You’re business needs a blog. This advice is trumpeted online like it was the secret eleventh commandment that Moses forgot to tell us about. They list all of the benefits that come from attaching a blog to your small business website, but they rarely tell you that doing this has actually hurt many small business owners. What about your blog? Is it bringing or costing you business?
Don’t misunderstand. There are, indeed, many reasons why your small business needs a blog. The issue isn’t with the blog itself. It’s with the business owner behind the blog. I’ve seen it time and time again.
Small business owners jump in with both feet without ever asking the basic questions they need to answer before taking the social media plunge. Here are some of the mistakes small business owners make that are actually costing them business.
Mistake #1 – You Don’t Know the Rules
You’ve read those warning labels, right? Don’t use hair dryer while in shower. Don’t pick up lawn mower while it’s running. Seems obvious, right? Sadly, people were actually injured doing both of these requiring manufacturers to print these warnings.
We’ve all seen those blogs that would inspire such warning labels. The obvious ones are those with no navigation, eye-jarring color schemes, multiple pop up adds, 100 widgets in the sidebar, or where finding the content is a lot like trying to find Waldo.
What about the less obvious ones? You need to do your homework before launching your blog to avoid these. I highly recommend you start with one of the best resources on blogging, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog by Darren Rowse.
Your blog is a reflection of your small business. Without knowing the rules, you may give the impression that you aren’t professional, knowledgeable, or trustworthy.
Mistake #2 – You’re Not Committed to Your Blog
The average blogger quits blogging within their first six months. Blogging takes a real time commitment. It also takes patience to build your target audience to the point where you’ll see tangible results from your efforts.
You should expect to spend a minimum of 5 hours per week on your blog to write posts, maintain your site, and promote it through social media. It’s fine to test it out to see if blogging is right for you and your small business, but be realistic about the commitment you need to make for those efforts to pay off.
If, after you’ve given it the old college try, you decide that blogging isn’t the right tool for you, that’s fine. While blogging provides many benefits, it’s not wise to force the issue. It will come through in your writing, and turn your readers off.
Don’t leave your blog online. Take it down. Blogs that have not been updated for some time can give the impression that your business doesn’t finish what it starts or, even worse, is no longer in business.
Mistake #3 – You Don’t Really Put the Customer First
Be honest with yourself. Do you really care about your customer’s well-being before your own. It’s fine if you don’t. I’m not here to judge, but readers have an uncanny ability to discern this through your writing.
Your blog community will want you to interact with them through their comments and other social media platforms. If you’re not willing to build these relationships online it will quickly become apparent. It’s also online 24/7 for the world to see.
Remember, your blog is a great way to give your small business more personality. Just make sure it’s one that will attract people to your business instead of repel them.
Mistake #4 – You Turn Your Business into a Hobby
You might be surprised to find that you really enjoy blogging and social media. It can be very addictive. It’s not uncommon for people to log on for 30 minutes and then stay online for hours.
Create a schedule for when you’ll be using social media, and then stick to it. Even more importantly, stay focused on why you’re using these tools. Ultimately, you want your efforts to translate to your bottom line.
Your efforts need to pay off for your small business in a tangible manner (i.e., sales) after a reasonable amount of time. If they don’t, then it’s better to concentrate of other efforts that will.
Too many business owners turn their blog and social media efforts into a hobby instead of marketing. If it’s not leading to sales, then it’s a hobby and it’s costing your business money.
Have you thrown in the towel on your blog? What made you decide to give it up? Are you experiencing tangible results with your blog? How were you able to avoid these mistakes? What other mistakes have you seen small business owners make with their blogs that’s costing them your business?
Photo Credit: iStockphoto/Yuri_Arcurs