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How your blog can grow your business

Valerie KhooWe’ve all heard a lot about how blogging can be good for your business. But how do you know if you’re blogging the right way? The most common concern I hear from business owners who haven’t got a blog is that they’re worried they’ll embarrass themselves, make a mistake, or experience the online version of heckling as a result of what they write.

While this is a valid concern, most business owners tend to be overly anxious about venturing into the world of blogging. If you haven’t brought your business into the blogosphere yet, you just need to follow a few simple rules. According to Sydney-based business owner Lara Solomon, the pay off is worth it. Solomon is founder of Social Rabbit, a consultancy that helps businesses understand how to use social media to get results through workshops, consulting and online training.

Solomon says her blog is one of the main ways she markets her business. “I get a lot of people coming to me as clients because they have read my blog – usually they have been reading for months before they contact me,” says Solomon, who blogs six days a week on social media topics. “My aim is to make social media easier for businesses to use and for them to actually get results. Within social media I tend to write most on Facebook – just because it’s my favourite!”

According to Solomon, her blog has positioned her as an expert in her field, driven traffic to her site and increased awareness for her brand. However, it’s also had a clear impact on her bottom line. “Directly from my blog, I’ve been engaged to do paid speaking gigs, interviewed on 6.30pm with George Negus, interviewed on Channel 7, filled the workshops I run, as well as had clients come to me for social media help.”

Solomon’s posts are helpful, informative and written in a conversational style. This is ideal of most blog posts regardless of your industry. You don’t have to sound like an academic on your blog; you want to be accessible and understandable. Write for the layperson if you are covering technical topics.

So if you are a newbie to business blogging, what should you consider?

1. Blog to an audience of zero

When you first start your blog, don’t worry if you have an audience of zero. Don’t check your website visits every day to see if anyone other than your mother is reading your posts. Just blog to nobody. That’s right – nobody. Why? When you are starting out, you simply want to get into the habit of blogging. Get used thinking of ideas and writing about them. You want to get into a groove so that creating content for your blog becomes a natural part of your schedule.

You also want to get into a rhythm so that your eventual readers will get used to the idea that you will have fresh content on your blog on a regular basis. After all, it’s not a good look if potential customers visit your blog and find that your last post was in 2010.

2. Showcase your expertise

Once you get used to blogging, you need to start pointing people towards your blog posts. Feature your blog URL on your email signature, Tweet your followers when a new post is online, feature your posts on Facebook, and include links to your post in your newsletter if you have one. Importantly, make sure your blog can be easily navigated to from your website.

This is vital because your blog is essentially your mouthpiece. It’s a vehicle to showcase your expertise. Your main website acts as a relatively static ‘shopfront’, which contains key information about yourself or your products/services. However, your blog is what brings your business to life and positions you as a leader in your field. This is where you can educate readers about your industry, and write your opinions on trends and other issues that will be relevant to your prospects.

Your prospects aren’t mind readers so they simply don’t know how experienced you are in your field, unless you showcase this expertise in some way. Your blog is the ideal place to do this.

3. Respond to comments

Ideally, you want your blog to generate a conversation among readers. The more eager readers will comment on your blog or even ask a question and, if they do, you should reply. If they’ve taken the time to interact with you as a result of your post, do them the courtesy of responding.

Of course, if you get to the stage where there are hundreds of comments on your blog, this might not be practical. However, most small business blogs generally have a handful of comments and it’s easy to manage this kind of volume. Having said that, don’t fret if you have no comments. While it may seem like you’re Nigel No Friends, don’t buy into the misguided assumption that the success of your blog is a function of the volume of comments. It’s not. Your prospects may simply not be the commenting type!

Ultimately, you need to determine whether you find blogging a worthwhile investment of your time. If your experience is like Lara Solomon, your efforts will pay off in spades. But like most marketing initiatives, it’s a case of doing it frequently and doing it right if you want results. See you in the blogosphere!

Valerie Khoo is Managing Director of the Sydney Writers’ Centre in Milsons Point, Sydney. As one of Australia’s leading centres for writing training, the centre runs short courses to help people get published and write with confidence. Valerie is also Ambassador for the Best Australian Blog Awards.

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