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Why small businesses should consider blogging

Why small businesses should consider blogging

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By Matt Brady 

Microsoft's Steve Clayton back in October 2006 gave 7 reasons why SMEs should blog.  In a sort of homage to that piece, I present my 5 reasons why a small business should consider launching a blog:

  1. Traffic!  Blogs are great for attracting (and driving) traffic.  Here's why:
    • Publishing content on a blog is dead simple.  Do it often, and the search engines will like you for it.  The more frequently you post new articles, the more frequently those pages will be "crawled" by search engines and indexed.  More pages on the site mean more pages for visitors to see.  
    • Bloggers link to bloggers.  If other website owners and bloggers consider your content important enough, they will want to link to you. Not only will you get traffic from those sites, but search engines will reward the page in question with a higher ranking (an inbound link is very important in terms of climbing up search engine results, as a link is interpreted by search engines as a vote or endorsement of your web page).
  2. It can make your business stand out.  Marketing guru Seth Godin wrote a hugely successful book about a purple cow (incidentally, why do popular business books feature animals so much?).  Of course, purple cows don't exist: Godin is suggesting that the key to success in business is to stand out.  A blog, allowing you to excite and engage with readers through original writing, can indeed make your business remarkable.
  3. It doesn't cost much.  You don't need an agency to set up a blog for you.  You can do it yourself, save the cost and do things your way (the right way!).  My personal blog costs me £3.99 per month (that's less than fifty quid a year). Registering the domain name cost me nothing.  Find the appropriate blogging platform for your needs and just get started.  You don't need a whiz-bang blog with a slick design - just quality content.
  4. It allows you to get closertoyourcustomers.  When blogging about your business, you're effectively opening up and letting readers into your world - what you're planning, who you're meeting, who you've met,  who your co-workers are, where you've been, what mistakes you've made, what successes you've achieved etc.  It makes you look honest and friendly.  By allowing your readers to comment on your content, you are giving them the opportunity to tell you and whoever else is reading what they think about you, your products or your services.  But it doesn't end there: you can comment back, and thus a conversation is born.  It's a brilliant way of engaging with your customers, building trust and gathering essential insights and feedback. 
  5. It's easy.  You don't need to be an HTML expert.  Blogging tools are designed so that no technical knowledge is required to get going.  They will take care of the theme/template for you.  In my opinion, content really is king: write with passion, authority and dedication, and you're on the right track to making the blog a success.

Now here are two existing small businesses who have made the leap and launched blogs: 

  • The English Cut - Once upon a time, a marketing consultant and a Saville Row tailor were enjoying a drink together in the pub.  The consultant (who also happens to be a very funny and influential cartoonist), Hugh MacLeod, convinced the tailor, Thomas Mahon, to blog, saying that people will care to see his website if he blogged with passion and authority.  The blog was launched in January 2005.  Whizz forward a bit and interest in Mahon's business exploded - thanks to The English Cut.  On a pre-blog visit to New York, Mahon sold 2 suits. Post-blog and he sold 20 suits and 8 sport coats.  As MacLeod himself explained, "The blog represents as much as a 300 percent increase in new business in less than 10 weeks." 
  • Flowers... uncut - The blog for online florists Arena Flowers.  The Arena Flowers team published the following, superb explanation on why they decided to create a blog:
"[The blog] was actually an easy decision for us. We’ve got a website but no shop. We don’t do any print or TV advertising. We’re a fully online business. We occasionally talk to our customers on the phone. We also communicate with them through our copy on the website. And through email. But most people don’t really read those things and only in very unusual circumstances do they ever see one of us face to face. So it’s fair to say that our customers don’t really know much about us at all – but yet we expect them to entrust us with their money.
A lot of individuals don’t really want that stuff anyway; they just want good service (we’re delighted to provide it) and, on the basis of our website, they’re happy to trust us despite not knowing us. But some people do want to know who they’re dealing with, they do want to know how their product was sourced, they are interested in what makes the business they’re interacting with tick. For those people, we think this blog will be an opportunity for our team to be transparent and open about who we are and what we’re trying to achieve.
In our blog, we’ll talk about what we’ve done to build Arena in the twelve months since we decided to set up the business, and where we went wrong. We’ll talk about flowers, of course, but also about ethical sourcing and the daily nightmare that is Google’s natural search rankings blood bath. Basically we’ll talk about who we are as a business and things that we think people might want to understand about Arena"
Next time, I will cover blogging platforms... 
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  • Extremely well said!

  • Hey Matt...thanks for the kind words.  Most unexpected but much appreciated.  The other thing about blogging is that it's good fun and the whole business enjoys the pics and the stories.  At least that's what they tell me!

  • Hi Will, thanks for the comment!  I saw your blog and I was impressed.  It'd be great to see more businesses, small and large, setting up blogs and writing about the things they do.  

    Good luck with the blog and your business!

  • Thanks Anne, much appreciated :) - Matt.

  • I presume Apple are harmed less if their accessories don’t sell due to adverse reviews - there’s always a substitute 3rd party product.

  • From across the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal reports on the usage of blogs by small businesses as

  • Agreed, It’s hard at first — especially for writers because most work is edited. But practice and the realization it helps you become a better writer eases the “personalizing” of things. It’s a great business skill.