Why you should start a blog for your business
Do you have a business? Then you should be blogging.
Not blogging as in sharing your personal journey to spiritual fulfilment, or your trip across America, or your love of cats. Not blogging to ‘be a blogger’.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I've done it myself. It’s great fun, and some people even make a living out of it. There’s loads of great stuff out there on the internet about that kind of blogging, if that's your thing.
No, the blogging I’m talking about is the kind where your posts on your business website help it show up in Google. The kind that makes you the most helpful business your customers ever bought from. The kind that makes all your marketing efforts 100% easier.
You may already know how important this kind of blogging is, and already have a blog set up on your site. You just haven’t posted in a while.
(If you haven't actually got round to creating a site for your business, here's how to build a website in an afternoon.)
You aren’t alone. Lots of the businesses I work with are all set up to blog, but for a variety of reasons they don’t do it. They don’t know what to say. They don’t know how to make it look or sound 'professional'. They're worried about damaging their brand. They're terrified that no one will read it at all. Or they're worried that everyone will read it, and point, and laugh.
The biggest worry is time. I get that. We’re busy people. But: you find time to do your accounts, and send out quotes and invoices, and all the other things needed to make your business work, don't you? Maybe if you really believed your blog was as important to your business success as all these other things, you’d find the time?
Let me try to convince you.
Blogging gets you found
Google isn’t psychic. It only knows what you do from analysing the words on your website. If you have a huge online store, that’s lovely. Google has lots of words there it can work with to figure out your business is about bikes, or jewellery making, or gardening.
But what if you’re a services business? If you want to come up in search results for tax advice or legal support or marketing consultancy, you need words about those things on your website. The easiest way to do that is to put them in a blog.
Blog posts help you with another element in your ‘how to be found’ strategy. Links to your website signal to Google and other search engines that not only is your site about legal advice (or whatever), it’s actually useful information about legal advice. Links help bump you up the results list.
To get those links you first need information worth linking to. No one is going to energetically push your services sales page on Twitter. You need to offer something worth reading. So you blog.
And once you've blogged, you needn’t wait for others to discover you. You can get started sharing links to articles yourself. Which brings us to reason #2:
Blogging makes ALL your marketing easier
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ll know at some point you have to engage in shameless self-promotion. You can dream of having a nice set of clients, a bundle of testimonials, and getting all your new business through referrals. Until you reach this beautiful day, you need to get selling.
The trouble is, selling ourselves is horrible. (Especially if you're introverted. Or British. I'm both.) It’s a lot less painful if we have something to say, not just something to sell.
Writing blog posts that offer genuinely interesting, useful information to potential customers is a great way to do this. It gives us something to share on Twitter, Facebook, or by email, that isn't just 'buy my stuff'.
The email one is maybe the most important - and the most often neglected. People who signed up for your email list actually want to hear from you. You could at least ping them a newsletter occasionally! Your latest blog post is a perfect excuse to remind them that you aren't dead or bankrupt.
There’s also the PR side of things. If you’re trying to get press coverage or a speaking spot at a conference, a blog demonstrates that you're worth talking to. People can see you’ve something useful to contribute, and you aren’t going to just turn up and push your stuff.
Not that people aren’t interested in your product or service. They’re often quite keen to know how it might help them, or how they can get the most out of it, once they’ve bought it. Which brings us to reason #3:
Blogging helps your customers
Blogging isn’t all about shameless self-promotion. Your customers need your help, and your blog is a great way to offer than help. And by being helpful, you attract more customers.
In the foreword to Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype* by Jay Baer, Marcus Sheridan writes about how he saved his pool business by blogging. He wrote a list of every question he’d ever been asked about buying and installing a pool. He then sat down, night after night, and answered the questions. His business blog became the complete handbook for pool buyers across America. When customers had read their fill on his blog, and finally decided they were going to buy a pool, they bought it from Marcus.
What do your customers need to know? What problems do they have? What decisions do they need to make before buying from you?
Once they’ve bought from you, how can you help them get the most from their purchase? How can you help them achieve the goal they had in mind when they made that purchase?
Because customers aren’t actually buying your thing. As User Onboarding puts it: “People don’t buy products; they buy better versions of themselves.”
Or, to look at it from less of a “selfie generation” perspective, they’re pursuing a goal. They’re interested in your thing, only insofar as it helps them towards that goal. As Collyn Ahart puts it in her Do Lecture, sell your pursuit, not your product.
If you can be consistently helpful like this, showing people how they can achieve their goals, they’ll keep coming back for more. And they’ll bring new customers with them.
This is maybe even more important if, like me, you sell ideas and advice rather than stuff.
If I want to buy a physical thing, like some new hiking boots, I can go to a store and try them on. If I want to buy some software, then I can get a free trial period to see if it suits me. If I want to buy some business advice, how can I try that? Most consultants don’t offer a free trial period. What they do offer is their blog. It acts as a taster of their services. ‘Try before you buy’.
Blogging teaches your customers to need your product
To take this idea a bit further, you can use your blog to educate people about your industry. This is really important if you’re creating something a bit different. How will people know they need it? Or what to do with it when they’ve got it?
When Buffer first launched their tool for scheduling tweets in November 2010, the whole idea of social media was fairly new. Lots of us were still getting to grips with the idea of sharing our day to day thoughts and activities with a bunch of strangers. We had no idea why we would need to schedule our tweets.
Buffer tackled this by setting up a blog. They show us how to make social media work better for us, whatever our goals. They show us how scheduling tools can help us achieve those goals, but they don’t push their product constantly, and they don’t limit themselves to problems that Buffer can solve. They promote other people’s software much more than they ever push their own. Their unfailing generosity in sharing their expertise and experience has kept me coming back for more, year after year.
Ready to start a blog?
I hope so. But if you still have questions, please ask - comments are open below.
You’ve probably got a heap of worries still. You don’t know what you’re going to write, or where, or how to find the time. We’ll get on to that next time.
Until then, if you have forgotten the password to your blogging software, now might be a good time to reset it!
*This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.