Blogging is one of the most effective ways to market and grow your natural health business and when done well, can help raise your profile, spread your message and (most importantly) gain new customers for your products or services.
Unfortunately though, many would-be bloggers fail to enjoy these benefits – often because they give up too soon or haven’t put enough strategic thinking into what they’re trying to achieve. If you’re one of them, here are my top tips to help you get back on track.
Start with why
So, you’ve decided that blogging is something you want to do for your business. But have you thought about why?
If your answered ‘Because I know I should’, ‘Because everyone else is’, or ‘Because it’s better for Google’, it’s time to think again.
Better reasons? Try these on for size…
- Because I want my business to be known for [insert your desired marketing positioning here]
- Because I’ve got something to say about my work and how it can help people
- Because I know that the people I can help have questions, and I want to support and reassure them with answers
- Because I’m passionate about a particular aspect of my work, and I’m keen to attract more clients who can benefit from it
Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to blog too, and there’s no right or wrong here. But if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, it’s nigh on impossible that you’ll succeed.
Take a strategic approach to choosing your blog topics
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your blog should be like a public diary or journal and write blog posts on topics prompted by your recent experiences – especially when you see the immense popularity of some of the food and parenting bloggers out there.
However, bear in mind that the objectives of those high-profile bloggers are different to yours. They’re running a blog as a business, so their biggest goal is to get eyeballs on their content, making their website more appealing to advertisers and sponsors, and in some cases increasing the number of buyers for their products. In effect, they’re blogging as a form of entertainment for their readers (and as a result, they sometimes end up being viewed as celebrities).
You, on the other hand, are running a blog for your business. It’s a marketing tool, not a performance stage. And that means that while traffic is nice, it’s more important that your content is appealing to the people you want to attract to your business, and that reading it helps prompt them to take an action, moving them closer to booking an appointment or becoming a customer. Your primary mission isn’t to entertain, it’s to educate, inspire and reassure. (Providing a little entertainment along the way is great, but most business bloggers should treat it as icing on the cake, rather than the centrepiece of the main meal).
So, take a strategic approach to determining what you’re going to write about in your blog, putting the emphasis on what you want to sell and who you want to sell it to, rather than on whatever it is that takes your fancy to write about on a given day.
Creating a content plan helps you create a holistic body of work
Each individual article or post that you publish is only one small entry in the larger body of work that your blog will eventually become.
As they accumulate over time, your goal is for those blog posts to collectively present your readers with a well-rounded and holistic view of what you and your business offer them.
With that in mind, I find it’s best to plan your blog content in advance. What themes do you want to focus on? How will you ensure your blog content helps promote the products or services that are most important to your business, and that you don’t invest your time marketing the wrong things?
For many bloggers, the solution is to set aside some time every few months to create a content plan that details what you’re going to write about and when you’re going to publish each post.
Doing so enables you to plan in advance for seasonal marketing campaigns (like promoting massage vouchers for Mother’s Day or calming herbal tonics in the lead up to exam period), and also helps you avoid the time-wasting and procrastination that so often occurs when you sit down to blog without knowing what on earth you’re going to write about.
Aim for evergreen content
Ideally, much of your blog content should focus on topics that have enduring appeal to people visiting your website. (For example, think of the questions people repeatedly ask about your products and services and write blog posts that answer them). This type of content is often referred to as ‘evergreen’ because it stays relevant to your audience day in and day out.
Evergreen content tends to benefit your business in two phases.
In the first phase, it attracts an upfront wave of readers from your current audience who encounter the material via your newsletter and social marketing activity and engage with it very quickly (typically within a couple of days).
Often, that initial flurry of interest is then followed by a smaller but more enduring trickle of readers who arrive at your blog via Google or links on other websites. While the volume of this activity on any one day may be small, over time, the cumulative effects of this long tail of traffic will often meet or even exceed that of the first wave.
Add a sprinkling of more topical blog posts for freshness
A relatively smaller percentage of your blog should be dedicated to articles that are time-sensitive or topical, relating to something that’s in the news or going on for your audience at a given point in time.
For example, while most of the content here on my blog will be equally relevant to you as a reader no matter when you visit my site, I recently took the opportunity to write a topical post when my friends at Flying Solo unexpectedly discovered what happens when one your posts goes viral on Facebook.
Everyone in the Flying Solo community was talking about their success at the time, so it was a very hot topic. However, I only had a small window of time to write about it before it lost currency and interest waned, and I only decided to go ahead and do so because the topic is highly relevant to one of my objectives for this blog, which is to help small business owners think strategically about their marketing.
In the short term, that blog post brought me a very nice spike in my blog readership and some highly welcome new subscribers, but over the long term, the cumulative traffic it attracts probably won’t be as substantial as the traffic from more evergreen posts like this one.
Recognise that blogging takes time
The cumulative benefits of your blog are far from instantaneous, and often take months (if not years) to be fully realised.
Think of your blog like a garden. It won’t bloom overnight, but instead will require consistent work and nurturing (especially in its early stages). Before it bears fruit, you’ll need to put in the hard yards of planting plenty of seeds, not knowing which of them will yield the most goodness.
Many would-be bloggers lose faith and inspiration before that happens, and give up before they’ve really gotten going.
Others fail to set aside enough time to consistently write, publish and promote their articles, eventually losing momentum and commitment.
If that sounds like you, you’re not alone: a few years ago, researchers at IBM discovered that more than 80% of corporate blogs contain fewer than five posts, and I suspect the stats are even higher in the small business sphere.
To push past these pain points, I recommend thinking of your blog as an investment in your your business that pays you compound interest. Just like your superannuation, you’ll have to commit to investing in it on an ongoing basis, but at the end of the day, that investment will be worth may more than you’ve put in, and you'll have built a marketing asset for your business that continues to work for you long into the future.
Being one of the few that takes a long range, strategic approach to blogging may pay off for you in a big way. Data suggests that those who consistently blog are 13 times more likely to see a return on their investment in doing so each year than those who merely dabble.
Better blogging for wellness business owners - Sydney workshop, Wednesday 18th November 2015
Are you ready to invest some time and strategic thought in kickstarting your blog so it brings you better returns?
Together with my colleague Nikki White (founder of Wellness Hubs Australia), I’m running a workshop especially designed for natural health practitioners, intuitives and other wellness business owners, and we’d love you to join us.
Date: Wednesday 18th November, 9.30 am – 2.30 pm
Venue: The Awareness Institute, 1/20 Clarke St, Crows Nest NSW 2065
Cost: $120 ($90 for Wellness Hubs Australia members)
Bookings: Register here, or phone 0405 296 804.