Blogging for Business
When setting up a craft blog you need to think about what you want to achieve with your blog, aimless rambling won’t attract as many readers as a blog that has a clear purpose. Whether that purpose is to showcase what you are making, share tips & tutorials, chronicling your journey in discovering a new craft or promoting your business. You need to start with a plan, work out who you are trying to appeal to (audience), what you plan to blog about (content), how often to you plan to blog (frequency) and how will you get visitors to your blog (promotion). Let’s take each of these in turn:
If you have a clear idea of who you are aiming your blog at it will help you to promote your blog, and to connect with similar blogs. If you try to appeal to everyone you won’t be specialist enough for anyone. There are millions of blogs currently online so you need to think about how yours will be different, are you aiming to appeal to a small niche, or to bring a fresh approach on a much blogged about subject?
Furthermore clearly indentifying your audience can help with planning your content; you can then start to think about what your target audience will want to read.
The most important part of your blog is the content. It really helps before starting to blog to brainstorm subjects you want to cover, and make a list of potential post ideas and get a few posts pre-written for when you’re short of time but want to add something to your blog. It’s also worth looking at other blogs that cover the subject that you want to blog about and see what they have already covered. Have you got something you could add? Could you bring a fresh viewpoint to a frequently discussed topic? What topics get the most response? Can you come up with something that hasn’t been covered elsewhere? If your blog is linked to your business it’s good to let people find out about the people behind the business. If you craft why not share some of the things that inspire your designs or some of the techniques you have learnt.
I am not advising that you copy from other blogs but it is good to take inspiration from others and to research your chosen subject area. You want to make sure you aren't covering a topic that's been done hundreds of times over, or blogging the exact same thing as someone else. Furthermore reading other blogs in your subject area helps you learn what topics are popular. Also think about whether you plan to write all the posts yourself or do you have people who would guest blog for you?
To help improve the search engine ranking of your blog it is useful to have a few ‘evergreen’ blog posts, these are information (and keyword) filled posts on a popular topic which will rank well in the search engines. They will help to bring traffic to your blog, in the crafting world how to guides, or tutorials make great evergreen posts. See this article from Craft Blog UK for more information on evergreen posts.
Your blog is a great place to share news about your business, new stock, landmarks, events etc but do make sure you mix it with other posts too. Posts which are useful to people, whether they are customers or not, are likely to attract more traffic. Who knows perhaps some of the non-customers reading those posts will turn into customers one day. Help lead them along this route by tying your posts in with what you sell or do. If you stock craft supplies, featuring them in the projects you write for your blog (with a link back to where they can buy said supplies on your site) could help lead to sale. If you teach classes then sharing a tip or 2, and then letpeople know if they want to know more about the subject they can book a class with you (link back to your class timetable or bookings page).
The important thing to remember is that you set the timescales, just because you see other people blogging daily doesn’t mean you have to. It’s all too easy to fall into a routine of blogging on set days and then feeling like a failure when you don’t manage it one week.
Remember that people like quality rather than quantity; there is no point in knocking out 2 or 3 quick not very well written/researched blog posts for the week when you could have used that time to have written one detailed, good quality post that would have gotten a great response from your readers.
Consistancy is a good thing, if you blog on the same day each week you'll soon find people come to check your blog on those days looking for new posts. Also it's better to blog regularily than to do a few posts in one week then nothing for months, regular posts will lead to regular traffic.
Interaction is a great way to attract visitors to your blog. If you regularly follow and comment on other blogs you will find those bloggers start to comment on your blog and follow you back. Also if you are a member of relevant forums you may find opportunities to mention your blog (in a non spammy way), or on Facebook or Twitter.
Content also plays a big part here, as mentioned before evergreen posts will help pick up extra traffic through search engines. Well written and well researched posts on current topics will also do well in search engines as well as through word of mouth. If people like what they read they will happily share the link with their friends, and will come back for more in the future. Make sure you put a ‘share’ option under your posts to make it easier for readers to share.
It is worth signing up to Google Analytics (which is free), to help track where your visitors are coming from, what they look at on your blog, how long they stay etc. This information can help you see what appeals to visitors, and where you are picking up visitors. Also why not ask for feedback from time to time? Write a post asking people what they would like to see more of on your blog, you could also share it on social media to get more response.
Craft Blog UK - www.ukcraftblog.com has lots of advice from setting up your blog to posting ideas and advice on attracting followers.
Guardian Blogging case study – www.bloggingcasestudy.com. The Guardian has teamed up with a blogging expert to learn how to make an income from a brand new blog in 6 months, a step by step guide to building a successful blog.
Pro Blogger - www.problogger.net/ Lots of tips, how to guides and general blogging advice.
UK Handmade – www.ukhandmade.co.uk have a business section on their site which not only covers promoting your business online, but also offline promotion, setting up a craft business, preparing for craft fairs, selling handmade wares etc....
Image credit - Daisy image Hilary Pullen - www.ukcraftblog.com