If you’re a small business trying to attract new customers, or even nurture relationships with your current customers, you need a blog. You may have a website, but that’s not the same thing as a blog. A website is static, never changing. A blog is updated on a regular basis. A blog keeps your audience in the loop on what’s happening in your business. A blog is also a great place to serve your customers by giving them tips, advice, tutorials or recommendations.
Although you can use YouTube or social media to serve up content to your audience, blogs are still the most popular medium people turn to when they’re looking for recommendations or doing research. According to HubSpot, a leading online marketing service, B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not. (Full disclosure, I’m an affiliate of HubSpot because they’re an incredible inbound marketing company.) HubSpot also reported that companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website. That’s a lot of Google juice that you don’t want your competitors to have.
Maybe you’re not convinced that a small business needs a blog. Here are five reasons your website needs a blog.
Busy? Pin this to your Pinterest board for later.
#1 A blog builds your authority.
You want to be known as the go-to for your company’s market. For instance, Starbucks is the authority in the coffee business and Whole Foods is the authority in organic food. Customers turn to these two brands because they’ve proven that they have the most knowledge and experience in their respective markets. That’s what you want for your business and a blog can help.
When you write blog posts about topics related to your business, you’re giving your customers valuable information and tools they can use to make their lives better. You’re proving you know your stuff. If you give them a win time and time again, they’ll remember and you’ll reap the benefits.
When you share behind-the-scenes stories or photos, your audience will feel like they’re getting to know you, which will make them much more comfortable about doing business with you.
#2 A blog builds anticipation and launches new products or services.
Do you have a new product coming out? Or a new service that you’ve perfected and it’s finally time to roll it out? Imagine how ready to buy your customers would be if you’ve teased them for weeks about this new thing. Maybe you held a contest to name your thingie. Or maybe you’ve been showing photos or videos of your process. Using your blog to bring your customers along your journey will warm them up to make a purchase or schedule a service.
You can also use your blog to answer questions or provide step-by-step instructions. Your customers will appreciate that you’re helping them with something new, rather than letting them figure something out on their own. A blog can take away a customer’s frustration without their ever having to pick up their phone.
#3 A blog attracts your ideal customer.
Unless you’re Amazon, you can’t be all things to all people. (And even Amazon can’t mop my floors.) Your business appeals to a specific customer avatar, in other words, someone of a particular gender, income, lifestyle. You want to attract that customer and let the others — who might not appreciate what you have to offer — pass you by. A blog can help.
Let’s say a potential customer comes to your blog looking for blue widgets, but your blog posts are all about the red widgets you sell. The blue widget customer will keep looking, rather than buy one of your widgets, demand a refund and leave a nasty review on Yelp. Then, someone looking for a red widget finds your blog. They’re ecstatic that you’ve written so much about red blogs that they’re getting all kinds of ideas and inspiration. That customer buys dozens of red widgets from you. Then they tell all of their friends to buy their red widgets from you and you wind up surpassing your sales goals for the month.
In those two instances, your blog helped separate potential customers without costing you any time or money.
#4 A blog is a low-cost marketing tool.
#5 You own your blog.
This might seem inconsequential, but if you have any experience in online marketing, you appreciate what I mean. Because you own your blog, it can’t disappear overnight or be modified without your consent. You own the everything from the words to the graphics. You are sitting in the control room of your blog.
Compare that to, say, Facebook or Instagram or YouTube. If any of those die tomorrow, all of their content dies with them. Remember Vine? Lots of people found fame and fortune on Vine and then it disappeared, along with all of their videos. Those folks either had to give up or start from scratch on a different platform. You won’t have that problem with a blog because you own it, from start to finish.
Blogging isn’t dead. Video and social media are very popular ways to promote brands and businesses, but blogging is still the number one platform companies use to attract and keep customers.
Please don’t be daunted by the idea of setting up a blog. It’s much easier than you probably think it is. It’s so easy that there are hundreds of resources online to help you. That’s why I’m not going to give instructions on how to set up a blog here. At the bottom of this blog post are links to a video and blog that are extremely helpful.
A Word on WordPress
Before I send you skipping away to learn how to set up a blog, I want to recommend that you use WordPress. It is, hands down (or fingers down?) the easiest blogging platform to use. I compare it to using a word processing program. That’s how easy it is to use. Yes, there will be a learning curve, but you would have a learning curve with any new-fangled thing you’re learning to use. You might as well pick the easiest one.
There are also other reasons to use WordPress rather than some other blogging service.
#1 Get help fast.
Because there are millions of people who use WordPress, you can instantly get the answer to pretty much any question or problem you’re having. I frequently Google WordPress questions I have and it’s very rare that I don’t find an answer. WordPress provides a forum for users to post and answer questions, but you can also read other blogs or watch videos on YouTube. You can’t find as many resources for other services like Wix or Weebly. (Why do all these start with W?)
#2 Take it anywhere.
When you build a blog in WordPress, you can host it on just about every service on the internet. My hosting service of choice is Flywheel. (I am an affiliate of Flywheel. However, I wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t love their service.) If you decide to leave a service, you can take your blog with you because there are so many places that can host a WordPress site. You can say that about Wix or Weebly or even Tumblr. You’re basically stuck with them because it’s so difficult to take their designs to another platform or service.
Plus, WordPress was built for optimal search engine optimization. Wix, Weebly and other blogging platforms hide your content behind a lot of code that Google and Bing just don’t want to read. That means that your Wix website isn’t going to rank as high in Google as your competitor’s WordPress site.
#3 Get the look.
You can make your WordPress blog look exactly like you want it to without a lot of headache. There are millions of WordPress themes to choose from. You can buy gorgeous themes in online stores. I’m partial to Etsy and Creative Market. (Those are affiliate links, again.)
Pick one, customize some settings and Bob’s your uncle. Plus, if you decide in the future that you’re tired of how your blog looks, you just install a different theme to change the design. (I don’t recommend doing this very often because there will be modifications you have to make when you change themes, even if they are minimal.) It isn’t nearly as easy to change your design on a different platform.
(Is there a blog whose look you love? If it’s a WordPress blog, you could use the same theme they do to get the same look.)
#4 Play nice with others.
Most online services, like email marketing, social media sites and e-commerce sites, can easily work with WordPress. Most services have a WordPress integration that lets you plug and play your email opt-ins or Etsy listings or post automatically to Twitter. Again, most companies don’t have direct integrations with other blogging platforms.
How to Set Up a Blog
As I mentioned above, there are scads of resources online to help you set up a WordPress blog, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel in this blog post. Here are tutorials from folks I’ve been following, who know what they’re doing.
How to Build a Blog in Less Than Four Minutes by Pat Flynn – Pat Flynn is the business genius behind Smart Passive Income. (I recommend his podcast if you’re interested in making passive income online.) Although this YouTube video is almost 10 years-old, it holds up today. Please note: Pat shows you how to set up a WordPress blog specifically on Bluehost, but the basics can be applied to any hosting service. I also recommend Flywheel, who has slightly better customer service, in my experience.
How to Make a WordPress Website Step by Step by WPBeginner – I love WPBeginner. When I have questions about how to do something in WordPress, I find most of the answers on this site. This is a step by step blog post that also has their YouTube video embedded in it. You can either watch the video or read the blog post. Or, do both!
I hope I’ve convinced you to start a blog for your small business. It will prove to be invaluable to you. To help you get started, I’ve put together a free blogging course. It includes all my best blog posts about how often to blog, what to write, what tools to use and how to plan out your blog posts.