Is your blog getting you down? Do you wonder whether it’s worth all the effort, whether people are really getting something from it, whether you’re “doing it right”? Maybe you think you’re not a writer, or you simply feel like you don’t have the time to write with all the other demands of your small business.
I know exactly how you feel. I came down with a severe case of blog-itis a while back. We were getting great feedback on our content, but something was missing—we weren’t connecting the way we wanted to. The simplest way to describe what we were doing wrong is that we were pointing to a destination without showing people the steps they needed to get there. We had plenty of “why,” but not enough “how to.” I wanted to share a few thoughts on what we’ve learned in hopes that this might help you with your blog, and maybe your online marketing in general.
Having a blog—whether you post monthly or daily or anything in between—is far and away the cheapest and most effective tool you have as a small business owner in the complicated world of online marketing. Here’s the bottom line: businesses with a blog get 55% more traffic to their website than those that don’t.
7 Questions To Ask When Redesigning Your Blog
- Would my best customer like this? It’s a waste of time to try to guess what future customers might be interested in. Write about what your current customers already told you they like. Write down the most common things people ask you when you first pick up the phone. I thought we had three things like that, but when we sat down to really think it through, it turned out there were really seven. How many do you have? Those are the topics to start with.
- Did the salesman in me grab the keyboard? The trap with a thousand trap-doors is to talk about your product or service, and then to try to somehow sneak in how you’re cheaper, faster or better than the other guy. Maybe you are, but it will only ever feel desperate to the person on the other end. I’ve done it. And the worst part is that you started the sales conversation on the wrong foot. Instead of making it about them and what they really need, you’re telling them all about you. It’s very difficult to turn that conversation around.
- Would my nine-year old understand this? Your blog isn’t the place to introduce complicated or technical ideas. It’s a place to show people how much you care and how well you understand their situations. And there’s nothing that says you get it more than finding a way to say it using language they can easily understand.
- Are we holding back the good stuff? It’s impossible to give away too much good advice. But you know the best of what you do isn’t the advice itself. It’s in how you deliver what you know—consistently and with care over time. It’s in doing the little things right so that people feel good about recommending you to their friends.
- Am I in it for the long haul? Your blog—like all good marketing—is a long-term proposition. You’re inviting people into a relationship with you, with your company, and with your point of view. If they’re on your blog, they know how to find you when they’re ready for help. So when it comes to talking about your product in your blog, a promotion you’re running, or an exciting new feature, be merciless: just say no.
- Will anyone hate this? If nobody hates your blog, you’re doing it wrong. Because it means you’re writing to everyone, which means you’re writing to no one. Be willing to alienate the wrong customers, people who won’t “get it.” It will sting and burn, and you’ll feel a kind of vulnerability that only another blogger can relate to. You’ll never get used to it. But when your ideal customers start popping up out of nowhere—because you are willing to stand for something—that has an incredible way of taking the edge off.
- Have I really trimmed all the fat? Less is almost always more. Make sure each post is about one thing and one thing only. If a paragraph, or a sentence, or a word isn’t essential to what you’re trying to express, delete it. And don’t expect to get a post right the first time. What makes writing great is great editing. You’ll know it when it’s there.
As you’ll start to discover, writing a blog will start to pay huge dividends for you in literally every area of your business. You’ll find ways to share stories about solutions to common problems in your industry in a way that’s uniquely your own. What better differentiator is there? You’ll be giving people a window into your values, your culture, and the way you do business without ever having to shout about it.
And most importantly, and counterintuitively, you’ll start to discover a way to relate with people online that’s similar to the way you would relate to them if they walked in your front door.
Your blog is there to do one thing and one thing only: to meet people where they are. Invest in the process. Put yourself in their shoes and really imagine what it’s like to be them. What are they thinking about right now? What are they feeling that they’re afraid to say? Then say it.