a lot about Delaware law.
Decide how often you want to write, and who the writers will be for your blog posts.
Find some great resources as springboards for ideas to write about, and in doing so, become a great resource yourself.