Nowadays, many businesses use blogging to complement their website and other platforms, boost rankings on Google, attract new clients and share information. In fact, if your business relies on strong internet presence, it's probably a very good idea to start a blog. But first: check out these do's and don't's of business blogging.
DO write your articles with the main purpose of sharing information - not selling your business services. Sharing information for its own sake - without making any demands on your readers - is a feel-good exercise of mutual benefit to you and your visitors: you feel good because you're helping people by giving them helpful information, and they feel good because they're getting something for free. If like me you're a strong believer in 'what goes around comes around', it's also never a bad thing to share information that will only be of interest to other people in your industry (that aren't likely to ever need your services). It's also important to make sure you only write about what you know; i.e. that the information in your articles is correct.
DON'T write an article unless you know what you're talking about i.e. don't pretend to know what you don't. Don't load your article with allusions to your business services; if your readers feel like they're reading an advertisement, they'll click out of your article like a hot potato.
e.g. I write a lot of articles about editing and proofreading that are likely to be of interest only to other editors, not potential clients. So those articles won't directly attract new clients. But I feel good doing this because my editor colleagues also share their information about editing with me: it's a win-win situation for all of us who continually develop our skills and become better editors. On the other hand, I've seen others' blog articles that have a title that looks like they're going to be informative but when you start reading them you realise they're just dressed-up advertisements, really. One click and I'm out (like a hot potato).
DO make sure your blog is interesting not only to you but to your readers, and if your articles are interesting to the sort of readers that may be potentially need your services, then your blog can attract and win new clients for your business. It's also important to make sure your articles are well-written, edited and proofread because if they're easy to read they'll be more interesting.
DON'T be too wordy or formal and keep your blog articles relatively short so the reader's more likely to read it to the end. Listen to feedback: if your article doesn't attract any comments or likes at all then it's possible that no matter how interesting the subject is to you, or how good you think the article is, it's simply not interesting to other people. If the feedback indicates people are really interested in the subject or really loved the article, write more articles about that subject because people find it interesting.
e.g. Although my article 'How to produce perfect transcripts' is relevant to my business and the sort of readers I'd like to attract to my blog, the fact that few people have commented on it indicates to me that to most people, it's not a very interesting subject, or article. Another article, 'The three stages of editing', is not only relevant to what I do but has also attracted great feedback from all sorts of readers, so a lot of people must be interested in that subject. I've written articles about other subjects that aren't at all relevant to my business; for example, 'Nobody's Perfect'. I wrote that article purely because I had something to say and share and had a platform in which to say it. I've received a lot of positive feedback about that article and I believe positive feedback is always great, regardless of whether or not it wins new clients.
DO include some information about your business or services if you can do so naturally without it sounding like an advertisement. Mentioning who you are, what your business is about and what you're selling in a little paragraph at the end of the article is fair to readers (who can skip over that bit if they want) and a polite way of offering information about your business to any readers that may be interested. If the information you're sharing in your article is based on your own experiences in your industry or running your business then you can allude to your experiences (which may include mentioning your business) without it being an advertisement, thereby sharing information about your business as well as what you're selling.
DON'T include too much information about your business or what you're selling: if it sounds like an advertisement your readers will be annoyed and, you guessed it: click out of your article like a hot potato.
e.g. You may have noticed that in this blog article I've been using examples to illustrate my points. Within each of these examples I've needed to allude to what my business sells (e.g. editing). It's not an ad, but without actually advertising I've let my readers know that, by the way, I'm an editor. But I won't go on about the range of editing and transcription services I provide, or the name of my business or how long I've been operating because that's not specifically relevant to this article. So be subtle: only promote your business or services if you can do in a way that's completely relevant to your article.
DO make sure you know how to insert relevant metadata and SEOs. Make sure most of the blog articles you write are at least partly relevant to your business (because that means they will contain relevant SEOs). Try to include SEOs in the names of the photos that go with your articles. Not all your blog articles have to be relevant to what you're selling but be aware that if they're not, and if they don't contain any relevant SEOs, they will not be targeting 1) the sort of clients you want to be reading your blogs, from a business point of view or 2) Mr Google who won't be interested in your blog unless it contains relevant metadata and SEOs. It's also important to not just have a website and blog full of relevant metadata and SEOs: to satisfy today's potential clients, and Mr Google of course, you need to write and share your blog articles, and/or advertise your business, on multiple platforms.
DON'T bother blogging for business purposes until you learn how to use metadata and SEOs because without using those tools, the blog will miss out on all those Google-directed potential clients. Don't under-estimate Mr Google: don't insert metadata that's not relevant to your article. Don't under-estimate your readers: don't insert SEOs for their own sake throughout your article. If your article has too many SEOs, or SEOs that aren't entirely relevant to your article, your readers will simply do what's so easy to do online: click out of your blog like a hot potato.
e.g. All I know about metadata is that when you're producing your blog, you have to type a very short summary of what your article is about into a little metadata box and whatever words are in that box are what Mr Google sees, when deciding how relevant your blog article is to what people are typing into their search engine. Your SEOs and metadata don't have to be about what you're selling but be aware that if they're not, those articles won't be helped by Google to attract potential clients to your blog or business. So some of my articles aren't about my editing or proofreading services. But because I've got a lot of skills and experience in editing and proofreading, and it's important to promote those skills, I do write articles about editing and proofreading and when I do, I use my SEOs and metadata to full effect so those little spiders (or whatever they are) that run around the internet for Mr Google notice those key words and remember them next time someone types 'editing' or 'proofreading' into their search engine.
Stay posted for my upcoming article about how to get 'better bang for your blog-writing buck' depending on a) what your blog's about and how relevant it is to the sort of readers you want to attract to your business, b) how much time you spend writing your articles compared to the success of the blog, and c) what 'success' means to you - e.g. increasing your readership, winning new clients and/or other markers.
This article is based on my own experiences since 2002 when I started On Time Typing as a sole trader business in Darwin which has over the years evolved into an online transcription, scribing, writing, editing and proofreading business with clients across Australia.
Stay posted for future articles about the challenges of working from home, work-life balance and other aspects of freelancing and managing home-based businesses, especially online scribing, secretarial or editing businesses.