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3 Tips for Starting a Small Business Blog

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Collis Ta’eed – Enjoy!

Image credit: Shane Pope

In the age of social media, blogging is even more important as a small business marketing weapon and if anything, it has been enhanced by social media. A blog can establish you as an expert, open you up to organic search traffic, help you grow an audience, and be a part of a coherent marketing plan for your business, but getting started can be tricky. What do you write about? How frequently should you write? What if nothing happens?

The truth is that starting a blog for your small business is like anything else.  It takes time, effort, practice and a bit of patience. It also can be very achievable for any business looking to create a web presence if done correctly.  Here are three tips to help you get started:

1. Make it genuinely useful

Ironically the best way to make your blog a marketing weapon is to first forget about everything else and make the blog genuinely awesome in its own right. If you can build a blog with posts that are just plain interesting, relevant, educational, insightful, inspiring, or useful, then you are off to a great start. It’s only after you have established the blog as a valuable tool that you can truly consider its marketing impact.

To create a useful blog, you have to put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Since this is a small business blog, the reader could potentially be interested in your business. Ask yourself what those readers would find useful and valuable? Let’s look at some examples.

Consider a small niche electrical store selling energy efficient products. For a business like that, I would expect a blog that offers tips on saving money off energy bills, choosing a great energy provider and how-to articles about repairing broken electrical products.

What type of blog does a hairdressing salon building up a local presence create? This blog might have posts about hair care, tips for creating different hair-do’s out of a single haircut and fashionable celebrity hairstyles.

You’re probably seeing a trend here, but let’s look at one more example. What about a copywriter looking to do corporate work? A blog for a copywriter might have posts about top faux-pas that you can accidentally create, how to map out all the copy needs a small business might have and how copy can affect a business promotion’s success.

The underlying principle is to think about valuable information that you can offer readers related to your business. Creating content like this is also one of the best ways to get ranked for search results, especially when combined with good on page SEO.

2. Target Social Media

As a new small business blog with good content, your biggest challenge is building an audience. Having a steady baseline audience is important because it allows you to gain momentum around social sharing, comments and interaction, and links. These things all feed off each other and you can gradually build from there.

But how do you get the initial audience? There are lots of different ways depending on the business, but for a purely online solution assuming no prior audience base, you can’t beat social media. The beauty of social media is it allows you to tap into existing audience groups, but it’s not necessarily easy, and there are a few things you will need.

After establishing great content, the next thing you need to do is target the right social media sites and this depends entirely on the business/content niche you are in. Let’s look back at our previous examples.

For our energy saving blog, I would look at Reddit as a good place to target. There are channels on Reddit with strong environmentally conscious audiences, perfect for tips on energy. There are also DIY type channels which might be good for how-to topics, especially if they are a bit geeky/tech.

For our hair dressing blog, I would suggest Pinterest, and would aim to get some very image heavy posts prepared. Pinterest has the right audience mix for fashion and hair, and it’s a great place to share imagery, tips, and links.

For the copywriter blog I’d look at LinkedIn. Social sharing on LinkedIn has been growing and there are more and more features to help you build followers. For a blog aimed at business needs, LinkedIn is the perfect place to create an audience.

Of course sharing content on social media is almost an endeavor in itself. The keys are to identify the right social media site, spend time actively using the site apart from trying to spread your own blog content, build up personal networks, and then slowly and occasionally introduce your own content.

3. Keep At It

The best advice I ever got in blogging was to think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. Like most everything in life, you will get better and more effective with time and effort. When I first started out blogging, I began where everyone does – with no audience, no network, no experience, and writing skills that were in need of practice.

I spent hours every day on my blog for months, and during that time I would network with other bloggers, read about blogging, engage with social media sites in every niche I could find, experiment with different post types and techniques, and do everything I could think of to find readers.

In time I went from dozens of page views a day to hundreds, and eventually much, much bigger. Today my business runs a blog with millions of readers, but I still think the biggest accomplishment I ever had in blogging was getting from zero readers to the first hundred regular visitors.

If you put in the time, effort, energy and determination, your blog will eventually blossom and you will reap the rewards!

As cofounder and CEO, Collis Ta’eed leads Envato, one of the world’s most thriving digital marketplaces and creative educational blog networks. Envato is recognized for the educational Tuts+ and Tuts+ Premium networks as well the ThemeForest Marketplace, but oversees more than 30 sub-brands, where close to 2 million people buy and sell digital assets from site themes to stock media, or hone their creative skills.