Friday, December 5, 2014

Business Blogging Made Simple

Getting your message out there is critical, and if you’re intimidated by starting a blog, you may want to reconsider—it’s much easier than you think. Since it involves writing, the thought might be a little overwhelming initially, but in reality, there’s probably little difference between blogging and what you’re already doing. And considering the potential benefits gained with a blog—such as heightening awareness of your business and establishing yourself as the go-to expert—it’s an effort worth undertaking.

“I’m passionate about small-business success,” said small business expert Ramon Ray, and he’s rooting for you. The first thing to understand, according to Ray, is that unlike your website, which remains fairly static, a blog is dynamic, requiring a fresh injection of content on at least a weekly basis. Also unlike your website, a blog is more about providing visitors with content they can use, rather than serving as a vehicle for selling your products and/or services. For example, a pool builder’s blog might provide tips for winterizing a pool. A hairstylist might talk about the latest trends in color or style. And a carpenter may list three ways to make stairs safer. You get the idea.
A blog should contain actionable advice, noted Ray, as well as information or tips relevant to your audience. “Many people worry about giving too much away, concerned that they’ll lose a potential job, but they don’t need to worry. There might be some do-it-yourselfers that will take that information and use it, but many people lack the expertise and/or the time to do it themselves and will hire you instead.”

How do you get started? Ray recommends a four-pronged process:

  1. Consider your audience and what content would be relevant to them. What are they looking for?
  2. Think about what you want to share with them, how often, and how much. (When it comes to the latter, err on the side of giving too much rather than too little. The more you give, the more positively people will view your business and remember you.)
  3. Research and use one of the many established blogging services (e.g., WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr).
  4. Then, just start typing and hit submit. (But keep it short and use images.)

Blogs should be no more than 500 to 1,000 words. Also, including photos or other graphics, breaking up the text with white space or bullet points, and presenting the information in short paragraphs (with space in between those paragraphs), make a blog more visually interesting and easier to read. And be sure to focus on creating compelling headlines that will catch people’s attention.

Ray recommends that although you should stay mindful of grammar, spelling, punctuation and writing style, don’t let worries about these issues paralyze you. The best way to become a more confident writer is to jump in and do it. Get started, do your best and you will improve with practice. And if you just can’t handle the thought of tackling this on your own, he said, consider hiring someone to do it for you.
 
Finally, don’t write about yourself. “Content that is just about the writer is terrible. People are searching for information relevant to them, their needs and concerns. You need to write about the business in a way that is important to the readers. People want information before they will buy from you.”

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