Think blogging is just about writing? Writing is just one of the many ways you can tell your small-business story.
The online journals of yesteryear have evolved and branched off into multi-media business blogs. There's a content format out there for everyone, trust me. You just need to find yours.
BRIEF HISTORY OF BLOGGING
The early days of blogs bear no resemblance to the all-singing-all-dancing multimedia loveliness we see online today.
Blogs were primarily online journals. People sharing common interests and following each other’s stories. As such, they attracted people who were either writers by nature, or people interested in the emerging tech of the Internet. The concept of a business blog didn’t really exist.
As bandwidths burgeoned and the popularity of tools like Flickr (photos) and Wordpress (blogging) soared, content diversified. Professional blogging became a business model in it’s own right.
The success and influence of blogging was not lost on traditional business. Many were quick to embrace the move to the online world and use this new marketing tool called blogging.
Blogging is now, rightly or wrongly, synonymous with a small-business online presence. Which brings us to the present, and why you’re reading this post.
SHARING YOUR SMALL BUSINESS STORY
Just because your format of choice isn’t writing, it doesn’t mean you don’t have something of value to share. And, it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t blog. Business blogs are a different beast to their ancestors.
We all enjoy creating content in different ways. We all enjoy consuming content in different ways. We all bring a diverse array of skills and experience to the table.
Even the Starship Enterprise record their logs. I’ve never seen Captain Kirk sitting down writing, have you?
Let’s look at some of the ways you can increase your blogging without the need for more writing.
BLOGGING FOR THOSE AVERSE TO WRITING
Photo sharing has long been part of blogging. Flickr’s enormous success and longevity is testament to this.
Fast forward 13 years and the micro-blogging site Instagram has replicated that success. Twitter has now extended it’s character count to allow more room for images. And Pinterest, well that’s grown into a vast search engine in its own right.
You've all the proof you need that people love looking at and sharing photos.
With your smart phone at your side most days, there really isn’t an easier way to tell your small business story.
Tip: If you create an image-heavy post, make sure you use alt text and captions so search engines can ‘read’ the images.
Until recently, video was the realm of the professionals only. Again, the marvel of the smart phone (or tablet) has changed all that.
Although polished videos are still worth the investment, viewers also relish the authenticity of live video. If you have the nerve, pop yourself in front of your phone and address your visitors directly. Keep them short and sweet, and record regularly.
As with images, search engines can’t read the contents of a video. Make sure you add descriptive titles and tags and, if possible, have the video transcribed or pull out keyword-rich bullet points.
Tip: Invest in a tripod if you plan to do video regularly. It makes a huge difference to the quality. And, you can focus on the content rather than keeping the camera still. I can recommend a Gorilla tripod. The legs are bendy and can wrap around poles or sit on uneven surfaces. Small and lightweight, they're portable too.
Can't bear the thought of being on film? That makes two of us. Fear not, audio is your friend.
Audio is much easier to record than video. No need to worry about lighting, no bad hair days and you don’t need to worry about camera shake.
Audio files can be embedded into your blog as posts. You can even get the audio transcribed to include on the post. This helps with word count and SEO. And, if you enjoy it, you could consider a regular podcast.
Tip: I would recommend having a bulleted list in front of you when you record. It’s easy to ramble until you’ve had some practice. You don’t need a full-blown script, just something to prompt you and keep you on the straight and narrow.
Another way to ‘speak' your content is by using dictation software.
The web favours a more informal, conversational style. I’m sure if you had your ideal customer sitting in front of you, you’d have no problems explaining the benefits of your product or service, or helping them solve a problem.
Just sit at your computer and talk as if they’re sitting opposite you. You’ll need to edit, it won’t be perfect, but getting that first draft down is half the battle.
Tip: You'll need to grin and bear the first few sessions as the software ‘learns’ your voice. You’ll want to throw your computer out of the window at points. Just bear with it and persevere.
GRAPHICS & PRESENTATIONS
Photos aren’t the only way to create visual content.
With the dominance of visual sharing platforms, these are all content forms to aspire to, even if you prefer writing. My stats make it clear my visuals are driving the most traffic to my website.
Tip: Trends online come and go. What’s popular now will evolve and change. But, if you are going to invest any time or money in developing your skills, visual is the way to go. It stands alone as content, compliments written content and is innately shareable.
OUTSOURCING AND GUEST POSTING
Just because you don’t enjoy writing, it doesn’t mean there isn’t army of people out there who do.
Outsourcing, if your budget allows for it, is a great way to compliment your own skills. People think nothing of outsourcing their bookkeeping or accountancy. You don’t have to know how to do everything to run a small business.
Guest posts are also a great way to reduce your writing load. You still need to be strategic about the content you accept. It has to support your business goals in the same way as the content you create yourself.
Whether outsourcing or accepting guest posts, you need to be fussy about the standard of the content you accept. No matter who writes it, it will reflect on your business as it will appear on your website.
Tip: Look for other blogs that have the same audience as you but offer complimentary products or services. Perhaps approach fellow local businesses. If your budget is tight, pitch an article idea and suggest a reciprocal guest posting arrangement.
I know, after everything I’ve just said about choosing a different medium. But, it doesn’t mean you can't improve your writing skills and, dare I say, one day enjoy writing.
You see, any good content is hard work to create and takes practice.
Unless your small business is video production, you will need to learn how to make videos. If you’re a professional photographer, great. If not, you will need to learn how to improve and edit your photos. The same applies to writing, graphics, podcasts, presentations, etc.
The great news is, all of these skills can be learnt and improved upon. It won’t make you a world-renowned expert, but it doesn’t need to.
Tip: Learn to write by reading good written content online. Look at how blog posts are laid out. Study the language and conversation style of online writing.
You’ll always get die-hard fans of written blog posts. Avid writers and journal keepers who have fond memories of the early days of blogging. And that’s fine. There are many branches to blogging now and a place for everyone.
I don’t doubt there are many writers out there who feel the same about creating videos or graphics as you do about writing. We all have our comfort zones and strengths.
But, I hope I’ve shown you that writing isn’t the mainstay of modern business blogging. It’s now a multi-media platform, that allows you to play to your strengths and create content in a way you find enjoyable and sustainable.