One of the defining features of a small, start-up business is usually a distinct lack of funds. As such any cheap means of promotion can be a real boon for increasing brand awareness and driving transactions. Luckily for small businesses, blogging is quickly becoming a very effective marketing tool, which costs next to nothing and can be far more powerful than you might imagine.
We take a closer look at the kind of commercial power a blog can harness and how easy it can be to get started.
What constitutes a blog?
A blog is essentially a series of articles or ‘posts’ that build up on a single website over time. These are usually all focussed on a single topic, which could be anything from fitness tips to reviews of unusual t-shirts.
In what ways can a blog drive business?
Put simply a blog can drive business by attracting traffic, which can be done in a couple of ways:
Natural search: As an ever-growing body of content that is hosted online, a blog will naturally accumulate traction with search engines. As the likes of Google register the content in your blog they can serve it up to people who are searching for relevant topics.
Inbound links: Building links to your blog from other relevant websites will enable potential customers to come across it. Contacting site owners, building partnerships and commenting on other people’s articles then linking from there are all ways to do this.
How can I convert traffic into business?
This question forms the crux of hundreds of seminars on the topic of blogging.
Incorporating links into your blog posts that lead to your transactional website – and specific products within it – is the most seamless way to do this. As such it’s important to strike a fine balance between an informative post and one that exists solely to promote your business.
What would I write on a blog?
This depends entirely on the nature of your business. The trick though is to keep it interesting and specific:
Find a niche: Let’s say you run an online florists, a blog post about wedding flowers is going to be one of thousands out there on the big wide internet. However, a post about vintage flowers for a monochrome-themed wedding is going to stand out.
Keep it fresh: Similarly a blog post about flowers featured in wedding-related chick-flicks is going to raise far more interest than a generic post about popular blooms.
How much will a blog cost?
This can range from nothing at all to as much as you like. Hiring a designer and professional copywriter can help to enhance the professionalism of the blog and make the posts more reader-friendly. However, if you’re a proficient writer, you’re clued up about your topic and you’re looking to save cash, you can get the ball rolling yourself.
In terms of finding a place to host your blog, there are a number of websites that provide a basic blogging product for free. One of the most well-known is WordPress, though others are available.
Is it really worth doing?
As long as the blog is maintained and has a consistent and likeable tone of voice it’s certainly worth taking time to develop a blog to complement your business. As well as driving traffic to your website, it can encourage brand loyalty and give your business personality that ensures it stands out among competitors.
Creating articles about your field of work also establishes you as having passion and expertise in that field, which customers will always respond to.
Three examples of commercial blogs that work…
Westin Gourmet is an online meat store that pitches its blog as a ‘club’ full of relevant, seasonal cooking articles and recipes that are designed to inspire purchases.
Emma Case Photography showcases a lot of this photographer’s work, allowing potential customers to get to know about her and her particular photographic style.
Crashpadder.com is a homestay community, where people can book accommodation with locals, its blog is full of travel tips that link to relevant rooms and enhance the site’s sense of collaboration.
This is an article contributed by Julie Pena for small business, Print Express UK. A printing company based in the UK.