The Zen of Blogging for Business

business-blogging

Do you have a blog for your business?

Have you wondered about the most effective way of generating new clients?

Are you confused about the best platform for you and your business?

Nowadays there are many different places you could build a platform online, especially on a social media site. But, almost certainly, the best way-by a country mile- is by blogging.

That’s been my experience. Let me explain…

Digital sharecropping

Building your platform on someone else’s website-be it Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest-carries enormous risks-risks of these big companies changing their rules, their terms and conditions, and wiping out your hard work spent building an audience.

Starting a blog on your own self-hosted web hosting account is your insurance against this. All your hard work benefits you.

A blog allows you to position you and your business as an authority in your area of expertise.

Ultimately it will allow you to build a relationship with your readers, one which will ensure that they come to know, like, and trust you.

The biggest barrier to selling anything online is trust, or the absence of it. And the reality is that almost nobody will buy from you or your business the first time they encounter you online.

No, that will take multiple interactions over a period of time which allows you to demonstrate your authority and build the necessary trust.

That’s why blogging, combined with email marketing, is a lethally effective online marketing strategy.

 Content marketing

Don’t confuse “blogging”, though, with the early days of blogging when bloggers tended to use the “web blog” as a personal journal. Many people continue to do this and this personal blogging is not unlike keeping a diary, except it’s online.

Business blogging is slightly different and could also be described as “content marketing”.

This involves publishing good quality, informative, unique content on your blog which educates, informs, and helps your target market. The goal, and outcome if done correctly, is that you will position yourself as an authority and thought leader in your particular industry.

The cumulative effect over time is that people will come to know, like, and trust you-and most importantly recognise that you are actually an authority in your field of endeavour.

Content marketing is not restricted to writing text on a blog; you could also produce great, helpful, unique content with video, audio, powerpoint, interviewing leaders in your industry, podcasting, etc.

 Conversation starter

So, if you accept that your visitor will not buy from you on their first encounter with you what should be your strategy for your blog?

Your blog is a conversation starter. You provide a unique voice, one which resonates with your potential new clients, and which demonstrates that you know your stuff and are a worthy mentor to help them solve their problem.

Your client then becomes the hero of their own story, with you acting as trusted mentor.

Starting your blog-2 routes

Once you decide to start a blog you are faced with where to locate your blog:

  1. On your own hosting account or
  2. On one of the big blogging platforms such as Typepad.com, Wordprss.com, Blogger.com, Tumblr.com.

Hosting your blog on your own hosting account is almost certainly the best route to go, but these other blogging platforms offer some great benefits too. These include the simplicity of setting up your blog and the security you will enjoy against viruses, bugs, malware, and so on, thanks to the resources of the owners of these blogging platforms.

The blogging platform is not critical

The blogging platform you choose is not critical.

You can use any of the options referred to above.

What is vitally important is that your “blogs” or “posts” are ultra useful for your target market.

That you are genuinely helpful, informative, and sometimes even inspirational. And that you write in a way that is easily understood by the greatest number of people who might become a client of yours.

You don’t need to show how clever you are, or how deep your vocabulary is. You need to show you care and can help, and you have genuine expertise.

Showing passion and commitment can work spectacularly well too.

So, why not start now? Start simply by mapping out the most pressing questions and problems your target market face on a daily basis.

Continue by thinking about the external and internal pressures they face, and picturing in your mind your typical client.

Write for him or her.

You’ve got to get started first, though.

Get blogging, be consistent, and you will find that your blog will become one of the best, if not the best, marketing tools in your business.

How a Little Employment Law Blog Attracts Over 2,000 Visitors Per Day (and What You Can Learn For Your Business)

 

jan-nov-2015
Jan-Nov, 2015 traffic stats

If you were providing a service, and your blog or website was generating 2,000 visitors per day, could you generate many new clients for your business, do you think?

18 visitors.

On the 1st of April, 2013 I started a little website focusing on a particular area of law in Ireland-employment.

It attracted 18 visitors on the first day.

Within approximately 10 months it was generating 800 visitors per day.

In September, 2014, it comfortably exceeded 1,000 visitors per day.

In May, 2015, it was attracting over 1,500 visitors per day during the week.

And in November, 2015 it was generating 2,000 visitors per day most week days (weekends always see a drop in numbers).

You will see from the screen shot that the number of unique visitors has grown in 2015 from 15,580 in January, to 32,629 in November.

All of this traffic is ‘organic’-that is, people searching for solutions to problems/information ‘on the internet’ and being sent to this website as a result of its search engine position in the Google results pages.

I started the site at the beginning of February, 2013. Just a simple no bells and whistles site on the free WordPress publishing platform which is provided with any hosting account.

Up to November, 2015 not one visitor had been sent to the site by any form of advertising. Around October/November, 2015 I began to dabble a little bit with Facebook advertising because an English marketing consultant-Ian Brodie– who I rate very highly, wrote about the great results he had seen with Facebook advertising.

So, I did a little bit of that for a few weeks in November and December with the object being to get people to sign up for my free report, 16 Common Employment Law Mistakes Most Irish Employers Make.

How Can You Use This for Your Business?

How has this been possible?

The key is very simple: good, useful, informative content published regularly on the site has led to the growth.

The proof of this is another vital statistic that you should always pay most, if not all, of your attention to: the ‘search keyphrases’ figures.(See screenshots). These are the actual phrases that people typed into the search box of their browser to find some information about their problem. It may have been unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal, disciplinary procedures, how to reduce wages, holiday pay etc.

Let me explain.

Keyphrases Used on Search Engines by Visitors

The source of all of this traffic is the search engines, particularly Google.

Most people focus on the ‘top 10’ search keyphrases that has brought visitors to their site. These are the phrases typed in by surfers when they are looking for information or to learn more about their problem.

The ‘Awstats’ program, which is very common and is most likely installed on your hosting account, lists the top 10 phrases used by people to find the site.

But in addition to this it also shows and lists all of the different keyphrases used by visitors who landed on the site.

Two things can be gleaned from this:

  1. It is the wide range of keyphrases/words that accounts for the traffic and not the limited strategy of trying to rank your website for only a handful of target phrases;
  2. The regular publishing of comprehensive, authoritative, useful content will be rewarded by the search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing in delivering traffic to your site.

The reason that this site ranks so well in the search engines and consequently is attracting growing numbers of visitors is, simply, the site’s content.

It is informative and authoritative, not shallow. Most or all of the blogs/posts/pages on the site are fairly comprehensive treatments of the subject matter.

This ensures that each piece of content is replete with synonyms, related phrases, industry jargon, bits of legislation, and so forth.

And Google recognises all of this stuff as a good signal that the posts/blogs are not ‘thin’ or shallow with a view to just gaming the search results.

Instead, they are genuine attempts to provide quality, authoritative, accurate information in this area of law which affects so many people, employers and employees alike.

In addition to the search engines finding this content and ranking it and delivering traffic, this type of content is shared around by people with friends, colleagues, etc.

And it gets linked to and referred to from discussion forums and some social media sites where people might be discussing one of the topics covered on the site.

This shows the value of having a lot of information/content/blogs on your website.

The Simple Strategy Anyone Can Implement

What is involved here is simple:

  • Find out what people in a particular market are looking for (Google will tell you with their free keywords tool)
  • Give it to them (provide the information that they are looking for and answer their queries and concerns)

For your business, think about the topics that your website or blog should cover as a priority. What are the huge concerns or worries of your target market?

Then think about a comprehensive “list” post you could publish on your site, eg “21 Surprising Facts About Your Lawn”, and commit to publishing interesting, authoritative content on a regular basis.

You will soon become a trusted authority in your industry and see similar organic growth in your web traffic numbers as I have.

If you want to take a look at the site: http://EmploymentRightsIreland.com

And remember: even though there are 92 posts on this blog/website now, it started in April, 2013 with 1.

Because the longest journey begins with a single step.

Click on the images to enlarge.

traffic-jan-april-2013

september-2014

jan-nov-2015

21 Surprising Reasons Why Every Small Business Should Have a Simple Blog or Website

blogging-for-business

Don’t have a website or blog?

An easy to navigate, informative blog is all you need to establish you or your business as a trusted authority.

If you are a small business owner and you don’t have a business blog or website you should take the 5 minutes it takes to read this page.

Because it will be well worth your while.

You may be a doctor, a hairdresser, a beauty salon owner, a car dismantler, a tyre replacement business, involved in waste disposal, a carpenter or plumber, a florist, involved in ladies fashions, a barber, in construction or a tradesman, a dog groomer, vet, accountant, architect, butcher…it really doesn’t matter what business you are involved in.

Or maybe you don’t have an existing business but you are thinking about starting one up.

One of the things that might hold you back from having a website is that you may be thinking..

…“I am not technical minded”, “I don’t know anything about that whole interweb thing”, “I haven’t a clue about social networks”, “I am afraid of being ripped off”, “I don’t know where to start”, “I don’t know what I need”, “I don’t know what a search engine is”.

These fears are entirely understandable.

I was in your shoes too once and understand your concerns all too well. And they are entirely groundless.

Let me explain: you see, there are web designers who are “tech people” who are turned on by graphic design, coding, html, css, and so on.

Small business owners like you and me are only really concerned with what a website can do  in terms of growing your business.

The good news is that you don’t need to invest a huge amount of money for a fancy, technologically advanced site.

Fancy design is not necessary

What’s far more important is what’s actually on your site-is there helpful, informative information for your visitors?

A simple site or blog crammed with useful information for your visitors, and which is easy to navigate, is all you need.

Let me explain some benefits-21 in fact-of having a website or blog for your business, no matter how small it might be today.

  1. Lifetime value of one customer

Assume for one moment that your business is in a pretty small Irish town and you discover that there are very few people in your area searching for what your business has to offer.

For example “accountants Mullingar”, according to the Google keyword tool, is only searched 12 times per month in Ireland. You may assume that there is no point therefore having a website for your accountants business located in Mullingar or, if you already have one, ranking near the top of the search engine results page for that phrase.

But of course the lifetime value of one new client per month could be quite significant over the course of that client’s lifetime and the lifetime of your accountant’s practice.

  1. Being the top dog in your local market

When someone does search for “accountants Mullingar” do you want to be top dog or are you happy to let your competitor snap up that business. So even though the market may be relatively small in search engine terms it would be the height of folly to leave your competitor have the field to him/herself.

  1. Web address on your stationery

People who might consider doing business with you expect you to have a website-having a web address on all your correspondence, business cards, direct marketing materials, advertising, and so on will give your business a much more professional corporate image.

  1. Somewhere to refer your advertising traffic

Advertising is expensive and advertising in local newspapers or magazines is charged by the word and space; with a website you can run economical small ads and refer readers to your website where space is unlimited and you can tell your potential customers what you wish.

  1. Works around the clock for your business

A website will not need to be paid like an employee even though it works around the clock for you. You will never need to worry about holiday pay, sick pay, maternity pay, hangovers on a Monday morning, or any of the other problems that arise from time to time with humans.

  1. Demonstrating and explaining products

A website gives you a great opportunity to demonstrate and explain your products and/or services. You can do this by text, video, audio, PowerPoint, or whatever you choose.

  1. Contact details

All your contact details are always available.

  1. Video

You can utilize video to market yourself or your business, carry out demonstrations, educate, entertain..try doing that with the Westmeath Examiner.

  1. Images

A picture can be worth a thousand words.

And you can use unlimited amounts of images.

A hairdresser’s business can be greatly enhanced with plenty of photos showing examples of the various cuts and hair treatments you provide. And a picture can replace a thousand words..

  1. List building for newsletter

You can build a list of subscribers and let them know of special offers, build a relationship with them and always ensure that your business is in the forefront of their mind when they do decide to purchase.

  1. Automated Appointment booking

You could set up an automated appointment making system for people seeking suitable times for whatever treatment/consultation they require.

  1. Restricted area for employees

You can create a restricted area, a forum for example, for your employees on the ground to exchange ideas and information.

  1. Customer queries

You can encourage and answer customer/potential customer queries and questions.

  1. Frequently asked questions

A comprehensive frequently asked questions section on your website can be very helpful in assisting potential and existing customers..and saving valuable staff time in answering the most common ones by phone or email.

  1. Eliminate buyer’s remorse

Many buyers suffer from “buyer’s remorse”; if your new customer is having second thoughts about their purchase or your business a good, professional website to which they can refer can be reassuring.

  1. Tell people about you, your business, and your employees

Your site can let people know more about you, your expertise, your business, and your employees. And you are in complete control of this valuable information which will be available around the clock.

  1. Special offers only available online

Your website will allow you to make certain special offers available online only. This can be a great way to also generate new subscribers for your newsletter. (Your newsletter by the way can be delivered electronically or physically or both ways).

  1. Shopping cart

Setting up a shopping cart on a website is very easy nowadays with many secure payment options allowing you to grow your market and reduce the need to carry physical stock.

  1. Damaging reviews on first page of Google

You lessen the chances of a crappy review from a dissatisfied customer ranking no. 1 in the search results when your business is searched for.

Without a website there is a strong chance of this happening when the searcher looks for your business. With a website telling allowing you to put your best foot forward the chances of your site ranking above the poor review is much, much higher.

  1. Product brochure

Your website can also serve as a comprehensive product brochure for all your business’s products and services. This can easily be added to over time by your own secretarial and/or receptionist staff in less quieter periods.

  1. Professional appearance

No matter how small you business might be right now your potential new clients or leads will fully expect you to have a website. It gives reassurance to your customer/lead and demonstrates that they are dealing with a professional.

What sort of message do you give your leads when looking to generate new customers and you have not invested in a website for your business? Would this be a turn off for your potential customers? I fear so.

Having a Facebook page is fine. But everyone knows that anyone can set up a Facebook page for free. You need to consider whether this is going through your leads mind when you are speaking to them.

Don’t misunderstand me: having a website is not a silver bullet. It won’t solve all your problems and it will not give your business all the drive and impetus it needs. That is up to you..

But it is an essential for any business that wants to be taken seriously and be seen as a business on the move, a business that is professional and serious about it’s approach to serving it’s customers.