Perhaps it’s because I am a writer, but I think blogging is fun. How much time do you spend reading articles on various websites? It’s interesting to scan LifeHack for your favorite inspirational articles, learn from experts on how to grow your business, research your next Do It Yourself home project, search for yummy recipes, or read the latest political news. Well maybe politics today is not so fun, but you get my point. If it wasn’t for business blogs, what would we do online?
Blog statistics are staggering, but yet not every small business maintains a blog. If you are one of the businesses who doesn’t, I totally understand. Setting up and regularly updating a business blog requires time and effort. And if you are like most small business owners, you cringe at the thought of one more task to keep track of.
But what if I could help you overcome the common obstacles small business owners encounter when setting up their first business blog? Would you be open to starting your own blog? Let’s take a look at some of the beliefs that stop you from taking that leap into the blogosphere. With the right solutions to these roadblocks, I think you will feel more comfortable taking the plunge.
My business doesn’t need a blog.
Have you caught yourself saying this? Do you have the type of business you think wouldn’t benefit from having a business blog? Once upon a time, I thought blogs were reserved for online businesses, businesses selling products, or coaches and consultants establishing themselves as experts. Even today, I study different small businesses and I ask myself if they need a business blog.
What about the small seamstress who gets all her clients from word of mouth, or the restaurant that has a prime location in a busy city? Does a painter or dry cleaning company need a blog? At first glance, you might think they don’t. However, if the purpose of a blog is to build relationships with potential and current clients, drive people to your website, inform customers, or entertain an audience, why wouldn’t every small business have a blog?
How do you know if your business needs a blog?
Read the statistics. Look at all the proof that your business needs a blog. Here are a few quotes from Socialmedia Today:
- Interesting content is given as one of the three top reasons that people follow brands on social media.
- Over 80% of people in the United States say they trust the advice and information that bloggers give.
- Over 60% of U.S. consumers say they’ve made a purchase due to recommendations from a blogger.
- Around 70% of people indicate that they learn about a product or service from articles rather than advertising.
- Over 60% of consumers say they feel more positive about a company after reading content, rather than product or service information, on its website.
If this is not enough, here are five more stats quoted by HubSpot:
- B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
- Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to experience positive ROI.
- By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships without talking to a human.
- Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their websites.
- Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information.
Crazy, right? But I know the next words out of your mouth.
I don’t know how to set up a blog.
Many small business owners I talk to don’t even have a website, or if they do, it’s a basic site that someone set up for them. To add a blog can seem overwhelming if you lack technical skills. The good news is setting up a blog today is incredibly easy. So many companies like WordPress, Wix, and Weebly understand their clients are small businesses that need simple tools. If you have even an average amount of technical skills, you can figure it out.
Back in 2009, I paid thousands of dollars for a designer to build a gorgeous website – thousands of dollars that I didn’t have to spend on my small business. Although I received a lot of compliments, and people loved my brand, I’m not sure it was worth the money I spent. Today I took a different approach and built my own website, but only because the website and blog building tools have advanced.
How can you set up your own business blog?
You can take a do-it-yourself approach to blog
Want to shorten the learning curve? Take a class. Many local colleges offer in-person and online courses in building websites and blogs. One college I recently attended for online classes offers a class called “Creating WordPress Websites”. It’s only $99 for the course and it can be completed from the comfort of your home or office. A lot of business owners take classes from Udemy, where business experts showcase their expertise.
If you don’t want to learn how to set up a business blog yourself, then hire someone to do it for you. Many virtual assistants and digital marketing agencies are savvy at setting up websites and blogs for their clients.
You’ve decided you will set up your blog, but then this next fears pops up.
I don’t have time to write a blog.
You are out hustling new business and taking care of your current customers. At night, you are billing customers and logging payments. It’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to add writing to your long list of tasks to complete. I’m not going to lie. Writing takes time. But it can also be cathartic and relaxing. It’s like having a conversation with your customers, only doing it in writing. However, many small business owners still simply cannot fit in time to write.
How can you create the time to maintain a blog?
Start small and write just one post a week. Something is better than nothing. On days I don’t have time to write, I will create a small infographic or quote graphic and post that to my blog and other social media sites.
Take an honest look at all the tasks you do in a given week. What can you get rid of to open up space and time to write? Are there time wasters you need to kick to the curb? Is there a way to shorten the time that some other tasks take? In other words, work smarter and not harder. Set aside one weekend day per month and dedicate it to writing for your blog. Knock out several pieces you can post throughout the month.
If all this doesn’t work, hire someone. Many small business owners have virtual assistants or writers that keep their blog fresh and current. Many bloggers are more than willing to be guest bloggers on your blog. You don’t have to do all the writing yourself.
But what if…
I am terrible at writing.
You don’t know how many small business owners I talk to that openly admit they are terrible at writing. One guy, an online marketing consultant, calls himself the worst speller in the world. Although it’s true some people are more natural writers than others, writing is a learnable skill. And writing for your blog is a lot different (and easier) than submitting an article to a major magazine, or writing a novel. Don’t let your lack of confidence in writing stop you from giving it a try.
How can you get better at writing?
Practice. Get out a piece of paper and just start writing anything and everything that comes to your mind about a particular topic. This is called freewriting. Whenever you use this technique, you need to turn off the logical side of your brain and stay in the flow of your creative side. Keep your fingers moving and pay no attention to grammar, spelling or anything else that slows you down. Pretend you are talking to your customers and tell them everything you want them to know.
When you are finished, you can go back to your writing and start organizing all your thoughts. Correct grammar and spelling errors. Eliminate unnecessary sentences, or reword to better explain your meaning. If it helps, develop an outline to keep your writing organized. I always write out 5-7 main points I want to make, and then I create content around those ideas.
Writing classes can help improve your writing, and editors will correct all your mistakes. Grammar books and dictionaries are helpful as well. Use all the resources available to you to help you master writing for your blog. The more you do it, the better you will be.
No matter how long you’ve been writing, there will come a time when you say…
I don’t know what to write about.
Even the best of writers develop writer’s block. When you first start writing, you might wonder what you should write about. And even after you’ve been on a roll, and writing for a while, there will come a time when you are at a loss for words. Just this week, as a matter of fact, I wrestled with what topic I might share. Whatever you do, don’t give up and stop writing. There is always something to write about. Even if you write about the same topic, you can share a different perspective or a creative approach to the same subject.
What’s the solution to a never ending flow of ideas to write about?
First and foremost, tap into your knowledge base. Share your expertise with your customers. Tell them how to do something. For example, if you own a bike shop, give your customers the steps to maintaining their new bicycle. A financial consultant can share the differences between short-term and long-term investments. Educate your customer and help them understand your business while giving them valuable information.
If you want more ideas for writing, read. Small business owners should constantly be learning, and the best way to do that is to read blogs yourself. You will be amazed at the creative juices that start flowing when you learn something new or encounter a different perspective.
Pay attention to everything that goes on around you. Be in the moment of every life experience. Life is full of lessons and content to share. Your mother might say something that sparks an idea. You could notice something in a restaurant that gets you thinking about something you want to say. Even if you think a subject has already been covered, chances are it has, but your customers want to hear your voice on the matter.
As more and more of the world moves online to research businesses, search for products, or educate themselves on particular topics, it is going to be important that your business is front and center with a professional business blog. You want your customers and prospective clients to hear your voice and know where to turn for the expertise they are looking for. And because it is a lot easier to earn new business from current customers, it is incredibly important to foster that relationship and trust so they never forget about you.
So what do you say? Are you ready to start your own business blog? If not, what’s stopping you? I’d love to hear what challenges you face.
How to Overcome 5 Common Obstacles to Setting up your First Business Blog
September 13, 2016