Over one hundred million active blogs are conservatively estimated to exist today. From personal blogs and news blogs to corporate blogs and small business blogs, everybody has something to say these days. And if you’re a small business owner yet to start your very own blog, there’s a good chance you’re wondering what more you could possibly add to this already overflowing conversation.
To Blog or Not to Blog
Most marketing and online advertising gurus agree that blogs are an exceptionally powerful — not to mention affordable — tools capable of achieving no shortage of key small business objectives while supplementing your online marketing strategy. From building brand awareness and demonstrating expertise to developing customer loyalty and generating substantial amounts of publicity, blogs are every bit as potent as they are popular. And while the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to starting a small business blog, there is, however, one vital, deal-breaking question you must ask yourself before planting your flag in the blogosphere. And it is…
Do you have the time to maintain a blog?
Having a blog may look simple enough, but there’s a reason blogs are often likened to pet ownership. In order to survive, they must be nurtured, fed, and cared for daily. A blog that languishes without fresh or interesting content is not only useless and ineffective, it’s also a poor reflection on your professional image and that of your small business. For a blog to be respectable and ultimately successful, you should plan produce at least one or two original articles per week on subject matter pertinent to your business, your customers, or the industry in which your business operates. When it comes to blogging, take a “use it or lose it” approach. If you or your staff cannot provide fresh, timely content, it is wise to hold off on blogging until you can.
The Birth of a Blog
Most things in life aren’t free. But you can start a blog at virtually no cost. There are thousands of free blogging platforms and services at your disposal. And they make everything from template selection to posting your initial entry easier than you can possibly imagine. Although blogs can be located separately from your website, most business owners prefer — and have the most success with — blogs housed on their website.
Not a Pro? Not a Problem!
One of the primary reasons many small business owners fail to start a blog is because they are afraid their writing will be less than stellar. Luckily, the standards to which bloggers are held differ drastically for those we use to evaluate literary giants. Just because you’re not a polished professional writer doesn’t mean you can’t write simple, short, engaging blogs on subject matter you’re familiar with and passionate about. If you write what you love, your readers will probably love it too.
Know What You Need and Get What You Want
Building a loyal readership and a large fan base can take time. Few experience overnight success as a blogger. But it’s key to define “blogging success” in your own terms before embarking on this venture. Although a combination of factors may be inspiring this effort, it’s critical to decide what your ultimate goal is. If expanding web traffic to your website is of interest to you, it would be wise to research SEO (search engine optimization) and learn the basics of producing content that will help potential customers find you through your blog. If, on the other hand, you want your customers to know more about your business, your blog can simply provide greater details about the products and services you offer. In short, your blog can become whatever it is you need it to become. And by first deciding what you need, you’ll eventually get what you want.
Lighten Up! Blogging Isn’t Your Business
Despite the hype and anxiety that will underlie your first official blog post, keep in mind you’re not delivering the State of the Union address. Few, if anyone, outside your closest circle of friends, family members, and already established customers will read your initial work. So relax. You have time to make mistakes, tweak your style, and get plenty of creative criticism. At the end of the day, blogging should be fun and representative of the passion you have for your small business. After all, you’re not in the business of blogging. It’s not what you’re getting paid to do. Blogging is merely one additional platform through which you can attract and retain customers across an increasingly crowded and competitive digital landscape.