At this point, most everyone knows that a blog is essential for your small business. Not only is it great for SEO, but a blog can also help endear new clients to you and your business, and help build a personal connection with readers all around the world. Even confirmed non-writers can have strong blogs — but there is a sizeable gap between a so-so blog and a really great one.
In her CreativeLive class, Build a Successful Creative Blog, writer and creative business consultant April Bowles-Olin helped to clarify the difference with real, actionable steps and tips to help small, creative business owners launch their best blog possible. Here are a few of the more unexpected tips we learned from her:
Blogging is goal-oriented. One of the greatest misconceptions about blogging is a hangover from its earl days — thanks, Livejournal — which is that it’s entirely narcissistic. That’s just not true, says April, who emphasizes the real business benefits of blogging. Selling ads on the sidebar of her blog helped April realize the financial potential of her blog, and within a few years, she was actually selling products and had made a business out of it.
Your own photos are better. Though there are a ton of resources for free, fair-use images, it’s worth it to shell out for a decent camera and learn how to use it, says April.
“High-quality images are expected. They reflect your brand,” she says — and ones you’ve shot yourself are going to do the best job of that.
Location matters. Ever wonder why so many people go work from coffee shops? There may be something psychological at work there. Coffee shop sounds can actually help spur creativity — but, in addition, the change of scenery can actually make you enjoy the process more, says April.
“One of the things that you can do is change locations; sometimes just moving to a coffee shop…can make blogging more fun.”
Do it in drafts. There’s a perception that blog posts are perfect missives, banged out quickly — but that’s not always the case! First drafts are “almost always bad,” says April, so it’s best to take your time, write and rewrite, and, when in doubt, have someone else read it for you.
Read well to write well. Think you’re not a good writer? It could be that you’re not a good reader.
“Read books. Study the sentences and paragraphs. Study other bloggers,” advises April. There’s a lot of crummy writing on the internet, but if you’re used to reading well-crafted, smart sentences, you’ll begin to internalize that pattern of language.
Start before you’re ready. “This should become a mantra for you,” April says, emphasizing that “the best way to start blogging is just to blog.” The longer you put it off, the more you stew on it, the less likely you’ll be to actually do it. Even when you don’t think you have anything to say, you probably do. So just go for it.
April Bowles-Olin is returning to CreativeLive November 10-12 for Create Digital Products That Sell While You Sleep and Make Your Creative Business Uniquely Irresistible. To kick off the class, April and her friends have created an amazing blog tour, through the end of the month.
Here’s where you can get in on all the action: