Good Ventures Need Good Bloggers
Building your company is all about connecting – connecting the goods, ideas, people and more importantly, connecting with the clients. And blogging is probably the best tool to build a community with lasting connections.
If you have heard the late Roger Ebert talk on TED on how blogging has helped him live after losing his lower jaw to cancer, besides being awed by his approach to life, you must have thought about your own life and the role technology has played. Blogging however, is not just for movie critics, writers, poets, activists and the creative kind, as most of us believe it to be. It is also a tool for your business that can help you connect to your clients and if you do it right, form a community around your company.
Having a business website is a no brainer, yet websites aren’t doing half of what they should for your business. Most are still going on with the old web 1.0 approach (I write, you read); but as an Internet user yourself, you must have noticed that a website with a few static pages does not cut it anymore. A few regular blog updates can change your website from a notice board into a hotspot. The more you blog, the more reasons you have to be ‘searched’ online. Blogs improve your page ranking for search engine results; every new blog post adds a new URL or page to your website that can be crawled and indexed by search engines. And if you are also taking the social media route of marketing, blogs help keep your followers and friends engaged.
Blogging attracts relevant clients, who are genuinely interested in what you have to say, unlike other online advertisements, which are more annoying at times than being effective. It is more like a two way conversation – you exchange your expertise and experience for your clients’ opinions and feedback. Blogging provides a platform to establish connections with your clients, and even get a lead on what their preferences and inclinations are. Your customers are more likely to feel connected to your company, with blogs to comment on and to share, and with a voice that speaks to them. Without that connection your company might just seem like a distant factory exploiting Oompa Loompas. Blogs make your company real, something that the customers themselves can feel connected to.
However, writing is hard, and even if some feel otherwise, we can all agree it is time consuming. Still, writing makes you think. The process of posting regular blogs, looking for stories within your business and industry helps you get a better understanding of your business. All the writing and talking about your business and the industry also builds your image as an industry expert. And as more and more people start referring to your blogs for information and insights, what you say becomes ‘expertise’.
The improved visibility, and the rising popularity online – thanks to your blogs – not only attracts new visitors to your blog, but keeps bringing them back. Regular new blogs with updated information gives something to look forward to for your visitors. Your blogs showcase your enthusiasm towards your work, your excitement on being part of the industry and your eagerness to interact with your customers. It gives your company a voice, a personality.
The best part of blogging is probably the best effectiveness-to-cost ratio. It doesn’t cost you as much as online advertisements; and even if plans for setting up a website for your new startup have been set aside for financial reasons, setting up a blog is definitely a viable option. You don’t need a professional designer to setup a blog. Blogging platforms like WordPress, Blogspot and tumblr provide pre-existing templates (some for free). All you need to do is start writing about what you are doing, why you are doing what you are doing, and how it is helping the community that’s evolving around your business.
HOW TO EXCITE YOUR READERSHIP
Online content produced in 48 hours today is more than that produced till 2003 from the beginning of time, according to Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. The last time someone checked, there were 161 million blog posts on the web. In this explosion of online contents, your blogs would most likely end up under a heap of rubble. How do you get your blogs to surface?
Successful blogs add value before selling Know who you are writing for, identify their problems and address them. Show how your business helps solve those problems. Your blog’s primary goal should be to add value to your customers. If it’s possible, downplay your involvement, people will get it without you having to remind them of your exceptional efforts.
Don’t just write about yourself Besides writing only about the company, talk about the market and the industry as a whole, imply the importance of your work without undermining anyone else’s – people appreciate integrity.
Keep your sales messages as low key as possible Traffic does need to turn into buying customers, but for that you also need a strategy. Identify conversion points and figure out methods to convert customers. Your blogs should have marketing functionality, not to be mistaken with “buy or leave” approach. Your blogs need to convince your readers they need what you have to offer. If it’s possible, provide free gifts, whatever it takes to get them listening to you.
Humanize Add a human angle to your blog, keep it real. Your blog should be something personable, something readers can relate to. It must be engaging, something to look forward to, and not something that looks like an excerpt from a dissertation.
Blog to build relationships Tell your readers about your business and the market, and make them feel like a part of the community. Welcome comments, and respond in time with helpful comments. Also make it easy and simple to like, comment on and share your blogs.
Use keywords To boost your search engine result rankings, apply Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques. Tools like Webtracker and Keyword Discovery helps you identify keywords and keyword phrases. Incorporate those words in your blogs and layout, especially in the titles and the links.
Functionality is paramount. Your blogs must be easy to navigate with easily visible headings. Use grids and categories, and make it easy for the readers to find what they are looking for. Also consider a responsive theme for your blogs that can adapt to mobile devices; mobile is the future.
Visual branding is an important aspect of your blogs, even if you are not pushing that hard for sales, your blogs can be a great platform for branding. Try to weave in a theme throughout your blogs, implying what your company is about. Make your blogs stand out, but stay aesthetically appealing.
Diversifying the content is a good idea to attract a range of readers. You could also invite other contributors, attracting new readers via their followers. If you feature multiple topics, a grid format could make it easier to navigate.
Mix up the media Your blog does not have to be all text. Photos are a great way to improve the aesthetics of your blog, and it adds to the experience. You can also include video to showcase your work. Behind the scene pictures and video can also make your blogs more personal.
Editorial Calendar will help you follow through with your plans. Having a schedule makes your processes efficient, making it easier to balance different categories, and track the tangible outcomes of your blogs.
Write and rewrite Develop your tool, find your style to present an authentic voice. Titles are important, make them want to read your blog. Track your performance and improve.
Enjoy the process Your passion and enthusiasm will show on your blogs. Get your readers thrilled to being part of the community.