It may have started as the stepchild of reality TV for voyeurs seeking 15 minutes of fame, but contrary to stereotypes, blogging is not just for people who want to post pictures of their cats or rant about their political views to anyone and everyone. Many businesses, from large corporations to small retailers, are blogging as a way to connect with customers and establish a market online.
Whether you've already started a blog for your business or not, it's important to ask yourself the "why," "how," and "what" of the content you're producing to ensure that you're maximizing your investment of time and brainpower.
At its best, blogging should be doing one or many of the following things:
- Communicating news about your business
- Offering exclusive promotions to online customers
- Establishing a quick-hit, more personal bond with existing or potential customers
- Generating feedback about your product
- Generating referrals
- Providing an online entry point to possible in-person transactions
- Exchanging ideas in an online format and monetizing that content
Achieving these end goals is highly dependent on your specific niche and business objectives, but some general guidelines are applicable to all aspiring blogpreneuers:
- Decide how an online presence enhances your business.
- Identify your sweet spot demographic and determine where and how they are using online content already. Note your best opportunities for partnership or cross-promotion and hang on to their email addresses.
- Establish an incentive for reading your blog that will result in an online and/or in-person transaction.
- Give readers a reason to act as mavens and share your blog content or special promotion with other potential customers.
- Determine an appropriate amount of time and specific publishing routine that you will use to update your content, and then stick with it.
- Keep blog posts to a maximum of 350 to 600 words.
- Educate yourself about online advertising networks and ask whether there is an opportunity to monetize your content.
- Collect an arsenal of talented and responsive web designers, programmers, and content advisors from trusted sources to keep in your back pocket.
- Always ask yourself whether your blog content is reinforcing your business objectives. Does the post generate an online or in-person transaction? Does it extend your brand? Does it enhance existing customer relationships? Don't waste time on it if it doesn't!
Regardless of your blogger IQ, you can get started implementing these concepts immediately. Conducting independent research (i.e. Google any random question you have or buy "The Everything Blogging Book") is a great first step. You may then want to mess around with blogging under a pseudonym to see if you've got a knack for it. (Don't worry if you don't; there are plenty of freelance writers who are one Craigslist ad away to help you if you can't put a sentence together.) When you're ready to get serious, seek the advice of a trusted adviser or reach out to bloggers you discover and admire during your research and ask them to connect you with their team or give you tips.
With a little initiative, you can create a thriving online community around your business.
Text by Maegan Carberry