I am old enough to remember when blogs were mainly used by new moms of squishy little humans, people with looney conspiracy theories to share, or those annoyingly beautiful and wealthy Hilliary-Duff-look-a-like-traveling-teenagers trying to make the rest of us feel bad about ourselves. I am also old enough to remember devoting countless hours on my Xanga site trying to sound witty and interesting for all of my adoring fans.
(ie my two friends and my current roster of crushes)
But those are the blogs of yesteryear. Today blogs can and should be used by all small businesses and solopreneurs for several very important reasons. (Don't worry we will get into those shortly!) In fact, a blog on your business website is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get traction on your website; and the best part is you can handle it all in-house (ie yourself)- if you want.
Blogs are easy enough to learn, implement and continue but, like anything else in your business, it will take time and a bit of a learning curve. But worry not, your bestie Christi is going to walk you through the steps and the potential pitfalls you could fall into. (ie pitfalls that I've fallen into!)
But first, why bother with blogs at all?
If you don't work in digital marketing you may be thinking, why even bother with blogs in the first place. Maybe you think you have nothing interesting to say or that you have nothing to gain from tap-tapping on that keyboard for an hour or so. But that couldn't be farther from the truth.
Here's a shortlist of why blogs could be the missing marketing piece you've been waiting for!
Blogging for Traffic
Probably the best reason to start a blog is for the website traffic it can drum up. For example; this blog is being drafted and published specifically to pull more businesses interested in blogs (like you) to my site.
Each blog you write is essentially another website page that Google could crawl and start indexing. So I have a copywriting page that showcases my blog services. But now I will have a whole other page with 900+ words indexed tailored to blogging. Score!
Blogging for Authority
Blogging also helps you to establish authority in the industry. This is especially important for small and growing businesses. Let's take this blog as an example again. In a moment I am going to walk you through the steps to take to start a blog and those steps will help to establish a bit of my authority.
A potential client can and will read through my detailed steps and think - "dang this woman knows what she's talking about. I trust her a little bit." And with that, I slide open my van door and offer you all the candy!
Blogging for Value & Connection
A slightly less self-serving reason to start a blog is to offer value and forge connections. I am fully aware that most people reading this blog will not hire me to write their blogs, but I also know that within this blog there is valuable information that several of my casual (and dedicated) readers will snag and carry with them into their future marketing endeavors.
This I am okay with.
I am also aware that blogs, regardless of the topic help consumers to connect with their brands. Reading a business's or solopreneur's blog is a wonderful way to get an idea of what kind of person/people are behind the brand.
In this post-pandemic/still-pandemic climate, it is more important than ever to connect with your audience.
Now, let's talk about starting a blog!
Step 1: Have a Website
First thing's first, in order to start a blog you have to have somewhere to host it. This means a website for most people. If you do not yet have a website you will want to get a home page up either yourself or with a team - like mine - before launching your blog.
Don't overthink this step too much. Too often I see small business owners wait literal years to launch their websites waiting for them to be perfect. But even a site with typoes and a site nowhere near your ultimate goal is still a website and progress is always more valuable than perfection.
Step 2: Turn on Blog/Post Page
This part will vary a bit depending on what platform your website is on. If you are on Wix - like me - you will just need to select the "blog" option on the menu and start drafting. If you are on WordPress you will need to make sure the theme you have on your site is compatible with "posts'. And in Squarespace, you need to go to "Pages" in the main side menu and then Add the "Blog" Page if it's not already there.
Step 3: Decide on Strategy
This is another potential pitfall for most of the small bizzy owners I talk to! Don't let the strategy get too complex to stop you from launching the blog. Here's how to NOT get overwhelmed!
Define your goals. Why do you want a blog?
Choose a posting frequency. For this, I typically recommend one per month when starting out but it can be anything you want. It can be quarterly, weekly, or daily if you feel so ambitious.
Develop your brand voice - if not already established.
*If you haven't established a brand voice yet it is a necessary but not too challenging task. The Clever Catalyst for example is mostly me with the help of a few like-minded individuals. Our brand voice is a reflection of us and the people who tend to work with - playful, casual, approachable, a little dark and moody, and always respectful!
If you're a solopreneur the voice is usually yours, but ultimately you should just make sure the voice is tailored to your ideal audience.
Step 4: Do your keyword research!
Even if you are not blogging especially for SEO - which you should be! - you should always take the time to do the keyword research BEFORE pre-writing your blog. But before you run away screaming keyword research does not have to be intimidating or expensive.
Here's how to do some quick keyword research in less than 10 minutes for FREE!
Open Google Ads. Ads.google.com - If you do not have an account you can create one in less than 10 minutes. (Details below)
From the dashboard select the wrench icon and then "Keyword Planner".
Select "discover new keywords".
From here if you will want to select the location icon and adjust your search radius. If you are a local business you will want to restrict the area - you don't need traffic from Alaska if you're a local Chicago hot dog stand.
Then pop some keywords in the search bar, as many as you want to be separated by commas, and start your search.
When choosing words you will want to make sure they are words your target audience would use in a search. If your industry is complex like an electrician you may want to "dumb down" the words a bit - as technical terms are rarely searched for.
You will also want to find words with high search traffic - but don't be tempted by huge traffic pits that are NOT relevant to you. Intention matters more than anything else with keywords.
A note on opening A NEW Google Ads account
If you are starting a brand new Google Ads account there is an intimidating step at the start. In order to create an account, you have to set it up as if you are planning to run ads. You do NOT have to be running ads to start an account.
When creating the account it gives you NO OTHER OPTION other than to start an ad. Just jump through these steps with literally any blahty blah you want. (ie create a dummy ad.)
You will need to put payment info in the account at the end of your dummy ad but YOU WILL NOT BE CHARGED for this ad - if you turn it off right away - which we are going to do.
Once you've launched the ad go to the dashboard again (just click the Google Ads Icon in the upper left) and then you will see your dummy ad.
Just pause that sucker and you will never be charged because the ad never ran. If you wait a few days or even a few hours to pause the ad you could get charged for the amount of ad spend that happened in the meantime - so be sure to pause the ad.
Get to Bloggin'!
The rest is business as usual. I recommend creating a template of blog tasks in your project management software - like Trello or Asana or whatever you use. My template of tasks repeats monthly and includes tasks like keyword research, pre-writing, drafting, edits, scheduling, and cartooning.
Keep in mind it will probably be bumpy in the beginning but you can get through this. Blogging is almost always worth it and if nothing else you can find confidence in the fact that there are literally thousands of blogs on the internet that I can promise you are much less interesting than yours will be.
And if you do decide to launch a blog let us know on our social channels and we will happily subscribe to be one of your first dedicated readers! Not a bluff!
And if all of this seems like too much The Clever Catalyst offers both consultations for less just $30/hour and full-fledged blog services for as low as $50/blog, complete with blog graphic, meta-description, and focus keywords.