This month marks a huge milestone for my business. It’s been ten years since I first started blogging under my Megan Auman brand. Back in the good ‘ole days of 2006, blogging was still a relatively new way to get the word out about your business. And while I certainly had no idea what I was supposed to be writing about, I started making attempts to share what I was working on and thinking about. Over time, my blog has evolved as my business has evolved. And while I haven’t always been the most consistent blogger, I’ve created enough posts over the years to learn what does and doesn’t work when it comes to blogging to promote your products.
But before I share ten lessons I’ve learned (that you can apply to your business blog as well) I think it’s important to share one big overarching lesson that I just recently re-learned. Even with the proliferation of social media, blogging is still the best thing I’ve done to promote my business. Blogging on a regular basis brings me more traffic than any other marketing tactic I’ve tried. It constantly brings new people to my site and gives my existing customers and fans a reason to come back on a regular basis. And despite not always blogging with the consistency I should, it still remains that engine that drives all of my other marketing efforts.
So whether you blog consistently for your business, struggle to come up with what to write about, or are still wondering if you should be blogging for your business, here are ten lessons I’ve learned in ten years of blogging for my biz that you can apply to your business blog as well:
1. Speak to your customers, not your peers.
This is the biggest mistake I see artists, designer, and makers making with their blog, and it’s because it’s can seem really hard to do. Ultimately, the goal of your blog should be to sell more of your product. And that means you need to talk to the people most likely to buy your products. While it can be tempting to talk about your process on your blog, that’s not what your customer is looking for online. Creating content that speaks to your customers is an exercise in empathy, as you need to imagine what they might want to read and look at. But if you focus your content on how someone might use your products, you’ll be lightyears ahead of all your competitors who only talk about how a product is made.
2. It takes time for content to gain traction. (So be patient and stick with it.)
In the beginning, it can feel like you’re talking to no one with your blog. And that actually might be true. That’s because it takes a while for content to gain traction. The two biggest referrers to my website are Pinterest and search, and while both of those consistently send me traffic, most of that traffic is to blog posts that are over a year old. And while this can seem frustrating in the beginning, it’s actually a huge benefit of creating blog content over creating social media content. While slow to get rolling at first, blog traffic can become the gift that keeps on giving, sending you traffic years after you’ve written a post. But because of this, you have to understand that blogging is a long game, not a quick hit solution for your business, and have patience as you grow your audience and your traffic.
3. Quantity is (mostly) more important than quality.
Research has shown that the real benefits of blogging come when you create over 16 blog posts a month. The reasons for this are two-fold. One, more content gives people who already know about you a reason to come back more often. And two, more content increases your chances that a post will go viral on social media or rank high in search. Because while there’s some there’s some strategy involved in engineering a viral search-friendly post, there’s never a guarantee. The best way to increase your odds is to keep cranking out content. When I only blog occasionally, it feels like no one is paying attention to my blog. But when I up my game and create content on a more regular basis (hitting that sweet spot of over 16 posts a month) there’s also an intangible energy that seems to happen around my business.
Now, you don’t want to turn out lots of crappy posts with grammatical errors and horrible pictures. But at the same time, the best way to become a better blogger is simply to blog more. If you focus on quantity, chances are, along the way, you’ll find your blogging voice and become a better content creator in the process.
4. You can (and should) write most blog posts in under and hour.
One of the struggles I see from makers who want to blog, but aren’t doing it consistently, is that they spend hours agonizing over creating the perfect blog post. If you’re trying to blog more, you need to become more efficient at creating blog posts. And the reality is that most blog posts can and should be written in less than an hour. If it’s taking you longer than that, you’re either writing blog posts that are waaaay too long or you’re agonizing too much over getting your posts perfect. While long posts have their place in content marketing, they are usually overkill for the consumer market you’re trying to attract for your products. Focus on making blog posts short, breezy, and fun, and you should immediately cut down the time it takes to create them. (And if all else fails, set a timer for an hour and make yourself hit publish no matter what!)
5. Carve out designated time to blog. (Or it will never get done.)
I’ve had spells over the last ten years where I wouldn’t blog for months, and I’ve also had stretches of time where I’ve blogged almost every day. And the difference between those two periods of time is simply that when I blog regularly, it’s because I’ve carved out time to blog. I’ve talked before about how I make time for marketing, and it really couldn’t be more simple. Every morning, I get up and publish a blog post before I go to the studio. (Usually, I try to write and publish the post before I eat breakfast, while I’m drinking my first cup of tea.) And if I have a lot of work that needs to happen in the studio that day, I simply get up an hour earlier so that I can get my blog post done. It’s not complicated, but the simple act of carving out time every day is what makes it possible to create lots and lots of blog content.
6. Take breaks to avoid burnout. (But have a plan for getting started again.)
I’m not going to lie. There are times where writing regular blog content can be draining. That’s why I’ve also found it’s important to schedule occasional blog breaks. Every couple of months, I’ll take a look at my calendar and give myself a week or two off of blogging. But I’ve also learned this can be a slippery slope, because action breeds action. (And inaction breeds inaction.) I’ve occasionally seen those short breaks slide into months of inactivity. So now, I’ll give myself time off from actually publishing posts, but I’ll set a date when I have to get back at it, and I’ll make sure I’m jotting down blog post ideas so that I’m not starting from scratch when my break is over.
7. Don’t expect your posts to share themselves.
Blogging may be great for SEO, but that doesn’t mean you should sit around and wait for people to find you. It’s essential that you have a plan for sharing your blog posts after you’ve published them. For me, that means scheduling my posts to go our multiple times on Pinterest (across many different Pinterest boards) as well as sharing them on Twitter, and, depending on the post, Facebook and Instagram. Everyone’s sharing strategy is different (mine is definitely Pinterest heavy) but it’s important that you promote your blog posts across various platforms so that your fans and followers know there’s something worth coming back to your site to check out.
8. Everybody loves a good list.
There’s a reason I’m sharing ten lessons in this blog post. Everybody loves a good list! When it comes to driving traffic back to your website, nothing works as well as a good list post. The vast majority of my top referring pins from Pinterest link back to link posts. So if you’re stuck when it comes to creating content, start with a list idea (8 ways to…, 10 things that…,) and you’ll be well on your way to creating a post that gets plenty of clicks and shares.
9. Don’t forget to link to your products.
In trying to brainstorm content ideas that might appeal to your ideal customer, it’s easy to lose site of the actual goal of your blog – to get people to buy your products. That means that you need to include your products (and links to them) in your blog posts. How exactly you do this depends on what you sell and your content creation style. But even if you’re creating more lifestyle-focused content, it’s important to toss in some blog posts that highlight your products (and send people to a place where they can buy them!) Don’t assume your readers know you’ve got something to sell, from time to time, spell it out for them.
10. Make it super obvious that you want people to sign up for your email list.
You do have an email list, right? Because while we’d all love it if people read one blog post and then immediately bought our products, that’s not always the case. (It does happen sometimes, which is why it’s important that you do link to your products.) More often than not though, someone arriving on your blog isn’t in the mood to buy in the moment. Which means the best thing you can hope for is to get them on your mailing list. And one tiny opt-in box in your sidebar isn’t going to cut it. Make it super clear that you want people to sign up for your list by including multiple places then can join, including a sign-up option above the fold (meaning they don’t have to scroll to see it) and call to actions at the bottom of your posts. If you’re really feeling brave, you can even use a pop-up. (Because they really do work!)
Ultimately, what I’ve learned over the years is that selling products online is about building relationships, and blogging is a way to create and strengthen those relationships. Creating consistent blog content isn’t always easy, but it’s a commitment to my business that has definitely been worth it over the years, and something I’ll continue to use as a primary marketing strategy for many years into the future.