You’ve probably heard that your small business can find new customers by blogging.
So naturally, you’re intrigued by this idea of “blogging for business.”
Who wouldn’t want to gain a steady stream of new visitors and customers while spending very little money?
The problem is, you really don’t know where to start.
We’re going to walk through how to blog effectively for your business by following a 2 simple step process.
Only 2 steps?!
Yes, only 2 steps.
We could put together a list of tips a mile long, but I really want to boil this down to just 2 things that are simple and actionable.
All the advice in the world doesn’t do you any good if you don’t implement it.
These are 2 things that any business with a blog can do immediately and steadily increase their traffic.
1. Write About What Your Customers Want To Know
This sounds obvious, right?
However, you may find that when you sit down to start writing that you feel completely lost, with no idea what you should be writing about.
This is where thinking like your customer can help.
Paul Schoemaker put together a list of 5 ways to know what your customer wants. First on the list was “Stand in your customer’s shoes.”
His point was to look beyond just your direct relationship to your customer and think about their “full range of choices.”
More than likely, the product or service you provide is part of a bigger picture for your customer.
Professional Photography Example
I like to use realistic examples because I feel that it puts things at a practical level.
If you are a photographer, people don’t often get professional photos done because they took their kids out to lunch that day.
No, usually they are looking for photos of a big event or milestone in their life that they need captured. Weddings, engagements, and maternity photos come to mind.
So as a local wedding photographer, you have an opportunity to share things you’ve learned that your customer wants to know.
As a photographer in Knoxville you’ve probably done your fair share of weddings. Why not write a post about your 9 favorite wedding venues in Knoxville, or in all of Tennessee? (Long Tail Pro can help you determine exactly what people are searching for most often).
Maybe you have experiences with caterers that you would recommend. Or you’ve got some ideas about wedding favors that your potential customer would be interested in.
None of these things are talking directly about you and your services.
However, these are examples of things that your customer is also looking for.
So much of blogging is building trust with your audience. In fact, Mitt Ray conducted a survey on this topic and found that the top way to add credibility to your blog is quality content.
So by thinking like your customer and blogging about the things that are important to them, you are building trust and credibility in their eyes. So the person who finds your blog because they are searching Google for the “best wedding venues in Knoxville” just might be your next customer.
Promote Like A Human
If you own a website, you’ve probably received emails that start out with “Dear Webmaster:”
Does anyone in real life call you “webmaster”?
On second thought, that could be a pretty cool nickname…
Look, there are some great articles out there about “blogger outreach” which is simply the process of getting in contact with people who have websites or blogs in your industry. Often the goal of blogger outreach is to get that person to share your great blog post with their audience.
However, coldly approaching an influencer in your industry and asking for a favor via email works about as well as it would in real life.
We’re going to hang with the professional photographer example of the rest of the post.
What if you approached the most well known photographer you can think of and said “Hey! my name is Jake. Here’s my latest photo. Could you do me a favor and hang this up in your gallery so your audience could find out about me?”
How do you think that would go?
You must first remember that you are talking to another human being, which means they have feelings just like you.
In our example, what if you approached the famous photographer by saying something like “Hi Katie, my name is Jake. I’ve admired your work for so long, this is such an honor. In fact, your photo of the great caribou migration of 1996 is really what inspired me to get into this business.”
Which introduction would be better received?
The second introduction is personal, sincere, and complimentary. It is a conversation starter. Maybe you get to talk to Katie for a few minutes, ask her opinion on a few things, and then exchange cards at the end.
She may never hang your photo up in her gallery, but the chances of that happening are far greater in the second approach.
Outreach Done Right
Adam Connell has a great post about how to do blogger outreach the right way.
2 of the key things are to first, be personal.
At least know the person’s first name for heaven’s sake! Remember the “Dear Webmaster” guy?
Don’t be him.
Try to avoid asking for a favor in your first email. Or if you do, do something for them first.
Let’s go back to our photographer example.
I mentioned the importance of writing about what your customers want to know. Perhaps you’ve learned about some of the best catering companies in your area from all the weddings you’ve shot over the years.
So you write this post: “After 312 Weddings, These Are My Favorite Caterers in Knoxville”
You proceed to write about all your experience and then highlight a couple of companies that you’ve seen do great catering work.
After you’ve published this blog post, you need to reach out to those catering companies. It could be as simple as this:
Hi Company Owner Name,
How are you doing? This is _______ and I’m just writing to let you know that COMPANY does excellent work. I’m a wedding photographer in the area and every time I’ve seen your company do a wedding, they are always professional and the food is excellent.
In fact, I just included you in my favorite caterers in Knoxville and thought you’d like to check it out.
Keep up the great work!
This is what Brian Dean simply calls the “heads up” email. You are simply reaching out to someone that you mentioned, featured, or quoted and letting them know about it. The odds of them finding it otherwise are probably very slim, so you need to make sure they see it. As I said earlier, we’re dealing with humans. How do you think that email would make the catering company feel? I’d say that they’d be proud of their employees and grateful that you took the time to pay them a compliment.
What’s in it for me?
You’re happy to hear that the catering companies you featured are now feeling all warm and fuzzy because you paid them a nice compliment. But you may be asking, “what’s in it for me?” Often what happens when you do outreach like this is that the company decides to share it. They may repost it on their website, share it on Facebook, or just email it to a bunch of people to show everyone that they were listed as one of the best catering companies in Knoxville. When they share it, that is great news for you! First, links back to your website are important for your Google rankings; particularly links from similar companies and from authoritative sources.
The idea is simple. If the New York Times links out to a website in one of their stories, Google trusts that the New York Times wouldn’t be linking to some terrible, irrelevant site. So by definition, that link you have from NYT is a pretty big deal – it’s like a vote of confidence for you in the eyes of Google. On the local level, having links from other related businesses and maybe some national sites in your field is a great thing for your business.
Besides the “Google” part of all this, there is the human side. Remember when we talked about the “bigger picture” for your customer? If a local caterer becomes a fan of you and shares your link on their site, what kinds of people do you think are looking for a caterer? My guess is people who are planning special events like weddings and other banquets. That sounds a lot like your customers. So ultimately you are getting your company out in front of potential customers who otherwise may never have heard of you. Best of all – it didn’t cost you anything!
Blogging For Business Wrap-up
So there you have it, the 2 step process for helping your business blog more effectively: 1. Write about what your customers want to read 2. Tell people who might be interested I’d suggest that if you start following this formula today, you’ll be surprised at just how much your audience will grow over the next 6 months.
This is great post ! Your example of photography made the point clear !
Hi Naveen – thanks for reading!
Jake, My first visit to your blog. Your ideas here are clear, take a unique point-of-view and focus on steps I can take to help my own work. I’ve been looking for a reference to use in my content marketing course on getting in touch with one’s heroes and experts – this speaks to the need. An honest, adult approach that doesn’t resort to trickery or posturing. I like that you approach it as sowing the seeds. Who knows which will germinate? How can we tell what fruits the connections will bear? Well done, and I look forward to reading more from you. Thanks, Paul
Well this seems really easy to do. Blogging is one of the best money making business and I hope it keep growing in 2015 also. thanks for sharing details on these tips.