Top small business blogging questions answered

When I co-hosted BlogChat with Mack Collier a week ago, it was a great chance to answer the most-requested questions about small business blogging. I thought you might like to see those answers, too.

Can your blog sell for your small business?

A blog *could* sell product for a small biz, but that would be the *least* valuable thing it could do. A small biz blog can educate, can inform, can build trust, can answer questions, can create relationships. Those sell long term.

Every day, customers ask your business questions. Blog the answers with words, photos, audio and video. That is as much selling as you should do.

OK, if it’s not selling, what are the benefits?

The biggest reason why a small business should be blogging is to respond to customers; answer their questions. If you answer customer questions on your blog, you save yourself lots of repetitive phone calls, etc.

Good small biz blog content draws in more searches, more potential customers.

Good blog content also helps you train new team members. They learn by reading your archives.

Good content builds relationships. A small biz blogger out of Tulsa shared with me how her blog readers call her up, already feeling a relationship.

Is every small business right for a blog?
Are there any small businesses that would NOT benefit from a blog? @JudyLeeDunn asked. I can’t think of any. (Just read over those benefits again, and name a business that couldn’t use at least one of them.)

Would a small biz benefit from a BAD blog? @judyleedunn asked. Well, they’d benefit in a small way, depending on how it was bad. But a good blog is NOT that hard. A GREAT blog, on the other hand, really can be HARD.

@FinditFlathead said, “and every business needs a blog!” I replied, “Only if they need customers!”

But what will customers say? How will we answer them?
@MackCollier asked about small businesses people who are afraid of how they would respond to customers online. Small businesses already know how to respond to customers. They do it every day in person, by phone, by email. Blog, too

I just don’t have time to blog!
1) When it’s important to you, you’ll make time.

2) When you have it set up right, it doesn’t take much time. (You can email in your posts, use audio if it’s easier, post from your phone, etc.)

3) When you answer customer questions in advance, you SAVE time.

4) When you see real value coming back, you’ll make EVEN MORE time to blog.

I’m no writer!
Write more than twice a week, even if you don’t publish it. The extra practice makes you better.

@RicDragon said, “I have LOT of blog posts half finished that I return to every so often. They get richer.” I do this, too. You never know how your writing “scraps” will become useful in the future. Keep them.

OK, how do I get started?
1. Write down every question a customer asks for 2 weeks.

2) Set aside time every day to write or record audio/video answers to those questions.

3) Don’t worry too much about the platform. WHAT you say matters more than WHERE you say it.

4) Figure out what’s easiest for you: text, audio or video. Experiment enough to find out, then use it.

5) Talk about them (customers) more than you talk about you (small biz).

Every blog platform out there will let you use your own URL. Do that. (Thanks @heidicohen for the reminder)

If your business has no website at all, your blog can be your whole website. I do this myself.

For any small biz, it’s important to know WHY you’re blogging. Write out a clear purpose. Get help, if you need it.

Connect up with other small business people who are just starting. Share ideas.

But what would I say? After I answer questions, I mean.
Start telling your business stories: founding, history, people.

A blog is a powerful tool for small business.
A blog calendar, like this one,
can help you plan out what to say. 

Share your local ties, your community, other businesses that matter.

Share your supply chain. Who do you buy from? Sell to?

Be a social media mirror. Use your blog to reflect ideas from customers to other customers. I stole the “social media mirror” idea from Mark Harbeke

Your customers are all different: use a variety of lengths, emotion/logic, stories/fact, different media like audio and video.

@patrparkinson asked about using a simple photo or video as a post. I added that *with a good caption* a photo or video can be a fine post.

How is small business blogging different from big business blogging? I mean, I read a lot of blogging advice that seems to be written for big companies. 
There are fewer layers of authority between writing and publishing.

It is more personal in that it’s direct, and can be more human.

Should company blogs be in first or third person? @GRTaylor2 asked, saying he liked to mix it up depending on the topic. I said, the larger the biz, the more important an individual voice becomes.

@joebugbuster made a good point: if you’re a one person biz, there is no need for third-person posts on your blog!

Using an individual voice to personalize the big company is one of the@smalltownrules.

Come to think of it, would you use third-person when talking to a customer face-to-face??

Do you have a small business blogging question I didn’t answer? Ask it in the comments.

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About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

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  1. says

    The biggest challenge I have seen is making time but yes, once you make blogging a regular part of your routine and use it to promote, inform and answer your audience. It will absolutely help your business in at least reaching more people than you were before the blog.

    • says

      Becky about the time issue, I think Becky addressed this well, when it’s important, you make time. But something I have noticed as I’ve been blogging these past 8 years is that the MORE I blog, the less time it takes! I can now write 5 posts a week in the same amount of time it took me to write ONE post when I first started blogging! Blogging is like anything else in life, the more we do it, the better we get at it! Sure, it may take a while at first, but after you are used to the process and start to develop your own little tips and tricks for making things easier, you will see the amount of time you spend fall dramatically!

      Great recap, Becky, thank you so much for co-hosting #blogchat!

    • says

      Mack, you’re absolutely right. Writing is like most other skills: the more we work on it, the easier and more natural it becomes.

      It was my pleasure to co-host with you again. It’s always a blast!

  2. says

    One of my fellow Innkeepers is a great model for Business Blogging. Some of her posts just consist of a picture and a few sentences. Less can be more if you do it correctly.

    Some of the rules they have taught me –
    - On Pictures, add text of your business name and/or website to the picture. This will help with branding as the search engines pick up the picture and people share it.
    - Always put a signature line with your name, business name and website at least at the bottom of your blog post. This will also help with SEO.

    I’m new to blogging, so I’m not really one to be teaching others. But, I thought this information was smart. The other Innkeeper has been wildly successful with her blog and she inspires me because she makes it look so easy “even a caveman could do it”!

    Dena Martin, Innkeeper

    • says

      Dena, thank you so much for sharing. I’m not sure I agree with putting a signature line in every blog post. It might help SEO, but I think it would look a little odd to readers. Still, I don’t think it would hurt.

      I definitely agree about giving every picture a caption that naturally includes the words and phrases you’d like to be findable for. The key is keeping it natural, and not forced.

      And I love posts with just a picture and a few sentences. I have collected a few quotes from real people lately that I’ll be sharing in the next few weeks. They’ll be very short posts, but I hope they will provoke a little thought.