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5 Steps to Blogging Success

By Mandy Becker, Owner
Swagger Gifts, 4/21/2009

Mandy Becker

Let’s take a poll. Raise your hand if you hate to write. Your hand is raised, isn’t it? Well – don’t worry because my hand is raised, too.  The only college I applied to was an engineering school because I didn’t have to submit an essay to get in! I’ve started with this because I want you to know up front that if I can write a blog – you can too!

I hate structured writing, but I LOVE networking, creating new relationships, building my brand and increasing my sales every year... even online. So how can writing make you money? In the form of a blog – of course! Writing a blog is basically like keeping a journal. Blogs allow you to write about all aspects of your life including but not limited to your family, business, travels and beliefs. The only difference is this journal is for the whole world to read (assuming you’ve allowed that in your privacy settings). I started writing my store’s blog (Let’s Talk Shop) in June 2007, and  I never seem to stop learning about the blogosphere.

The five most important things I’ve learned thus far are listed below – let’s dive right in.

1. CREATE A BLOG. Blogging is free. Now, you have no excuse not to do it! Hopefully you read my first article, Trials and Tribulations of Online Marketing, and have started on your website, but if not (maybe you’re starting on a budget?), try writing a blog! Two of the most popular blogging sites are Blogger and Wordpress. Check them both out and use the one you feel the most comfortable with. Both are pretty intuitive. If you can send an email you can write a blog!

2. STRATEGICALLY WRITE BLOG TO BE OPTIMIZED BY SEARCH ENGINES.  Blogging helps you rank higher in the search engines. My personal goal is to rank on the first page of any search that is relevant to my business’s products and services – because that’s where the shoppers are! There are keywords that people search for (in Google, Yahoo!, etc.) that my store’s website doesn’t get ranked for, but my blog does. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, there are many items that I write about on my blog that I carry in my store, but I don’t sell online. Second, you can easily use the keyword in the title AND the body of the blog posts which the search engine spiders like and reward you for by ranking it high! For Example: below is a snapshot of a Google Search for “Magnolia Lane Frames” (some of you probably carry these in your stores). I do not sell them online, but I wrote a blog post about them last August and I still rank on page one in a Google search. I have been rewarded with several new customers, from across the United States, because of this single posting.  So even if you don’t have ecommerce, blogging is still important for your store and can make you money!

3. COLLABORATE. Blogging is an enabler for collaboration, learning and results.  These days the world doesn’t seem nearly as big as it used to. We can communicate with people on the other side of the world as if they are in our hometown. Sometimes people are scared to buy online. Sometimes they aren’t sure what you or your store truly represents. Sometimes they just want to communicate with others who share similar interests. If you want to create an online relationship with your readers, you should appear as the subject matter expert. And when they comment on a post, make sure to respond!  Creating a connection with your potential customers, understanding their needs and desires, and delivering to those expectations will significantly increase your chances of them engaging in business with you. For example, this past Christmas we sold Elf on a Shelf, and I loved them so much that I wrote a blog post about it and several people joined in on the “conversation” (see below). It was a lot of fun, and I even sold some Elves in the process!

4. MARKET BLOG TO CURRENT CUSTOMERS.  Blogging empowers existing customers to be your biggest cheerleaders. Many consumers are already sharing real-time details about their lives, their professions and their interests on social networks, through their blogs, and in other online mediums. More and more are jumping on board every single day. While these consumers are there, why not give them something to talk about? In a world where business owners are always worried about protecting their “digital reputation,” they often forget that good word of mouth advertising can be more valuable than the damage of a negative review.

5. FREQUENT UPDATES. You don’t have to be the next Nicholas Sparks or J.K. Rowling! Short, casual posts often resonate the most with visitors and regular subscribers to your blog alike. People are such a paradox – we all want to be unique, but fit in at the same time. Just knowing that you share similar or other interesting desires, tastes, and experiences – you’ve immediately established a connection with your reader. Also, don’t be afraid to visit their blogs, comment on their posts, and actually participate in online communities. You’ll add so much value to your online presence just by regularly contributing and being a part of the conversation, instead of just selling, selling, selling.

So what are you waiting for? Drop me a comment on my blog “Let’s Talk Shop” (http://blog.SwaggerGifts.com) – I look forward to doing the same in return!

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