Yes, hmm… a business blog….what a good idea! Wait, what should I blog about? Oh, I don’t know what I am doing!

Does this sound familiar? It does for many small business owners, especially if they not familiar with writing blogs, or are just not good at writing creative content full stop.

Does your small business actually have a blog? Yes? Great, but do you actually use it, or even know how? Sometimes a business blog can seem like that neglected exercise bike sitting in the corner of your bedroom. You know the one? It sits there all alone, gathering dust and doubling up as a clothes hanger for all those extra shirts that don’t fit in the wardrobe.

But just like a business blog, if you actually made the effort to use that exercise bike, you would quickly find yourself getting into great shape – and it is the same for your blog. Make good use of it and it will help to shape-up your business as a result.

Well that is all well and good, but what should I actually blog about?

The main aim for your blog is to provide help to your readers. You are an expert in your field, right? You can start by writing useful ‘how-to’ posts that can showcase your expertise, and help build familiarity and trust with your readers. For example, if you run an outdoor adventure sports centre, you can write about how to choose the best wetsuit for windsurfing, or how wearing the right kind of shoes can help your feet grip to rocks better while on a coasteering adventure day.

You can engage your readers and encourage them to become customers by posting exciting video’s clips within your blog posts of you taking part in all the different sporting activities you offer. Video is a great way to connect with your readers and are also great for SEO purposes to give you a boost in search engine rankings.

Help your blog readers to solve a problem they may be experiencing. If a customer is learning how to windsurf, but doesn’t have the upper body strength to keep hold of the sail, then offer them some tips for exercises that will build upper body strength or improve their grip. By identifying a common problem and helping them to solve it, your reader is far more likely to share your post with his or her friends who may also be experiencing the same problem.

Well, OK, but how do I use the blog to sell?

Promoting your products or services can be tricky. You don’t want to jump right in and make every single blog post a sales pitch. Your readers are too savvy to be treated like this and will be left feeling cold by your efforts. Blatant selling and continuous sales pitches will quickly turn-off your readers, so only interject the occasional promotional post – maybe when you have a special offer running or a holiday package with a limited time offer attached. For the most part, you should write your posts to be helpful before trying to sell anything.

Including a ‘by the way’ paragraph along with an internal link to a product at the end of a post can sometimes be an effective way to convert a few sales. This will only really work if the ‘by the way’ addition is directly related to what you have just blogged about, and is a genuine way of helping readers solve a problem. For example, you may have blogged about how to avoid getting blisters from your new sports shoes, and then added, ‘by the way, we sell waterproof plasters in our sports shop next to reception if you need them.’

You can use your business blog to help build your credibility within your niche. Share any interesting industry-related news or events, and add you own comments and thoughts on the matter.

Showing your human side and your sense of humour is also a great way for your readers to connect with you. Share some entertaining news, thoughts or experiences that your readers can identify with. You could share a story about the time you were giving a windsurfing lesson to a group of school children, but fell off your sail board right after saying ‘hello’, or how you entered an Iron Man marathon only to end up getting lost en-route.

No matter what subject you choose to blog about, the main thing is to be consistent. Set a realistic schedule that you know you can stick to, so if you decide to blog 3 times per week, make sure you do blog 3 times per week – every week! Your readers will soon pick up on your pattern and will expect or look for a new post on those given days. If you start off well, only to disappear for a month without posting, people will soon lose interest, and will go off to one of your competitors for fresh information. You will lose traffic as a result, and you will also have less content for search engines to index.

If you know you are going to be away for a while, either on holiday or on a training course for example, then write a few extra posts and schedule them for the days you will be away, or get someone trustworthy to look after your blog for you until your return. Be sure to optimize each blog post to help you get noticed more easily in search results.

I hope I have given you a few sound tips about how best to handle your business blog and make a success of it. It need not be as scary as you think!