What is a Blog and How Does it Work?
What is a blog?
A blog (a truncation of “weblog”) is a discussion or informational website that is made up of diary style entries or posts.
Whilst the content of blogs had simple beginnings, with plain text and basic imagery, ‘blogging’ has evolved to encompass more emerging technology and multimedia presentation methods.
A small business blog is an ideal way to communicate with a new or expanding customer base. It’s a low cost marketing tool that isn’t time intensive and has few barriers to entry.
Do I need a blog or a website?
If you’re looking at how to start a blog for your business, it doesn’t need to be done at the expense of developing a website. In fact, it’s common practice for a Blog page to feature on the website itself.
The 2 can exist together and both offer advantages to different aspects of your business plans for development and growth.
Your website is obviously your main online shop window but your blog acts as a more than capable support act. It allows you to share information that doesn’t have a place on your main site but is valuable and informative to your potential visitors
A blog provides the platform for you to be topical and reactive to news, trends and events. The problem with this is that posts can quickly become dated. (We’ll talk about how you can avoid this by posting ‘evergreen content,’ later in this post).
It’s easy to organise and categorise your blog posts so they become an organised and valuable bank of news and resources to support your business.
There is also value in posting new and fresh content on your blog as the search engines love new content. This will help you with local SEO and SERP rankings for your local search terms and keywords.
Different types of blog
The first ever blog post is thought to have been posted in 1994. It wasn’t really thought of as a ‘blog’ at the time as it hadn’t really been invented yet – it was more of a ‘personalised homepage.’
Check out this page for A brief history of blogging
The blog only really became mainstream in 2000 onwards and now big companies like Microsoft utilise the big content management system (CMS) platforms like WordPress – which now accounts for more than a third of all global websites
For just about any subject area with more than a family following (see Family Blogs!) you’ll find bloggers blogging! Funny blogs; Money making blogs; Music blogs; Business blogs and many more. Just try a simple google search and you’ll see crazy numbers of results that come back.
So why start a blog?
Small business blogs are a lot different from mainstream blogs. You have the opportunity to create the personality and voice of your new business. It’s a great communication channel.
You’re not competing with a global plethora of celebrities and seasoned professional bloggers. By being a knowledgeable, friendly and approachable voice in your community you can keep in touch with your local audience and potential customers.
Blogging at a micro scale can have great benefits very quickly. You have a much more attainable, potential audience. Let them know you exist!
Blogging tips for beginners
There’s no 100% guaranteed success formula for getting your blog just right. The approach will be different for different types of business. Of course, a lot is also dependent on your time and resources, so blog wisely.
The good thing is that the format allows you to experiment with different content types and find what your followers consume, comment on and enjoy.
Here’s a load of quick tips that you can action with your blogging for your small business.
- Write and post for your customers not for yourself.
- Take an informal approach, let your personality and that of your business shine through – it will be the voice of your brand.
- Always define the purpose of a post – what can your customer ‘takeaway’ from it? The answer might be knowledge, an important date for their diary, a discount code or something else.
- Try and include a call to action (CTA) in your posts – if you want a customer to take an action then give them a little nudge.
- Link your blog to the different pages on your site (as long as they’re relevant).
- Try and respond to all the comments you receive – both good and bad – it shows that you care – and that you’re there for your customers.
- Address pain and pleasure points – humans act and react more to the extremes of emotion (we want to derive pleasure and avoid pain).
- Link posts to your social media accounts and vice versa.
- Remember to include share button so your readers can share your content on their own social channels too.
- Talk about and reinforce your offline marketing efforts.
Blogging gives you an amazing opportunity to post pretty much anything you want.
Ideally you should try and mix up your content. Keep your visitors informed, engaged and entertained.
Different types of post to try:
- Short, news posts about your business
- Informational posts
- ‘How to’ Posts – do something better; make something easier; get something cheaper
- ‘Behind the curtain’ insights about your business and staff
- Community and local charity related posts
- Video clips
Don’t try and be too broad in your approach and stay ‘on topic’ as much as you can.
Evergreen content is content that doesn’t become dated. The great thing about this is that it can be updated and used again in the future. You can repurpose one piece of writing and use it lots of different ways.
Your blog title needs to convince browsers to take the plunge and click on your post.
Take time to craft a compelling title – include an emotional trigger or pain point to help persuade someone to consume more. Announcing that you have a solution to a problem can be very effective.
Don’t deceive with your titles. This doesn’t reflect well on you and your visitors will quickly click back and forget all about you. (The search engines won’t like the bounce rate either)
Types of title that have been proven to have a great click through rates include:
How to Build a Survival Shelter in 30 Minutes
How to Dance without Paying for Lessons
People love bitesize, quickly consumed content
12 Ways to Sleep Better Every Night
16 Things that Small Business Owners Need Today
“Learning and Solutions”
How to Fix a Leaking Radiator Quickly
The Ultimate Guide to Getting Blog Posts Shared
Try different titles and see which ones are giving you the best results.
Have a consistent approach
Try and follow a calendar with your blogging. If you can plan your posts a few weeks in advance, then that’s great. If not, at least try and remain consistent and blog at least once or twice a week.
This way you’ll be doing what you can to keep your customers and the search engines happy!
Blogging is a long term commitment with long lasting results if you do it right. It’s rarely an immediate success but engage with your audience and you may well see great results.
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