Blogging for Small Business – Results

Blogging for Small Business - Business Woman Writing a Blog

Blogging for Small Business - Business Woman Writing a Blog
I recently conducted a short questionnaire asking female small business owners about blogging for small business. I wanted to know if female business owners are blogging regularly, what their challenges to blogging regularly are, as well as their general thoughts and feelings on outsourcing blogging tasks.

Most of the women who responded to the survey are solopreneurs and are running their business alone.  Personal branding is often key to their marketing strategy.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what female business owners told me as part of the Blogging for Small Business questionnaire: 

Q: What are your main challenges when blogging for business? 

There was a clear winner with the answer to this question!  Nearly everyone who responded said lack of planning and focus.

Interestingly, I got the same answer from women who already blog regularly as from those who don’t blog for small business.  This shows that even those business women who seem to have got their blogging act together still feel that their planning & focus could be improved on.

As you might expect, the next most popular answer was finding the time. (That’s one of my main challenges!) So, it seems that a theme is emerging as these challenges are all related to being organised and planning your time productively. As with most things in business, even a rough plan of action will save you heaps of time.

Get help with getting organised – download my free Blog Calendar & Image Information Template

Q: How long do you spend on blogging for business each month?

Most of you said 1-3 hours a month but those of you who blog for business regularly as part of your marketing mix, spend up to 6-10 hours.

The time stated is just writing time. It doesn’t include outsourcing images or sharing blogs on social media. Add this one and you are looking at spending any where in the region of 4-10 hours a month just on blog writing and management.

It doesn’t sound like much but it all depends on how many hours you work per month. Are there better ways you could spend this time that would help you generate income for your business? Try a cost/benefit analysis to see if you’d be better off outsourcing blogging for small business.

Q: Would you consider outsourcing blog writing management? 

Those who said they would consider outsourcing blogging for business said their two biggest considerations for choosing an outsourced service would be price as well as finding someone who ‘gets’ their brand voice.

This is so important – finding someone who understands your brand voice is key. The ability to nail what your business is about, what your audience want to hear and how it should be written is a key skill for a freelance blog writer. And it is a skill to be able to tweak your writing style – it’s not something everyone can do.

Which brings me onto the next consideration – price.  Wanting a skilled copywriter but being concerned about price is a contradiction.  I understand that we all need to watch our marketing budget but if you want someone who is skilled enough to understand your brand voice and can adjust their writing style to it, then you’ve got a massive asset to your business! This doesn’t (and shouldn’t) come ‘cheap’.

Conversely for these who wouldn’t consider outsourcing they felt that as the expert behind their business/personal brand they really should be writing their own blogs. This is great if you have the ability to do so. But remember blog writing isn’t just about being able to write well. You also need to consider writing for SEO,  sourcing images and sharing on social media and blogger networks.  Writing can often be the quick part – it’s redrafting, editing and doing all the above tasks which suck up the time when blogging for business.

Q: Which blogging subjects would you like to learn more about?

I asked which blogging subjects you’d like to learn more about so that I can write about them for you. Nearly everybody said they’d like to learn more about writing for SEO.  It’s on my list ladies! In the meantime, (In Blue Peter tradition) here’s one I made earlier. Read: 5 Ways to Make Your Blog SEO-Friendly 

The other main things you want to learn more about is planning & organisation along with time-saving tips and shortcuts that will save you time when blogging.

Big thanks to you all and the winner is…

Thank you to everyone who completed the survey. The answers have been so useful to me to find out what your blogging for small business challenges are, so now I can go away and work out how to help you address them!

There was a prize draw for all participants and the prize is a £10 Amazon voucher. The winner is… Hollie Ellis from Hollie Ellis Designs! Well done to Hollie and thanks to all who took part.


Do you need help with Blogging for Small Business? Then check out my range of packages that will save you a ton of time and stress so you can get on with running your business.

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Where to Find Free Images for Your Blog

where to source free images for your blog

where to source free images for your blogBlogging is a great way to promote your business and if you do-it-yourself it’s a marketing strategy that’s completely free.

However, what you save in monetary terms can be easily negated by the amount of time you spend getting that blog written, looking pretty, ensuring it’s SEO friendly and then finally, sharing with the world.

There are lots of tricks of the trade to help you save both time and money when blogging for business. One is to have a bank of image resources you can go to when you need to source the perfect picture to illustrate your blog. Even better if this bank is made up of free image resources!

Which resource you use most will depend on the style of your blog, who your market is and just what kind of vibe/look you want to show your audience.

In this article, I’ll look at 5 free image resource options although there are many more options out there. You may find some resources easier to use than others, some may match your brand’s look better than others – they’ll be some time to spend finding the right image resource for you (or a mixture of resources that suit) but when you do,  you’ll find image sourcing much simpler, quicker and cost effective!

A word of caution

Before we look at the resources, just a quick word of warning. It’s always a good idea to read the terms & conditions of use on each website & on each picture you download before publishing any free images.  If you don’t abide by the rules, you could be making an expensive mistake that could cause you problems later on. Read Blogger Beware: You can get sued for using photos you don’t own on your blog. 

The basic information you need to check is:

  1. Conditions of usage of the website
  2. Copyright info/credit information on individual photos

Once you’re clear on this information you shouldn’t fall foul of any copyright laws, but it always pays to be vigilant! (Keep reading,  I’ll be offering you a free download that will help you to keep track of the photos you use and where you sourced them).

5 free image resources for your blog

There are lots of places to find free photos online. Most offering free images tend to come under the ‘creative commons’ licence, which means that images downloaded from these sites can be used & shared without having to worry about copyright or paying a fee.

Double-check each image you download as some DO require an accreditation/copyright line for commercial use and others don’t.

The first three image resources listed here offer stock photography free of charge using the Creative Commons license:

1. Pixabay

www.pixabay.com provides a huge database of free images that don’t require any copyright information at all as pictures are released using a Creative Commons CCO.

You do need to register and create an account in order to download images. There is a wide selection of stock photography and illustrations to choose from.

2. Free Digitial Photos 

Another massive library of free photos.  Free Digital Photos offer smaller, low resolution images (that work well on web pages) for free, although a photo credit is required. If you need a bigger image or don’t want to feature a photo credit then you can pay for individual pictures at a reasonable price.

You can get an email sent to you with each download confirming the copyright information you need to display.

Registration is not required but if you do register, it will save details of photos you’ve downloaded. Useful if you need the details again in the future.

3. Freerange Stock Photos

Ideally, you should include a accreditation to any images downloaded via Freerange Stock Photos and link the image back to their website.  You’ll also need to register before you can download anything.


The next 2 resources listed don’t use generic stock photos and tend to offer higher quality, more design-led images.
However, unless you pay for the PRO accounts you won’t have the whole library at your fingertips whenever you need it.  So these sites aren’t as useful if you need an image quickly, but you can use them to build up an extensive image library (containing some stunning photos) over an extended period time.

4. Death to the Stock Photo

Death to the Stock photo is a great website for building up your own image library. Sign up and each month you’ll be emailed a pack of photos. The theme varies from subjects such as working from home, energy & serenity, streets of London etc. Just download from the email each month and save into your own personal library.

5. Magdeleine

A beautiful collection of hand-picked photos. You can download one high-res photo each day, check the info on the photos to see if you need to feature copyright details. (If you use an image from Magdeleine, make sure that you edit the image and compress it for use on a website. Uploading a high-res image to your website could take up valuable bandwidth and slow your site down.)

This is just a small selection of the hundreds of sites and resources that are out there.  You may end up trying a few to find out which ones are best for you and your business.

If you’d like a longer list of resources check this article 20 Sites with Free Images for Your Blog or Social Media Posts


 

FREE TEMPLATE DOWNLOAD

Keeping track of where blog images are sourced

It’s important to keep a record of where you got your blog image from as well as any copyright information. This process will ensure you check correct usage rights, but it will also make your life much easier if a year down the line, a photographer questions your use of their images and demands payment. If you can prove you downloaded it from a free resource and followed the rules, then crisis should be diverted.

I’ve created this handy Blog Calendar and Image Information template to make this easy for you. Download it now (free of charge, no email required)   – all you need to do is click on the button.

Download Blog Calendar and Image Information Template

 


-I've got a few blog ideas, but find it hard writing a full blog post

Sound familiar? If you’re not Blogging for Business you’re missing a chance to promote your business and build your audience.

Imagine just handing someone your draft blogs, then getting them back edited and SEO-friendly, published with an image, posted on social media AND included in a lovely content bank with 5 alternative descriptions ready to recycle/copy/paste on social media in the future.

How much time would that save you and would could you do with that time?  Find out more at Blogging the Easy Way

Why Your Attitude to Outsourcing is Holding Your Business Back!

Your top 5 answers were: Social media – 45% Strategy & Planning – 45% Blogging – 36% SEO – 36% Everything!! – 27% 2. Why do you find these areas to be a problem? Lack of knowledge/expertise - 54% Lack of time – 50% Lack of budget – 40% Lack of direction – 40% `

Thank you to all the female micro entrepreneurs who took the time to fill in my survey about your online marketing needs and outsourcing regular tasks.

So, without further ado (and in the style of Family Fortunes), here’s what the survey said…

Problem Areas

1. Which online marketing tasks cause you the most problems?

Your top 5 answers were:  Social media – 45% Strategy & Planning – 45% Blogging – 36% SEO – 36% Everything!! – 27% 2. Why do you find these areas to be a problem?  Lack of knowledge/expertise - 54% Lack of time – 50% Lack of budget – 40% Lack of direction – 40% `

(* Multiple choice questions – respondents could choose more than 1 answer)

I wasn’t surprised to see social media up there as one of the top problem areas. It’s a notorious time sucker and it’s easy to waste time if you don’t have a plan.  Which channel/s should you use, what should you post, where will you find followers, who should you connect with? There are so many elements to consider – no wonder if causes problems!

Strategy & Planning is a biggie too.  It’s essential as it helps you clarify what you want to achieve and how you are going to work towards obtaining it. But if you’re new to online marketing it can be bewildering. You need to familiarise yourself with marketing concepts, decide which area to concentrate on  (i.e blogging, social media or SEO) and work out where to find your target market online.

This is borne out by 54% of you feeling you don’t have enough knowledge or expertise to get to grips with online marketing. We have to learn so much when we start a business but doing so can take us away from what we are best at. Don’t fall into the trap of being a jack of all trades but a master of none!

Finding time to work on online marketing was also a problem for 50% of you. I know the feeling! There’s never enough time when you’re running a business and always a ‘to do’ list as long as your arm.  To avoid overwhelm I try to prioritise the important stuff and outsource anything that I can.

Attitudes to outsourcing

3. Have you ever outsourced your online marketing tasks?   Yes – 22%  No – 78%  4. The Top 5 Barriers to Outsourcing  Too expensive – 60% Never outsourced before and not sure where to start – 45% Finding someone who understands my business – 35% I like the idea just haven’t got round it it – 25% Losing control – how I can trust someone with MY business!! – 20% 5. Main benefits of outsourcing  Of the 22% who had outsourced tasks, they cited the following benefits of doing so:  50% said that it saved lots of stress that would have been caused by lack of time and/or expertise to do the job 25% said the main benefit was freeing up time to get on with running their business. (25% said ‘other benefit’ but didn’t specify what that benefit to their business was.)  6. What would help you to overcome your barriers to outsourcing?  Trial period – 60% Flexible service which is easy to cancel if not for me or business is slow –  55% A special offer – 35% Personal recommendation – 30% No obligation conference call – 30%

Only a small proportion of you have already tried outsourcing but those of you have taken the plunge feel that it has saved you a lot of stress and also freed up time. Something we all need!

Female Micro entpreuneurs - outsourcing online marketingWhy worrying about cost actually costs you money!

Your biggest reservation about outsourcing is the cost. I thought the same thing until about six months ago but am now converted and I LOVE it. I wish I’d outsourced sooner. The catalyst was being fed up of being constantly weighed down with busy work – the type of work I should have been passing to somebody in a junior position or in another department, (like you do when you’re employed and working in an office).

Busy work cluttered my brain and meant I could never find time to work ON my business. So, I took tentative steps and found a virtual assistant and slowly starting passing work to her (for both clients and myself – all the admin and time-sucking fiddly jobs).  It feels great to just get that work off my desk and know it’s being dealt with by a capable person. The result has been a clearer mind, being more organised and finding a lot more time to work on my business.

And guess what? I’VE INCREASED MY INCOME!  By outsourcing some of my client work, I’ve earned income on it without doing the actual work myself.  I’ve also freed up time to work on my website, do more planning and marketing. In the last couple of months I’ve picked up 2 new regular clients and earned ten times more than the outsourcing has cost me. Result!

Why did you start your business?

To gain freedom and to be my own boss – 67% To pursue my passion – 22%

There was a clear result on this one! The majority of female micro-entrepreneurs start their business to gain freedom and be their own boss.

So ask yourself, is it possible to find freedom and build a thriving business when you do everything? Especially when so many of you don’t feel you have the knowledge or time to do justice to your online marketing.  

It’s a contradiction – you will never achieve it unless you start outsourcing and trusting other people with your business.  Have you ever heard of a successful business woman who did it all completely alone? No, neither have I (and there is a lesson in that). 

Thanks once again to everyone who shared their thoughts. What do you think about these results? Illuminating, surprising or just what you expected?

I'd love some expert help! Tell me more...

 

 

Female Micro-Business Owners…

outsourcing online marketing questionaire

Tell me your thoughts about online marketing.

What do you need help with, what are the barriers to outsourcing and what are you interested in?

outsourcing online marketing questionaire

Share your feedback with me and save up to £71.00 on my Blogging the Easy Way service

Female micro-business owners are a busy bunch of people. We have a seemingly never-ending ‘to do’ list as we are responsible for running every single part of our business. This can be challenging, frustrating & stressful.

I provide online marketing support to women just like you. I’m developing my products and services and would like to know about your online marketing headaches, thoughts on outsourcing and what sort of content interests you.

A sweetener to say ‘thank you’

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so here’s a little incentive to encourage you to take part and to say thanks.

I’m offering a 10% discount on my Blogging the Easy Way  service to everyone who completes the survey below.  Save up to £71 and get 12 weeks worth of blogs sorted! 

The package is real time-saver.  Hand over your rough blog draft, then I’ll edit, tidy up, add a lovely image and make it SEO-friendly. Once approved by you, I’ll schedule it up and get it out to the world.  

The survey should takes less than 2 minutes to complete. Thank you!