If you dream of someday having a successful online business, a blog is one of the easiest, most cost-effective marketing tools you can have. Major corporations pour a lot of money and effort into their blogs and content marketing efforts, but even new bloggers can see great rewards from blogging consistently.
So, let’s go back to that term, “content marketing,” because that’s really what blogs are all about. Content marketing is strategically creating content (articles, images, videos, podcasts, infographics) that is useful, valuable, and relevant to a specific, targeted audience with the goal of attracting them and—ultimately—converting them into customers.
Whoa. That’s a lot to think about if you’ve just been toying with the idea of blogging for business. But if you can remember that your blog is a marketing tool and not a personal project (more on that in a minute), you’ll do great.
Content marketing is so effective because it’s a way to give to your audience, as opposed to advertising, which so often feels like it's asking something of your audience (“buy my stuff”). It’s a wonderful, genuine way to gain trust, build relationships, and set you up to be the person your audience wants to spend their money with.
Need more convincing that you should give blogging a go? Think about how much money Coca-Cola spends on television advertising each year. Commercial campaigns world-wide...that’s A LOT of dough. And then let it sink in that Coke spends MORE on content marketing that television advertising (Source: Express Writers). Ya’ll. Coca-Cola knows what they’re doing. Get in on the content marketing game.
Ready to start blogging, or go from dabbler to budding business owner? Here’s what you need to know:
10 Tips for New Bloggers
1 | Your blog is not for you
This is the hardest lesson to learn. As a business owner, yes, you’ll choose an area of business that you love and where you can shine. But you shine the brightest when you stay in service to your readers.
So you don’t just write what you feel like or what will be fun for you, you write what will be useful, valuable, and relevant for your readers. And hopefully, there’s a big overlap between what you want to share and what they want to read!
2 | You need a focus
If this was a personal blog just for fun, you could write about anything you wanted. Because this blog is for business, you need to focus.
Let’s say you’re a life coach who helps women make healthier eating choices. All of your content needs to be about to that, or at least relevant to your clients’ related interests. You could write about meal prep, making good choices around holiday times, your personal experience with going healthy, eating well on the go, and cooking healthy for picky kids. Unless you can find a way to tie it into healthy eating, leave out the story about your amazing trip to Santa Fe, the eco-friendly line of diapers you can’t live without, and your newfound love of rollerblading.
This means that you will leave some people out. You will not appeal to everyone. That is a GOOD thing. A very good thing. Leave people out on purpose. Focus your content for the people who value what you do, and you'll have a focused audience who wants to do business with you. That is your goal.
3 | It hasn’t been said by you
You may think, “But there are already so many blogs out there!” and you’d be right. There are millions of blogs out there because people love reading blogs! Even if a topic has been written about, it hasn’t been written about by you yet. There is space for you to have a voice. Which is why it’s so important that you...
4 | Find your own voice
Your blog won’t stand out and work for you if you sound like everyone else. People want to hear your point of view, sense of humor, turn of phrase, and writing style.
When you first get started online, it’s tempting to try to be an under-the-radar mini-version of a blogger you admire. Avoid this. We don’t want another them, we want you. You’ll never get traction aping someone else. And under-the-radar is no place to hang out.
It takes time to develop your style. Read more about how to find your voice. The best way is to just get started.
5 | You can share without oversharing
Depending on your audience and business, you may want to share some personal stories and experience on your blog. This can be a powerful form of content marketing because it lets readers connect with you in a personal way.
But there is a danger of oversharing in a way that makes your audience uncomfortable and just feels way too vulnerable for you. A good general rule of thumb: if it’s sensitive, wait until it’s over to share. We like vulnerability, but we don’t like watching a sh*tshow; that’s what reality T.V. is for. Share with us when you have a perspective that will be (say it with me) useful, valuable, and relevant.
6 | Don’t let the tech stop you
If the technical aspect of setting up a blog has been holding you back, don’t let that stop you. It’s easier than ever to get set up.
I prefer Squarespace over Wordpress because I find it more straightforward and intuitive. Squarespace has excellent, up-to-date, simple tutorials to help you get started. You could literally have your blog set up in a matter of minutes, no code, plugins, or other funky stuff.
7 | Don’t freak out about branding
If you’re looking around at other bloggers who have been at it for 3, 5, 10, or 12 years and comparing yourself to them, you’ll be really intimidated. They didn’t start out with a fully branded empire, and you won’t either.
In the very beginning, you don’t need to invest in working with a designer (do that after you know more about your business). Keep your branding simple. Pick 2 complementary colors and fonts that you like and you think your readers will like. That’s enough to get started.
8 | Be consistent
Remember how blogging is content marketing? Market consistently. This sets a goal for you to meet, and helps your readers know what to expect.
Give yourself a publishing schedule and stick to it. Once a week is a great goal.
9 | Make friends
Blogging is more fun when you have blogging friends! You can do blog tours, guest posts, and help share each others’ content.
Don’t be afraid to make the first move. Reach out to bloggers who are at about the same stage as you are in your business. I’m still in regular contact with some small business owners who started out around the same time as I did, and it’s been wonderful to have their friendship and support as our blogs and businesses have grown.
10 | Don’t wait to have it all figured out before you start
So many people I’ve talked with hesitate on starting a blog because they don’t have it “all figured out” yet. You figure it out as you go. We all do.
Being a new blogger is exciting. Even if you don’t have a business yet, blogging is a smart to way go ahead and start making relationships and establishing yourself as a somebody in your field. Go forth and blog!