How do I get more customers online?
That’s a question that has stumped many businesses, especially entrepreneurs and solo professionals who don’t have much of a budget for marketing.
I have been involved in online marketing for 6-8 years now, and I’ve found that one of the most reliable and surefire ways to attract customers online is through blogging.
To find out more about how blogging can attract customers and grow your business online, I spoke to Annabel Candy, author of Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps.
Sidenote: Read my review of Annabel’s Successful Blogging ebook.
What Are The Benefits Of A Blog For A Business?
Besides attracting customers to your website, blogging presents lots of benefits for businesses online. According to Annabel, blogging can:
- Help improve your search engine ranking because the search engines prefer new content
- Position your company as leaders in your field
- Provide a useful service to existing customers
- Attract new customers
- Allow you to stay in contact with customers easily and manage a low cost (or even free) email newsletter so that you remain foremost in people’s minds when they need your services or products
- Help you keep your finger on the pulse, gauge customer reactions and provide new solutions to their problems
- Get noticed by the media or industry leaders
To expand on Annabel’s points, it’s helpful to think of a blog as your business’ TV and radio station and newspaper all rolled into one. This way, blogging becomes your platform to get your message out to potential customers in a low cost way. Unlike traditional media, blogs are 2-way conversations and much more engaging to customers.
Having a blog also allows you to do non-publishing activities, like running contests, showcasing your work, growing your prospect database and more for free.
How Does A Blog Generate Revenue For A Business?
Annabel explains that blogs generate revenue in the following ways:
1. Blogs can sell services – for example, Annabel’s Get In The Hot Spot blog helps her sell her web copy writing services, web or blog design and private consultations
2. Blogs can sell products. In response to her customers, Annabel created her Successful Blogging ebook which she promotes through her blog. Other bloggers selling products through their blogs are David Risley and Srivinas Rao.
3. Blogs can earn affiliate income. This is a revenue strategy that I am using on The ClickStarter by recommending high quality products to my readers that pay me a commission for each sale.
4. Blogs can make money from advertising. Darren Rowse’s Digital Photography School is an excellent example of a blog that earns it’s revenue from advertising. However, this revenue model is better suited for publishing businesses.
Annabel adds that one should expect to only begin seeing results 6-12 months after a blog is launched, because a new blog takes time to grow its readership and brand.
How Do I Start A Blog For My Business?
Annabel recommends careful planning as the first step to launch a blog for your business.
“Plan it carefully. Think about what your main goal is and who your target audience is then focus your blog 100% on that goal and the people you want to read it,” says Annabel.
Annabel also reminds us that first impressions count even more online than in real life.
“A bad blog or website will never help you win new business. It will scare people off. You have about five seconds to convince people that your blog will give them the information they’re looking for and that your company is worth doing business with.”
To make a great first impression, Annabel suggests hiring a designer and being involved in the design process.
“Brief your designer so you can make sure they design a blog which will help you achieve your goals and appeal to your target audience. No one understands your business as well as you so take responsibility for learning the essential information on how to plan, set up, write and promote your blog so that you can manage a design team effectively and work with them to create a blog that gets results.”
As for the technical concerns of installing and setting up a blog, I recommend using WordPress as your blogging engine. Our article Technical Requirements to Launch Your Website, Simplified should help you get started.
- If you don’t know where to start with your blog, check out Annabel’s ebook self-study course: Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps
- Set time aside to plan the goals, topics and design of your blog.
- Consider hiring someone to professionally setup your blog. My WordPress ClickStart All-In-One package will take you from A-Z for launching your blog.