What's the deal with 'Blogs?' Do you need one as a small business? Is it going to get you anything? Anywhere? Anyhow.....
No seriously, a blog is a good tool, but like any tool you have in your toolbox, it's nice to have, but if you don't know how to use it, or NEVER use it, what good is it? Knowing what it can do and how you can benefit from it is the first place to start.
You may read article after article online about “Why You NEED a Blog!” or “5 Reasons You Should Have a Blog” and on and on. These articles will generally say things like: it increases traffic to your site, it builds credibility, it builds a community around your business, it helps position you in search results, it makes you an 'expert'.... And indeed, a blog can do all those things, but like I said above, only if you use it. And that's the tricky part. Like social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.) a blog can be time consuming, and/or a tremendous annoyance to your day. “Having to do” something like a chore is never fun, and if you don't enjoy using any of the social media tools, a blog being in that category, your results will show that disinterest. And who wants to read an uninteresting blog? Or worse yet - a blog with no entries.
Ok, I'll stop being a downer. That's not what you were expecting to hear, correct? You expected to hear that it's EASY and takes just minutes a day! It's not. And it can take UP your day if you don't know what to say, don't have a system or habit for 'blogging', or are just stifled because someone told you “You have to have it” but you don't really buy into it. But also keep this in mind: this is a blog for your business, not your friends who will want to read about your random thoughts on random things (even if they don't it's no big deal because they are your friends). Your CUSTOMERS have different expectations of you. In their mind you are there to provide a window into the world of what YOU SELL. And that's where creativity, patience, and a flare for advertising and PR can do you a lot more than a series of blog posts that basically say nothing at all.
What you can expect to gain (not necessarily what you will immediately get):
- More site content
- A 'voice' for your business
- A forum for customer interaction
- Notoriety for 'trying to blog'
So where does that leave us? Am I telling you to steer clear of blogging? Not at all. What I am saying is that you need to know the pitfalls first, then tackle the problem head-on. The first task in getting people to listen to you is to engage them, and you do that by presenting information or opinion in a way that catches their attention, and keeps it. If you are a small business you have an advantage in that area – people will generally expect a friendlier, more casual approach from you. So if you run a garden center develop your online “voice” with a series of posts about gardening tips, or questions and answers about planting. If you run a community outreach organization post about your events, who attended, add pictures, talk about the recognizable figures in your community. If you own a hardware store post about your specials, or make a 'do-it-yourself' series about fixing a toilet tank, spackling a wall, or choosing the right set of screw-drivers. If you are adventurous shoot some video and post that (but keep in mind you'll probably need to edit it)
Are you getting the picture? Your blog is your content. And like all the content on your site needs to be relevant to WHAT YOUR SITE PRESENTS. That will give you bumps up in your Google ratings, will benefit your search engine returns overall, will 'generate traffic' – not in some magical way that can't really be explained... but in keeping the attention of your customers. They will want to come back, mainly because you have something new to say, and they hopefully enjoy the way you say it. You are going to have to be part journalist, part screen-writer, part film-maker, part critic...
Those 'tools' I was talking about before? Practice makes perfect, or at least makes 'better'. I'm not saying blogging is easy, but it gets easier the more you do it.