Blogging? Isn't that something that bored mums and teenagers do in their spare time? Who needs to blog anyway? Surely you only need to blog when you have something to advertise? It's just a self-indulgent past time otherwise, no one reads that stuff anyway.
As a freelance writer and brand consultant I have heard it all. When I lecture on the importance of blogging and having top content on your website I get met with all the above questions and more. Even though the year 2013 alone allegedly saw 152 MILLION blogs appear on the internet (and since then millions of posts are added each and every day worldwide), people still seem to have very little idea as to why they are there and how they are contributing to our lives and people's businesses every day.
Over the last fifteen years blogging has evolved from something that only the tech savvy did to a fundamental part of every business' marketing strategy. It doesn't matter if you are the world leader in frozen foods and have your products stocked in every supermarket around the world or if you are Fred Smith who sells bicycle tires on the High Street - if you have a brand to build (including promoting yourself), or a product or service to sell, then your business will benefit from a blog.
The internet is made up of websites - these can be broken up into a number of different categories but roughly speaking there are the static sites (a bit of info about your company, some photos and a contact page), listings and news sites (these get updated on an hourly basis, think BBC and Time Out etc) and then there are blogs. Some blogs are stand-alone and more like online magazines (think Goop and The Glass House Girls) - and some, like this one, are linked to a website page selling a service. In short, everything you ever search for on the internet is linked to a page or a blog.
So why does MY business need a blog?
Well I'm just about to tell you...
1. So people find youYour website is the shop window to the world. It's the first impression that someone who has stumbled upon you online is going to get of your business. And how are they going to find you? Well unless they already have your web address they will find you via a search engine like Google. How will Google know that you exist? Because of the content on your site.
If you have a basic static website that is not updated very often then you are going to find it hard to compete against the millions of new pages of information that are updated daily on the internet. You might get lucky, your website may be called wigglyfunnylittlethingamebobs.com and a massive wave of interest in those thingies is suddenly generated online that week and millions start using the search term 'wigglyfunnylittlethingamebobs' and hey presto - there you are. You're famous. But that isn't going to happen.
What normally happens is that someone needs something and they pick up their iPhone and they look for it online. If you have a static boring webpage that never changes then Google won't even bother with you, BUT, if you have a site that has regularly new, fresh content added to it on a daily or weekly basis then you are more likely to be seen. And if that content is relevant and interesting and well written then the person who finds your blog won't just connect with your brand but they will read what you have to say and they may even share it.
2. To keep your social media activeSocial Media is a huge part of our lives now, so what are you filling your Facebook and Twitter business pages up with? You can get your business name and product right in front of your customers at a click of a button by making sure that your Pinterest and Instagram images are updated regularly and you are busy posting - but what are you actually saying? The great thing about having a blog is that you are encouraging people to read about what you have to say and SHARE you with like minded friends.
So I just talk about how great my business is all the time?
No!! I know, I know, this is the tricky bit that most businesses don't understand.
Blogging is NOT advertising. You need to write about things of interest that are relevant to your brand and that your customers want to hear about. Give your customers information that they want and helpthem. Am I telling you right now that I am the best writer there is and that I have written hundreds of blogs for dozens of clients in my career? No, I'm not, I'm giving you free tips and advice so you can help yourself. You may even share this with others who need this advice. Some of them may want to get in touch with me, most won't, and that's still okay because blogging is less about sales than it is about branding.
3. To enhance your brandWhat is a brand? It is everything your company/business represents.
Whether your brand is yourself (maybe you are a teenager who likes reviewing books on your blog) or you are a FTSE100 blue chip organisation, you need people to know who you are and what you stand for from the onset. And a blog can do that.
What do my blogs say about MY business? They show I am approachable, friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. They also show that I care about my clients. Gone are the days of the hard sell, nobody wants to read about what you are up to and how great you are. They want to know what you can do for them. The internet is teeming with information and if you want to stand out then you need to ensure that your brand connects with your audience. Tell them something they didn't already know. If you are corporate then write regular blogs about the latest business news, if you're a teen book reviewer then make sure that along with reviews you share the latest news on book releases, invite writers to guest blog, interview authors and take lots of lovely booky photos. A blog is never about YOU - it should always be about your CUSTOMERS!
4. To enhance your SEOAs I mentioned before, good SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the holy grail of any business who wants their page to appear first on Google without having to pay for it. The secret is to ensure that the content of your site and your blogs matches the search terms.
Oh that's easy, I sell bananas...I'll just make sure that the word 'banana' comes up in every sentence. That will do the trick!
No!! No it won't. Google isn't stupid and neither are your readers/potential new customers. To ensure that your blogs help your website with Google rankings then you need to make sure that what you write about is relevant to your brand, interesting and share-worthy. Your goal is to get as many people within your market to read what you have to say, every click to your blog is a view linked to your site, the more traffic the site gets the higher it climbs in Google and the more likely it is to be found. PLUS if your blog is really really sensational - it will get shared. Not only could it go viral (ie the whole world is talking about it), but the joy of social media is that like minded people stick together. So if you write great articles about bananas and fruit and other associated subjects then your banana fans will share it with other bananas fans and then everyone that you wanted to reach will know you exist. Then they will join your social media pages, then they will know what you're selling, then they may start buying stuff from you and then they will become huge fans and recommend you to everyone.
See those stepping stones? That's the very long consumer journey we all take from 'who are they?' to 'this is the only brand I like' - starting from a simple click online.
5. So you look professionalA website without a blog is nothing more than an online flyer. If all you want is for people who already know that you exist to be able to find your website because they already have your web address, that's fine. Leave it there and never touch your site again. But if you want to appear professional, interesting, engaging, knowledgeable and up to date then you need a blog. And if you are not confident about your writing skills then you need to hire a professional - like me - or ask other people that also want to promote themselves to write for your page. Then everyone wins.
6. To share - because that's what the internet is all aboutWhen you blog you have something of value that you can share with other people/websites/social media groups that can help promote you. It's not enough to say 'hey, I sell lovely toilet lid covers - can you tell people in your circle about me?' Why should they? It doesn't benefit them. But if you send them an interesting article that you have written about the history of toilets or a funny blog about the top ten prettiest toilets in the world then people might want to read it and suddenly your brand becomes share-worthy. Much more than any ad in the local paper will achieve, and a lot cheaper for you.
Join me in Part 2 of this series about Blogging and discover how to create and write the perfect blog for your business or brand...and how to never run out of ideas. Having a blog is one thing, but having one that is badly written and boring and of no interest to anyone is a waste of everyone's time.
I hope this quick insight into why every business needs a blog has been interesting to you. If you like it then why not share it? Or comment? Or better yet give me a call and beg me to write for your business.
Failing that just remember points 1-6 and enjoy giving your customers what you need...and don't get lost in that big world wide web out there.