Blogging can build a new customer audience for your business. But if your blog is too salesy, boring and predictable you’re not going to hold readers for long.
Small businesses used to rely mostly on passing trade for new customers. They were bound by their physical address on main street or in a shopping centre. Advertising helped bring in new prospective customers it’s true. But being on the Internet connects you with people far outside your traditional catchment area.
The Internet enables almost anyone with basic computing skills to be a publisher. This liberation has increased the variety and richness of information available to everyone. But it also means that your information must stand out if you want people to visit your blog.
Millions of business blogs are on the Internet worldwide and in South Africa there are thousands. Yet the opportunity for small businesses lies in providing quality content that’s interesting. Many small business blogs are under resourced, post infrequently and are little more than plugs for products and services.
You could get away with small business websites that were nothing more than electronic flyers and pamphlets because all customers wanted was your contact number or address. But the slapdash approach isn’t going to cut it with a blog.
Here are my top 10 tips for making your small business blog work more effectively for your small business:
1 Include a variety of voices. If the business owner is the only one who ever gets to say anything, boredom can set in. Don’t you have specialists in your business who can contribute with their fresh voices?
2 Keep it short. An ideal length is 300 words. After 500 words, you’ll lose your reader.
3 Make it conversational. A blog post is similar to a conversation. It’s not an essay or report. Talk to readers.
4 Show your personal side. Blogs originated from personal electronic diaries or weblogs. You can mention your likes and dislikes and personal preferences. Be discreet with certain information that could compromise your personal security.
5 Keep your focus. A blog post has to stick to one topic or theme. Brief digressions add spice but keep them in check. If you are writing about herbs, for example, you could divide posts into culinary herbs, aromatic, medicinal, pesticides and even spiritual ones.
6 Limit your number of external sources. You are the expert on your subject – your business. We want to hear your opinions. References and quotes from gurus and experts are a crutch.
7 Include a call to action. Tell readers how they can benefit from your information. Give them a web link, a cheat sheet or a contact panel where they can subscribe.
8 Make it interesting. Don’t write about products and services unless you can make their applications interesting. Talk about your quality, your sourcing of the finest materials. Check fresh produce bloggers who do this well.
9 Produce original content. If your blog sounds like one press release after the other, you’ll chase viewers away. Blog posts must be fresh and original.
10 Tell stories. We are all storytellers. Tell stories about starting your business, how customers have benefited from your products and how you have helped other customers.
Use these 10 top tips as a checklist when you write your next blog post. Bookmark this post or clip it to Evernote. For more tips on small business startups and ideas, subscribe now to Idea Accelerator (the subscribe button is on the top right of this page).