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Be a better blogger

5 small business blog tips that make a big difference    

By Pete Michaud

Success with a business blog means attracting and retaining customers. Blogging is also an excellent way to prove your industry expertise and expand your network.

You probably already know you’ll need to write sharp prose and update your site regularly, but do you know how to add that extra pizazz that takes a blog from ordinary to outstanding?

Read on to learn the five critical elements that every blockbuster business blog shares.

Tip #1: Focus on your real customers

Small business owners like you are experts in at least two areas—not only your business domain, but running a small business as well! Maybe you run a dog grooming business. It would be easy to get caught up writing about how to run a dog grooming business, which would be fine if your customers were other dog grooming business owners. If your goal is to get dog grooming customers, then you need to write about grooming dogs.

The difference is subtle, but the effects of shifting focus from you and your business, to your target customers and their needs will transform your blog into a marketing powerhouse.

Tip #2: Add value with every post

If your blog posts are all about you and they don’t address the needs and interests of your visitors, then people won’t stick around for long. They certainly won’t convert into customers.

Don’t bloviate about your latest product release, price change, or customer acquisition. That’s all about you, and frankly, your customer doesn’t give a damn.

Ask yourself before writing and posting, “What is in it for my customers? Does this post help them solve a problem they are facing or give them information you know they need?” If the answer is no, then don’t post it!

Of course, you want to promote yourself and your business to your customers, but droning on about yourself will make you look like a boor. So how do you announce a new product or service in an interesting and useful way?

For example: A successful blogger started a company that helps people build a following on Twitter. He wrote a post about wanting a following on Twitter, and the exact steps he took to build that following. The process was slow, painful, and monotonous. For that reason, he said, he built a piece of software that could help him by doing everything he did manually, only faster. And he also made his tool available to the public.

The response was huge. By sharing that step-by-step guide that addressed one of the very specific needs of his target customers, he positioned himself as a credible expert in his market and convinced hundreds of people that their problem was worth spending money on.

Tip #3: Don’t oversell

What the blogger did with his Twitter article was clever because he added value with his post that doubled as an explanation of and advertisement for his business as well. Business bloggers are always thinking of new ways to convert visitors into customers. That’s a great skill to have, but it’s easy to go overboard.

No reader is going to stick around for a hard sell every time you post an article on your blog. If you bombard them with popups when they enter your page, and all they get out of the deal are thinly veiled infomercials seducing them to give you money, their defenses will go up and they will run, not walk, away from your blog and your business.

Blogging works because it gives you a platform to communicate with your customers, who, over time, begin to associate you with your market. When the time comes to make a purchasing decision, you’ll be on their mind.

Blogging works much like a Coca-Cola advertisement. When is the last time you saw a billboard that said, “Buy Coke right now!”? Instead you’ll see its colors and logo with a tag line like, “Life is good.” Those advertisements exist to keep Coke on your mind and to connect the concept of Coke to the good life.

That way when you’re standing in the supermarket aisle a week later and there is a red package of soda right next to a blue package, you’ll choose the red package without thinking too much about it.

Blogs work the same way, by making you visible to your customers and associating you with trust and expertise in your niche. When the time is right for them to buy, they will think of you first.

Tip #4: Show your personality

You have thoughts, opinions, and goals and the best thing for you to do is show yourself as you really are on your blog. People want to connect with other people, and if you try to maintain a dry, corporate style in your blog writing, you won’t give your readers anything to connect to.

There is some controversy about how formal you should be on your blog. Some people say that staying business-like lends you credibility, and warn that sharing too much of yourself might offend some readers.

Ask yourself, “Do you trust your accountant because he’s a stone-faced rock of a person, or is it because you like him and think he’s competent?” We don’t choose doctors or dentists based on how serious they can act or how “professional” they seem. We choose based on a good bedside manner, who we feel we can trust and be honest with.

Another important question to ask yourself is whether you really want to work with people who are offended by you. Maybe it would be for the best if those who don’t like you don’t try to work with you.

Tip #5: Stick to It!

Finally, even if you’re talking to the right people in the right way, you’re still susceptible to the number one reason business blogs fail—bloggers give up too early.

You may feel discouraged early in the life of your blog because it seems like no one is reading it, and that is perfectly normal. Even expert bloggers start blogs that get almost no traffic for months. In fact, you can expect it to take between six months and a year to take off.

The reason is that growing blog readership is exponential, not linear. Instead of straight diagonal line going upward, the graph of your blog’s popularity is a curve that borders near zero before it finally explodes upward around month eight.

Don’t give up before that explosive growth hits. If you stick to writing sharp, personal content that your customers really appreciate, your blog may soon become one of the driving forces behind the growth of your small business.

Pete Michaud is a veteran Internet entrepreneur who has started businesses in the technology, marketing, and healthcare spaces. His current venture is Kenrose Media, a publishing company specializing in health and wellness titles. Pete helps entrepreneurs meet and exceed business goals by training them to connect with core principles, overcome uncertainty, and plan effectively. Pete’s blog is on the Web at www.PeteMichaud.com and you can reach him at pete@kenrosemedia.com.


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