“I can run my business or I can write a blog, but I can’t do both; I’m too busy.”
I can’t create any more hours in your day (I wish I could). But what I can do is show you how blogging is an activity that will leverage both your time and your money. Blogging is like money in the bank: Every blog post is a deposit that will earn interest, and the principal is always there. Those deposits will build until you dominate search engine results in your market area. When your business dominates search engine results for your keywords, your sales and profits increase.
As we take a closer look at blogging, I’ll show you how to double or triple your blogging output without spending any extra money (in just a few minutes a day – no kidding), and how to create regular blog posts without writing a word or paying anyone to do it for you.
The first thing you should know is that blogs aren’t very expensive to set up. You’ll need a domain name (like “yourbusiness.com”), which costs about $12/year, and a hosting account, which is around $50/year or so. WordPress software, themes and plug-ins can be acquired for free. Or you can set up a blog for free on Google’s Blogger [https://youtu.be/Wa7d7DCPLGc], WordPress [http://www.molly-greene.com/how-to-set-up-a-free-wordpress-blog/] and other sites.
What makes blogging effective is that it takes advantage of inbound rather than outbound marketing techniques. Chances are you’re already advertising your business using traditional “outbound” methods: newspapers, magazines, antique directories, etc. Outbound marketing is a “pay for use” model; you push your message through various channels and pay for them every time you do. Outbound methods certainly have a place in an overall marketing campaign, but these modes have a limited shelf life: They run through the insertion dates and are rarely seen again. For time-sensitive promotions like sale events or shows, outbound is ideal. For what newspapers used to call “institutional” marketing – building name recognition – outbound marketing is a lot more expensive than inbound.
Check out a video instruction about setting up a blog….
With inbound marketing, customers find you, rather than you finding them. Almost 70 percent of shoppers now use the web to find information about products they are interested in buying [http://newscred.com]. What are they looking for? Product details and prices, for sure. But they also seek out information on the companies they may buy from, especially in the antiques trade where the shopping experience is local.
When a shopper Googles a keyword – “Tiffany glass Denver” for example – dealers who have created blog posts on Tiffany glass and identified their location as Denver stand a good chance of being found on the first page of search results. A shopper’s next move will be to learn more about the company they find. Before they ever walk into a store, the customer will be largely pre-sold. Currently, 57 percent of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a salesperson. By 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their shopping without interacting with a human [http://newscred.com]. In just five more years, without a solid web presence your store may be an after-thought rather than a top-of-the-mind destination.
The static pages of a traditional five-to-ten page website can’t compete against a content-heavy blog. According to the web marketing consultants at Hubspot, businesses with websites (or blogs) of 401-1,000 pages get six times more responses than those with 51-100 pages [http://offers.hubspot.com/marketing-benchmarks-from-7000-businesses]. Do 401 pages sound like an impossible goal? At two posts per week, it would take you four years to reach this goal. Or, you could hire someone to do the writing for you. Using a freelancer might be expensive, but the content generated would be found on the Internet for many years to come.
Or you could try a different tactic to reach your blogging goal: curated content. You probably curate content already. Whenever you “share” a post on Facebook, you have curated content. You sort and sift through your Facebook news feed and whenever you find something your friends might enjoy, you share it. Perhaps it’s a political post, video, cartoon or a meme of some sort. Whatever it is, it’s content; by sharing it you have curated content for your friends. Of course, the problem with using Facebook as your exclusive marketing medium is that for any given post, your audience is limited to about 16 percent of your followers [https://www.facebook.com/marketing/posts/10150839503836337], unless you pay Facebook to extend that reach.
Blogs are indexed by search engines, and their reach is limited only by a blogger’s skill at promoting his blog. Whenever I post to my Resale Retailing (WordPress) blog, I have the WordPress “Publicize” (JetPack) feature set to automatically share my posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and other social media sites. This degree of leverage isn’t possible on Facebook alone.
You can curate your blog content in much the same way that you do on Facebook. Carefully curated blog content attracts viewers in the same way that a carefully curated museum exhibition attracts viewers. You know who your customers are, and you know what types of items they are interested in. Whenever you see information online that you think your customers might benefit from, turn it into a featured blog post. Write a brief introduction, perhaps a sentence or two about where you found it or who the author is, then include the content (in full or in part with a link to the entire article) and close with your opinion about the subject.
Whenever you use someone else’s content, you must give them credit and include a link. Be sure to check the original page for copyright information. When in doubt, send the owner of the material an email and ask for permission to use it. Clarification of online copyright issues may be found at [www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/linking-copyrighted-materials].
Content curation is a common business practice. Argyle Social, a social media software provider, conducted a study of more than 150,000 status updates on three of the largest social media platforms. They discovered the following:
• Posts with curated content links generated 33 percent more clicks than original content. Why? Followers are more reluctant to click if they think you are “blowing your own horn” i.e., that you are going to give them some sort of sales pitch.
• Posts with original content, though, generated a 54 percent high conversion rate (sold more) than curated content. Why? When a follower clicks on your original content they are more likely to follow through with a purchase.
The Social Media consultants at Convince and Convert recommend linking to original content 25-50 percent of the time, with the “sweet spot” being at about 40 percent [www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-measurement/new-research-finds-the-curation-vs-creation-sweet-spot].
So if your goal is to have a blog with at least 400 posts, and you’re linking to curated content 75 percent of the time, you only need original content for 100 posts. At two per week, you can hit this goal in a year, and be up to 1,000 posts in about 2 1/2 years.
There’s no doubt that inbound marketing (and specifically blogging) can reap great rewards for your business. Consumers increasingly rely on online research to make buying decisions. The dealer in your market who has the “lion’s share” of online content will be the one who dominates local search results, and seals his market share.