I was a late-onset blog writer.
Early on in my small business, my resistance to it was like a force of nature. I saw blogging as a self-indulgent thing reserved for those who:
a) were blindingly brilliant and thus had a lot to say, (not it)
b) had an awful lot of time on their hands, (not it)
c) loved the sound of their own voices. (not it)
In short, years ago, blogs seemed to fall into a couple of types for me: Long, rambling tomes by scholarly types, or short, newsy updates on “what I ate between dawn and dusk today.” Ick.
Things have changed a lot since then, of course.
I think it was Seth Godin that eventually changed my mind. He’s been blogging for a long time and has a gazillion followers now. It was through him I discovered the concept of the bite-sized blog post that’s still thoughtful and useful. Checking out his blog – even just a topline view of it – will show you the variety of shapes, sizes & textures blogging can take (https://seths.blog/).
I don’t write on my blog anywhere near as often as I’d like (a situation I’m trying to remedy), not here and not on my personal/coaching site https://margaretrode.com/blog. But despite that negligence, I’ve not just become a convert to this kind of sharing, I also highly recommend blogging to anyone who has a business website and wants it to succeed. Below are some reasons to consider.
First: You don’t have to call it a blog. And maybe you shouldn’t.
To many in my tribe, even the word “blog” is uncomfortable and geeky. It’s not even fun to say (it sounds like “blah”). But being able to regularly share a bit of yourself with faraway people and benefit from that connection? Not geeky. For those who just bristle at the word itself, don’t use it. There’s also Articles and Writings and Notebook and tons of other possible names.
For now, I’ll just eliminate the word “blog” from the rest of this article and stay in the mindset of “sharing useful stuff online with people I want to help.” ‘Kay?
2) It’s neither hard nor expensive to set up.
For those of you who use WordPress or many DIY website builders, the capacity to write on your website, in the form of “Posts”, is already built in. You just, er, click “New Post” and start writing. If you want your writings to also be reachable through a click on your site’s menu, adding it there is generally easy-peasy as well.
3) You don’t have to write War and Peace.
Seriously, I think this was the hardest barrier for me to overcome. I had it in my thick skull that every time I sat down to add a post, I had to have a Big Idea. It had to be one that no living human had ever shared before. I had to lay in a thermos of coffee and a stack of Kind® bars because it was going to take hours to get my elaborate point across.
But although some long postings can be great (helpful for search engine rankings for example), a mix of long, kinda long, short, and super-short keeps both you AND your readers interested. I’ve stopped reading the online writings of some folks because I simply didn’t have time to read 5000 words today, thankyouverymuch. Mix it up.
4) It isn’t just you talking about yourself, or creating elaborate research papers, or being a genius all the time.
It can also be any or all of the following, super-short or comfortably long, your choice:—Popping out to share a short piece of news you just found that’s relevant to your unique audience
—A new tool or technique that you just discovered helps your productivity or peace of mind
—Something you just read that angered/inspired you as a businessperson
—A success story from one of your clients or partners
—An event that just happened that changed how you think about something
—A new idea you’ve just started to hatch
—A photo of where you do your work
—A little video or audio or TED talk you found (or made, or were in)
—A piece of poetry or prose that would soothe or inspire your ideal audience member
—An upcoming class, workshop, webinar, book reading, anything experiential and interesting
…and so much more. If you need a stack of ideas, let me know or have a look at this session.
5) You get a chance to show you’re good at what you do, and to help them feel comfortable connecting with you.
Making regular additions to your website by writing and sharing is a way your clients, prospects, customers, and donors can get to know you as a human being. They learn what you know, who you are inside, what’s important to you, what you notice.
This is one way new people can determine that you’re worth the risk of contacting you or giving your product/service/cause a second look.
6) It will make web search engines love you more.
People are looking for you on the web, even if most of your work happens to come via word-of-mouth. Writing something substantial even semi-regularly (once every couple of weeks) can please the Google gods in several ways. There’s a lot of goopy science behind this, but here’s a squooshed view:
Search engines detest abandoned/neglected websites cluttering up the data landscape, and will ding you (meaning: no one will find you) if yours is rarely updated. Publishing something regularly is a relatively painless and free way to keep your website out of that trap.
Search engines also prefer sites that are substantial, with lots of pages bearing the keywords and phrases pertinent to the work you offer. Posts you create are basically more and more pages…and that’s good.
Search engines like to see people come to your website and stay a while, versus quickly ducking in and leaving. Giving them something juicy to read helps keep them interested and staying put.
If you write things that people share with others, and/or link to from their OWN websites, that gives you even more brownie points.
7) It will help bring you new website visitors, clients, fans, and supporters.
When you write and publish something on your website, you can easily share that same material on social media. Often it’s as simple as copying the URL (web address) of your post and pasting it into your social media.
More pages, more exposure on the web, more of your words showing up on social media with links back to you… It all adds up to more people being exposed to you and to your work. And, most important, coming to you to learn more.
8) It will give you a space to have a conversation with your Your People.
When you look at your website, does it have any place where people can have a two-way conversation with you? Posting new writings on your website gives you the ability to accept comments (which you would pre-approve via email). These comments can form a conversation, something that everyone can learn from. Suddenly your website is a gathering place for people you’re hoping to get to know and work with.
9) It creates a place to gather, shape, and store important ideas.
Every day we come across things that, as they pass through our consciousness, make us think “I’d love to share that with my clients—they’d get so much out of it.”
And then…it’s gone. Replaced in your short-term memory by something more pressing. Or stuffed in a computer file and buried. Or torn out and filed in a folder, where it stays for months or years until it’s no longer relevant.
Having a space for writing on your website becomes a repository for all of those helpful, meaningful things, which you can quickly share with the world. (You can even publish them to your website via email.)
10) It helps you continue crafting what you offer the world.
A regular writing/sharing practice helps you write (and share) what matters most to you AND to the people you’re trying to help.
In terms of cultivating good ideas for new ways to help my audience, nothing has helped me more than writing regularly. Nothing.
The great poet Mark Doty, when asked why he writes, responded that “…it is the way I know what I think and feel.” (so true.) And in his Intro to Authentic Business workshop, coach George Kao has also said, “Every time you write an article, you discover more about yourself, you know something else about your mission, what you’re really about. You discover yourself as you communicate, as you express, as you create.”
I could not express it any better than those two have. Regular writing and sharing has its own peculiar and powerful magic.
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So, there you have it. Writing a blog probably not make or break your small business, but it has so many benefits that it seems a shame not to at least give it a try. You may be very surprised at what you find.
If you need help getting started, or if you have a blog that’s languishing and you’d like to breathe some life into it, contact me for a chat or check out this fun and bite-sized blog-building session I offer.
Go forth and multiply those words! 🙂