I’ve heard from a few business owners who are interested in starting a blog, but aren’t sure if it’s worth their time and effort. In essence, they’re worried about whether people will even read their blog.
The short answer to this question is: probably not at first.
The longer answer to this question requires a few minutes. So settle in.
Blogging is a type of content marketing.
Content marketing is about creating and sharing content online as a way of building trust and authority with a community of people, which in turn stimulates interest among that community in the products and services of the content creator (ie your business).
While we’re technically talking about blogging ie. writing in this article, content can be created in three forms: written, audio and video.
This has been the case throughout history. For example, we’ve been reading the newspaper (written), listening to the radio (audio) and watching TV (video) for decades.
In the last ten years, the way we consume these three pillars of content has changed significantly and in response, so has the way content is developed and shared.
With the internet being such an integral part of how we live, work, do business, shop, educate ourselves and generally communicate, newspapers, radio and television have turned into blogs, podcasts and Youtube.
While this can sound scary, the great news is that this bold new world of content creation is free (or at least really, really cheap) for all, including you, dear small business owner.
Media companies no longer control the media. I know that sounds silly. But, they are no longer the gate-keeper, granting you access to the masses.
It used to be that to put your ad in front of people who might like to buy from you, you’d have to pay the newspaper, the radio station or the television channel to create content and run that content through their media platform to their audience.
This is no longer the case. The internet is now the middle-man and he’s not interested in being a gate-keeper.
Now, you can create your own content and promote your business to your own audience through your own channels ie. social media, youtube, a website or your email list.
The opportunity for small businesses is this:
If you create good quality content, be it written, audio or video, and share it as far and as wide as you can on a consistent basis, you will start to build a community of people around you and your business who want to hear what you have to say, for whom you solve a problem and who are thus quite likely to become paying customers.
But you kind of already know this. You’ve seen it already on your Facebook page. Right?
How many page Likes do you have? Family and friends aside, each one of those Likes represents a person who is telling you: I think you are interesting, I like what you do, I trust you and I want to hear from you on a regular basis.
This is great news because it means you’ve already started to build an audience.
So, what are you doing with that audience? How are you serving them?
Posting your specials, sales or reminders about the services you offer is not enough to turn your audience into a community. It takes good quality content to convert a casual follower into a fan.
What is good content?
Let’s start with what good content is not.
Good content is not:
- Informing people about your upcoming sale
- Putting the hard sell on your products
- Sharing your day, your troubles, your wins
- Talking about yourself
“But wait a minute“, I hear you say. “If I don’t talk about myself and specials, how can I sell anything through content marketing?”
Well, there is a point at which you can promote your products and services. It’s just not yet. Remember, the point of content marketing is not to sell your products and services directly. It’s to build trust and authority. Shameless promotion builds neither.
Good content is about the reader, listener or watcher ie. the consumer.
Good content is about solving real problems for real people.
Good content is easy to consume and shareable.
Good content builds trust and authority.
A simple way to think about content marketing is to associate it more with branding than with sales and advertising.
In sales and advertising you’re going out to the world to promote your product or service directly. You’re telling your audience about its features or the warranty or the discount you’ll give them if they “buy now!”
Branding is more like promoting your story and your values. Customers can’t identify with your product, other than the way in which they use it. But, customers can identify with what your business stands for, which helps them to trust you and thus, buy from you.
Branding is painting a picture of business’s personality and gives consumers the opportunity to decide if they like you or not.
Here’s another example. As a business, you’re on social media because you want to sell. But, customers aren’t necessarily on social media to buy. They are on social media to get value.
Value through entertainment, connecting with friends or solving a problem they face in their life.
So, if you can produce valuable content that helps someone be entertained, connect with friends or solve a real problem, you can engage an audience and over time, convert them into customers.
Content marketing is about playing the long game, not looking for the short-term wins.
But will people even read my blog?
So even after all this, will people even read my blog?
To be honest with you, probably not at first. There are two reasons for this.
Firstly, when you first start creating content, you’re probably going to be really, really bad at it. That shouldn’t stop you though. You need to practice, and practice is simply the art of doing something you’re bad at and getting it wrong until you’re good at it.
Secondly, trust and authority aren’t built overnight, and certainly not in a single blog post. Content marketing is about sharing consistently over time. Produce good content that provides value to your community on a consistent basis, and over time this trust and authority will build.
So how do I get started?
Here’s a few things you can do to start content marketing.
1. Learn more about your customers.
What are their troubles? What are their fears? Content marketing is about sharing the answers to your customer’s questions. Learn what their questions are and then work on answering them.
2. Build a platform.
No matter what type of content you want to share (written, audio or video), you need a place to post it. Yes, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube are great places to post your content, and at the end of the day your content should end up on these platforms. But, they are just distribution and not the best places to host your content.
Building a simple website, or adding a blog to your existing website (yes, audio and video needs a ‘blog’ too) gives you complete control over your content and makes you more findable online.
Also, it gives people looking at your content via social media a place to click though to to learn more about you, your business and what they can buy form you.
3. Figure out your best way of communicating with people.
Are you a writer, or are you more of a talker. Are you great on video or do you shy away from the camera?
This matters because if you can’t write very well but you can talk really convincingly about your business, then start a podcast or record and post short audio stories rather than write a blog. If you’ve got a great presence in front of the camera, start filming (your iPhone is all the equipment you need). If you can do it all, then do it all.
If you’re interested in blogging or content marketing and want to learn more about how to do it in a way that can help engage your community and grow your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!!! We’re always happy to answer any questions you might have.
Email Ryan at: firstname.lastname@example.org