Usually when I tell contractors and service providers that they should start a business blog they look at me like I have two heads. I think most people hear the word “blog” and associate it with politics, entertainment, or sports, but the truth is that blogging is one of the best kept marketing secrets of successful small business owners. It is, hands down, one of the most effective and efficient methods you can employ for growing your business. Intrigued? Read on. I’m going to walk you through the entire process of setting up a blog that gets superior results.
But, you might ask, what qualifies me to speak with authority on this subject? Simple. Because I AM an authority. I have started dozens of blogs over the last several years for a variety of ventures and purposes, and I know from experience what does and doesn’t work. I also know that there’s a right way and a wrong way to set up and promote a blog. I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let’s address that question that is probably already on your mind: How on earth is a blog going to grow my business in any sort of meaningful way?
Blogging For Your Business Can Hook Boatloads Of Leads
Consistent blogging is one of the smartest ways to hook leads for your business. With every post you write you are essentially throwing a new line in the water. More lines equates to more leads. It’s simple math.
I want you to imagine all the potential customers in your city as fish in a lake. You are the fisherman, sitting in your boat, and you’ve just cast your line into the water. A single rod and reel. A lonely worm wriggling on the hook beneath a bobber. Though you know the lake is teeming with fish, there are only so many you can catch in one day with one rod and reel. You go home that evening with four respectable catches, but nothing to brag about.
The next day, determined to catch more fish, you take ten different fishing poles with you. You stick a worm onto the hook of each one and cast all ten lines into the water, all in different directions off the boat. Not surprisingly, by the end of the day your boat is literally overflowing with with new customers (ahem…I mean fish).
Okay, so this analogy is a bit silly, but it’s an illustration of how active blogging can pull in boatloads of new leads for your company. If all you have is a one-page website, or if all you’re doing is relying on your facebook page to hook leads, then you’re the fisherman who only has one line in the water.
On the other hand, if you have a company blog set up and actively write new posts week after week, then you are the smart fisherman with many different lines in the water at the same time. With each new blog post you write, a new line is cast into the lake. I’ve worked with several contractors who have consistently added to their blogs for years, and literally have hundreds of different posts. That’s a lot of bait in the water!
Search Engines Will Send Traffic And Leads To Your Business Blog
I won’t get too much into the geeky details here because I don’t want to lose your attention, but basically this system works because of the search engines (most notably Google). When you publish a new blog post it gets indexed by Google. It puts more skin in the game for you as far as the search results are concerned. If, for example, you only have a one-page, static website then there are a limited number of search phrases that are going to pull up your site in the results. But if you have a blog with dozens or even hundreds of posts then the chances of one of them being displayed in the search results for any given phrase are exponentially better. In essence, it casts a wider net and provides a much greater opportunity for potential customers to find you on the web.
And, yes, people really do look for contractors and home improvement advice on the internet. Lots of people, as a matter of fact! Many people, myself included, don’t even use their phone books anymore. When they arrive at my doorstep every six months I throw them directly into the recycling bin. When I need something I go to the internet first.
Here’s an example. Let’s say I’m a homeowner and I have a plumbing issue in my home. The kitchen sink is clogged and I don’t know how to fix it. I go online to Google.com and search for “how to clear a clogged drain in the kitchen”. The search results pull up and I see that one of them is a blog post titled “How To Unclog a Kitchen Sink” (I see the worm dangling in the water, to continue with our fishing analogy). I can also see that the web address of the post has the name of my city in it (we’ll dive into this part more later), so I click on that result (I take a bite of the worm and a hook snags me). This is a very possible scenario, by the way, because Google often tailors results to your exact geographic location, whether you know it or not. Now I’ve arrived at a post that perfectly answers my question. But I realize that it looks like a messy job and I don’t want to fool with it (I’m being reeled in). I think I’ll hire a plumber to fix it. Who do I hire? Well, the plumber who writes this blog sure seems to know what he’s talking about, and his blog sure looks professional, and he provides services in my city. I think I’ll give him a call for a quote. Oh, there’s his phone number conveniently placed in the header of his blog. I pick up my phone and give him a call (the fisherman pulls me out of the water and into the cooler I go).
The real beauty of this is that that same worm will continue to catch fish after fish after fish in the future. Once I’ve written the blog post and published it online it stays there perpetually. Yes, writing that post took a few hours and I had to take some photos to put into it, but at the end of the day it’s going to pull in leads for my business as long as search engines are in existence. I work once and reap the benefits for years to come. What could be better? And we’re just talking about one post. Imagine if your blog had 20 posts? Or 100? Or 500? Throw more lines in the water and you’re going to catch more fish – it’s simply a numbers game!
Additional Benefits Of Having An Active Business Blog
Taking up more space on the search engines is reason enough to start a blog, but there are lots of additional advantages:
- An active blog that gets traffic has value. It is a business asset, no different from the company pickup truck or table saw. If you sell your business at some point your blog will enable you to command a higher asking price. This assumes that you’re using paid hosting with your own domain name and not a free blog platform (more on this later). I’ve personally sold a handful of blogs over the years, and I can attest to the fact that if they are cared for and pull in traffic then they are worth cash money!
- Your ability to connect with other local contractors increases dramatically. Contractors in other trades will often stumble across your blog while researching on the internet. Many of them will reach out and contact you through your blog in efforts to swap leads or help each other grow. Or they may offer to send you qualified leads in exchange for cash (this has happened to me on several occasions).
- It helps to prove that you are a legitimate authority. If you have a blog that is chock-full of helpful and and detailed information, it demonstrates to anyone who reads it that you know what the heck you’re doing and you’re not going to screw up a project. It demonstrates COMPETENCE, which is what consumers really want. This perception will also allow you to charge a little bit more for your services.
- Local media outlets may occasionally contact you in an effort to get a quote for a story. When a local reporter or news writer is researching an item intended for the nightly news or the daily paper they quite often will go to the internet to look for local experts they can quote. Let’s say the weather is unusually cold and a writer wants to put together a quick piece about how to prevent pipes from freezing and busting. Odds are good he’s going to search Google for a local plumber who looks experienced and intelligent so he can ask some questions. Low and behold, he sees a post from your blog in the search results that is titled “How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing in Winter”. He calls you up, you give him a few helpful tips, and he mentions you and your company in his article. The next day the article is published in the newspaper and BOOM, your phone is ringing off the hook with new prospective customers.
- If your blog becomes popular, there could be opportunities to make money directly on the site. Using a blog to generate leads for your company is the main purpose, but if you really put in the effort over months and years then you will discover ways to monetize your blog’s traffic with ads or by selling products or information on the blog itself. I won’t get too deep into the weeds with this topic, but take my word for it that having a very popular blog opens up all kinds of new avenues for generating additional revenue. Google AdSense is the easiest way to make money with ads on your blog, but often times you can make more with your own product, ebook, or service that is sold directly on the blog. The majority of you just starting out with a blog will want to focus on harvesting leads for your service, but just keep these other ideas in the back of your mind for the future.
- Unique opportunities will present themselves out of nowhere. Having a popular blog literally gives you a global audience, and there’s just no telling who might stumble across it in the search engines. The blog that you’re currently reading (RichContractor.com) is a perfect example of this. A year or so ago I was contacted by a representative from a major publisher who enjoyed this blog and wanted me to write a book for them about how to become a successful contractor. I respectfully declined because I’d rather focus my efforts on the blog and not a book, but this is an opportunity that would have never presented itself if I didn’t have a blog. More recently, a director of programming from HGTV stumbled across my blog and made contact. Where that could lead is anybody’s guess, but, again, if this blog did not exist I would never have heard from this person.
There are so many reasons to have a blog and so few reasons not to have one. It’s just a no-brainer, in my opinion, if you’re a contractor or service provider of any kind. Bottom line: it elevates your profile and can help to take your business to the next level.
Starting A Blog Is Relatively Cheap And Easy
Both in business and in life, if you’re not willing to try new things then it’s difficult to grow. Starting a business blog might be different than the marketing tactics you’re used to, but it could just be that fresh new approach that takes your sales to a higher level.
But this all sounds like it’s probably expensive and too technical for me to figure out, you might be thinking. Not true! Use the host that I prefer for my blogs and you’ll get a free domain and hosting for $4.95 a month. And if you set things up the way that I’m about to teach you, then you don’t need to know a lick about coding, programming, or web design. If you can type and use a mouse then you can create a nice blog. There really is no excuse to not do it. I’m sorry, but if you aren’t willing to spend a measly five bucks a month trying something new to grow your business then I don’t know what to tell you. I honestly don’t.
Okay, sorry for tangent. Now let’s get to work creating your blog. In my opinion, there are four main things you can do to give your blog the best chance of success:
- Set it up properly. In other words, don’t even think about using a free platform like Blogger.com or Tumblr.com. I’ll explain more in the next post of this series, but take my word for it that you need to use the WordPress.org blogging platform on your own domain with a paid hosting account. I prefer Bluehost for most of my blogs.
- Make it as helpful and useful as possible. Let’s say you have a deck-building business and your blog has a post entitled “The Pros and Cons of Using Composite Decking”. A searcher who finds this post in the search engines should read your post and think to themselves, “Wow, that was an amazing post. It answered my question in detail, it had photos to illustrate concepts, and it even gave me some new ideas and options that I had not previously considered”. Every post on your blog should aim for this high standard of quality. As with most things, the more effort you put into your blog the more you will get back out of it in the form of new business leads and increased exposure.
- Have patience. It will take time for your blog to really take off and flourish. If you start a blog on Monday and expect the phone to start ringing with leads on Tuesday then you’re in for disappointment. It will likely take months of effort before you start to see an effect on your sales. I’ve noticed that the most successful bloggers are the ones who stick with it for years and just keep writing amazing post after amazing post. It has a compounding effect that eventually can take a business to staggering new levels of success, but you have to be in it for the long run.
- Take guidance from somebody who has already had blogging success. That would be me, of course. If you get stuck or have a question, leave a comment below or send me an email. I’m happy to help! Use Bluehost and I’ll be better able to understand any issues you might have setting things up.
This is the first in a series of posts about creating a successful blog. Now please read part two: Choosing A Domain Name For Your Business Blog.