Starting a blog for your small business is a great way to build your brand and market your product or service online. Most successful large and small businesses have a blog. However, knowing how to start one can seem like a daunting task. The great thing about blogs is that anyone can create and write a successful one, and they can really help to take your business to the next level. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about creating an engaging and inspiring blog to provide value to your customers and boost your small business.
Why does my business need a blog?
There are so many reasons why starting a blog is important to your small online business. Here are just a few:
Helps attract new customers
It is important to keep on attracting new customers in order to build your business and boost your revenue. According to freshsparks.com, around 80% of people like finding out about a business through their custom content online such as blog posts. Furthermore, most people prefer finding out about new products and services by reading blog posts rather than through advertising. So, blogging is a marketing tool that you shouldn’t ignore for your small online business.
If new customers are finding you through your blog posts, this is likely to translate into increased sales. Increased sales mean increased profits, so starting a blog is a financially savvy move.
Establishes your business as an expert resource
If you’re regularly producing blog posts that are informative and valuable to your customers, both current and potential, this helps to create a great impression of your business. It tells users that you are up-to-date, professional and experts in your field. Customers are more likely to trust authoritative brands, and you can make a name for yourself as the go-to company in your business niche.
Great for SEO
Search engine algorithms such as those used at Google prefer websites that are regularly updated. This is because regular updates show that the website is up to date with current information and provides good value to users. However, regularly updating your website is easier said than done as you won’t need to update your homepage or information pages very often. Having a blog on your website gives you a good reason to regularly update your website with high quality and informative content. This helps to boost your search engine result page rankings and makes you more visible to potential customers online.
Blogging tips for small businesses
Once you have decided to start a blog for your small business, it’s time to do your research to make sure that your blog does a great job of marketing your company. Many small business owners worry about their ability to write a successful blog. However, you don’t need to be a professional or experienced writer to write a blog that your readers will find interesting and useful. After all, you are an expert in your industry and know your customers well, so you are in the best possible position to know what your customers are likely to want to read.
To help you get started, check out our top tips for getting your small business blog off the ground:
Write for your audience and make it useful
The most important thing to remember about starting a blog is that it needs to be valuable and useful for the people who are going to be reading it. You know your customer base, so take some time to consider the type of people that are going to be reading your blog and the type of content that would be helpful and informative for them.
Good examples of popular articles include how-to guides, expert tips and tricks, product reviews and industry news. If you’re struggling to think of content ideas, think about the questions your customers ask you regularly. If they’re asking you these questions, they’re probably also searching for the answers online too. If you can create blog posts to answer these common questions and solve frequently encountered problems, you are well on your way to creating content that is valuable and useful to the people that read your blog.
Take a look at your competitors
Of course, you want to develop your own voice and brand when it comes to blogging about your business. However, as a beginner blogger, it is a good idea to look at the blog content that’s being produced by your successful competitors. This can give you an insight into the type of blog posts that are most successful in your industry and will give you some ideas about other key features such as layout and visuals. Reading plenty of awesome online content gives you a good foundation for creating great blog posts for your own business.
Plan out a structure
Once you’ve chosen the subject of your first blog post and you know which information you want to include, it is a good idea to carefully plan your writing first. Unless you’re a seasoned blogger or experienced copywriter, planning your writing first is an absolute must if you want your article to be cohesive and clear. As a rule, blog posts should have the following structure:
- Introduction: this should briefly introduce the subject of your post and explain what your customers will gain from reading it
- The main body: this should contain the main information of your blog post. Splitting your information using subheadings helps to make your blog post easier to understand and signposts your readers towards the information they are looking for. It is also helpful from an SEO point of view.
- Conclusion: End your article by summing up the most important points of your blog post. Include a call to action. What do you want your readers to do is the result of having read your article? For example, you may want to get in touch to discuss a query or comment on your post in the comments section.
Include quality images
All you have to do is scroll through social media to see how important visuals are when it comes to content marketing. Ask yourself: when did you last see a blog post or other online article that didn’t come with visuals? Visuals are really important for making your post look appealing and engaging to potential customers. So, you should make sure that you include relevant and attractive pictures to go with your blog post.
If you sell an attractive product, using appealing images of them is a great way to make your post more attention-grabbing and market what you have to offer. As long as you have a smart phone with a good photo editing app, it is not difficult to take great images to accompany your blog post yourself. If you don’t have a product to market, you could take photos of your team carrying out your service, behind-the-scenes images or photographs of finished work and satisfied customers.
Some small businesses use stock photography instead of taking their own photos for their blog. Stock photos are high quality visuals, and there are plenty of places to access these for free online. However, it is absolutely vital that you make sure that you don’t have to pay any royalty on the images you use. Otherwise, you could have legal action taken against you by the owner of the images.
Use keywords in your text
If you want people to find your blog posts as the result of an organic search, it is important to use keywords that you think your customers are likely to be searching for. You may well already have a pretty good idea of the type of keywords that people might type into a Google search when looking for your business. If you’re not sure, you can use a free keyword finder. There are several of these available online. Simply type in a few words related to your blog post, and it will give you several suggestions as to what people have been searching for.
Use each keywords a couple of times in your blog post and place them naturally into sentences so that they make sense in context. Make sure you don’t overuse keywords, as this is known as keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing isn’t allowed by major search engines and could land you in hot water with a penalty. Furthermore, keyword stuffing means inserting so many keywords into your text that is nigh on impossible to read. This is extremely off-putting to current and potential customers, so it is never recommended. Keywords are most effective from an SEO point of view if you use them in the following locations:
- blog title
- introduction (first hundred words)
It is important to blog reasonably frequently if you want to improve your online visibility and drive custom towards your website. Posting content regularly helps to improve your search engine results page rankings because it forces search engines to crawl your website more often. It also shows search engines that you make a habit of regularly maintaining your website. Search engines prefer websites that are kept up to date because this shows them that the information they contain is current, useful and informative. Websites that are never updated, or updated extremely infrequently, tend not to rank so highly because search engines assume that the information they contain may not be accurate.
However, make sure that you take time to produce blog posts that are actually useful and interesting. Don’t try to increase the quantity of your blog posts by publishing subpar content online. This will be irritating to people trying to read your blog and won’t do you any favours when it comes to SEO either.
Check through your content before posting
Proofreading is an extremely important part of writing blog posts. If your posts contain lots of spelling or grammar errors, or are unclear or difficult to read, they won’t rank highly in search engine results. Also, this gives a poor impression of your business, it doesn’t paint you as a professional and reliable source of information, and you can expect customers to make assumptions about the quality of the service or product you provide. So, you should check your content through at least twice to make sure it is error-free.
When you first start blogging, it is good practice to ask a colleague or friend to check through anything you’re planning on posting. They will be able to give you a second opinion on whether the post is free from mistakes and whether the key information is easy to find and understand.
Block out time in your diary for blogging
Even with the best of intentions, it can be hard to find the time in a busy working schedule to update your blog as often as you should. For this reason, we recommend blocking out a dedicated period of time during your working week for writing blog posts. Decide how many times you want to post per week, and make sure that you’ve set aside enough time to complete that number of blog posts. It is important to carve out time to devote to blogging because it’s such an important online marketing tool. If you’ve got dedicated time in your diary, you’ll be less likely to neglect this task during busy periods. After all, as we mentioned above, regularity is one of the keys to success when it comes to creating a successful blog for an online business.
6. Link to other blogs and pages on your own sites
Algorithms used by search engines such as Google prefer blogs with internal and external links because it shows that the blogs are up-to-date, current and authoritative. So, you should include links to other websites or blog posts that help back up the points you make in your article. With a bit of luck, you may even receive a link back to your own site. This can help to direct potential new customers towards your site and help to boost your revenue.
It’s also a good idea to link to other relevant pages on your blog throughout your blog posts. This will become easier to do the more often you blog. Not only is this handy from an SEO point of view, but it also gives a professional and expert impression to your readers.
Engage with your readers
The more you engage with the people reading your blog, the more people likely people are to share it online and the better that your SEO ranking. It can seem like a tough job to get people to comment on your blog post. However, a simple way to get people to do this is simply to ask. Make it easy for people to comment by asking a question that you want them to answer in the comments section and try to make time to respond to comments individually. This will help to create a buzz and conversation around your blog and boost your online visibility.
Should I outsource my small business blog?
There are plenty of companies that will write your blog post for you for a fee. Alternatively, you can use a freelancer that specialises in blog posts. However, the issue with outsourcing blog posts in this way is that the writer won’t necessarily have a clear understanding of your brand values, voice and customer base. For this reason, it may be more engaging and informative for your clients if you can find someone to do your blogging in-house if you don’t want to do it yourself.
However, if there are periods where you don’t have time to blog or you seriously lack confidence and don’t want to write blog posts yourself, outsourcing to a reputable company or freelancer could be a good solution. Take time to brief the person who will be writing your blog posts to help them understand your brand identity, clients, and make sure they have the relevant subject knowledge to write posts for your business area.
Beware of online content agencies that offer blog posts for an extremely low price. These tend have very poor-quality control, and it is likely that you will end up with blog posts that haven’t been written by native English speakers. You could find yourself with content that is of low quality or even completely unreadable. As a worst-case scenario, you may even be given content that has been plagiarized from other places on the web. If the cost sounds unrealistically low, be very wary. If you’re outsourcing your blog posts, you should be prepared to pay a fair price to have them written well by a native English speaker with industry knowledge.
The bottom line
Starting a blog for your small business from scratch can seem like a major task. However, as you can see, anyone can successfully start a blog for their small business as long as they have the time and dedication to put into doing it properly and a good knowledge of their business niche. By using the tips and tricks in this article, you’ll be well on your way to starting an awesome blog that engages your current customers and help you win new ones.
At Small Business SEO, we are experts in all aspects of online content marketing. Don’t hesitate to get in touch today to find out how we can help you get your blog off the ground and start building your online presence today.