We know just how important content is to online success therefore creating engaging, fresh and relevant content on your small business website is a must. So where does blogging fit in and just how useful a tool is it for ecommerce?
Blogging is one of the best ways to support content on your site. If you’ve not yet started a blog or dipped a toe in but never really got going, then take a moment to read our helpful tips below.
As more and more consumers are reading blog posts, blogging has become increasingly prevalent. Indeed there are more than 33 million new posts on WordPress alone each month. According to industry reports, marketers view blogging as an integral element of content marketing with over half selecting blogging as their most important type of content.
What can blogging offer your small online business?
If you are considering whether blogging is worthwhile and wondering if the benefits will outweigh the cost of committing your precious time and resources, here are a few statistics highlighting the potential advantages blogging can bring to your ecommerce business.
+ Traffic: Blogging creates 55% more traffic
+ Leads: Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that do not blog.
+ Customers: 78% of companies that update their blogs daily have acquired a customer from their blog.
+ Links: Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website.
+ Trust: Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information.
+ ROI: Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI.
Our 7 top tips for successful small business blogging
1. Don’t blindly leap in
Before you start posting blogs left right and centre, put aside some time to plan. Have a purpose and desired outcome – what is it you are hoping to achieve from your blog? For example is it to increase traffic, build customer relationships or establish credibility? Think about your audience. Who is it you are writing for? What are their interests? What information would they find helpful, entertaining or engaging?
On a practical level think about what is involved in blogging. Is it going to be just you writing articles? If so what time you can realistically afford to commit. The better your planning and more certain you are of your purpose, the better you will be able to focus your valuable time and efforts.
2. Own your blog
Blogging is a great way to bring some personality to your brand and give a human face to your business. So when you’re writing, write as you – don’t try to take on another persona. A good tip is to write as your would speak, follow this and you’ll soon find a blogging style that you feel comfortable with. The great thing about blogging is that it can be informal (by this I don’t mean sloppy – more on this later), it is a chance for you to express your views and opinions in your own way.
3. Follow a formula
Of course we’re not all natural writers. The majority of us have to spend time carefully crafting blogs. A helpful tip is to follow a simple formula. For example whenever I write a blog I pretty much follow the same steps every time:
- Research and gather relevant information
- Create a detailed outline plan of what content will go where and in what order (beginning, middle, end)
- Write without interruption (leave worrying about correct grammar and spelling until it’s time to proof)
- Proof read, edit and proof again.
Another excellent formula that will help you manage your time better – especially if you’re finding it is taking you all day to write 800 words, is Blogger Sidekick’s ‘Shake and Bake’. Take a moment to check it out.
4. Looks do matter
“In 2016 this trend will see graphical content (including high-resolution images, infographics, design elements and icon sets, and images designed for sharing on social networks) come to the fore…. images will become a more central feature of the blog post.” DOZ Trends in blogging 2016
You may have written the best article ever, but quite frankly if it looks un-inviting to read then nobody will bother with it. How you present your post is really important.
Layout: Reams of uninterrupted text is enough to put anyone off. So use subheadings, bullet points, quotations and italics to break your text into easily manageable chunks for your reader to digest.
Visuals: Visual content is becoming increasingly important so think about what images or graphics you can use to help support your text and engage your audience. Use infographics and video as well to vary your posts – they are almost guaranteed to pull in readers.
Quality: We mentioned earlier about how you can be informal when writing a blog post – however this doesn’t extend to not bothering to check for poor spelling or grammar. Typos and poor grammar doesn’t mean informal it just looks unprofessional. So always proof read before you hit the publish your post button!
5. Combat writers block
It is really frustrating to be sitting at your desk ready to write an article only to find you have absolutely no idea about what to write about. Here are some tips I use when I need a bit of inspiration.
Check out your competitors. What are your competitors posting? Can you approach the same topic from a different angle?
Ideas notebook. Chances are your best ideas won’t come to you whilst you are sitting at your desk ready to write. More often than not they’ll happen at random moments such as on the bus, in the bath or washing up. When they do occur don’t waste them, jot them down and put them into an ideas notebook. This way when you’re short of inspiration you can refer to your notebook.
Google search. Simple but helpful. Type a general topic into the search box, scroll down to the bottom of the page and check out the list of alternative searches Google comes up with. Here’s a screen grab of one I did for ‘blogging tips’.
Content generator tools. There are some excellent free tools available to help you generate some blog topics ideas. Checkout the links below:
Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator
Portent Content Idea Generator
Build your own blog: ideas generator
6. Optimise your posts
After you’ve put in all that time and effort to write a great post, it is important to optimise your article to ensure it gets the attention it deserves.
Be search engine friendly. Use relevant keywords and key phrases in the title and body of your post to make it easier for search engines to find and rank you.
Craft a great headline. Often it’s the headline that decides whether a person goes on to read the full article. Spend time crafting a good headline using your keywords and with the aim of capturing the interest of your target audience. If your stuck try this simple headline formula from Koozia:
Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rational + Promise
Make it easy for readers to share. A great post deserves sharing, so make it easy for your readers to share your post with others. A simple way to do this is to add in social network share icons.
Promote. Tell people about your great new post. Bring your article to the attention of your customers by sharing it across your small business’ social media networks, send out an email alert and add it on to your email newsletters.
7. How to deal with time constraints
OK, as a small business owner you are always going to be under time pressures, but the long-term benefits blogging brings means it really is well worth the time you put in. Every article you post will continue to pull in traffic for many months and even years to come. We’ve got a few tips to help you combat time constraints.
Build up a bank of articles. During quieter times try to get a ahead with writing articles so you have a bank of posts you can use when times are really busy. This will mean you will be able to continue to publish regular content.
Guest blogs. These can be a great way to get some additional content for your blog especially when you are pressed for time. Ask other industry experts, staff members, suppliers, affiliates, even customers with great stories about using your product or service to write a post. Just ensure you put clear guidelines in place and have final sign-off.
Curated content: A round-up of useful articles relevant to your industry can be a great way to create an article when you haven’t the time or resources to write your own. Add your own commentary and opinion and you’ll have a great post. Just ensure you don’t plagiarise or credit yourself with other people’s work.
Hopefully we’ve shown you just how beneficial blogging can be to your business and given you some helpful tips to make writing a blog less daunting, more successful and not quite so time-consuming. Happy blogging!
We’d love to hear your own thoughts and experiences on blogging, so please do leave a comment.