I don’t know about you but when I set up my business I wasn’t thinking particularly big. Now, less than two years later, my dreams are getting bigger and bigger.
My business came about through a desire – and need – to work for myself and pursue my passions, like lots of other women. I planned to apply my love of words and internet addiction to writing website content and blogs for businesses.
I quickly realised that some people want advice rather than hands-on help with their websites, so I started offering site audits. Then I was asked to do other types of writing – brochures, newspaper articles, the odd press release, even a competition entry – well, why not? The demand was there and I love all kinds of writing.
My offerings grew and so did my thinking
Last summer, I was given the opportunity to satisfy another part of my personality – the bit that likes to stand up in front of people and show off – when I was asked to train a group of small businesses and charities in London in social media and blogging.
All of a sudden my business was growing in unexpected directions, I was writing and training. And I began thinking bigger.
Since that first training session, I’ve charged everyone I’ve taught and focus on teaching people how to blog. I have repeat clients and get to work on all sorts of interesting projects, and later this year I’m going to start offering something new. I’m aiming really high with this one, it may even be the ticket to my own piece of paradise.
Dare to think big
How do I dare to think big? How can I build my reputation in under two years? How do I show businesses that I know what I’m talking about and that I really can help them?
Blogging, that’s how. Blogging has answered lots of my needs and it could work for you too.
What is a blog and why would you have one?
The term ‘blog’ is used to describe an individual ‘post’ (like this) or the whole collection of posts on a website or standalone blog. You write a new post or blog every week, fortnight or month and they build up on your site in reverse chronological order.
Why, I can hear you asking?!
Well, as I’ve said, they’re great for building your reputation as well as establishing your authority in your field, bringing people to your website, improving your website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), building relationships with your clients and sharing your knowledge.
According to Technorati, there are approximately 113 million blogs (not including another 73m in China) today. A recent study by The West Program found that 77% of internet users read blogs and BlogHer revealed that 81% of consumers trust information and advice they read on them. So they’re a pretty big deal.
That doesn’t mean blogging is right for everyone and all businesses though. In that way, they’re just like any other marketing activity and you need to know who your audience is, where they are and how to connect with them.
Is your audience online?
If your audience is people over 70 (I’m stereotyping here, all my rellies in their 70’s keep tracking me down on Facebook and LinkedIn), blogging may not be for you. Or if your clients are technophobes or don’t have access to a computer.
Also, just like any other marketing activity, blogging requires repeated effort. It will increase your website traffic over night, no question, but to make a difference to your business and reputation in the long-term you need to keep doing it and that takes commitment and time.
Blogging ties in with your other social media
The other thing to realise is that blogging is about connecting and feeds into your social media strategy. OK, strategy might be over-egging it for some of us (if you’re like me) but blogging is social and everything should be joined-up.
If you think that blogging could connect you with your existing and potential clients or customers, the next stage is simply to set one up.
Always set up your blog on your website
There are three very good reasons for having your blog on your website rather than as a standalone blog:
1. So you don’t divide your web traffic into two.
2. Because it’s hard to get your branding the same on both and it will look amateurish if they’re different.
3. You’re using up one of your three clicks on taking someone to your blog and away from your website (web users are nearly always in a hurry so don’t expect them to give you much time or many clicks).
Now we get to the fun part…
Writing your blog
Finding something to write about every week or fortnight is easy, trust me. Once you start thinking about how people use the internet to find information and what topics your readers (prospective and current customers or clients) might be interested in, the world is your oyster.
You can share industry news, reveal what’s going on in your company, give readers tips, devise a quiz, ask for their opinion on a subject, write ‘how to’ guides, cover a client case study or story – it’s all about entertaining and informing.
Length & frequency
How long your posts are and how regularly you post are up to you – the more you post the more you will achieve and the better for your SEO, Google loves websites that are updated frequently. The longer a post, the more you can share but the more time you’re asking for from your reader, and the longer it will take you to write it. As a rule of thumb, aim for between 300 and 800 words.
Use a few tricks to keep your readers engaged: write in short sentences and paragraphs, have plenty of white space on the page, use bulleted and numbered lists and sub-headings, and include an image. Write in a chatty way – the way you speak – blogs aren’t meant to be formal or heavy-going.
Remember to include SEO keywords and phrases too (you can research these easily on Google’s adwords tool) so you’ll get more web traffic and reach more people.
If you blog regularly and consistently you’ll build an audience who enjoy reading your posts, learn from what you share and many of them will become your clients or customers. At the same time you’ll be building your reputation and showing the world what you’re capable of.
And once that happens, you can do anything you want to, you can even start thinking big, really big…