Benefits of blogging
Now, this is surprising as the statistics show that businesses who blog:
- Attract more web traffic: businesses with blogs attract 55% more visitors than those who don’t.
- Attract more links: this post “How To Look Stupid In 140 Characters” has links from 21 domains, including a very important one – the New York Times. And look, I’ve just given it another link.
- Have more pages indexed by the search engines: which means a greater chance of people finding them.
- Have more fresh, relevant content: which means a greater chance of searchers coming across their website.
So why not do it? Time and resources? Certainly – but a small business need only publish a post once a month if they don’t have time to do any more than that.
Or stumped on what to write about? Well, we have some 34 quick and easy post ideas for you.
You’re the experts in your your field, so why not give your visitors detailed advice on whatever it is you know about? A garden centre could give information on plant care, a dentist could offer tips on looking after teeth. Use images and videos and be as specific as possible.
An example of a beginner’s guide blog post
Guide: Beginner’s Armour Making – Cosplay is short for “costume play” and Coscraft sells the materials needed to make the costumes. They’re an online company, but beginner’s guides would suit lots of different bricks and mortar stores with websites. Here’s their extensive guide to making cos-safe armour.
Answer a question
Conduct a survey, search the web, look on Quora or Yahoo Questions to find out what people are curious about.
I’ve had a look on Yahoo and the first question I’ve seen is “What is the difference between a regular DVD player and a Blu Ray player?”
That’s a great idea for a post by an electronics retailer.
Or how about “How do I travel from Berlin airport to our hotel?” – does your hotel or travel site give practical information on how to get to nearby locations?
An example of answering a question blog post
DIY Sous Vide Waterbath – If you’re a fan of cookery programmes you may have seen Mat Follas win Masterchef UK a while back. And you’ll certainly have seen the very trendy sous vide water bath (basically, a boil in the bag cooker that costs a fortune).
He wrote a blog post about how make your own, simply because people asked him how to.
Everyone loves a list. They’re easy to follow, don’t require much time or concentration to read and can often be really useful. A good checklist, focused on a particular job and made easy to print, with checkboxes big enough so the user can tick off tasks one by one, are even more useful.
An example of a checklist blog post
Moving Home? Meet The Essential Checklist For Changing Your Address – Alexanders removal company have put together a very clear infographic-type checklist with a PDF version that can be printed. And of course, everyone should have a list like this on hand when they’re moving house.
Provide inspiration in the form of a local superstar who’s done something great, or perhaps someone in the past who has contributed something to your industry.
An example of an inspirational blog post
Mat Meets… Sean Cannon – This is another post from The Step, featuring a local retailer.
Host an Event
Hosting an event on your premises or in a nearby venue will give you the chance to advertise yourselves, network in your local community and give you lots of content for your next blog post or two.
Or host a meetup: networking events are becoming extremely popular these days and organisers need premises to host their meetings in, as well as food and drink to feed the guests with. So keep an eye out for meetings in your town and offer your services.
An example of hosting an event blog post
Free obesity workshop for dogs and owners – The title’s ambiguous, but this workshop is intended to help owners help their obese dogs.
Announce new products, introduce members of your team (in an interesting way), or mention the prize you just won.
Don’t go overboard with this type of blog post, however – you’ll bore your readers to death if you do nothing but promote yourself. Using some humour won’t go amiss, if you’re the type of business that humour suits, that is.
An example of a company news blog post
Keep The Change… You Filthy Animal – Jimmy’s Iced Coffee is an up and coming Dorset-based business founded by the energetic Jim Cregan, an enthusiastic young dude who’s not averse to dressing up as a giant drinks carton. This is the type of slightly mad and very honest business blog post Jim produces.
There’s always a place for a beautiful blog post intended to inspire. Provide ideas on how to dress yourself or dress or your home, or purely to please the viewer aesthetically.
An example of a beauty blog post
Get Gatsby style for your kitchen – This post by Kutchenhaus features not only their own kitchen, but, by referencing a piece of popular culture, links off to other products that will fit into the buyer’s gorgeous art deco-style kitchen. In doing this, Kutchenhaus are selling a lifestyle as well as a kitchen.
It’s hard to ignore a freebie and giving stuff away, whether it’s in the form of an e-book (how about an area guide from an estate agent); a cheatsheet (like the recipe cheatsheet example below); product sample (a mini chocolate bar from a chocolate retailer); or graphics and icons (if you’re a graphic designer or web designer), for instance. If possible, ask for an email address in return.
An example of a giveaway blog post
Recipe cheat sheet – Look at the comments below this blog post to see the positive PR Angry Chicken has generated by posting her cheat sheet.
A comparison blog post can be used by lots of businesses – sellers of kitchen implements, dog food, toilets, vehicles… the list is endless. Take one of your products and compare it with at least one another, explain the differences between them and, where relevant, which is the best choice.
An example of a comparison blog post
Choosing the right sink for you – DeeLux Kitchens takes potential buyers through the different types of sink they can choose from.
DeeLux feature their own products, include relevant keywords and answer a question that kitchen buyers might well be looking for, all of which will make their website more likely to be found.
People love winning things, so give your regular readers a chance to win one of your own products, or a box of chocolates, or an iPad even. As well as keeping your followers involved, you may even gain new readers, so ask for an email address in return for a competition entry. Or ask for a photo or short story that you can use as content on your site.
An example of a contest blog post
Name the New Bookshop Competition – Name the New Bookshop – The Result – Owners of the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green (famously one of the few shops not looted in the London riots) let their customers decide what their second bookshop was going to be called.
In return, the lucky winner received £50 to spend in the shop and invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony to open it. The links point to the initial competition post and subsequence results post.
Debate can provide meaty content for a blog, so keep an eye on what’s causing ripples in your industry and host a discussion on it.
Put across your own point of view, be sure to mention the other side of the argument and ask for your readers’ opinions. Healthy debate will involve your readers and give an insight into the kind of a company you really are.
An example of a debate blog post
Craft Beer v Real Ale – Brewdog are a “post punk apocalyptic craft brewery” (their words) based in Scotland. In this blog post they talk about why they don’t see themselves as part of the real ale industry and explain why they regard organisations like CAMRA as being restrictive and out of date.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Simple: make a list of questions you keep hearing and turn them into a list of frequently asked questions.
An example of a FAQ blog post
5 Green Plumbing FAQ’s that cut your utility bills – Walker Sandford Project Management posted this article on how to make your plumbing greener.
Open Questions to Your Readers
Ask your readers what they think about a particular issue in a blog post, or post a short survey for them to complete. Or simply add the question at the end of a blog post. This will help keep them engaged and provide you with feedback and something else to write about into the bargain.
An example of an open question blog post
Facebook Competition – The Butchershop Bar & Grill published a blog post and a Facebook survey asking which steak accompaniment was their readers’ favourite. The prize was a free steak dinner for two.
Unfortunately they haven’t told us which came out top – that could’ve been another blog post!
There’s no better way to showcase your own services or products by illustrating how other people use them, and the benefits ind doing so. Alternatively, give your readers information on how a customer solved a problem when using your products/services.
A case study can be written in the style of an interview (a few short questions will do), as a step by step guide or even just be a list of images, as our example is:
An example of a case study blog post
A Cheshire Wedding: Kate & Daniel, The Belle Epoque, Knutsford – This photographer in Cheshire very simply shows the results of one of his wedding shoots in a series of images.
Trade events, as well as providing an opportunity for companies to promote themselves by exhibiting or networking, are a source of potential content for blog posts.
Post an informative or amusing round-up of the event, and keep your readers up to date on what’s happening if they can’t make it. Works with pet shows, home shows, travel shows, car shows, gadget shows and the like.
An example of an event roundup blog post
London Fashion Week: A Round Up – Here’s a roundup of London Fashion Week by a junior brand manager for make-up brand Illamasqua.
The Greater Good
It’s never a bad thing to look outside yourself or your business, so try to give something back by supporting a cause close to your heart. Of course you’ll benefit from the positive publicity as well, and recent research shows that customers are more likely to buy from companies who support charities and local causes.
An example of a greater good blog post
Charity of the Month: May 2013 – Endsleigh Insurance supports Fostering Network among others and pushes a charity a month in their blog.
“How-tos” are fantastically popular on the web, and whether in the form of a video, a series of images, or a detailed text posting, they can be of real value to searchers. Think about the people who might benefit from your services and the kind of thing they need to know, then put together a step-by-step post on how to do it.
An example of a how-to blog post
How to Stay Calm on your Wedding Day – Wedding accoutrements retailer Confetti have published a guest post that will strike a chord with any bride-to-be.
Graphics are a perfect way to get concepts across in a simple way. Even though they’ve become ubiquitous, there’s still room for a good infographic showing original content.
Creating your own infographic is best but it can be expensive to make a really good looking one that will get noticed. Here are some Hubspot templates and infographic tools to help. Or just share one that someone else has done (linking back to them, of course).
An example of an infographic blog post
When Men and Women Shop for Furniture – Although I do sincerely doubt the information given in this infographic (74% of women think about shopping every minute??), they’ve quoted their sources at the bottom and it looks good.
It was originally published in Visual.ly but has since been shared on blog posts on the Oakfurniture.co.uk blog and Shop4furniture.net.
Local businesses like restaurants, cafes, bookshops and food shops will benefit from immersing themselves into the life of the local community. Mentions of other local businesses, announcements of community events or gossip about local news can all be used in blog posts.
An example of a community post
Book Swap – This is a post from a cafe local to me, The Step in Bowes Park. Well before their business opened, the cafe created a mailing list, asking for people’s opinions on what they should sell and keeping them up to date with what was happening.
And now that they’re successfully up and running, they host local events in the cafe to keep people coming back. Here’s their post on a book swap that raises money for local causes.
Pick of the Week/Month
Regular daily or weekly news roundups (regularity depending on your resources) will bring in some extra readers, keep you abreast of what’s happening in your industry, and hopefully attract a link or two.
An example of a pick of the week blog post
Books of the Week Round-up 6th June 2013 – Booksellers Peter’s Books publishes a weekly round-up of new children’s books. They supply books to libraries and nurseries and this information will help their customers choose the next books to buy from them.
DIY companies, plumbers’ supply shops, cosmetics retailers, furniture shops, fruit and veg shops and many, many more must surely have instructional content they can impart to casual browsers.
An example of an instructional blog post
What to do when pipes freeze or burst – Here’s a post from Schofield’s Holiday Home insurance on what do in the event of a pipe problem.
Latching on to the latest fad may not be to your taste, but it can certainly get you noticed. The search “gangman style spoofs” in YouTube brings up 789,000 results, so you’ll be swallowed up amongst the thousands doing the same thing unless you produce something quickly, making sure you understand how the meme works.
Here’s a useful article on using “memejacking” if you’re not sure where to start. Use meme generating tools to produce meme images with your own text on them.
An example of a meme blog post
Top Gear Face Swap – There are obviously Photoshop skills needed to do this sort of thing. It’s a face swap meme as used by Car Wow. Not for the squeamish.
Links and Resources
Link to other local businesses in your area and valued clients you do business with. The important thing is that they should be businesses you genuinely admire and think people will benefit from knowing about.
An example of a links and resources blog post
Top 50 cycling blogs – A list of the best blogs can take a bit of time to put together but can be worth it. This London Cyclist blog post has attracted links from 31 different domains to date. There’s no need to rank your resources, and adding some text to each description will help people find your own site if they’re looking for businesses in the area.
Book reviews by a bookshop’s own staff, and tech and gadget reviews by customers are just two of the ways businesses can use review content for their blogs.
The Institute Of Marine Research / The Diary Of Joseph Stein – Forbidden Planet manages to publish a few blog posts a day (small local businesses don’t need anywhere near that number). They’re all well illustrated and fairly lengthy. Here’s a recent review of a webcomic.
Top 10s, 50s, 100s, best of, worst of, greatest, funniest, biggest, smallest: there’s no end to the headlines for your list post and there’s no end to the subjects you can make lists of. And these posts are really popular, with lots of shares on social media platforms for the best of them.
An example of a list blog post
Top 10 Gift Ideas for Him – Clothing retailers Hervia published a top 10 gift ideas post in November 2012, leaving plenty of buying time to snap up their products for Christmas of that year.
A series with a theme for your blog posts will help you come up with ideas for new content, plus you’ll be giving your visitors an incentive to sign up for more of your blog posts to receive the rest in the series.
An example of a blog post series
Behind the Design – The Pottery Barn’s blog runs a show and tell series of (among other things) “Behind the Design” where they ask the designer of a particular item how they got the idea for it.
Problems and Solutions
DIY suppliers and hardware stores, food retailers, clothing stores and more can use the device of the problem and solution in their blog posts.
An example of a problem and solution blog post
Cook’s Questions – Baking – The legendary cook and tv personality Delia Smith provides a fine example of a problems and solutions post on her website.
News can come in the form of company news, industry news or relevant local or national news. Tie it in with your company and give a link to the source if it’s from outside your company – you never know, the link may even be reciprocated (let them know you’ve posted it).
An example of a news article blog post
Fan Jason Wins A Cup For His Mini Train Display With A Difference – A very funny example of a news post is this model train enthusiast winning a prize for a model train set on a toilet seat. It appeared on a plumbing retailer’s website.
Posts about your own Products
If you’re proud of your products, why not show them off? Especially if you have professional or artily-shot photos of them.
An example of a product blog post
New Geometric Necklaces by Little Moose – Little Moose sells quirky jewellery, gifts and handbags. Here’s a post that showcases some beautifully cute necklaces made by them.
Seasonal predictions are regular staples in the world of the blog. During the year, you’ll see a flurry of articles predicting the most popular toys for that year’s Christmas period, and at the beginning of the year you’ll be bombarded with articles on where the most-visited travel destinations will be. Try and apply this predictive thinking to your own business.
An example of an prediction blog post
MenKind’s Top 5 Gadget Predictions For Christmas – This blog post by Gadgetrophy is an example of the Christmas gift prediction posts.
Take a note of what’s happening within your industry and write a reaction blog post referencing the latest news.
An example of a reaction blog post
Remembering Iain Banks… – Waterstone’s remembers Iain Banks in this blog post published the day after his sad death at the age of 59.
Look into a subject in depth and produce an interesting, detailed blog post based on the results you’ve seen.
An example of a research blog post
Brits are Suffering from Gastr-utensil-itis – Just Eat’s eye-opening post on all the kitchen utensils the average UK person doesn’t use is entertaining and serves Just Eat’s purposes in getting us all to order our food in rather than cooking for ourselves.
If someone’s written something nice about you, why not comment on it as part of a blog post? You could even turn it into a case study if your customer is willing to expand on what they’ve said about your product or service.
An example of a testimonial blog post
A jewel of a testimonial – for our product descriptions – Something simple like this on the Ben Locker & Associates’ copywriting website gets the point across very well.
Show Examples of What Not To Do
If you think you’ve run out of good advice to pass onto your readers, turn it the other way round – what shouldn’t they be doing?
An example of a what not to do blog post
5 things NOT to do at the gym – Gyms and leisure centres could write this sort of thing, or how about how not to cook fruit and veg or how not to shop online.
It’s worth setting aside some time a month for blog post writing. The search engines love new content and so will your readers and you never know, you may even enjoy doing it!