What is a blog?
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Blog” and you’ve probably assumed correctly that a Blog is 1- found on the web or internet; 2 – a type of personal or business diary; and/or 3 – Usually geared to teach or sell something. You would be correct on all accounts.
The very first “Blog” began as a descriptive term for logging onto the internet, or the web. In 1997, a “computer nerd” by the name of Jorn Barger from Ohio, came up with the term ‘weblog’ to describe what he was doing on his website: Robot Wisdom. He explained he was “logging the web” as he searched or browsed the Internet, creating a ‘web log,’ with what he found – which was shortened to ‘weblog.’ In 1999 ‘web log’ was further shortened by programmer Peter Merholz when he decided to pronounce weblog as ‘wee-blog,’ or ‘blog’ for short. The term blog was then popularized by the duo who created Blogger (one of the first and most popular Blog websites of the early 2000’s.)
Do I need to have a blog in my small business?
The short answer is YES!
Blogs, in their traditional form have evolved to become much more than just a diary of events or web pages looked at and things learned. Today’s Blogs have become major marketing opportunities and offer the following powerful business tools serving to:
- Inspire sales which increases revenue
- Improve conversion rates
- Foster relationships between your business and customers
- Promote brand awareness
- Increase your ranking on search engines
- Educate your audience
- Grow your overall business
What type of blog should I have?
Blogging has expanded to include things like podcasts (a series of spoken word, audio episodes, all focused on a particular topic or theme, like cooking or true crime), vlogging (video blogging) and micro-blogging (done on sites like Tumblr, Ghost or Webflow that are shorter, more personal blogs.) As far as the type of blog you should have for your small business, you need to ask yourself the following:
- What do I want my blog to do?
- Are you selling something?
- Is your blog purely for sharing information?
- Do you want to get new customers from your blog?
- Is your blog meant to be educational?
The type of blog you have, depends on the type of business you own and the goals you want to achieve from your blog.
The blog you are reading, for instance, is used (primarily) to help small businesses in our area. Small business is the backbone of not only our service area, but of America. We aren’t looking to “sell” a product through our blog, but to give useful information to help you succeed.
What do I say in a blog and how do I start one?
Starting a blog sounds easy (for some business owners). Others struggle to come up with topics or information they want to share. The most popular small business blogs are fairly short (500-850 words) and talk about (you guessed it…) the business! Here are some tips to make your small business blog successful:
- Have a Plan! Treat your blog like you treat your marketing materials; with a plan of how and when you want to “launch” information.
- Be consistent with your blog posting: Make a calendar! Pick a day and time and stick with it. You don’t need to blog every week, maybe every-other week or once a month is plenty – maybe you are in an industry where daily blogs make sense. Whichever you do, do it consistently.
- Lighten up! If anyone wants to read or see something that brings them down, they only need to turn on the news. Keep your blogs light, stick to the facts and avoid political, personal or religious extremes. (Unless of course, your business IS one of these extremes.)
- Switch it up: You don’t always have to talk about your business. Some of the most popular blogs have short videos or recipes thrown into the mix. Don’t be afraid to toss in something unusual.
I don’t sell anything. Do I really need a blog?
Yes, you still need a blog! And if you own a small business, of course you “sell” things. You may not sell widgets, yard art or crochet unicorns, but if you are in business, you ARE selling something. It might be more service related, maybe your business is consulting or reporting. An extremely popular fashion blogger named Gabi Gregg (Young, Fat and Fabulous Blog) sells nothing, but has become so popular with her blog that promotes body positivity and plus-size women’s clothing, that companies are clamoring to be on her blog (and pay for the privilege) just to get reviewed or even mentioned. She’s done blogs in Glamour magazine, MTV Online, Essence, and Black Enterprise.
Incidentally…this blogger’s “non-business” (that doesn’t “sell” anything) makes over 6-figures a year with her personal net-worth of over a million dollars!
I don’t have time to write and maintain a blog!
This may be very true for a lot of small business owners when you already have too many demands on your time. Here are some ideas to help with getting your blog writing done:
- Hire someone: There are many different blog writers out there who can write the blogs for you. Many bloggers enjoy business blogs, or even those unique niche-market blogs.
- Have your employees “take turns” writing blogs: You may even find an employee who really loves it and can dedicate the time to doing it.
- Ask around: Look at the blogs of your business associates and/or competitors. Ask questions and find out who does their blogging.
- Look at using college interns: College age students make great bloggers. They already understand the internet and what people are looking for, they are also less expensive than professional bloggers. (Just be careful to edit anything a blogger writes before it goes on your site!)
For additional information on starting or maintaining a blog for your small business – we may not be able to bring your blog 6-figures, but we CAN get you started! Please contact us at the Small Business Development Center – SBDC – Serving Paris area: Lamar, Hunt, Hopkins, Delta, and Red River counties.