What’s a Blog?
The blog (previously known as a weblog) was birthed around 1997. Blogs began as personal journals and have since morphed into a great form of “citizen journalism.” The average Joe (or Josephine) or business owner now has a way to reach the entire Internet world with opinions, reviews of products or places, perspectives on current events, business advice, and pretty much anything else he or she wants to write, rant or rave about.
Despite all other available social media forms, blogs are still popular, with 46% of people reading blogs more than once a day. Further, they can result in new business. Marketers who have prioritized blogs are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI. Both statistics are courtesy of HubSpot, which is a great source of social media intelligence.
So, Why Should You Blog?
In addition to the possible impact on your bottom line (see above), think about blogging as a way to spread your brand and messages across the web, at relatively no cost. Many bloggers have, over time, generated huge followings. They can be the taste-makers (quite literally) of spirits, bars, restaurants, and food. Liquor.com and Cision (the experts in media databases) have both published lists of the most influential bloggers in the spirits industry. In the pre-Internet era, just getting a positive review in mainstream media was important. Now, making sure that bloggers are also aware of your brand or business is just as critical.
Before you randomly start contacting spirits bloggers and sending them product samples, you should take some important steps:
- Read what they write. If a blogger writes primarily about craft beer, he or she is not going to care about your bourbon brand. Know who you’re pitching.
- Build a relationship. Most bloggers are difficult (if not impossible) to reach on the phone. If you’re going to pitch your product or establishment to a blogger, start following him or her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media apps.
- Tell your story to a blogger. Bloggers get “pitched” by hundreds of brands. What makes you and your product unique? Keep your correspondence short and compelling. Be sure to let the blogger know how to reach you. (You’d be amazed at how many pitches journalists receive without contact information!)
- If you have a product, offer to send a sample. But be aware that reputable bloggers have to disclose if they’ve received free products to review. And never just write a check or give a credit card to a blogger to write about your product. That’s paid advertising – not journalism. The line is very blurry these days. Some bloggers will write about your product if you buy an ad. Make sure you know the “rules” up front. If you’re paying to advertise on a blog, ask the same questions you would ask a magazine or newspaper. Understand how many impressions you are buying, who reads the blog/publication, and how you will be able to track/measure results.
Most of these rules apply to conventional journalists as well, by the way.
Should YOU Start a Blog?
Let’s answer that question with a question. Do you like to write? If so, starting and maintaining a blog will be much easier for you. But keep in mind that building an audience that wants to read what you write may be difficult. We live in a world of short attention spans, so your content must be extremely interesting, timely, provocative, or funny to prompt people to read it. (See “7 Ways to Rock Your Content Marketing.”)
A blog can be valuable because it becomes one more place online where people can get to know your brand and its personality, and you can share news with customers and clients.
Before you start blogging, figure out what you have to write about and how you’ll distinguish your content and voice from the thousands of other blogs. Do you have a special area of expertise? Can you commit to publishing an interesting recipe every month? Establish an editorial calendar before you start writing. You can even ask your readers what they’d like to hear about. Many blogs are interactive, so your readership can post comments and their own perspectives on your blog. Encourage comments and be sure to participate in any lively discussions that ensue. When people are commenting on your blog, you know that you’ve attracted an active reader base. Other tips for writing blog posts:
- Be brief.
- Be relevant. Write about seasonal topics or things happening in the media (but avoid politics, religion, and even sports, which can be polarizing and alienating to customers with strong opinions of their own).
- Be visual. Everyone enjoys a great photo, video, or illustration (but be sure you have the legal rights to any visual images you use).
- Be collaborative and include links to other blogs or posts.
Make subscribing to your blog easy with a simple button on the page. Your blog can live on your website, so visitors can simply navigate to it from your home page rather than remembering another web address (also known as a url). Keep in mind, however, that unless you have millions of people visiting your site on a regular basis, your audience will be limited. Be sure to tag your blog with keywords that people may be searching for.
Other alternatives are to “guest blog” on websites (like this column on the Nightclub & Bar site) or to blog on a site called Medium, which is a compilation of blogs on a variety of topics.
No matter where you choose to blog, be sure to re-publish your blog on other sites. You can boost your blog content and expand your audience by simply repurposing it as posts on your LinkedIn page and promoting it on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. You can even include a link to your blogs in your e-mail signature, on your business card, on your product packaging, and on signs in your bar or club.
Do not be discouraged at first if you feel as though you’re pouring out content but no one is drinking it up. Unless you’re a celebrity, building a following can take time and effort. Just keep putting unique and readable content out there and you may one day make the “influential blogger list!”
NOTE: The author would appreciate your subscribing to her blog, www.badgirlgoodbizblog.com, checking this site each month for more tips on social media, and attending my sessions in Las Vegas next year!