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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4 Ways to Create a Stream of Content from One Blog Post

4 Ways to Create More Content from Your Blog Posts

4 Ways to Create More Content from Your Blog PostsIf you’re writing blogs, blasting them out once on each on your social media channels then moving on to the next one you are wasting precious time and content!

Writing blogs is time consuming, but you can make sure you make the most of the time you invest. How?

There are several ways to pull tips & quotes out of each and every blog post you write to help you get fresh content for your social media feeds. You can also ‘recycle’ your blog posts with fresh titles and descriptions to help encourage more click-through and readers.

I’m going to use my recent blog Female Business Owners – 4 Reasons Why You Aren’t Blogging as an example to talk you through it.

How to squeeze more content out of every blog post

1. Reuse and recycle blogs using various descriptions

Remember that the life of a post can vary from channel to channel so it’s OK to post the same blog more than once. According to Buffer the life cycle of a post is:

  • Twitter – 18mins
  • Facebook – 90 mins

So unless someone is following your accounts with a magnifying glass, (which is unlikely) you can afford to reuse and recycle a blog post. It will help to bring more readers to each post and will maximize the time you’ve spent writing it.

Alternative Blog Titles/Descriptions

The title of my example post is Female Business Owners – 4 Reasons Why You Aren’t Blogging. But rather than always posting a link with this title,  I’ll create some alternatives too. By coming at it from different angles and using different hashtags  you’ll make it easier for more people to find your blog and open up your readership.

Here’s five alternative descriptions to tempt readers in: 

1. Why aren’t you blogging for business? Lack of time, money, knowledge or direction?

2. #Solopreneurs – planning on getting round to blogging one day? Here’s 4 reasons you’re stalling…

3. Female #Microbusiness Owners – are you finding blogging for business a challenge? You are not alone!

4. Blogging for Business – Why a lack of time and knowledge leads to lack of clarity and focus #SmallBusiness

5. Still haven’t devised your blogging strategy? Then you’re probably experiencing one of these 4 blocks #MumsinBiz

Notice how I’ve mixed up hashtags. My ideal clients are busy women running a small micro-business who want to free up time and get more from their online marketing. So, I use a range of hashtags to increase my chances of an ideal client finding the post.

If you are posting on Facebook or Linked In, just remove the hashtags but you can keep the term in your post to help with search.

2. Create useful tips for your audience

Tips are a great way to show your expertise, increase followers and encourage sharing. Try to pull as many tips as you can from each blog post. Here’s some examples of tips I’ve pulled from my post:

1. #BloggingforBusiness helps you to showcase your expertise and provide content for social media

2. Regular Blogging will help to create a community around your small business

3. Blogging for Business connects you to potential customers, cheerleaders and influencers #startup #womeninbusiness

4. Get focused! Get a clear blogging strategy so you know who you want to reach #bloggingtips

Do this with each blog post you write and add them to your content bank, giving you a lovely bank of great tips to share anytime.

3. Questions for your audience

Try to open up discussion and encourage feedback & engagement by posting questions for your fans and followers. Add some hashtags if you can as this will help engagement.

Here’s some examples of questions pulled from the same blog: 

1. Mums in Business – know that you SHOULD be blogging but can’t get into a routine? What’s stopping you?

2. Making time to work on your business blogs is hard when plates are spinning and time is short. Anyone else experience this?

3. Is lack of time, money, direction or knowledge your main block to blogging regularly?

This also has the added bonus of acting like informal market research – the answers can be pretty useful as they’ll give an insight into what your customers need and what their problems are

4. Turn quotes in images and memes

Images play an important part in social media marketing so make sure you use them! Now that you have created lots of lovely content using the methods described above you can use some of it to create some images.

Canva is great for creating graphic in a jiffy. There are lots of templates ready to go, or you can create your own template then just use it as a base to add new text too.

Here’s 2 images I created in less than 10 minutes using Canva.

1. Lack of time 2. Lack of knowledge 3. Lack of Money 4. Lack of Direction

Blogging for Business connects you to potential customers, cheerleaders and influencers. Have a clear strategy to make sure that you reach them!

I can use these images to use as stand-alone posts or I can add a link to my blog post. Notice that I’ve included my website address on each image so if it’s shared without tagging in my account, at least people will still know where to find me!

So, there you go – 4 ways to squeeze more content out of each blog post. Try to set aside 20-30 minutes when you finish each post to pull out quotes, tips and alternative blog descriptions. This will save you masses of time in the future and will help you to build a content bank to be proud of!

I’d love to hear your questions and comments, so do leave a reply or hop on over and say ‘hello’ on Twitter or Facebook.

PHOTO CREDIT: Image courtesy of chanpipat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Already written lots of blogs and other content (such as ebooks, downloads and podcasts) but short on time to pluck out the best bits for social media?

You could get your very own Bespoke Content Bank of 50 engaging, informative posts that are targeted to your audience. All you need to do is copy and paste them or schedule them up in advance. Now how much time and effort would that save you? Find out more…


 

Female Business Owners: 4 Reasons Why You Aren’t Blogging!

Blogging Blocks for Business - Online Blogging Support for Female Microenterprise owners

Blogging Blocks for Business - Online Blogging Support for Female Microenterprise ownersBlogging should be an essential part of the the online marketing mix for any business. Regular blogging will help you to showcase your expertise whilst providing a steady stream of content to post on social media.

It can also help you to create a community around your business.  It’s a fab way to connect with potential customers and influencers, as well as cheerleaders and brand advocates. All of which will help you to boost your business growth and reach your sales & marketing goals.

We all know we should be blogging but it can be hard to get into a regular routine with it.  Let’s face it, it’s a big commitment to sit down and write regularly – let alone all the other things you need to do (e.g picture research and SEO)  to get your blog out into the world.

We know why we should be writing blogs but many female micro-business owners still aren’t blogging for their business regularly.  What is stopping microbiz owners from taking advantage of this fabulous marketing tool?

I conducted a survey about the online marketing needs of female micro-business owners.  You told me about your biggest online marketing problem areas.  The early results showed that a whopping 57% of you say blogging is one of your major problem areas.

Why aren’t female business owners blogging?

1. Lack of time

42% of you don’t have enough time to get it all done. This one sounds familiar – it’s my major barrier to blogging regularly. I have an advantage as I know how to write blogs and publicise them. But I still have lots of time barriers – as I’m sure most women running a micro-business can identify with!

Client work always takes priority in my schedule (including writing and editing their blogs – oh, the irony!).  Then there’s family responsibilities, doing your accounts, business planning, checking social media, running a home and just that general feeling of there not being enough hours in the day.

You can see how blogging gets put on the back burner – doing it justice takes commitment and focus. Which can be hard to provide when a million plates are spinning and time is short.

2.  Lack of knowledge

35% of you feel that you don’t have enough knowledge to write your blogs. When you start your own business you need to oversee and manage everything – including jobs & tasks that you have no prior experience of doing.  Running a business can be like undertaking a personal development course as you need to learn so many new things!

Even if you enjoy writing and fancy the idea of blogging, there so much more to it. How do you make your blog SEO-friendly, where will you find images,  how to create a title people will want to click on, etc.?

You’ve got so much to learn and no time to do it. So, you just leave tackling blogging for a bit longer while you concentrate on other areas of your business.

3. Lack of money

Writing blogs is free – it’s a great marketing tool for bootstrappers and anyone on a low budget. So, how can lack of money cause a problem?

Writing blogs may be free but it does take time.  And it may take you away from the essential jobs you need to do to keep your business ticking over – such as making new sales, creating new products and meeting contacts.  So, taking the time to blog could actually lose you revenue in the short-term as it takes you away from running your core business.

If you’re not feeling very confident in your blog-writing skills you may decide that you should outsource the job to a professional. But many micro-businesses are still growing and don’t have big budgets so you’re reluctant to commit a budget to blogging activities.

And do you really want to spend money on something you could do for free? You’ll get round to it one day – won’t you?

4. Lack of direction – am I doing the right things?

If blogging is relatively new to you, it can be hard to get momentum going. You can think of subjects for a few blogs but then you mind goes blank. You’ve got a vague grasp of what you should be doing but you’re not confident that you’ve got it right.

This strongly relates to the first 2 points. When you have lack of time and/or knowledge it can be hard to get clarity and focus. So you amble along, posting blogs occasionally and hoping for the best. You keep meaning to create a blogging strategy but it never happens. You don’t know if what you done already is working and not sure how to find out. Sound familiar?

So, how should you get over these stumbling blocks to blogging regularly? I’ll be addressing these questions in my next blog so do look out for it.

Do you identify with these results? If so, you’re not alone! Many female micro-business owners find regular blogging a challenge.  What’s your personal challenge? Please tell me in the comments below…


Want to get expert help with your blogs and slash the amount of time you spend creating them? Then check out my  Blogging the Easy Way package – just pass me your blog drafts and I’ll do the rest!

Try the Bulk Buy package and you could get 12 weeks of blogs professionally edited and ready for publication. Imagine feeling that organised! Find out more about Blogging the Easy Way

 

 

Image courtesy of punsayaporn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

4 benefits using a virtual assistant can bring to your small business

benefits using a virtual assistant for your small business

benefits using a virtual assistant for your small businessAre you struggling to keep on top of your company website, social media, blogs, newsletters and the countless tasks required to achieve and maintain your online presence? You’d love someone to hand it all over to. You’re very own online marketing manager would be a godsend, but there’s no way your business could afford that – is there?

Well, you’ll be surprised to hear that maybe you can afford the help you need with online marketing. But how?  With the help of an experienced virtual assistant specialising in online marketing, that’s how!

Virtual Assistants don’t just offer the services of a virtual secretary or admin help. VAs offer a huge range of specialist services and are truly invaluable to anyone running a small business.

The 4 key benefits using a virtual assistant brings:

  1.  Virtual assistants are cost-effective
  2.  Virtual assistants are time-effective
  3.  Virtual assistants offer a flexible service
  4.  Experienced virtual assistants are highly professional

What do these benefits mean for your small business?

1. Cost-effective

Virtual assistants are usually individuals who are self-employed and work on a freelance basis from home. They only bill you for the hours /days worked or service package contracted for.  As your business doesn’t employ them you don’t have to pay for recruitment, sick days, maternity cover, pension contributions or any of the benefits a company must pay for it’s employees.

You’ll also save on other associated overheads such as office space, electricity, stationery supplies, IT etc. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

2. Time-effective

Let’s face it  – having a website and managing your online presence is pretty much vital to running a business these days.  Yet, whilst these tasks are essential they may take you away from concentrating on the core requirements of your business.

If you’re too busy editing and updating websites, checking Twitter or writing blogs then you won’t get time to close that sale, meet an important potential new customer and generate new business. Reclaim this valuable time by allocating these tasks to an experienced virtual assistant and sit back knowing these tasks are in safe hands.

3. Flexibility

You may need assistance but don’t have the budget or enough work to warrant taking on a more permanent member of staff. You may have ongoing needs ranging from only a few hours or days a week/month.  This is where a virtual assistant becomes invaluable. They can help you from as little as 2 hours a week but when you hit a busy time they can step up the hours. They can also manage one-off projects or assist you with completing them.

Many businesses recognise the great benefits of this flexibility and more are outsourcing work to virtual assistants and other freelance services. Due to technological advances many jobs and tasks can now be completed remotely via the Internet, email and the content management system of a clients website. You might be surprised by how much a virtual assistant can actually help you with.

 

4. Professional

Generally, virtual assistants have a solid professional background and already have a great deal of experience in their area of specialty. They have decided to leave the office so they can be their own boss and/or work around family life so that they can offer the benefit of their knowledge to small business owners like you!  This can really make a big difference to a small business owner with a limited budget and time available.  A VA can hit the ground running and take tasks straight out of your hands and off your ‘to do’ list.

Although VAs work remotely that doesn’t mean they will feel remote about your business. A demotivated employee might be present at work but waste half the day making tea, looking at Facebook and anything else they can find to aid procrastination. That doesn’t happen with a VA.  As a self-employed business owner, I lose money if I waste time at work, so where’s the incentive to do so?

I’ve worked for some of my regular clients for 3 or 4 years now and love helping them reach their goals and to keep their businesses moving forward.  Their success is also mine as it helps to build my own professional reputation and helps my business to thrive too!

 How to get started

So, all in all there’s a huge benefit to small business owners!  Check out a few websites and see which VA seems to ‘fit’ with your business. Ask them questions, see what their values are and dip your toe in the waters by starting off with a small amount of work. This will give you the chance to assess the quality of their work and the speed of their service.

Have you ever used a virtual assistant? How did you find it and would you recommend to other businesses? Are there any tips you would share for anyone looking for their own VA? 

 

Need a VA to help with your online marketing needs? Check out our range of packages – if you can’t see what you need, do get in touch and tell us your specific needs.

 

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

How often should my small business post on social media?

How often should a small business post on social media

How often should a small business post on social mediaKeeping a presence on social media can sometimes mean treading a fine line between being visible or just being plain annoying. Post too infrequently and your business gets lost. Post too much and clog up people’s streams and you might find yourself removed from their lists.

Ultimately, we want our posts to reach as many potential customers and influencers as possible and in turn, we want them to engage with our business. So, how many times a day should your small business post on social media to achieve this?

I found this great article The Social Media Frequency Guide: How often to post to Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and more by Kevan Lee (Twitter @kevanlee).  Click through to read the full details of the research as it makes interesting reading, but if you don’t have time, I’ve condensed the main findings below:

How many times a day should my small business post on social media?

Facebook: 5-10 posts per week

Twitter: 5 tweets per day

Linked In: 1 per weekday

Google +: 5 – 10 posts per week

Key findings for the major social media channels

Facebook

There is some discussion in the articles comments as to whether the Facebook data is correct, as it is based on research done before recent algorithm changes. Some people recommend that 3-4 posts a day are optimal, (as opposed to the 5-10 posts a week stated in the research).

The best way to check this is to experiment yourself. Try 1-2 posts a day for a week, then try 3-4 the following week. The next step is to check check and compare the data. Go into your Facebook Insights to see how many people liked, shared, commented on the posts and how many people clicked through to your website each week, then compare the two sets of data.

To be sure on the best times of day to post you can check Facebook data to see when your audience is online.  (You can find this day by logging into your business page, clicking on the ‘Insights’ tab, then on ‘Posts’.) It will show you when your target audience is most likely to be using Facebook

Twitter

Whilst 5 tweets per day would be the optimum number of tweets for a small business, if you really want to ‘up’ your Twitter game, you should aim for posting 11-15 tweets per day. The reported data showed that posting 6-10 or 15-20 times a day meant a drop-off in the number of retweets received, so for a small business 11-15 tweets is advised if you are looking to increase your visibility quickly.

The frequency of the posts will depend on whether you’re trying to reach a global or local audience, but even if you want to reach a local audience it’s always worth experimenting with posts at times you would expect things to be quiet (such as early morning and late evening). As there are less posts at these times, your post may  stand out in the quieter space. And some evidence suggests that readers spend more time reading & digesting a tweet, if there’s not as many new posts appearing and clamoring for their attention.

Linked In

The article recommends posting just once a weekday, early in the morning. Personally, I’d beg to differ on that. I often post for one of my clients on a Saturday morning and often get a better response to the Saturday morning post than week day posts. But, she is targeting people who want to leave their jobs and start their own business, so this audience is less likely to be using Linked In during conventional working hours.

This also applies to anyone talking to a global audience. If you want to reach people in London, Australia and the US  you may have to revolve your daily posting times to make sure you reach everyone.

Google +

The findings  don’t appear to be based on any real research as the channel is still relatively new. As Facebook is considered the closest model to compare to Google + they simply suggest following the posting pattern for Facebook to see how that works for you.

 

What do you think of this suggested posted schedule?  There will always be variations depending on what type of business you run, but by and large do you think it sounds sensible and reasonable?  It helps to give small businesses a base to work with when planning & scheduling their social media activity.

 

Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net