I don't have to repeat what the millions of articles and online experts have been saying in the past year about businesses and blogging.
"Blogging is a great way to promote your business and increase traffic."
Okay, there. In case you hadn't heard.
However, simply posting a few short and sweet articles throughout the week during your breaks about the latest supplement craze, fad diet, or top 5 home remedies for a cough isn't going to magically drive you those 10 new customers your nutrition company really needs.
There's more to the magic than just the writing.
Have a small business blog that isn't gaining any traction? Feel like you're wasting your time? Here's what you might be doing wrong:
- Writing for the wrong audience. Look over your content. Do you use a lot of company lingo or industry jargon that confuses average customer? Your customer is your target audience, not your industry peers, so if this is you, simply try putting those ideas into words that a complete stranger to your field of expertise would understand. "Dumb it down", as they so lovingly say.
- Writing poorly or sloppily. Don't take this the wrong way. Analyze your content with honesty and humility. Are you taking enough time proofreading your drafts? Are you showing personality in your writing? Just because you're writing for a blog doesn't mean you shouldn't practice the kind of quality control you practice in other areas of your business. Your blog is your PR — make it eloquent, informative, and grammatically correct.
- Being inconsistent. Have you created an editorial calendar? A brain dump for future post ideas? Posting an article once a week or sporadically will give your readers the sense that you are not serious. Create a standard for your blog and then stick to it, be that two posts a day or one post every two days. Your consistency in your blogging will speak to your reliability as a company.
- Boring your audience. Spice up your posts with images, videos or YouTube clips, or audio clips. Think about the other websites your audience visits, what kind of content do they create? What is engaging to them? Do you write with confidence and style, or stiffly and too technically? The more you write, the better your voice will become, so keep writing and focus on how to be conversational and entertaining while still being informative to your readers.
- Writing with no clear-set goals or vision for the blog. Your blog should reflect you and your company—why do you exist? What do you stand for? Where did you come from and where are you going? If you take a 30-minute sit-down session to revisit the plans and dreams you have for your company, and translate them to your blog, your writing will gain a clear sense of direction. The passion you have for your field and product or service will show; your readers will sense your energy and be pulled by it.
- Not having a strong presence on social media. OR HAVING AN INCONSISTENT ONE. Whether you do it yourself, or hire an intern, you need to be doing social media, and you need to be doing it right. Try as much as possible to be consistent in your branding (so important!). Use the same name for your website, as for your blog, Facebook Page URL and Twitter handle. LinkedIn presence, too. Use the same logos, the same pictures — drill the image of your company into the mind of the public and don't change it. Post consistently, interact with your online community, and most importantly, be yourself! Social media is your chance to give future customers a behind-the-scenes look at your company.
- Focusing too much on the metrics — and not building the community. It can be much too easy to get obsessed with our blogging statistics: how many readers we get, the bounce rate, the likes, the comments. Sometimes, however, it's best to focus on the actual people we are connecting with, whether it's five or 500. Blogging is about building a community, interacting online and creating relationships. Focus on interacting with your readers, responding to their comments and constantly asking for their feedback, and your community (and stats) will begin budding before you know it.
- Not using links to your favor. Besides just linking keywords to other pages on your website, make sure you're linking your posts to other quality sites on the web. Make sure your posts are of the caliber that people want to share them. Having a healthy number of both inbound (the outside links that direct readers to your blog) and outbound (the links you provide to other websites) links will strengthen your presence on Google. (This article, also listed below, will help.)
- Focusing too much on self-promotion. Linking your blog posts to other pages on your website is definitely accepted, however too much of this can turn readers away. Make your blog more about providing a resource for your customers than about selling your services to them, and you will have more willing readers. They must sense you care about them for more than your self-interest. Help them, listen to them, write for them, and you'll get more results than you did when you would previously try to sell an item with every post you wrote.
- Not investing enough in your design. In order for all of the above practices to work in your favor, you have to integrate them with an attractive and functional design. Check out what other similar businesses or bloggers you admire are doing; see what kinds of blogs your target audience is reading and what those look like; look at your blog and evaluate what changes you can make to make it more appealing to customers. Most importantly, strive to have a design that is professional, easy to navigate, and pleasing to look at.
Below are several resources I consulted in writing this article that I think you will find useful. Remember, blogging is about connecting with people—real people!—and an awesome chance to make your company more personable. This quote from the Inc.com article below sums it up perfectly:
"What made the blog a success? It's actually quite simple. Wegman's [a small national grocer] did what they've always been good at and didn't try to copy others. They focused on their foods, their staff and their customers, and combined all of that with an inviting design." — Lou Dubois, Inc.com
Have any questions I didn't address? Doing all of these things and still no luck? Let me know below in the comments!