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Blogging

How to blog for business

By | Blogging, Business | No Comments

We live in a world in which content creation equals visibility – thanks to our new rulers, Google and the giant social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

And while sometimes they can seem like monsters that need feeding, what is absolutely the case is that when you feed the monster (and feed it in the right and a consistent way), your brand grows online.

It all starts on your blog, which lives on your website, because it is here that you are ultimately trying to bring people back to, and it’s this long form content that you can edit down into social posts that are both on message and get your message across.

  • Get your content type right.

The type of content you create is closely related to what you sell, but you are trying to educate, inform and entertain potential and new customers – and in a way that makes them know you, like you and trust you. A large proportion of your efforts should go in to ‘evergreen’ content. Most business owners focus on ‘live’ content because the pressure of an upcoming event they need to sell tickets for, or a new product launch, spurs them into action. Of course live content is important, but evergreen content that has value all year round and remains relevant for the long term is too because it can be repurposed and shared out multiple times (more on that later!)

  1. Take content seriously

Content-writing is not a job that can be delegated to a part-time PA or landed on the plate of an already busy employee. It requires thought – and a schedule. Even if you only publish once each week, the week can quickly roll round with the next blog post still not written. Make it someone’s responsibility.

  1. Think about what your customers are asking you…

And then write up the answer as a blog post. Their questions are the best source of inspiration all the time, but especially when you are starting out. Using these topics, you can also extend your thinking to include what you would like your customers to know about your business or understand about the industry you operate in.

  1. Use your industry news for inspiration

All industries have their own news, and you can use developments and happenings in your industry to inspire your blog posts, and make you appear like the industry leader you are. Try to be one of the first to offer your comment or opinion on major industry developments, suggestions as to how the industry as a whole can improve. Set up Google alerts for keywords that relate to your industry and use these news stories for inspiration.

  1. Write on themes that are wider than just your business

This year, the UK Blog Awards company category finalists included a huge variety of businesses using content in an inspiring and successful way. I loved the way the finalists were writing on themes wider than just what they offer which will make their content more engaging. Take this comment by finalist Cottages & Castles self catering cottages: ‘Our blog shows another, more personal, side to our self-catering letting business. We understand that going on holiday is about the whole experience – where you can go, what you can do and how you can get the most out of your visit. We have built a library of posts which share hints, tips, advice, and inspirational stories showing Scotland off as the fantastic holiday destination it is.’

  1. Set your expectations right

The downside today is that there is an ocean of content out there. You’re not going to get visibility overnight. It might take a year, even two years, to get the attention that you want. But each post increases traffic, and if you want to spread the word about what you do, creating useful useful valuable content really works. Your other option is an expensive PR or advertising campaign. Of course, they work too, and for maximum visibility you’d have both. The brilliance of content though is you can just get on and do it. No waiting for editors, for print runs, for space, for publication dates – and it’s usually the lowest cost option.

  1. Forget what you learned at school

Good skimmability involves short paragraphs of 3 – 4 sentences with the occasional one sentence paragraph for effect, subheads, interesting bullet lists and highlighting specific texts with block quotes.

  1. Rinse your content for all it is worth.

This means finding ways to repurpose and reuse the same piece of content again and again to get maximum value from it. For example, you might pull one or even five key quotes from a blog post, change them into ‘quotable’ images, and then edit the original post into different captions. Suddenly that one blog post has given birth to five different social updates. Step two of this is loading it into a social media scheduling tool that contains a library that circulates content out again and again in a never ending cycle (good examples are Meet Edgar and Sendible).

 

13 powerful reasons to start blogging right now!

By | Blogging | No Comments

From fashion to professional services, blogging can be hugely profitable, so whatever your reason it’s not at all surprising that you want to make this online world work for you.

But you may still be far from convinced or understand how exactly blogging converts into cash or where the true benefits of blogging lie.

So let’s outline right now 13 powerful reasons to start blogging…

 

THE SIMPLE ROUTE TO CREATING YOUR OWN BUSINESS

 

  1. Blogging is easy

During much of this book I will be talking about how becoming a high-earning celebrity blogger is not easy – but the process of blogging itself is very easy! And in terms of setting up a small business, starting blogging has to be about as easy as it gets.

Most businesses require money to get started, whether for stock, tools or even a lease or property. But you can start a WordPress blog for free, or choose to have one with your own branded domain name for less than £100. Setting up the basic framework for your blogs takes very little time; and you don’t even need your own laptop (although life will be a lot easier with one, and computer equipment just gets cheaper every year).

So, the barriers to entry for blogging are minimal, and the success stories so astounding that it’s difficult to think of a reason not to give it a go.

 

A CHANCE TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFESTYLE

 

  1. You can make money

I should know – I did it!

In 2008 I started blogging as a strategy for the business I then owned. We published blog posts on our area of expertise twice a week, and all sorts of good things happened. Our Google position rose until we ranked top of Google for all the keywords that would bring in new leads to the business. The business became regarded as the best in its sector, we won awards, and over the years that blog belonging to my website brought in several million dollars in total sales. And in 2014 I was able to sell the business (along with its blog) in its entirety.

But trust me, my success story is small fry compared to some! There are people who sell their established blog for millions, and people continuing to earn hundreds of thousands or even millions from their blogs each year. And there are even more people making very satisfactory livings without becoming millionaires, either improving their work-life balance (see number 3 below) or simply earning some enough to pay for some of life’s goodies.

  1. You can opt out of the rat race

We already know that in many industries having a laptop, email and internet connection means you can work from anywhere you please – a café, your hotel room or the kitchen table. But some people are using the internet and their blogs to take this to a new level. Blogging is often international, with readers around the world. So it is not a location dependent occupation and  self-styled digital nomads are the new growing breed; hashtags such as #workfromwherever have replaced the cold wet views of British cities for the bamboo and beaches of Bali and Thailand.

Becoming a digital nomad is something many bloggers aspire to and successful blogging is the ideal profession with which to achieve this ‘work from wherever’ lifestyle. But the best thing is you are not opting out of the rat race or giving up on a career in order to fulfil your ambition. You continue building your career and profile online while living a lifestyle that those climbing corporate ladders in the real world can only dream of.

Picture this: a digital nomad waking up in a beach hut, doing their 7am yoga on the beach and then conducting their work as usual in their wi-fi friendly, sea-facing, low-cost accommodation whilst sipping on fresh coconut water. They school their kids as they go and while many might run travel or lifestyle blogs, others offer consulting, copywriting or web-design services remotely and attract clients through their blogging. And if you think it’s all hippies, think again. In Ubud in Bali, Hubud is a collaborative working space (think bamboo-constructed building with an organic cafe and monkeys playing in its gardens) with superfast broadband that hosts 200 local and visiting digital nomads including technology entrepreneurs, remote GPs, fashion designers and photographers.

However, you don’t have to aspire to something quite that extreme! You might be a mum who wants to be able to fit work around her children, or you might simply yearn to leave the city for a new life in the country but to still have the opportunities and a position and role in your industry. Blogging is a way to ensure that happens.

  1. You’ll get free stuff!

We all like free stuff right?

Back in my 20s when I worked on a range of glossy magazines, I relished all the freebies that came with the job. And the money I saved – I don’t think I ever paid for make up, shampoo, toiletries, hair accessories, or gifts for friends. All these and more were sent in to the magazines to persuade us to feature them. I even got amazing free holidays – ski trips, spa breaks, flying first class to Mexico and staying on a private island just off Barbados. And if you added up the value of all this free stuff, it was like having a several thousand pound salary hike!

Today exactly the same thing is happening but it’s not the magazine journalists flying first class any more – it’s the bloggers. The media landscape has evolved and brands increasingly recognise the power of bloggers.

 

A WAY TO BOOST YOUR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

 

  1. You can raise your profile

In today’s unstable world, life-long job security is a thing of the past; so every professional person is constantly looking for ways to raise their profile within their industry and be better placed to secure that next position. Whatever you do, developing your personal brand and profile will help your business, and that is true whether you run a coffee shop or hair salon, a vet’s surgery or doctor’s clinic, whether you are a make-up artist, tv presenter, speaker, a celebrity, an actor or a pop star.

Unless you’re a faceless organisation, your personal brand and profile has a huge impact on your success. And to be honest, even faceless organisations could benefit from their key people developing personal brands in order to bring more meaning to the organisation (just think about the impact that Steve Jobs’ personal brand has on Apple, Richard Branson’s has on Virgin and James Dyson’s has on Dyson).

Blogging increases your profile – fact. And good blogging adds equity to your professional reputation which means…

  1. You can get more opportunity

Raised profile equals more opportunity. You might be the best and most talented in the world at what you do, or the most passionate about a topic, or the most creative when it comes to knitting jumpers from wool straight from the back of a sheep – BUT if no one knows about it then you won’t get the opportunities you deserve.  

During the book you’ll hear me repeating how the default human setting is to wait for opportunities rather than go looking for them. We are such modest creatures and seem to want someone else to point their finger at us and say ‘You are amazing!’

However, the internet has changed everything by giving us a tool to create opportunities for ourselves. And with so many people using it to talk, converse, blog and create and share amazing content, you can’t afford not to be doing the same – not if you want to create winning opportunities for yourself.

  1. You’ll learn new online technical skills.

This may not leap out of the page as a great incentive, but think about it; how many jobs nowadays require good digital or internet skills? And I know for a fact that there are plenty of fantastic potential bloggers who feel like technical dinosaurs, unable even to resize a digital photo on their tablet.

So, even if you just blog as a hobby alongside your day job, you will quickly master all kinds of technical and digital tricks – updating your website, manipulating images, editing video – because it really is not difficult. You just need something to motivate you. And who’s to say that it won’t lead you into some fabulous new job opportunity?

 

A WAY TO GROW YOUR EXISTING REAL WORLD BUSINESS

 

  1.         You can use blogging to help your existing website

Blogs form the majority part of content marketing – and if you’re a business owner, you will know that content marketing is the most powerful tool you have and one you can’t afford to ignore.

You need to grow your brand and maintain its position in the online marketplace. Blogging can do this; a razor-sharp content strategy including written blogs, video blogs and multi-media content keeps you competitive by driving traffic to your website as part of your sales funnel.

And while it takes up some of your time, blogging has another benefit too…

  1. It gives your business a soul and identity

Smartphones, tablets and the internet have opened the door onto what used to be the strictly controlled public face of your business. People now want to see what goes on behind the scenes; we are instinctively inquisitive and find it hard to resist peeping into someone’s sock drawer! It’s the desire to see the real person behind the carefully presented exterior.

So, even if you’re the best-presented business in the world, with a revolving glass door at the front and a row of beautiful receptionists to greet clients, you will build even more trust by showing a little bit of soul. Post a photo of your team on a night out or celebrating a big sale; or talk about your own story as the business owner, why you started the business and some of your goals you aspire to. In my business, we often used to post behind the scenes photos of us standing with Holly and Phil having booked one of our clients onto This Morning and all I can say is new clients loved it! When we published blog posts saying here we are at This Morning studios with Holly and Phil, it made us look totally real and where our clients wanted to be.

The modern world is all about being real and authentic, and blogging can help you connect with your customers by showing your human side – and making them smile.

  1. It will improve your website’s SEO.

Content is part of today’s outbound marketing – but as a business you still need people to be able to find you online by ‘googling’. And that means making sure your website ranks high up the search engine lists where it will get much more traffic and create a lot more selling opportunity.

Blogging with carefully selected key words that people use when typing into the search bar is absolutely essential to good search engine ranking – and using the right keywords has a compound effect. If you keep adding blog posts that fit with these keywords, then not only are you continually adding fresh content for the search engines but with each blog post you add layer upon layer of keywords for the search engines to truly know what your site is about.

The physical size of your site also grows with each blog post, and one of the things Google looks for as a measure of site authority is its size. It’s only one of many complex indicators, but a site that is growing by being regularly updated shows that the business is very much alive and kicking.

 

A WAY TO GET MORE FROM LIFE

  1. You can get (and give) help to solve problems

A lot of people start a blog for personal or cathartic reasons, an online ‘diary’ where they can creatively vent their daily problems and frustrations. But for some, those problems are more than just minor relationship troubles. Blogging can help you – and it can help other people too.

When John Servante started blogging about his life on ‘A Diary of a Depressed Student’, he didn’t just create an outlet that helped him deal with his own depression; he helped to raise awareness about the stigmas of mental health. Rosie Kilburn on the other hand took to blogging as a way to cope with being diagnosed with liver cancer, using it as a platform through which to sell her range of hand-designed T-shirts promoting cancer survival messages and raising money for cancer charities. A BBC documentary even followed her journey up until she sadly passed away in 2014 aged only 19. On her death, her half a million followers flocked to her blog to thank her for her inspiring legacy.

Blogging can be simply all about creating online communities where people in similar situations can help one another, and it just takes one person putting themselves out there to start it.

  1. You can change the world

More and more, people are using their voice in the online world to make changes in the real world. The impact that certain blogs have made on global matters is proof that its power should never be underestimated. Even kids can change the world through blogging!

At just 9 years old, Hannah Alper launched her blog ‘Call Me Hannah’ to voice her love and concern for animals and the environment. In the 3 years since then she has organised a Shoreline Clean-up in her community, become a World Wildlife Federation (WWF) Earth Hour Team Captain and travelled across Canada as a featured speaker on the We Create Change Tour.

And for 9 year old Martha Payne, what started out as a school writing project photographing and reviewing her school dinners turned into a food blog that got 3 million hits and stirred up a storm in her hometown of Argyll and Bute in Scotland. With her school under attack in the local papers, Martha, who had been giving each meal a ‘food-o-meter’ and health rating, was banned from taking photos of her food. But by now her blog had been noticed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Jamie stepped in, the ban was lifted and Martha continued with her campaign for healthier school meals and her efforts to raise money for the charity, Mary’s Meals. Donations soared, Martha raised over £130,000 to feed children in Malawi and won a Pride of Britain award.

Let’s not forget the adults too, or more specifically. In March 2016, Australian blogger Constance Hall wrote a sincere plea to her audience after a worker at Rafiki Mwema, a charity that creates a safe house for sexually abused young girls in Kenya, reached out to her. In only the first day, Constance received $150,000 worth of donations in the GoFundMe account that she’d set up for the charity – just from her people who’d read her post.

 

IT’S AN ADVENTURE!

 

  1. You genuinely do not know where it will take you

If nothing else, starting a blog can be the first step in an adventure, taking you to extraordinary and completely unexpected places in your life.

Andy Weir an IT programmer, started writing his space age story on his blog just for fun. He may have had secret dreams of becoming a famous author, but in reality had no idea where it would go.

Well, he quickly gathered thousands of fans, launched his story as a best selling ebook, sold the rights to his book to Hollywood – and that small blog turned into the 2015 blockbuster The Martian, starring Matt Damon!

So there are you, just a few of the countless inspiring stories of people who really did change the world! And it was simply by blogging…