A little while ago I spent some time writing about how to add sparkle to your blog posts. In it, I touched very briefly on why small businesses should be adding blogs to their websites but today I'm going to expand on that.
Are blogs worth the effort?
Despite being a writer who loves to help make small businesses stand out by setting them up with a blog, it took me a long time to get round to writing my own. I dismissed it for ages as being too big a drain on my time; why should I give up precious hours for something I wouldn't be getting paid for?
(That's a sentiment that I often hear repeated when I'm networking: small businesses, especially those being run by people with childcare commitments, find it hard to see when they will be able to schedule in time to write a regular blog. It might be on their 'To Do' list but it's a long, long way down it.)
But there are many reasons why writing a blog can boost a small business. Let's take a look at some of the most important:
1) It boosts you up Google
When I first started creating my freelance writing website I didn't have a clue about how Google ranking worked. I was more concerned about how my site looked, so I spent a while choosing the layout and colour scheme and adding my newly-commissioned logo (thanks Swash and Fold!), links to my recently published writing and a 'Contact Me' page. Then I sat back and waited.
Several weeks later I leant forward again and searched for 'freelance writers Surrey'. I had to trawl for quite a while before I saw my name come up. It was quite clear that nobody would bother to look for that long if they were searching for a writer; they'd simply choose somebody they found on page one. I wasn't going to earn any new business hanging about on page four.
So I did a bit of research. I discovered that, along with many other search engine optimisation (SEO) criteria that you should be fulfilling, Google really, really loves websites that are constantly adding fresh content. A regular, relevant blog is a great example of that.
2) It gets you social
I don't know about you but keeping up a presence on social media has almost become more of a job than my actual job. If you see what I mean.
Trying to keep up a steady stream of posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all the rest takes time - even if you're one of these annoyingly super-organised people who write, plan and schedule their social media output for the week in one session. (Oh, how I long to be one of those. I've been meaning to write a 'time management' blog post for ages. Haven't got round to it yet.)
I have also just discovered that FB (and, therefore, Instagram who is owned by FB) gets a bit sniffy if you bombard your timeline with your own self-promotion. The more promotional posts you put up there, the less FB shows them to the people who have liked your page. In essence, FB is telling you to put more valuable content out there: posts that will entertain, educate and engage your audience, instead of just shouting at them to 'BUY YOUR STUFF'!
Blog posts are a great way to get round this. Your blog can be related to your business without being a totally unsubtle attempt at marketing. For example, I recently wrote a gardening blog for a client which, although it included links to her online shop, was based around the concept of gardening trends for 2017. It gave readers information that they might find useful and simply guided them to where they could buy some of the ideas mentioned, rather than being a direct sales push.
Once you've written your blog post you can then send it out on all your social media platforms, not just once but on multiple occasions. For instance: if you've just written a blog about how difficult it is to work from home during really hot weather, not only can you post it on initial publication, you can also repost it on National Work Naked Day. Which is definitely a thing.
3) It lets your personality out
People like to know who they're buying from: your blog can be an excellent way of letting your clients see the personality that underpins your business.
Don't be afraid of showing your fun side (unless you run a funeral home, perhaps), the quirkier your posts are, the more engaging they'll be for your readers.
4) It helps you understand your visitors
By using the analytic tools that your blog offers you can see how your visitors are finding you (letting you determine which route is worth you spending more time on), which are your most popular posts (allowing you to create more in the same style) and even when the majority of people are reading your content (you can use this to ensure you are capturing the biggest audience possible).
Finding out their habits means you can focus specifically on what will keep them coming back (and hopefully spending money!).
5) It unlocks your creative side
You might not think of yourself as a natural author but by writing blog posts on a regular basis you'll be giving your brain a workout.
Just like any other muscle, the more you use it the more effectively it will work and you'll soon find yourself automatically thinking 'that would make a great blog post" whenever you spot something interesting!
So, has that given you inspiration to write a blog for your business? If it has but you are still a bit unsure of exactly what you should be writing then it's time to give me a shout and let me get you started on your blogging journey. (Please note that I am obviously aware that my lovely extra-value blog content has turned just a tiny bit self-promotional. Hell, a woman's gotta pay rent, you know...)
By the way, if you NOW search for either 'freelance writer Surrey' or even just 'writer Surrey' on Google I'm the first website you'll see after just four generic job sites (yay!)...that's the power of the business blog!