I've started a blog! Now what?

Blogging has changed marketing for the small business. It’s given us a way to talk alongside bigger corporations, to increase our branding, and to improve our search rankings with targeted blog posts. It’s also given everyone the same basic problem — we need fresh content. All the time. And that can be a big burden for SMB owners who already have their plates full. Lisa Barone co-founder and Chief Branding Officer at Outspoken Media, Inc., shares her favorite tips for finding contents for blogs.

Once you create your blog, you’ve created the need to have not only content, but interesting content, several times a week. You want to find subjects that will keep your customers interested, make them want to interact with you, and that will also help them learn a little bit about what your company stands for. So where should small business owners look for insight into what to blog about?

Here are a few suggestions.

Industry news

Turn your blog into a resource for the community by reporting on what’s happening around you. Read other industry blogs and find out what they’re talking about. Read the major publications for news about your niche. Look for ways to link to other relevant articles and/or Web sites. Report on the meetups happening in your area or what that new proposed piece of legislation means for your industry. Be the reporter for your little center of the universe and talk about trends you see coming, how things have changed over the ten years you’ve been in business, what you’ve learned from various industry conferences or what new resources are out there to help people. Regardless of how small you think your little bubble is, there’s something new to be taken from it every day. Use it.

Your customers problems

Your customers come to you with problems, questions and concerns every day. And every day you have to stop what you’re doing and answer them. Instead of doing that, how about writing a blog post or a series of blog posts that help people tackle their biggest concern with your product or service? Answer their question and put it in print so you have somewhere to point the next person who runs into that same problem. Blogging about the issues that your customers deal with every day (and offering suggestions to improve their experience) is a great way to turn your site into a trusted resource they’ll want to subscribe to.

Your customers successes

Ask your customers if they’d be open to letting you share some of their positive experiences with your company on your blog. This will give you a chance to highlight some of your best customers to say thanks and get them some exposure, while also serving as a great testimonial for the work you do. This method won’t be available to every business (for example, SEOs can rarely name clients in public), but it will work nicely for some. For example, if you run a local bakery, a piece on the big backyard BBQ you helped cater or your part in someone’s over-the-top wedding extravaganza may be the perfect summer piece to spice up your blog. It’s also a nice way to earn some goodwill in the community.

Site logs

Your site logs are goldmines for content. Think about it, your customers are already in there telling you exactly what they want to hear about. They have a question about how to do X, they want to know if you have information on Y, and there’s a new product Z that they want to read about. You should be scouring your site logs looking for those natural questions so that you can provide content to help answer them and direct customers in the right direction. Again, creating resource content that specifically answers the type of questions you get every day, not only makes you useful to your customers, but it may save you time having to answer and re-answer the same question every few days. If people are searching for it, it means they want to read about it.

Get personal

I wouldn’t go with this every day, but every so often spice things up by getting a little person. Let people know what you’re all about. Author posts on how the company was formed, let people meet one of your employees, offer some tips from customers themselves, write about your history with the company, mention some of the nonprofit work your company is involved in, etc. One of the best things about blogs are their ability to really connect you with the people reading and to make those personal connections. If you can get to the point where customers are stopping by to get another piece of “you” with your posts, you’re going to have a much easier time selling to them. So much of blogging is about creating a friend today that will turn into a customer tomorrow.

Guestbloggers

Guestbloggers are great. You’re able to benefit off the fresh content and you get to help someone else share their expertise. There are plenty of ways to find guestbloggers, but often the best will come from your very own community. If you notice that someone frequently comments on your posts or is very active with you on Twitter or the other social networks, ask them if they’d like to guestpost on how their specialty relates to what you do. Doing so gives you some free content, but it also does a lot to foster that relationship with the guestblogger. If you’ve invited them to take part in your blog, you know for sure that they’re going to stay engaged with your community. You can also look for people outside your community or other experts in your field.

Those are some of the techniques I use when I’m hard pressed to find something to blog about. What are some of your favorite strategies?

Reprinted with permission from Small Business Trends.

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