Once upon a time, I thought blogs were a form of verbal diarrhoea spewed onto the Internet by people with little time on their hands. ‘I have enough real articles and stories to write,’ I thought to myself. ‘Why would I want to write about my navel fluff, or my cup of coffee (I already do that on Facebook!)’ Blogging was almost a dark art in my view, part of a strange sphere I had no desire to enter.
But then I went to a presentation given by one Damien Mulley, a perfectly sane person who is widely respected in the field of social media and who is also a blogger. He is evangelical about the power of blogging to help you gain recognition for your business, so much so that he has been instrumental in creating an awards scheme for Irish bloggers. As he guided us through the world of blogging, I became infected with his enthusiasm and a germ of an idea began to form in my mind.
I was at the start of my business journey when I heard him speak, didn’t even have any clients yet, so I was receptive to all insights that might help me fly the flag for my new business. The magic words, ‘Google search engine placings,’ also had a bearing on my decision to convert to blogging. So it was for purely practical reasons, I found myself on WordPress. I filled in a few details and hey presto, I was a blogger.
My conversion was swift. I was soon pestering my web designer to integrate my blog with my website, so the whole world could be privy to the wanderings of my labyrinthine mind. I decided to write once a week, generally on a Friday, dividing my time between musings on the state of the media and more concrete insights into how I work as a copywriter. I wanted my blog to act as a resource for my clients, with information they could really use.
I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy my therapeutic one-hour rant every Friday. But I’ve also discovered that blogs are far more than just a sounding board. I’ve written this blog entry to spread the word about the benefits of blogging. Blogs are particularly useful for service-based businesses which don’t have a tangible product. They give you an opportunity to explain how your service can help you. Blogs add an extra dimension to your business, letting your customers see the person behind the product or service.
In the rest of your business, you have to be conscious about your brand and how your message is being perceived. While your blog ties in with that message, it gives you freedom to display your passion for your business. You can give your customers an insight into what drove you to set up your business, your business philosophy and your goals. You may promote special offers in your shop or on your website, but in the blog, you can reveal some of the methods you use to deliver value for money for your customers.
You can give your customers the inside track on how your business works, discussing trends in your field. You can drop hints about new product lines you’re introducing, or feed them with useful information and links. A blog for an organic hamper business that I visit discusses events and initiatives that promote organic food production and the slow-food lifestyle. This ties in neatly with their products.
You can give customers tips on how to make the most out of what they buy from you. Or else you can dispense useful advice, which will help to establish you as an expert in your field and give your customers the sense that they’re buying more than just a product or service. For example, if you’re an accountant, you might blog about the ways that good accounting practises can save you money. Another blog I know, created by the owner of a wedding director, discusses wedding traditions and how you can use them to make your day extra special.
Blogs are certainly time-consuming. You need to think about what you want to write and then take the time to write it. It can be useful to write several blog entries in a batch during quiet periods, rather like squirrels storing nuts. Then you can dip into them when you’re too busy. You don’t need to write one as frequently as I do. Once a month is usually enough. It can also be as long or short as you want it to be. Mine tend to be the length of a feature article, but a brief message can often be the most effective, particularly for an audience that’s accustomed to consuming bite-sized peices of information.
Still, I’ve become so addicted to blogging that I’m happy to write blogs for other people who are stuck for ideas. I plan to style myself as a sort of ghost blogger, acting as a mouthpiece for their views and shaping their words into a coherent form. For me, my blog has become another branch on the writing tree, one that I’ve come to enjoy hanging out on. Just call me The Blog Whisperer.