Monday, March 31, 2014

Blogging For Business: Five Writing Prompts To Get Started

You business bloggers are one of the most hard-working types of writers I know, but you rarely get that credit. You're choosing to write even when writing doesn't necessarily come naturally to you, and that takes discipline. Interested in getting started?

Content marketing is, in my humble opinion, the very best kind of marketing, because you're sharing something real. It's not a flier on your car or doorknob begging potential customers to buy something. That doesn't work anymore. Today's audiences can smell a sales pitch a mile away, and we avoid them like the plague.

Instead, offer engaging, fun, exciting content. Share something of true value. Your blog should be something audiences would want to read regardless of whether or not they're in the "shopping mood." Your content marketing is how you demonstrate integrity, voice, and connection. Content marketing builds an audience, not a clientele. But therein lies the value for you: a loyal audience will be much more likely to go to you for their purchase when they're ready. They already know you!

So what should you blog about? Well, it should relate to your brand. If you haven't defined your brand yet, figure that out first. Your brand will directly affect your voice--how formal, funny, silly, or brief, etc, you sound. I'd recommend keeping each post to 300-400 words, as internet readers tend to have short attention spans (then again, I obviously hold that rule loosely). But don't worry too much about all that until you're done. You can always edit later. Your first priority is to get something written. 

Here's a few prompts to get you started!

1. Tell the story of a unique customer interaction. Have you ever had a customer arrive with a very strange request? How did it go? What did you learn? How did it affect your business? Keep this positive and cheerful. Avoid negative stories where you might be tempted to criticize your client. Remember, all your readers are either already clients or will be soon.

2.  Share a picture of your workspace, and describe the important parts. Is it cluttered? Organized? Do you have a special figurine of an otter that was passed down to you from your previous boss? Any inspirational paraphernalia that keeps you jazzed on a Monday morning? Keep the tone casual and friendly.

3. Research community events related to your business. Apparel companies blog about fashion week. Restaurants blog about the local farmers' market. You get the idea. Remember, this isn't self-promotional. It connects your readers to a topic they are interested in. They'll value that, and in turn value your blog.

4. Share a craft or recipe. This will only work for certain businesses, but if you're creative you can almost always make it relate to your brand. You can either create your own, or modify one you find online. Just make sure it's not copyrighted, and always link back with appropriate credits. If you're unsure, email the original creator for explicit permission.

5. Share advice related to your field. What topics do other people come to you for advice about? Take one of those and address them in a post. For example, a realtor might write a blog on how to find a great house for flipping. A coffee shop might write about how to select the proper roast of beans. A dog-walker might list some tips for training rambunctious puppies. You're an expert in your field, and your advice is valuable. Don't discount that.

Once you've got a post, make sure you edit until your eyes hurt. Better yet, have someone else glance over it. There's nothing that can make you look less professional than poor grammar or an awkward typo. Trust me, I've been there. It's embarrassing (especially for a writer, but enough about that...). Then find a photo to include. Photos are much more engaging than a mere link when you go to share your blog on your Facebook page (which you will, right?). Again, just make sure it's not copyrighted. You can take your own pic or find one that's under the Creative Commons License. Double check that it's also available for commercial use (Your business blog counts as commercial use, even if you're not directly making money off of it).

Once you've got all that, you're ready to post! I'd recommend once per week. Consistency and quality are what will build your audience, so don't neglect either. If you have any questions or need any support, feel free to contact me or check this page out to see how I might be able to help.

Happy writing!

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