Are you one of those people who thinks ‘blog’ and then thinks ‘self-indulgent twaddle’? Well, stop yourself because blogging has come a long way from online personal diaries and pictures of people’s favourite cats. It has turned into something that can really benefit your business.
What is blogging?
Short for ‘weblog’, blogging is a process of sharing news, information, and updates online. Instead of being dry and boring, as press releases can be, blogs are best written warmly and engagingly.
Many businesses have a blog as a simple ‘news’ page. In fact, the page that you are currently reading is the Starfish blog!
Benefits of blogging
1. Establish your business as an authority
This is nowhere near as daunting as it sounds. If you know best (we all do, in our own businesses!) then you are an expert. You have knowledge that your customers want.
Here’s an example. You could be selling something as apparently insignificant as sticky tape. If you give people interesting ways of using sticky tape, interesting projects, educate them about types of sticky tape, and so on, then you look like you have your finger on the pulse.
Blog about these types of things enough, and you will come to be seen as an authority in your field by default.
A sideline benefit of this, is that you do begin to truly engage with your field, and to start thinking of new ways of engaging with it. And that benefits your customers even more.
2. Blogs let you engage with your customers, in a different way.
Blogs are more personal, and far more direct. Traditional web sites – that is, sites without blogs – are often dry or bland, and don’t have a sense of the personal.
The personal nature of blogs gives you the ability to get warm and friendly with your customers. They see more about who this person is behind the business, and, if you do things right, you can engage in conversation in comments.
Letting your customers see who you are is very beneficial because it makes your business ‘real’ and ‘trustworthy’.
3. Blogs increase your search engine visibility
Every time you post a blog on your site, it gives search engines new content to crawl.
Making sure that your content is keyword dense, and matches the keywords on the rest of your site, increases your ‘authority’ with search engines like Google. What does this mean for you? Your site will appear further up the list in search results.
Two very good reasons not to start blogging
1. you don’t think you can keep it up
A good blog, or new page, is consistently maintained. You have to have the time and ability to make sure it is updated at least once a week. The best blogs are updated every day.
If you don’t think you will be able to keep it up, it’s best not to start.
2. Your company needs to put all publications through a legal department
This sort of process could potentially kill your blog. Unless you are able to write heaps of content and have it approved well ahead of time, or you are able to come to some sort of agreement, don’t start. You don’t want to be in a situation where suddenly you have to take the blog down. That will reflect poorly on your company.
Tips for great business blogging
- Be consistent! Decide what your schedule will be ahead of time, and stick to it. I plan articles in a spreadsheet and do it after hours if I have to.
- Work out who your target audience is. Think of one ideal reader. Writing for one person is easier (and flows more nicely) than trying to write for an undefined ‘mass’.
- Write a few articles before you publish them. This way you have material in reserve.
- Integrate your blog into your web site. While it’s tempting to start on a free hosted service like wordpress.com or blogger.com, don’t do it. You will eventually want to move it to your own domain for the search engine benefits. Doing that when you have a lot of posts and links can be a real pain. We use WordPress as a content management system, so integration is a breeze.
- Get help from a copywriter! I can’t emphasise enough how useful this is. A good copywriter can write your material if you don’t have time, can provide feedback on your writing style, and best of all, makes you look good by correcting your errors! Outsourcing your blog writing to someone like Leticia will free you up, while still keeping your blog page rolling.
Starfish clients who do a great job with their blogs
We have a number of clients who keep fabulous blogs. Go have a look and see the different ways it can be done.
- Landscape photographers Christian Fletcher and Neil Pritchard
- Animal photographer Alex Cearns
- Climate change consultants Greensense