So you’ve gone to the bother of creating a blog to promote your primary business. What next? Are you getting a response, or is it just a lot of work for nothing? How can you improve your blog?
Some businesses are easier to write for than others, especially those, like craft and hobby sites, where you can write a lot of ‘how to’ articles and posts. Readers enjoy useful information, in fact I’d suggest that the best way to improve your blog is to think about the information most useful to your readers/visitors and give it to them. Not too much at a time, after all you may want to create an ebook or other information product which will add value to your products OR which you can actually sell.
Here are three things you can do to improve the situation by making your blog more popular, increasing traffic and making the whole process simpler and less time consuming.
Build a Forward Features Calendar.
Planning ahead is vital. If you have staff it keeps them all working ‘on the same page’. If it’s just you, it makes life easier and that’s important because the easier things are, the more likely you are to do them.
Almost every business can teach potential customers something, but you may need to take a wide view of what that is. Don’t start talking about your product and it’s features, think about this from a customer viewpoint. What sort of information might they find useful?
For example, if you have a site where you sell beautiful wicker furniture, what can you possibly teach your shoppers? Should you tell them how wicker furniture is made? That’s certainly an option, but my guess is it’s not something that will keep people reading week after week. What you need is a subject that makes it easy to engage with customers, there are quite a few alternatives, but the major one is interior design.
Shoppers looking for wicker furniture are hoping to furnish a room, so give them the information they are looking for, show them how to create a beautiful room! Give them information about color schemes and themes which show off your beautiful furniture. Link to pages on other sites where they sell useful accessories (through affiliate links where possible) and show them how to make seasonal changes to the decor to reflect the changing light. Show them once they’ve bought the furniture there are ways to create different looks. Interior design is a great subject for a lot of products. If you sell rugs – interior design. If you sell ornaments and object d’art, interior design. If you sell wicker furniture, interior design, if you sell art, tapestry, even flower arrangements or plants, you can write about interior design and just give it all a little twist in your products direction.
Some of your readers have already bought, you want then to keep you in mind so they’ll recommend your store or blog to a friend. You also want them to choose your products next time they redecorate. Some of your readers have never bought from you; show them how to create a beautiful room with your products and you make it more likely that they will. Some of your readers will never buy from you; but they can still remember how friendly and useful your site was and they can still tell their friends.
You’ll need to work out a ‘forward features calendar’ of twelve broad topics, one for each month. If interior design is not your thing, just check with an interiors magazine and you’ll get the information you need. Color stories are always popular, as they are in fashion magazines and of course they change with the seasons; pastel and fresh in spring, bright and light in summer, soft and dark in Autumn and deep and strong for Winter. Using that monthly topic as your starting point, build your other features. Remember blogs can feature more than just posts. You can use plugins to create surveys and quizzes, you can show a gallery of pictures, you can add video. It’s a multi-media world – so use it!
Of course not every business can blog about interior design, but most can benefit from taking a step back from their products and taking a broad view. Hobby and special interest products (from hand held GPS’s to fitness to healthy eating or scrapbook supplies) benefit from blog posts about how to use them, but always add some personality. Blogs are there so your readers can get to know you. Most of my readers know of my guilty fixation with biscuits and that without Earl Grey tea and ginger biscuits I’d never write anything at all. What do yours know about you? People like to buy from people they know.
Use Email to Get Your Blog Posts Out
If you don’t have a newsletter, and perhaps even if you do, build one from your blog posts. Some email programs (Aweber) will do this automatically for you, using the rss feed from your blog, but if not, there’s nothing wrong with cut and paste, though if you want to keep your traffic numbers up you may not want to paste the whole article, just enough to whet the appetite and bring the reader to your page through a link. Some readers will subscribe to your blogs rss feed, but since the vast majority of people using the web still don’t know what an rss feed is, most will not. Set up an opt in form so readers can opt in to receive your blog by email. Aweber is a really good tool for this and it’s not expensive. Ask for feedback and the big surprise is – you’ll get it.
Set Up a Routine
There’s nothing worse than sitting hunched over your inbox, waiting patiently for the next useful blog post or newsletter about underwater embroidery only to find that nothing arrives. Set a schedule for your blog, and whether it’s once a month, once a week or twice a day, stick to it so readers know what to expect. Set a schedule you know you can achieve and work from there. Many good blog posts are longer than articles, which in some ways makes no sense, since there is no set length for blog posts. If your aim is to become an authority in your niche you will need to create some blog posts which are authoritative, which cover a whole topic, often by linking to other blogs and sites throughout the web. The information doesn’t have to be original to you, though it will help your reputation if at least some of it is. By collecting information and presenting it as a coherent whole you are doing what most authors have done since writing began, the convenience of finding all the good information in one place is worth time and money to most people, that’s why non fiction books exist. Guess what you could turn those blog posts into?
There’s another reason to stick to a schedule, and that’s trust. If your readers know they’ll get an email with the contents of your blog every Tuesday, then without thinking about it they come to trust you; trust is a major factor in making sales, and sales are what it’s all about.