Some years ago now, we used to regularly go to horse auctions. There was always a bustling market on the grounds. We’d walk around, often buying items we never originally set out for.
“What has this to do with blogging tips for small business owners?” I hear you ask…
When I started the Ultimate Blog Challenge this month, I said I would base most of my blog posts around questions, and invited your questions too. I received a few blogging questions that essentially were the same.
“Why doesn’t my blog work for business?”
Let’s step back into that market for a moment.
Imagine if you will, a crowded market place, crammed with stalls all selling to a specific market. You could realistically walk around the market and see stalls selling the same products as the guy next door and the next and several round the corner too.
It was loud! Stall owners shouting their wares, assistants working the crowd and driving people back to the stalls.
The people who we bought from often were the stalls who knew their stuff. They’d answer questions, demonstrate and let you touch and feel (or sniff!) the products. They’d tell you about examples of them in use, who used them and why.
All the while, the banter was tripping off their tongues. The stall that got the cash didn’t get it because their products were different, better or even cheaper…
Your small business blog isn’t a market stall…
The web is a busy place with not a dozen blogs about the same thing, but hundreds of thousands. Not only do you need to rise above the noise, but also once you have the attention you want to keep people with you.
There’s several blogging tips you can learn from a busy market trader…
5 Essential Blogging Tips for Small Business Owners
1. Rise above the noise
Know your audience, their wants, needs, fears, questions and talk to them. Find keywords and phrases they search for. Use your keywords in your blog title and within your post. Don’t overdo it, there’s no need to have keywords in every paragraph!
If your blog is local, whether targeted to a city or country, then say so. Don’t be afraid to use local terms either.
2. Get a personality!
There’s nothing worse in my view than a vanilla blog post with no personality. That doesn’t mean acting! One of the best blogging tips I ever learnt was to be myself and post.
You may be providing the same products or services as many others, you don’t need to read or sound like them. While you can’t stand and banter like on a market stall, you can let you shine through. Write like you speak, but do use a spell checker!
Use the language you would normally use with your customers if you met them face to face. This is particularly important for local business blogs because you will often meet your readers.
Your blog post may often be the first meeting point. If you write using words and phrases you would never use back in the real world and then meet with your blog reader and potential client, well they expect one thing and get another. It doesn’t help building up trust.
By the way, if you do call me or meet with me for coffee and a brainstorm, yes I do speak like this!
3. Demonstrate and share your knowledge
Perhaps the easiest way for a small business owner to start blogging is by answering questions about your products or services and sharing your knowledge. One of the stumbling blocks I often come across when suggesting this approach is, “If I share my knowledge my customers won’t need me”.
That’s true in some cases, certainly not all. The type of people who like to do a task themselves will find the information anyway from elsewhere. Why not from your business blog?
A related blogging tip – Use your own images or video of your new products or to demonstrate a task or a product in action rather than stock or manufacturers photos. Show your business off, be you.
If you’re cleaning carpets, I want to see your machine in action on a real carpet in a real house with real dirt – not some show room or test sample. If you are selling beauty products, I want to see you open the lid and use it, not some glossy model photo from the product supplier.
Be real, you’ll be surprised at how well it can work.
4. Send out the runners
Just like the market stall owners, get the word out about each blog post. Don’t rely on passing traffic from search. Share your new posts on your social networks and provide share buttons for others to use. (The buttons are on the left if you want to click!)
Guide people back to your blog. Use your images and videos on sharing sites linking back to your blog. Comment and write content for related blogs and websites.
A local business owner I work with directs her clients back to specific articles on her blog. It’s used as a resource for the business as well as attracting new clients.
5. Add a call to action
What do you want your blog readers to do next? For a small business owner it’s often to get in touch, book a service or buy a product. While your blog’s aim isn’t a direct sales tool, do ask for an action.
So now, it’s your turn…
Does blogging work for your business? Do you have any tips to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.