Business blogs are an often overlooked asset for small businesses.
It can be difficult to justify a business blog in terms of return on investment, especially since content marketing is still a fairly new tactic.
However, over the past four to five years the business benefits of blogging have become clear.
- Business blogs lead to 55% more visitors.
- Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links.
- Businesses with blogs have 434% more indexed pages.
As a result, the content marketing industry has grown radically and become a proven method for cost-effective branding.
In turn, businesses of all sizes have added blogs to their websites, experimenting with various content strategies. While business goals remain the same—increase leads and sales—there is a distinct emphasis placed on communication objectives. It’s crucial for today’s businesses to have a unique personality and voice, which can be crafted most easily with an effective blog.
Let’s take a look at some creative content ideas small business blogs can implement today.
Infographics are a cost-effective and potentially viral form of blog content.
An infographic is a visual representation of data, packaged as an image that can be easily embedded and shared on any platform.
There’s no such thing as an industry that is “too boring” for infographics. With a bit of creativity you’ll be able to find a relationship between your industry and a broader category, which will make your infographic appealing to a larger audience.
Here’s a few unique examples:
- An auto parts blog showing the world’s fastest roads.
- A rehabilitation and recovery center covering the freakonomics of drug dealing.
- A construction blog educating safety in the construction industry.
These are just a few of the many small business blogs tapping into the power of infographics. There are many free and cheap tools to create infographics, but allocating a designer’s time or hiring a designer ensures a high-quality design.
Holding a contest is a common approach to increasing blog traffic.
One of the most popular tactics is to offer blog visitors a chance to win a gift card by either sharing or commenting on a blog post. However, this tactic only increases vanity metrics rather than really increasing engagement and awareness.
Instead, try crafting a user-focused contest, where the contest and prize are related to your business.
For example, Syracuse’s “Beat Duke” GameDay Sign contest encouraged Syracuse basketball fans to upload photos of their GameDay signs for a chance to win tickets to the Syracuse vs. Duke game.
A plumbing company might ask for photos of leaky faucets and offer the best photo a free repair, while a pet food business might ask for your cutest pet picture and give away free food to the winning cuddly companion.
The costs are relatively low for this strategy, as the only investment is the cost of the prize and the time it takes to craft a simple list of terms and conditions. Additionally, user-focused contests are commonly shared with peers on social media and help grow brand awareness organically.
Businesses often forget that blogs are traditionally a medium for storytelling—a place to express oneself and share personal moments. One of the best small business blogs I’ve seen this year is the Groove HQ blog, where CEO and Founder Alex Turnbull publishes insightful pieces as his company strives toward $100K in monthly revenue.
Many of his posts are about dealing with failure. He essentially puts his heart on the line as the face of the company. For example, a post from January entitled “What I Fear Most As a Founder” takes us through all of his fears and explains how each fear drives him to succeed.
Not only have some of his posts gone viral, but they have cultivated a strong following. When the CEO/Founder of a company demonstrates transparency, he or she instills trust. Small businesses have the advantage of being able to tell more personalized and expressive stories, while larger businesses have many obstacles to getting an emotional post approved.
A creative way to increase the number of new and returning blog visitors is developing a thematic series. A great example comes from one of my favorite blogs, Spin Sucks, which is an educational blog for public relations professionals. Gini Dietrich, the Founder at Arment Dietrich and Spin Sucks, has a weekly series called “Gin and Topics.”
This series usually begins with a short anecdote and then dives into five featured videos that were submitted by followers and peers. This tactic is exemplary because it combines user-generated content, storytelling, and rich media.
Small businesses can put these tactics into practice with a very low budget – usually just the time it takes to write a post.