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Blogging For Small Buinsess

Blogging for Small Businesses – Starting with a Bang

As more small businesses are starting to acknowledge the importance of online presence, an increasing number of blog posts are emerging about the benefits of blogging for small businesses.

Small business owners are reading these anecdotal success stories from fellow entrepreneurial newbies and industry experts alike and, feeling overwhelmed with power and ambition, decide to take WordPress in a bid to excel in their niche.

Staring at the WordPress Dashboard, realisation sweeps over them like a tsunami – starting a blog isn’t that easy. “What should I write about?” “How do I gain a readership?” “What should my blog look like?” are all common questions which race through a business owner’s mind.

The point is, starting out in the Blogosphere can be a daunting experience for any business owner but with a little guidance and a few pointers you can start your blog as you mean to go on.

Targeting a Specific Audience

When starting a new blog, it all boils down to the basic principles of writing. Identifying your target audience is one of the most important aspects of your new blog to consider if you want concise, high quality content to be churned out. Trying to be a Jack of all Trades can really throw your readers and might even slow your growth in readership. Do you really need a “travel” category on a plumbing website’s blog?

Ultimately, the aim of your business blog is to bring in relevant traffic to your site and have visitors who will perform your desired function. Customers should be your initial audience, obviously as your blog erupts into immense popularity you can broaden your topic horizons somewhat.

Deciding on Appearance

Too many blog owners overlook the importance of their blog’s appearance, yet it could be the difference between a post being read and shared by hundreds or a barely read article which has fallen well into the archives. With so many blogs on the internet nowadays your niche is probably already inundated with blogs covering similar content, so what makes your blog tempting to read?

Much like magazines and newspapers, formatting and design is what initially captures a potential reader’s attention (along with irresistible headlines that proceed with equally juicy content). Although this seems elementary, there are many blogs out there that are incredibly unattractive and off-putting to potential readers. If you’re unsure if the appearance is suitable, refresh the page and ask yourself “would this be a blog I’d be inclined to read?” If the answer’s no it’s time for a quick facelift.

If your blog is onsite (i.e. not an external domain like Blogspot) it’s important to tailor the appearance to the house-style of the rest of the site. If your site is very corporate but you want your blog to have a slightly different feel, maintain the colour scheme and branding but funk it up a little.

You don’t want to be tarred with the “Just another WordPress Site” brush.

Sustain Audience Engagement and Growth

One of the best ways to sustain audience engagement is to elicit interaction between yourself and other readers, this will eventually turn your blog readership into an online community of loyal readers.

Although blog comments have been given a bad name through spammy SEO techniques, with some careful moderation you may notice that you do receive some genuine comments. Always allow genuine comments to be visible and ALWAYS reply, if the reader’s taken the time to comment then show your appreciation by acknowledging them and responding accordingly.

Readers love to be able to get involved with your blog so open the doors for them! By being a part of your blog and blogging community they will feel more inclined to read it on a regular basis. Allowing them to contribute their own stories, how-to tips and advice can be a great way to get fresh content from unique perspectives on your blog.

But there’s so much more to it than that. Allowing an author to post on your blog can really help to create a community, if they guest post on your site they’ll want all their Facebook fans, Twitter followers and blog subscribers to read their post. By sharing their post they’re driving traffic to your site – that’s exposure for your site to an entirely new audience! Some businesses even use their blog as a means of online recruitment, advertising vacancies within the company – the possibilities are endless.

Blogging is already used by many a digital marketing agency and an increasing number of small business owners and start-ups are recognising the impact it can have on their organisation. It has the ability to bring in relevant traffic whilst providing readers and potential customers with useful and interesting information.

Always remember to keep the content interesting and fresh and avoid the temptation to use it purely as a sales tool once you’ve acquired an ample readership – that could be the ultimate setback.

Image © olly – Fotolia.com

Stephanie Staszko works for Web Vitality Digital Marketing Manchester and spends her days blogging and guest blogging on a range of different topics. She mostly enjoys; business and online recruitment posts, travel blogging and sharing advice on home improvement.

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{ 17 comments… add one }

  • jf June 11, 2012, 5:39 pm

    I do own a small business (home computer repairs), started my blog, trying to put up free info about computers, but I’m not sure that’s what my “clients” wants, most of my clients call me because they actually don’t want to learn or know, thye just want it fixed.

    Any idea on the content of the blog that would be usefull for them ?

  • Azqia March 24, 2012, 2:18 am

    If you run a small company, you may find that the world of blogging for business owners is a world that you want to be a part of. Blogging is a great way to get the word out to consumers about your product or service, and it can even be useful for inspiring employee loyalty and helping you keep your workers at peak morale. If you are looking for a way to take your business to the next level, consider what starting a blog might be able to do for you.

  • Gaurang February 27, 2012, 9:14 am

    Targeting a audience and writing specific content for them is the most important thing in my opinion for a blog to gain readers faith and trust. Well, very well explained all the points..Great post.
    Gaurang recently posted..Organize Photo via face recognition with FotobounceMy Profile

  • doug_eike February 25, 2012, 1:14 am

    Many business owners fail to make the commitment necessary to make a blog successful. The truth is that blogging takes time, patience, and persistence, and anyone who wants a shortcut will be sorely disappointed. Thanks for the tips!
    doug_eike recently posted..Sixteen Qualities Of A Good TeacherMy Profile

    • Steph Staszko February 27, 2012, 5:09 am

      Thanks Doug! I think it can be quite hard to get the ball rolling with a new blog, you really have to persevere in the beginning!

  • Brian February 24, 2012, 11:36 pm

    I can’t understand small businesses who try to blog or as I see in many instances, microblog via Twitter who NEVER reply to anyone. They automate their tweets and even their facebook walls. If they can’t do things right with Twitter or Facebook, I’d hate to see what their idea of a blog for their small business would look like. I see the same thing for church blogs, twitter and facebook accounts. Some people just won’t interact.
    Brian recently posted..Top Ten Football Movies to Watch While Eating PizzaMy Profile

    • Steph Staszko February 27, 2012, 5:07 am

      I know what you mean, automated Tweets and updates almost appear spammy. I’ve seen some small businesses really using their social media accounts to engage with people though, I guess some people have the knack and others really don’t!

  • Angie February 24, 2012, 6:49 pm

    Excellent post, Stephanie. Great tips that I’ll definitely be sharing with our clients. I’m especially partial to your point on replying to commenters. As a regular reader of various blogs, when I take the time to comment I’m essentially engaging in conversation – not having the author reply is a little like a host at a party ignoring me.

    Jeremy also makes a great point about having a plan. Like him, I’ve also seen small business owners start a blog and end up with a total of half a dozen posts over the course of a year or more. If they just took the time to plan and look for the hidden topics that can come up in their daily business they’d be much more successful with their blogs and ultimately with their businesses.
    Angie recently posted..420 Creative’s Recent E-commerce Project Featured on ExpressionEngine.comMy Profile

    • Steph Staszko February 27, 2012, 5:04 am

      Thanks Angie! I think blog comments have been abused so much that people disable them for an easy life or ignore them as they think their spam. Blog comments can be a great way to network in the blogosphere though and I’ve made some great connections with genuine people through them in the past!

      :)

  • Spatch Merlin February 24, 2012, 11:59 am

    To make a successful blogging business one needs to have a good plan. This gives the person a higher chance to ‘create’ a bang for a little while after launching the business. The listed items here, should be covered in making the plan.

  • Fahad Zahid February 24, 2012, 2:01 am

    Innovative Tips, Blogging is one of the best approach for Small Business Owners to Acquire the Desired Objective in least Span of Time! No Doubt Wordpress is one of the most useful Content Management System with easy to use navigation & tons of available plugins that facilitates you to customize your Blog according to your Requirements!

  • mike February 24, 2012, 12:54 am

    Nice guide Stephanie. WordPress is going to allow more and more small business owners the opportunity to have a better web presence and the ability to blog. As social media continues to grow blogging is going to be such a critical tool for small business owners. Targeting their audience allows them to be more efficient with their time..
    mike recently posted..Facebook Timeline For Business PagesMy Profile

    • Steph Staszko February 24, 2012, 4:32 am

      Thanks Mike! If you’re a small business you’ve got to get online these days in order to be up there with the competitors!

  • Ryan Biddulph February 24, 2012, 12:32 am

    Hi Stephanie,

    Targeting your audience is critical.

    Without a target in mind you have no clue what or who to aim for. SEO your blog. Build each post around a keyword, and share content across networks and groups specific to this niche.

    I learned this lesson over the past 3 months. With renewed energy and a fresh, new approach to my online opportunity I began to bring in leads with greater ease. The key is to target like mad.

    Thanks for sharing your insight!

    Ryan
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..7 Traits of Highly Successful Cash Gifting CoachesMy Profile

    • Steph Staszko February 24, 2012, 4:24 am

      Hi Ryan,

      Thanks for your feedback, I agree too many business blogs haven’t got a specific target audience and their blog’s too general to feign interest of a particular audience!

  • Jeremy February 23, 2012, 7:29 pm

    It is interesting seeing small businesses trying to start a blog, but obviously not knowing what to do with it. Someone somewhere just told them that they need to get a blog. So they jumped into it without any kind of plan. It is a lot more than simply occasionally publishing a post and reaping the rewards. You have to go out of your way to connect with your audience and other bloggers. If you just sit back, you might as well just post that content as articles instead of passing it off as a blog.
    Jeremy recently posted..February Blog Carnivals and Feature BlogpostsMy Profile

    • Steph Staszko February 24, 2012, 4:26 am

      Hey Jeremy,

      That’s so true, I don’t think some businesses really understand what to use their blog for, but know they should have one for SEO purposes. That causes them to miss out on the true purpose of blogging – to gain readers and expand their target audience!

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