I can relate to those techie-scared small-business owners out there who are just glad they finally made that HUGE leap into modern times by getting a website.
My photography business skated along for years off-line… I relied on business cards and word-of mouth to attract customers. The ironic part of it was that I’ve been a writer for years, and even had a personal blog that I used as a journal.
It just didn’t occur to me to combine the two…
It doesn’t matter what your business is, a blog can put you out there in a way that traditional advertising can’t.
After several years of entertaining my mutually-exclusive hobbies (and writing articles for other people), it occurred to me that I could use each of those skills I’d played around with to help each other.
And thus, I finally modernized and got a website for my photo business, created a fan-page on Facebook, and started blogging about the whole thing.
What I found was that the blog actually attracted people that normal advertising didn’t. People would show up looking for photography tips, and wind up browsing the website I mentioned once somewhere in the post.
Each new blog post also gave me a link to use as a status update on Facebook… I was beginning to tie everything together.
I discovered that a blog doesn’t necessarily have to be perfectly honed to fit into a certain niche.
For a while, I kept separate blogs, thinking I needed to keep everything in its proper category… I didn’t want to bore my photography clients with random stories about my kids, or tales of my loopy cowdog getting scared of a salamander. I also didn’t want my humor-seeking blog followers to get fed up with my “I took another photo” posts.
After a few months (and a few misplaced posts), I realized that the blogs were all me… in one form or another. It began to seem pointless to keep separating things, and I kept getting stuck when I had a post that merged the two topics… such as a great story about my minions (my kids) interrupting a photo shoot by popping into the frame with their goofiest expressions.
I took another plunge (hey, I don’t like change) and combined the two. I’d blog about photography when the mood struck, and post all my silly stories in-between.
To my surprise, I began to gain readers like never before! Turns out, people liked the variety and would visit more because of it. Those looking for photography-related content could still find those things (thank WordPress for categories and tags), and those looking for random life-moments still had those… and some stumbled across photos they liked and became clients!
I learned a few tricks to make everything relevant.
Even though everything on my blog is categorized somehow, I discovered that I could advertise my photography services just about everywhere… without being pushy or annoying my readers.
I started adding photos to most posts, even those not about photography. A small link to my photo website accompanies each picture, and those who just want to read aren’t interrupted. Those who like the pictures can click for more.
A small mention of picture-taking can be turned into a hyper-link easily, that will take people to more photo-related posts. Linking to previously published posts takes them to even more places where my photos, stories, and contact info are prominent.
See, you don’t have to specifically blog about what you’re selling… write about something fun and semi-related. That one small link is all you need.
Any business can do this!
Selling beef jerky? You can blog about cows, health food, great snacks for vacations, or spices… and manage to keep your readers entertained without straying completely off-topic.
Trying to launch a massage service? There are plenty of topics you can entertain readers with, including benefits of massage, health, history, and news in the industry.
There was a blog post about toilet paper that went viral a couple weeks ago, so rest assured that anything can be made interesting enough to blog about!
Don’t forget to connect everything!
Again, it doesn’t matter what your business is or what you blog about. Just make sure you connect the two.
Mention your business in your blog, and mention your blog posts on your website. Use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to attract people to both.
Just to make a point, here would be a great place to say something along the lines of “would you like to see some great photos? Check out my photography website at…”