If you take a look at your favorite companies’ websites, you’ll find that almost all of them contain active blogs. Blogs have become an indispensable tool for business owners to communicate with customers and to connect with others in their industries. Blogs also do wonders for helping a business’s digital marketing efforts through search engine optimization (SEO) and link building.
In other words, an active blog—one that is consistently updated—can be helpful to your business, and sometimes in ways that you can’t even see.
Because many of the benefits of a blog happen behind the scenes, business owners tend to have a lot of questions about blogs. To many, a blog seems like a lot of unnecessary extra work, and this is especially true of small business owners, who are generally working with fewer resources to begin with. The idea of spending time planning and writing (or spending money to hire someone to do it for you) isn’t appealing to many small business owners!
If you’ve been resisting creating a blog for your business, this article is not meant to try and convince you to do it. You’ll have to do a cost/benefit analysis and decide if it’s the right time for you and your business. However, if you already have a blog for your business, this article is definitely for you because you may be asking:
Now That I Have This Blog, What Do I Do With It?
First and foremost, you have to update your blog regularly. People are over-extended and tend to jump very quickly to the next thing. If you start a blog and start to engage some readers, you have to deliver new content on a regular basis, or else they will lose interest.
Secondly, your blog needs to be focused. As a small business owner, this shouldn’t be too difficult. You can write about anything related to your business, and it will maintain a degree of focus. If you find yourself getting stuck, remember that your readers are your customers. What would your customers want to know? Do you have any special events coming up? Have you won any cool awards that you can announce? Have you gotten any great reviews from customers that you can talk about? Is there something unique or interesting about your business’s philosophy or history that you customers should hear?
Third, it needs to be readable. Remember that the main purpose of your blog is to communicate and connect with customers. In order to do so, the entries need to have proper spelling and grammar. It’s wise to have someone look them over for you so you can catch any typos or mistakes. If you’re concerned about your writing ability—after all, not everyone feels comfortable with written communication—there are people who write and edit blogs professionally who would be happy to help you.
Once you have a handful of entries, your blog begins to tell a story about your business. It starts to draw customers in deeper and create a sense of loyalty. The more you add to it, the more interest it builds, making it even more important to keep it up.
One Step Further: From Blog to Book
As you add more and more content to your blog, and as it begins to take shape, you’ll quickly realize that it’s a valuable asset. Each entry is something that you get to keep forever and use however you like. Hopefully you have readers (who are also customers) who engage with what you’re writing and participate in the conversation. Even if they’re not engaging right there online, hopefully you’re hearing from customers things like, “I read in your blog that you guys are opening a new location,” or, “I read about your philosophy on returns, and it is so refreshing. No other businesses seem to be handling returns that way.”
If you’re like 90% of Americans, you’ve probably had a vague dream of writing a book someday. Good news: If your business’s blog is constantly growing, you’re well on your way to writing a book. As a small business owner, having a book is a big deal and can be hugely beneficial. The most prominent entrepreneurs all have books, and that’s no accident.
How do you begin? Take a look at your blog. Go through it from start to finish. Are there any themes you can pick out? Are there groups of entries that fit together or center around a similar topic? Sure, you’ll find some entries that are either too old or too time-sensitive to be relevant to a bigger story, but you’ll be surprised at how much of your blog can be incorporated into an impactful book that will engage your customers even more.
Business consultant Pamela Slim did this with her blog Escape From Cubicle Nation. She began blogging in 2005 with the goal of helping corporate workers leverage their passions and talents and become entrepreneurs. Her blog was so inspiring and successful, Penguin Random House approached her, and she turned her blog into a bestselling book in 2009.
As publishers, we’ve also helped business owners transform collections of articles into books. Just recently, we teamed up with Businessing Magazine to create Attract. Evaluate. Hire.—a free, downloadable guide about finding and hiring the right people. The project began with a collection of articles from the magazine, and then those articles were enhanced, expanded, and stitched together in order to create something new and bigger—something that would be a one-stop shop for any business owner searching the magazine for information about hiring.
Blogging doesn’t always make sense to business owners, especially if the benefits aren’t obvious to them. If you’re on the fence about blogging, I encourage you to do some research and see how creating a blog can help your business. If you already have a blog and you’re wondering if you could be getting more out of it, the answer is yes! Take a look at the material you have, and think about how it could become a book. If you have questions or want to know more about how to get started, contact us at Maven, and we’ll gladly point you in the right direction.