Why Your Small Food, Wine or Creative Business Needs a Blog

The inbound marketing experts at Hubspot report that businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors than those that don’t.

If you know anything about blogging, you already know that it’s great for search engine optimization, hence the statistic above.  But if you’re a small business or solopreneur just starting out, you may not even have a website to optimize just yet.

And that’s Reason # 1 for starting a blog, so you can quickly establish your home base online if you haven’t yet. You want to have some kind of online presence that has a blog or website as its centerpiece. Did you know you can set up a free blog on WordPress.org, and this can BE your website? Yep, you don’t have to use the WordPress platform for blogging, you can use it AS your main website, and it makes a very nice one, in fact.  And did I mention it’s free?

(This blog you’re reading?  It’s running on WordPress.org.  Didn’t cost me anything at all for the blog platform itself, just $10 to register the domain name and about $8 per month for hosting. That’s all.)

Reason #2:  If you’re a creative business, a blog is a perfect place to strut your creative stuff on a regular, instantly updateable, basis.  For crafters, photographers, painters, graphic designers, writers, interior designers, jewelry makers, etc. – what better way to keep your latest, greatest work of art in front of your customers and potential customers?

The beauty of a blog over a website is that you can update it as often as you like, even several times a day if you’re feeling it.  Got a bolt of inspiration you want to share with your readers and customers on the fly?  Update your blog in minutes with your latest image, design, handcrafted jewelry, or other work of creative genius.  ; )

Reason #2a:  If you’re a restaurant or wine business, same idea as #2, above. You know how frequently things can change in this business, and having a blog is a great, instant way to update your customers and prospective customers on what’s going on.

You know how it is:  your weekly specials already went out to your e-mail list subscribers and/or you put them up at your website, and now the trout/sea bass/mahi mahi or what-have-you didn’t come in.  You have to sub something out on the menu, and now you can update the weekly specials instantly on your blog.

Wine peeps, same for you.  I’ve worked in the industry, so I know how disappointing it is when that excellent wine you tasted with your rep on Wednesday, the one you were going to offer at your tasting this weekend, doesn’t come in.   But if you’ve got a blog, you can write a few lines about something else delicious and wonderful you’ll feature instead.

(And yes, you can do all this via your Facebook or Twitter account as well, but on your blog you’re not limited by a finite number of characters, and you can make the experience so much richer for your audience.)

Reason #3:  You need to have a piece of online real estate that you own and control.   You have no ownership of your social media profiles/accounts, so it’s wise to funnel your Facebook, Twitter and other social media followers to a place you DO own and control, and where ideally, you can also collect their e-mail addresses:  a blog.   And you also want a place where you can share longer form content than you can at your social media sites.

Let me give you an example:  I have a friend who is a gifted photographer.  She owns a really cool business where she offers a specific and individualized service for her clients.  She’s got tons of email addresses of folks she’s sold to before, thousands of followers/fans on her FB business page, and lots of followers on Twitter.  She also has a website, hosted on Yahoo.

There’s a lot of great stuff going on here, but she doesn’t have a central hub that she owns and controls.   Now, what if Twitter and Facebook went away tomorrow?  Not likely, I know, but what if?  There go 3500 leads – poof.  But if you’ve got those 3500 coming to your blog, and ideally signed up for your e-mail list, you have a real, true asset.  And one you can market to and interact with again and again with your high quality content, products and services.

Social media sites are great, but you want to get your peeps over to your main hub or website – so use social media to share and interact and to add an extra  layer to your customer service (among other things), but make sure to also use it to drive peeps to your blog or website, where you can collect their email addresses, build a relationship with them, and then communicate with them over and over again.

Those are just three reasons you want to consider having a blog for your business, and ones I think are very important, but there are loads of other good reasons as well:

• To establish your expertise and set yourself up as an authority figure in your niche

• To interact with clients/customers and prospects, and to educate them about more than your products and services

• To build and strengthen authentic relationships with your customer base that makes them know, like and trust you, so that they want to come only to you for that thing you do. A blog is a great way to build a personal connection with your audience.

• To capture leads (through an e-mail sign up form on your blog – easy to implement)

• To improve your search engine rankings

•  A blog is a valuable marketing asset where you can build a following that is naturally curious about what you offer.

I know maintaining a blog is a commitment, because you’ve got to figure out what to post and you’ve got to have time to update it regularly, but the benefits far outweigh the time commitment, if done correctly!  : )

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