The more and more I talk about blogging, the more and more I find that the biggest question is: How do you blog for business?
The seasoned bloggers have this down to a mighty fine art; they have no questions, need no prompting and are on the whole, successful.
The new blogger is the exact opposite, with question after question:
- What do I blog about?
- Is there a line I shouldn’t cross?
- Should I refer to personal subjects?
- How does this convert into sales or a desired action?
- Do I have to be the writer, can someone ghost-write?
- How do I get people to read my blogs?
- Should I advertise?
- How does this affect my business reputation?
- And so on, and so forth
Here are five Q&A’s for new business bloggers to assist the blogging process:
1) What should I think about before starting a blog
What will a blog do for you? Really think about it now – what are you hoping to achieve through blogging, what’s the end result you’re aiming for?
To use myself as an example; I blog to share my expertise, to network and to challenge and grow my mind. You might blog to draw attention to your products in a social way, or to educate others on how your products work, or why they need them.
You might be a gym offering tips, advice on fitness or interviewing members. Your end result is to sign people up to classes and memberships.
You may be a car dealership putting together guides on the cars you sell, writing up road tests, sharing survey results, gathering external news, reviewing cars, or simply filming them for others to see. Your end result will be generating interest in the cars you sell.
You could be a charity organisation looking for donations. Your task is to promote the charity and what you do. You can share events for the charity, images, events and event feedback, what donations were made and personal stories.
If you are blogging for a corporate business with set brand guidelines, then refresh yourself with these, as they will dictate your tone of voice and perception the company wishes to give.
If you are a small business owner or sole trader, then you are the brand, so the blog can be much more personal.
Consider how you are going to measure your goals. If you are networking, then the number of contacts will form your ROI. If you are looking to increase sales conversions, then you will need to link the reader to the transaction. You could add a question at the checkout to ask the referrer and add the blog as an option. If brand penetration is your goal, then using Google alerts, Social Mention or similar will help track these.
2) Should I be writing?
You might not be the greatest writer that ever lived, but you’re unique. You have your individual views and style. If you outsource your blog writing, you are asking someone external to mimic you and your company. You will be utilising their expertise, but you will lose the direct dialogue with the reader and you will need to trust that person or company to represent you.
The savviest or most experienced writers are not always the most popular. Blogging is social, so you can be more informal. Do check your spellings though!
3) What should I blog about?
The answer to this question really depends on your goals and your business. The thing to remember is that a blog is a social platform and subjects which open up discussions are best. You’re looking to inform, share and inspire. You are also looking to persuade (in a social, understated way) your readers to meet your objectives. The way to do this is to let them connect with you through your content – the way you write, your style and tone of voice, the subjects you choose, how you write about them etc.
Research for subject matter:
- Current news – local, national papers, Yahoo news
- Inspiration from others – comments, discussions, ideas
- Your area of work, services you offer, your products, new developments, latest industry news
- Trending topics and themes
- Something that interests you that you can relate to your business
4) Is blogging worthwhile for my business and how?
Blogging is not for everyone and every business. Although I have found many businesses are benefiting from the direct social contact blogging gives them. I won’t lie, you will need to make time to write and advertise your blogs, but a plan in place will keep you on track to meet your goals.
Blogs may not be a direct sale, but they do provide a way for your customers and potential customers to get to know you (and your business). This creates trust in your ability to meet and deliver. With so much competition online, being able to go the extra mile allows you to stand out.
5) What considerations are there for my reputation and that of the company?
Above all, you need to remember that blogs are instant. A post can be read anywhere in the world from the moment you post it. It isn’t easy to retract your words. In addition, posts are indexed by the search engines.
There are prime examples of companies who have written in haste and repented forever, so it’s wise to plan your posts and share your ideas with your peers. Consider the impact of your posts and how they will affect the minds (and actions) of your readers. Ensure that your content contains only the information that you are prepared to give, and be conscious of competitors. (Yes indeed, they will read your posts and either curse or jeer you!)
A reputation can take years to build and only seconds to lose.
- Plan your posts in advance and discuss with peers
- Check the information given (is it relevant, needed, a true reflection of the business, ok for competitors to see?)
- Have an angle and strategy
- Devise a ‘crisis management’ plan (or employ a consultant to assist if needed)
What are your experiences of blogging?
For more insightful blogs from Christina, head on over to her site www.cgonlinemarketing.com