Can a blog boost your business bottom line? And what on Earth does that have to do with a snowmobile?
To answer the first question, YES! Most businesses can benefit tremendously from a blog, even if you aren’t the most computer savvy person when you start out. Blogs are more dynamic and engaging than static websites, encouraging more sharing and attracting more visitors.
Blogs also do great with search engines like Google, since they get updated frequently, something Google loves. If you like the sound of more bang for your buck, then blogging will reward your cyber investment better over time than a static web page or social media sites.
When I meet new people, I often think about how a blog could complement their business. They’re not always the kind of businesses you’d assume would be a good fit for a blog, like a photographer or author. But almost any business can benefit from one.
Now, let me answer question number two, with an example.
One winter, my nephew and I rented snowmobiles. For two thrilling hours, we explored forest trails and bounded through meadows of soft powder. It was an absolute blast! Afterwards, we talked with the business owner about how much fun we had. “Everyone says that,” he replied, “but it’s hard to get people to find us and give it a try.”
Driving home, all I could think about was how easy it would have been for the owner to have taken a picture or brief video of us returning on the snowmobiles with our rosy cheeks, ear-to-ear grins and details of our adventure. Pop that info along with a brief paragraph into a blog post, and it would have been awesome marketing for the company. And after the post was online, my nephew and I would have enjoyed sharing it with our family and friends. We would have enthusiastically marketed the post (and the business) for the snowmobile rental owner!
The same thing is true for a restaurant or any business that involves regular clientele coming in for products or services. If the customers are willing to have a photo or brief video taken of them documenting their enjoyment, that makes for a great blog post.
Imagine a physical therapy outfit documenting the progress of a special patient. Or think of a general contractor showcasing some of his latest projects and customers. In time, these blogs posts and people featured in them will be shared with friends, family and online acquaintances. As posts accumulate, a business can have great SEO power for any search subject, like best Italian food in Los Angeles.
Or perhaps you’re having a big sale or event. Blogging about it to a base of subscribers is a fantastic way to get the word out without spending much time or money.
Anyone Can Do This
It’s true that blogs sound intimidating to newbies, but you might be surprised by how easy it is to start and maintain a blog. Plus, it’s fun, and can be done for free or at minimal cost. What could be better than effective marketing that’s totally affordable and just takes a bit of time?
You may already have a website with a blog capability. That’s great if you do. Otherwise, there are venues for creating blogs that make it simple to start, even if you have zero experience with managing a website.
If you don’t already have one or a website with a blog tab, my recommendation is to use WordPress (.com or .org) or Blogger, since they’re popular, professional, and easy to learn. You can choose between a totally free design, or spend a little money on a custom template or domain name. Even if you opt for bells and whistles, blogs are super affordable.
How Often Should You Post?
Here comes the real divide. Some advice says blog as much as you can, several times a week if possible. Others tout quality over quantity, with more developed posts winning out in the long run. My advice is to blog however it fits into your schedule.
As a reader, sometimes I prefer short messages with immediate gratification, while other times I’m willing to delve into a topic. It’s smart to write both ways. If you have employees who enjoy participating, you can share the load with them. In some cases, you can even accept “guest posts” from others who want to contribute.
Getting Started for Newbies
The free platforms at WordPress.com and Blogger are fine choices for authors on a budget. There’s no monthly hosting cost, but it’s wise to purchase a custom domain name at around $12 per year. WordPress.org is great for those willing to pay for more template options and monthly hosting.
Essentials that Benefit Any Blog
- Include subscription or follow links in two locations, one at the top of the page and another at the end of each post
- Add call-to-action buttons encouraging visitors to get on your mailing list or add comments
- Add social media buttons for retweeting on Twitter, sharing on Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, etc.
- Provide navigation to other pages (e.g., About Us – Contact – Services – Products)
- Include mobile friendly features for cell phone and tablet visitors
Remember that it’s never too late to start blogging, or to resume one you began years ago but let fade away. A blog may become the best bang for your buck and time when it comes to marketing!
Check out my training course in the Amazing.com membership, Blogging for Authors. It teaches you how to create blogs that will attract and engage new readers! Though it’s tailored for authors, it’s also great for any type of business owner wanting to get started with a blog, or wanting to blog better.
Matt Clark is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Amazing.com, a serial entrepreneur, and investor. He’s been featured on Forbes, CNBC, and Entrepreneur.com.