Blogging is one of those things we all know we should be doing, but is just so hard to get it done. As small business owners, we know that our online presence, SEO, and the content we create can define our success.. yet, time and time again we don’t post consistently, have a mish-mosh of topics, or lack a clear cohesive strategy when it comes to Blogging.
Blogging doesn’t have to be a scary impossible chore that takes half your working hours. In fact, I spend a total of about 10 hours on Blogging and social media each MONTH. Posts are published every Monday at 9am with over 1000 words each. And none of it is magic…
1. Make it a priority
I have calendar entry every week for Blogging. I allocate about an hour (more for actually writing posts, see below) to make sure my post is ready to go out that week. Pre-writing my posts allows me to dedicate that short period of time each week to filling the entry with fresh images, putting in ALT tags, proofreading, and filling in all the little details like location, social media sharing, and excerpt blurb. But it all starts with allocating time out of my busy work week to sit down and focus on doing this one thing. This thing that doesn’t necessarily bring in money (not like working on my business does), but that I choose to prioritize. This is the first and most essential step, because if you don’t prioritize Blogging, you will never succeed at making the consistent effort required to keep it going.
2. You are an expert, share your knowledge
But what do you write about? Every single business owner or entrepreneur is an expert in their field (or at the very least has knowledge around an interest they are passionate about). Write about that! Your customers and potential clients don’t know what you know. They might be completely new to the field, they probably have no idea what makes your business different from your competition, and they are making purchasing decisions based on information they find online. When you write Blog posts and share your knowledge, potential clients will find you. They will see that you know what you’re talking about, and they will come to trust and respect your ability in your field.. and guess what, that’s exactly what someone needs in order to make an actual purchase from your business!
3. Batch-write posts
It’s better to sit down and dedicate about 4-6 hours to writing Blog posts in a batch, in one day. It allows you to focus and allocate some real mind-space to it.. because, let’s face it, writing is hard. It has also been found that doing creative tasks in the afternoon is more productive (Read When by Stephen H. Pink), so timing it well can make this task easier. I will often shift when I sit down to write based on how I’m feeling that day. I’ve found that if I’m slightly depressed or worried, I can sit at a computer for hours without getting much done. Writing is best when I’m excited about my business (which in reality isn’t always the case, because, hey, running a business isn’t all colorful rainbows and happy unicorns), relaxed, and have a lot of creative energy flowing. I try to get 4-6 posts written up at one time and the best way to do that is to have a Content Calendar…
4. Make a Blog topic calendar for the year
Since we’re writing Blog posts based on our expertise, sharing our knowledge, and creating content that is relevant and useful to our readers, having a Content Calendar is both possible and extremely useful (if you’re Blogging to share photos from a recent photo session, then your posts will be defined by your work, which you obviously can’t really predict that far in advance).
I will dedicate a day at the start of the year to brainstorm potential topics for my Blog posts. They don’t have to be perfect, because they do sometimes change as I get closer to their publish date. I might get a question from a Client that I feel the need to address on my Blog, or decide to feature a Small Business that I had the pleasure of working with.. so my Content Calendar isn’t set in stone. The point, however, is to have topics you can write about ready to go. This might seem difficult or almost impossible, but it’s only about 4 topics per month if you Blog every week. You can use holidays or write about things your clients might be thinking about during that time of year (like summer vacation in August or Christmas in December). Be creative. And it will get easier once you get going.
5. Blogging for SEO
You’ve heard it over and over from SEO experts.. if you want to rank higher with Google, you need to BLOG. Now, I’m not 100% convinced that’s so absolutely essential (some of my peers don’t Blog at all, but rank highly anyway).. but, if Blogging is already something you feel strongly about, then getting an SEO boost is a very nice bonus. A few suggestions.. write posts that are informative. Write for your audience and not for search engines, because whatever SEO tricks might work today could get you banned tomorrow. Vary your topics. Do it consistently, to the day and hour. And use relevant titles that someone might search for. SEO takes a long time - it can be months or years before you will see positive results from Blogging, so focusing on SEO as the sole reason to do it makes little sense. Don’t Blog for SEO, Blog for your audience.. and the rest will take care of itself.
6. Custom is better than stock photography
I have the benefit of being a photographer, which means I can often easily create custom photographs for my Blog posts. As a small business owner, stock photography might seem like the only option for illustrating your Blog and website. But it’s more affordable than ever to work with a local photographer for custom imagery for your business. Especially if you have a website, need a headshot, and use social media. Everyone knows what stock photography looks like. It’s cheesy, over-used, and nobody is fooled. Spending money on hiring a professional to create custom imagery is smart. Do one photoshoot a year - if you’ve planned out your posts, you can easily get all the photos you need in one sitting. Invest in your business so that people who find you online instantly see that you’re a professional who takes their business seriously. Photos speak louder than words, and good images will set you apart!
7. Never break the chain
People who used to Blog will tell you the same story “I Blogged every week, and then I missed one and haven’t Blogged in over a year”. Once you break the chain of consistent Blogging, you are more inclined to forego the rest of it. So the best way to avoid missing a week (and then never Blogging again) is to follow the tips above - make a calendar, dedicate time each week if you need to, schedule your posts, and do things ahead of time so if you have a vacation or an especially busy month, you won’t miss a post.
8. Define your own timeline
People will tell you to Blog once a week. Twice a week. Every day. At least once a Month. Twice a month. The point is.. Blog as often as YOU want, because what everyone is going to recommend is going to change next week. If Blogging every week seems like too much, Blog every month. If your posts are super elaborate and require weeks of prep work, Blog every quarter. Do what’s right for you and you will find that you’re a lot more successful at it.
9. Done is better than perfect
Here’s the thing, none of my posts are perfect. They sometimes have spelling mistakes. The sentences aren’t as good as they would be if I spent 2 hours editing the copy.. but striving for perfection before hitting that publish button (or, schedule button) will make it almost impossible to keep Blogging on track. We are all human. Nobody expects perfection week after week. So it’s much better to publish a post you’re not 100% thrilled with than to not publish anything at all. Do better next week. Learn. And move on.
I often feel that small business owners and entrepreneurs are expected to be good at everything. The fact is that some of us are better at writing, some are better at speaking to people face to face, and some of us are visual communicators. If you’re a one-person shop, it’s unrealistic to expect to be good at Blogging, photography, posting on social media, and on top of all that, actually running your business. And a lot of small business owners get overwhelmed at the beginning of launching their business because there is SO MUCH that needs to happen, and usually all at once.
The tips above are the best approach to Blogging I have found. And if you’re wondering, writing is what I personally feel most comfortable with. If you prefer to speak to people directly, creating your own Podcast or Vlogging series might be a better fit. Or you might focus on Instagram and sharing your images with a few words that way. There is no best way to go about this.. but the main point is to share your knowledge, build a community, and create content that will benefit your clients and your business at the same time.
*Images above are of Terri, a small business social media expert who I had the pleasure of working with earlier this year. You can follow her on Instagram at @thewanderinglocalist.