“If your business is not blogging now, what are you waiting for?” asks Alice Elliott, who is known as the Fairy Blog Mother. That’s a good question, because blogging is now an essential part of nearly any professional website. Ms. Elliott explains why blogging needs to be a part of any business’s digital marketing services.
Please tell us a bit about your professional history and how you came to be known as the Fairy Blog Mother.
About 10 years ago, I proudly created my first website using Dreamweaver. Then someone told me about how I could promote it on the web using a blog.
Intrigued by this, I investigated blogging. Then I found out that my mother already had a blog, which was not on! I rapidly converted to WordPress and soon learned how wonderful blogging was.
But when I started to tell my friends and contacts about blogging, I was greeted with blank stares. One of the problems was that blogging was a highly technical pursuit back then, and even I had problems understanding it.
So I set up the Fairy Blog Mother blog purely to educate ordinary people all about the benefits of blogging. This soon led to creating simple tutorials which avoided all the difficult technical stuff that was generally confusing everybody. This is because I had experienced all the hassles and angst first and then could relay a simpler, more easily understandable version afterwards. People are still grateful for my simple explanations about blogging, even though the process has been simplified greatly over the years.
Who should visit the Fairy Blog Mother website, and what can they expect to find there?
Well, I actually have two blogs now working alongside each other. The Fairy Blog Mother blog explains the various concepts of blogging and how they relate to writing practices, social media, business promotion and digital marketing.
But I also needed somewhere to house my blogging tutorials. In the past, they had been on Fairy Blog Mother, but they were becoming buried under the other posts. So I set up the Beginner Bloggers blog, which focuses on explaining various technical aspects of blogging as simply and visually as possible to make any blogger’s life easier.
You mention that blogging needs to be a part of any business’s digital marketing services. Why is that?
Blogging aids these three particular aspects of business promotion:
Focusing on the kind of content your readers want to read (and ultimately being shared elsewhere) can enhance your business visibility. This means you need to fully understand your readers in order to write what they want to read and what can help improve their lives.
Blogging should be totally consumer led. If you want to explain any part of your business, it should be turned around into your readers’ point of view. Even blogging about good news or promoting a new product should focus on how your readers will receive, accept and respond to it.
And blogging is a great method of communicating with your readers who may eventually become customers or clients. Use the comments section to invite feedback, or strike up conversations and discussions on social media. Here is a great place to find out more about them so you can adapt or redesign your business products to fit their needs better.
And it allows your readers to get to know, like and trust you before they make the decision to buy from you. Reputation is very important in business, and blogging through social media can certainly enhance this to your advantage.
Blogging allows you to express your point of view, show your expertise, showcase your business and how it can help your customers, explain concepts to avoid confusion, and answer FAQ.
Promote it widely through social media and other external sites to raise awareness, increase visibility and extend the readership of your posts, which should all contain suitable calls to action back to relevant web pages on your website or to subscription sales pages to capture leads.
How do you recommend that business owners get started with blogging?
Your business’s size and budget will depend upon what kind of blog you can create, but I certainly suggest using WordPress to create your blog.
WordPress is extremely versatile, intuitive and easy to use. There is the free .com version for those who just want to write, and that is no bad thing if you want to increase your business visibility and reputation. It has the power of the WordPress community behind it to get you readers, and everything has been made easy to share on social media and elsewhere.
However, for bigger businesses, the .org or self-hosted version may be more preferable. WordPress blogs can be adapted into a website (just by adding static pages), and there are thousands of themes (templates) and plugins (applications) to transform your blogging website into anything you want or need to help promote your business.
However, to get started with blogging and not get sidetracked by all the shiny diversions that are available, it is important to have a content strategy (focus, purpose, direction, researched readership) combined with an editorial calendar (when and where to publish and by whom) to maintain the consistency required. This includes how often, quality of content, regular publishing times and even a schedule of authors to keep the momentum going. This will help the feast and famine of blogging enthusiasm.
Blogs can become your whole website (as stated above) or can be attached to a website (like a conservatory) or can stand alone (like a garden shed). Whichever way you choose, as long as your blog posts link to relevant web pages on your website, and your style and attitude focuses on communicating with your readers and potential customers in their point of view, any blogging activity can certainly help your business.
What myths do you think many business owners have when it comes to blogging?
Myth 1: Blogging is time consuming. That’s only true if you want it to be. Any kind of business promotion takes up time; and as long as you incorporate blogging into your promotion schedule and value it as a worthwhile pursuit, you will soon discover it can save you time and energy in explaining your business to your customers.
Myth 2: Blogging is difficult. Actually, it has become increasingly easier over the years. A “free” blog can be created in minutes, and many hosting companies allow you to upload WordPress in just one click! You don’t need to know anything about code to start blogging. However, if you are really non-technical, there are plenty of web designers and developers who will satisfy your every blogging need.
And if you think you won’t be able to cope with the blogging methods, think again. If you can use Word, you can use WordPress. It’s as easy as typing words into an edit box and hitting the publish button! OK, there are other tactics you need to learn, but these can be obtained over time. The process of writing a blog is as easy as falling off a log.
Myth 3: Writing a blog is hard. As with everything, you improve with practice. And this means blogging regularly and reading lots of other blogs to learn best practices and acquire new skills. When I started blogging 10 years ago, I was rubbish. Over that time I read, learned, practiced and tried out new things. If you really want to promote your business in the 21st century, you need to be blogging – and writing something is better than not writing anything at all.
Is social media a necessary part of blogging now? How are the two best used together?
Blogging is part of social media. In some cases it is social media, because of the reader’s ability to leave comments at the bottom of posts. Your posts should be constructed in a way that encourages your readers to want to leave a comment, or share it on social media.
A blog that isn’t integrated into social media is lonely and neglected. Some bloggers prefer it that way, but with all the opportunities available via RSS (Really Simple Syndication, which republishes your post elsewhere as soon as you publish it), which includes the social sharing buttons and subscription services, you’d be crazy to not take advantage of the wide reach social media offers you.
Blogging works with social media if you are willing to continue the conversation there. If all you do is just dump the link back to your latest post on social media without any introduction or explanation, you won’t get many potential readers clicking on it.
Another tip is to make sure your headline really entices the passing reader on social media to take notice and click on it. The headline is what is visible when you share your post, not necessarily the content under it. Therefore, construct it in a way that makes it instantly attractive and compelling to find out what the post contains.
Social media is being adapted to work best on a visual front. Find excellent and relevant images (take note of any copyright issues) and use them to help promote your posts. They can be placed at the top of your post to get automatically picked up by social media, or they can be re-purposed as Pinterest pins or Infographics to capture your reader’s attention.
What is one of the biggest surprises you’ve learned so far in your work as the Fairy Blog Mother?
How everything keeps changing! You’ve just gotten used to one set of rules, and then Google changes its algorithms and you have to relearn everything again.
I’m not trying to prevent you from blogging by saying this, but it is necessary to keep abreast of new developments if you want to keep ahead of the game. Using blogging to promote a business does mean you need to be aware of the latest practices.
That’s why you need to read as much as you write. Do a bit of searching and learning to find out the best sources, and subscribe to them to find out the latest whenever it happens.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
A business that doesn’t use a blog to help promote its products or services is going to fall behind pretty quickly. You have to get over the concept that it is an online diary, and use it as a powerful promotional tool that can draw the right kind of traffic into your website and connect you with all sorts of customers or influencers that can help your business go forward.
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