Blogging for small businesses

blogging for small businesses blog series

In a recent post, I talked about content marketing for small businesses and how a blog was a crucial tool in your content marketing mix. 

why is blogging important for your business? 

  • Increase visibility: By having a blog, the visibility and awareness of your brand and business will grow with every post that you create and share, provided that the post contains quality content that adds value to the reader, and it is delivered to the right audience through the different digital media tools and outlets available to that audience (e.g. newsletters or social media platforms).
  • Increase leads: By increasing the traffic to your blog and website, you will be reaching larger audiences and hence have a chance to increase the number of leads by having visitors access additional content on your site. Make sure that you have clear 'calls to action' that are geared towards enticing visitors to share their details with you. This can be done by having a subscription to your newsletter or by giving away a piece of premium information (e.g. downloadable asset), in return for their details.
  • Build credibility: By sharing stories and information through your blog, readers will become familiar with yourself, your business and they will feel that personal connection even if they have not interacted in person with you or your business before. 

Apart from the points raised above, a  blog serves as your proprietary platform to host the content that you have created.  

By launching the content through your blog instead of using a third party platform (e.g. social media outlets), you are reducing the risk of compromising the property rights of your content.

Having a blog also lets you distribute each new piece of content directly and firstly with your primary audience (e.g. contacts in your database) giving them ‘priority access’ to the content. 

How to get started with a blog

The first thing that may come to mind is to start a blog straight away.

However, before taking this step, it is important to invest the necessary time to determine key aspects of your blog such as:

  • The mission of your blog
  • What content to create and share
  • How that content will add value to your audience
  • What other platforms or outlets you will use to share your content to reach a larger audience.

Below, I have included a printable and fillable blog plan template for small businesses, which will give you direction as well as serving as a framework later on to review if you are being successful or not. 

Blog plan template

Once you have completed your plan, it is time to get started by creating a blog (if you still don’t have one) or if you do, move to the ‘content scheduling’ phase: this step involves deciding and scheduling what content you will write about and when and how it will be distributed.

Below, you can download a printable and fillable blog editorial calendar to help you with the task of planning your posts in the months ahead. I have made this editorial calendar timeless so that it can be customised to any month and year. 

BLOG EDITORIAL CALENDAR TEMPLATE

Important aspects to consider when BLOGGING:

Focus on creating quality content: There are currently millions of existing active blogs worldwide. By creating quality content consistently, you will start building a loyal readership and, as a result, that will increase the engagement with your brand and business resulting in leads and conversions.

Quality content is created by having your audience in mind first and foremost. Write content that you know they are interested in, that will be of value and will make a difference to them. 

Be consistent: Consistency is key and it has to show in everything you do. From which content is created, to the style in which it is written and put together, to the way in which it is delivered.

To help you being consistent, plan a series of topics or ‘blog series’, develop a schedule and implement it following your own schedule. It doesn’t reflect well on your brand if you post something today, and nothing else is posted for another three months. This type of scenarios show lack of commitment, which can reflect in a negative way on your brand. 

Use eye-catching visual content: Content marketing reports released at the beginning of 2015 have revealed for a second year in a row, a growing trend in visual content marketing. These reports show that marketers who are leveraging visual content are seeing significant increases in their blog traffic, social media engagement, visitor-to-lead conversion rates and inbound customer acquisition results (1).

Jeff Bullas, a prominent blogger in Australia estimates that articles with images get 94% more total views than articles without images.

That is a pretty outstanding figure! 94%. However, it is not as simple as it sounds. When it comes to adding photos to your posts, you have to be strategic about it and think about what photos you wish to share, what style they will show and how they will fit and enhance the content that you are sharing.

The style can vary from minimalistic and clean to something more edgy, colorful and daring. Here, there is no one rule that will fit all. It really depends on the essence of your business and the image that you wish to give. 

The only one thing that does apply here is consistency. Be consistent with the types and style of the images that you share. Make sure that they are useful in a way or another to the viewer. 

I will be writing in more detail about this important topic in a separate post, so stay tuned for more insights on this important topic coming up.

Create SEO rich content: Create SEO content by including keyphrases or long tail keywords in your blog titles and throughout the copy of your post. This means that you will be using those words that someone would be typing in google search if they were to look for the type of content that you are writing about.

Of course, this needs to be done in the right context. The keywords must have meaning within the text of your post. It is not a matter of adding large amounts of keywords in a blog post to rank higher.

In fact, by doing this, you may be damaging your blog as Google is penalising websites that follow this practice.

Reflect your personality and be authentic. Above all, be yourself when you write content and share information and opinions with your readers. When you are authentic, it comes through in everything you do. People notice it and appreciate it.

The same happens when you get too influenced by the work of others and you start losing your own personality and style. 

When I feel like I may be tempted to follow someone else's style, I always refer to these two quotes:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart… Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung

GETTING starteD WITH YOUR BLOG!

If you don’t have a blog yet and wish to create one by yourself, I'd recommend Wordpress to start a blog. 

If you already have an existing website, you can create a new ‘blog page’ if you manage your website yourself, or you can ask your website developer to create a blog page for you.

Once your blog is up and running, adding content to it typically involves very few steps such as adding the content (title and body of the post), adding images, videos, files or any other additional content that will accompany the text and making the post live or scheduling it to be shared later on.

To help you create topics for your blog, I am sharing with you

30 BLOG POST IDEAS THAT WORK

  1. Share what happens behind the scenes of your business. Share with your readers a day at your office or a sneak peek of a project you are working on. 
  2. Talk about a topic that is trending in your industry by providing your own point of view on the topic. You can engage your readers by asking them to share their opinions. 
  3. Create a ‘blog series’ based on a topic that is related to what you do and which you believe will add value to your audience. 
  4. Share information on what has helped you in your business and what has not.
  5. Interview others in your industry or others who can motivate your readers.
  6. Share an initiative that you are implementing in your company and which is having a positive impact in your team and your business. 
  7. Share top tips on a specific subject, such as improving your writing skills or another topic that relates to your business.
  8. Share a project you have worked from the first stage to delivery of the final job. 
  9. Feature people working with you, for instance, you can feature the story, working experience and strengths of a team member. 
  10. Talk about yourself before starting your job and what aspects from your personality and previous experience are being most beneficial to your business nd how others can learn from them.
  11. Share client stories that will resonate with your readers provided that the client has granted permission to be featured.
  12. Use one or some of your FAQ's to convert them into a topic for a blog post.
  13. Share a giveaway, what it involves and how to participate.
  14. Talk about an experience that you had outside the workplace and how it did have a beneficial impact on your business.
  15. Share which channels are helping your business. For instance, if Facebook is working well for you, share why. Don’t be afraid to be copied. Remember that people can share and sell the same product but they will never be able to become you and your brand.
  16. Talk about how your workplace inspires you to come up with better work.
  17. Talk about an event you have attended to recently and which were the key takeaways that will be of interest to your readers.
  18. Talk about a speaker that has inspired you and deeply motivated you and why.
  19. Ask your readers what they would like to see more of in your blog. You can simply ask them to leave comments on your blog post so that everyone can see them and take part in an open conversation.  
  20. Talk about what tools do you use in your business to do your job.
  21. Talk about what digital applications are helping you in a specific way (e.g. being more productive) and where readers can find them.
  22. Share what you have learned about blogging and how it can help others
  23. Share what helps you get inspired before starting a new blog post.
  24. Share a tutorial, demonstrations or 'how-to',  if possible in video format. Alternatively, a step-by-step how-to in photos also works really well.
  25. Write a case study on a job you have worked on or a business scenario that can help your readers make better business decisions
  26. Share where you get inspiration for a particular area of your job or blogging
  27. Talk about books you are reading and what content you found in them that can be inspirational or add value to your readers.
  28. Create an 'Ask me' series  
  29. Create a poll on a topic that is trending at the moment in your industry
  30. Share useful links, which you believe your audience will appreciate.

References:

1 - 17 Stats You Should Know About Visual Content Marketing in 2015
22 January 2015, http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-marketing-strategy

 

 

 

Best places to find Free Images

If you struggle at times to find great free photos to accompany your blog posts, your social media posts, marketing materials or presentations, you are not alone!

Luckily, those times when it was almost impossible to find good free images are a thing of the past. Nowadays, there are amazing people out there taking photos and sharing them with the world for free. How generous is that? 

Not only that. Also, most of these images are of extraordinary quality and the variety is outstanding. From outdoor photos to staged photos to nature, abstract, business...  you will most likely find something to suit your needs.

Another great thing about the sites that we are about to share is that, unlike the images that you will find in stocked image sites (i.e. Shutterstock), you will find some very artistic, creative and unusual shots.

You can also follow the creators of the images that you like, as they tend to have a specific style that may suit future needs. You can also receive a set of 10 images each week delivered to your inbox as it is the case of Pexels, when you join their mailing list. 

And after this, without further ado, here is a list of our 3 best Free websites to source images:

1. Pixabay

2. Pexels

3. Unsplash

We hope that you enjoy these sites and please share your favourite free image sharing sites.

The enovate studio team.

Free Wallpaper June Calendar

We are delighted to bring some good vibes to your desktop and mobile devices with our monthly calendars.

Download your favourite calendar in all 3 sizes and apply it as background to all your devices: desktop, laptop, smartphone wallpaper. It's free and it’s just one click away!

 Download your  desktop  wallpaper calendar 

Download your desktop wallpaper calendar 

 Download your  iPad Pro ,  iPad  or  iPad Mini  wallpaper calendar

Download your iPad Pro, iPad or iPad Mini wallpaper calendar

 Download your  iPhone  wallpaper calendar

Download your iPhone wallpaper calendar

This article is part of a monthly series, so make sure you visit us our blog again next month to refresh your wallpaper with a new calendar.

If you like these designs don’t forget to share the article on social, so more of your friends can download the calendars and enjoy using them.

Let us know if you like these calendars and what is your favourite thing about June!

10 easy ways to drive traffic to your blog.

10 ways to increase traffic to your blog.jpg

Most business owners know that having a blog is increasingly becoming a crucial tool to assist in the success of their business.

Studies show that companies that blog increase visits to their sites by 55% and have 97% more inbound links*

However, in a digital universe where there are over 500 million websites and more than 150 million blogs, how does your blog stay relevant? What can you do to have your blog show in Google searches? How do to reach potential leads? How to keep your existing audience coming back to your blog.

Here are my ten easy ways to drive traffic to your blog. And to help you with your blogging efforts, I have included in this blog post a completely free blog planner. Download your copy for free below.

1.    Keep your blog current and fresh with quality content. There is no better way to keep your blog relevant and, therefore, have people visiting it than by writing good content that is relevant to your audience. 

2.    Write blog posts regularly. Try for a post a week or at the least, a post every two weeks. Although some studies suggest that an optimum word-count for a blog post is around 1,200 words, the reality is that there is no magic number. Some blog posts will be longer if you share in-depth and well-researched information while another post may just require 3 or 4 paragraphs to reinforce the message that you are already sharing through images or a video. 

3.    Use your newsletter to promote your blog posts amongst your contacts. About 71% of Australians check their emails first thing in the morning**. If you have people who have subscribed to your newsletter, it is because they are interested in your content and what benefit they can get from it. Do not disappoint them and keep them informed with your latest news. 

4.    Use social media to drive traffic to your blog. You already have a pool of followers and potential leads that are relatively easy to reach. Share a link to your latest blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn groups and relevant Facebook groups.

5.    Share your posts more than once. Sharing more than once is worth doing in some social media channels, such as Twitter. Having said this, it is not good to abuse this tactic.  

For instance, if one of your blog posts has been particularly successful, share pieces of it (for instance, a relevant phrase) and link them back to the full blog post. Use hashtags to reach a wider audience who are interested in the topic that the blog post is covering. 

6.    Tag anyone who is featured in your blog post and share links to any source of information that you share where appropriate. By tagging others in your posts, you will be reaching their contacts. This increases awareness of your posts and the posibility of them being shared with their networks.

7.    Optimise what your write for SEO. When writing a post, remember to use key phrases or long tail keywords that people are likely to type when searching for the information that you are sharing. People no longer search for single keywords. Instead, they will be typing in specific sentences. For example, 'how to .... ' or 'where to find the latest model of ....'. 

8.    Include visual content in your posts. Study after study shows that visual content gets more engagement than plain text. These may be videos, photos, infographics or any other visual content that works for your audience. 

9.    Repurpose previous content in different formats. Remember to update the content and add some new value too! You can do this by using content from one or a combination of various blog posts. For example, you can create an e-book, a slide presentation, a video, a series of infographics or any other downloadable asset that will add value to your readers.

10.    Focus on what works for you and your audience. It does not matter if there is a magic word-count for blog posts, or if there is a topic that works for lots of people. Focus and improve on what works for your audience. Make it better every day and find ways to add value to what you know your audience 

Overall, remember to keep your content simple, relevant and engaging! Have always your audience in mind when writing content. Think about why they would enjoy reading what you are writing or what benefit they would get out of it. 

Lastly, if you don’t have time to create content yourself, consider having contributors creating content for your blog. You can also hire professional content marketing specialists to help you create quality content at least once a month for your blog.

For tips on what to write for your next blog posts, read my previous post on blogging for small businesses here

Sources:

* Hubspot http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics
** http://www.pria.com.au/industrynews/13-million-australians-spend-18-hours-a-day-online 

Content Marketing for small businesses

content marketing for small businesses by enovate marketing

AN INTRODUCTION TO CONTENT MARKETING FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

What it is and why it is important for your business.

After attending a couple of events about the latest trends in CONTENT MARKETING over the past two weeks, I thought that I would share the key insights and takeaways that I got from attending, as well as sharing my own vision on how important it is for small businesses.

For those who are unfamiliar about this term,

"Content marketing is a strategic marketing tactic that consists of creating and distributing valuable and relevant content, in a consistent basis with the objective to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience"

For small businesses, attracting a loyal clientele and developing long-term relationships with them is becoming more complex than ever.

With a myriad of powerful digital platforms at the consumer’s fingertips, they are becoming savvier buyers, researchers, publishers, reviewers, influencers and ultimately experts on any type of product or service.

For any business owner, it is important to understand how powerful content marketing can be and what influences buyers today in their ‘buying decision-making process’.

Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less (1). 

Currently, about 60% of baby boomers still rely on friends and family members recommendations to help them decide on their purchases. On the other hand, 50% of young adults or millennials say they prefer product reviews from people they don’t know when trying to decide on what to buy.

In an age where customers are saturated with ads, content marketing has the ability to cut through the 'advertising noise' and connect at a personal level with potential customers.

Content created in various ways, such as blog posts, website copy, e-books, videos, podcasts or case studies is also perceived as a more natural and disinterested way of sharing insights and valuable information that actually has relevance to the person consuming that piece of information.

Because of all these reasons, small businesses are realising the need to increase the creation of relevant and valuable content that will have the likelihood to be freely shared, downloaded, bookmarked and passed along to others in an organic way, ultimately leading to an increased engagement and buying from a larger audience.

A key step in starting the journey of content creation is having a strategic plan and ensuring that it is implemented to ensure success and to have a benchmark to later on check results against.  

A strategic plan does not have to be a long and complicated formula or document. In the small business arena, where resources are often limited, a good approach is to keep things simple and start with a one-page concise strategy.

Here you can download a one-page content strategy template for small businesses and content marketing checklist to get you started.

These content marketing templates will help you:

1.    Establish your content marketing strategy

2.   Gain stronger buy-in quicker from clients

3.   Keep content strategically aligned to your business objectives

Lastly and as promised in my introduction, here are the key takeaways for business owners to consider.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Develop a content marketing strategy. Organisations with a documented content marketing strategy are more sucessful than those without one.

  • Create SEO rich content.

  • Key aspects of your content: create quality content, have consistency in the creation and delivery, create original and engaging content.

  • Create content for your business brand that will become long-term valuable assets.

In my next post, I will talk about blogging, a crucial channel to distribute your content; why it is a powerful tool to share content with those who matter to your business, easy ways to get started, 30 blog post ideas for your blog and a downloadable blog editorial calendar template.

I hope you find this information useful and please feel free to share your feedback and comments. 

Ester

(1) source: Demand metrics