Let’s say you have Facebook and Twitter accounts for your business (and maybe even a website) and now you’re looking to grow or expand your online footprint. You might even be wondering if you should create a blog. But is publishing content really worth your time and effort?
While anyone can benefit from a blog, it’s particularly important if you want to start a small business, change jobs or career paths, be seen as an expert in your field, or simply network and build your online presence. As a small-business owner, blogging should be an important part of your strategy — even if your business exists offline and you have a physical storefront.
So, what exactly can a blog do for you?
Learn the art of crowdsourcing
Say you are a web designer and have a digital portfolio to supplement your resume, or you sell screen-printed t-shirts online and want to get people onto your website. Posting the same link over and over again on your Facebook feed gets old fast — and might even lead people to unfriend you. Publishing fresh content is a great way to encourage people to check out your website, because it means you have something new, interesting, and relevant to offer.
If you’re a small business owner, the more you can get people to your website, the easier it is to build a newsletter, for instance. Blogging is another way to capture people’s email addresses and remind them you and your business exist. Imagine you’re that screen printer: you can use your blog to share tips related to your field, such as how to properly wash and care for a screen-printed t-shirt. You could do a round-up of articles or products that your audience would find helpful or interesting, like a gift guide of handmade smiley-face products to coordinate with your “smile more” t-shirt. You could even write a commentary on a controversial topic related to your area of expertise, such as the downside to purchasing cheap clothes and why you only use fair-trade organic cotton t-shirts for your designs. Share a juicy snippet of your blog post on social media to entice people to visit your website.
And, keep in mind: even if you have a strong following on social media, it’s still worthwhile to create a blog. Unlike social media, which controls who sees your posts and could technically even shut down your account, you own your blog. If you have a Facebook fan page, for example, only a limited number of people who’ve liked your page will see your posts in their newsfeeds unless you pay to promote your content. The same holds true for your friends on Facebook, as well as for other platforms like Instagram and Twitter. While you can’t really control how many people see your social media posts, you can promote engagement and increase your visibility by writing interesting blog posts to encourage discussion — thus driving even more traffic to your website.
Build authority with Google
You know you want to show up high on Google searches — blogging can help get you there. HubSpot notes each newly published blog post tells Google your website is active and creates another opportunity for your website to show up on online searches. There are several factors that go into appearing on Google searches, including the words and links you use. Google uses the links within a website as part of its decision on how it will rank that website. The more you link to and are linked from high-quality sites — generally, sites with a large following that have established credibility in a field — the more Google considers your website an authority.
For example, if you run a business that helps people organize their homes and Real Simple shares your latest blog post (“5 Easy Steps to De-Clutter Your Home in Under 10 Minutes”), you have a better chance of increasing your position in a Google search about organizing your home. That’s because Google sees that Real Simple, a site known for offering tips on this very topic, has linked to your blog post. The link signals to Google that you’re an authority on home organization. Writing a blog also provides opportunities for you to create high-quality links within your own website using words related to your field, further upping your authority factor.
Become a trusted resource
A few years ago, The New York Times interviewed the owner of a company that installs fiberglass pools. During the most recent economic recession, his sales plummeted until he started writing blog posts answering his most-asked question: how much does a fiberglass pool cost? Not only did that help to ensure Google saw his company as an authority (and ranked it at the top of searches for pool installers in the area), but it helped build trust between the company and potential customers. The bottom line? The more you answer common questions people have about your business or field of expertise — by publishing fresh, helpful content — the more they’ll see you as an expert in your field and remember who you are.
While starting a blog can feel intimidating, it helps to begin simply. Brainstorm common questions — such as how someone can find the right t-shirt size or pick out the perfect shirt as a gift — and answer them. Share a behind-the-scenes look at what you do. Or tell a story of how you helped someone, like a bride who designed beautiful custom shirts for her bridesmaids. When you’re ready, a web-publishing platform like WordPress.com offers all the resources you need to get started with a blog of your own — with features like the WordPress.com Reader that allow you to follow all the sites and bloggers you love (and helps new readers find you).