I built up an offline business inside 18 months with a blog, so I can’t help but do spread the word about how great business blogs can be for attracting new customers.
Having spoken with many business owners, the reasons many give for not having a blog are many and varied such as:
- I don’t know how to set up a blog.
- I don’t understand how blogging can attract customers.
- Isn’t blogging like having an online diary … who would care about that?
- I have no business blog ideas or topics to write about.
- I’m not a very good writer.
- I don’t have time.
- I don’t want to spend the money.
At the end of the day, all of those reasons aren’t very good reasons, but before I set up my offline business blog, those were my mental blocks that kept me from blogging until I took the leap of faith and published my first blog post.
In this post I want to address the concern “I don’t know what to blog about”. The fact is there are many directions a business blog can take that can attract new customers at a very low cost.
4 Business Blog Ideas and Topics
This is so simple, yet so effective. Every business owner receives all kinds of questions from prospective customers and clients. Some industries, especially professionals, earn a good living being able to provide answers to questions.
Lawyers meet with new clients who have all kinds of questions. Every one of those questions could form a blog post (this is a common type of lawyer blog).
Plumbers answer questions about tools, plumbing supplies, and of course tons of “how to” questions. A plumber’s blog could be all about plumbing supplies, tools and how-to posts.
Butchers answer questions about meat all day long. Common question deal with types of meat, how to prepare it, how to cook it, etc. Voila, that’s a great butcher blog.
Real estate agents answer questions about neighborhoods, housing prices, the selling/buying process, real estate valuation, the real estate market, etc. A real estate agent blog could deal with these concerns very nicely.
Restaurants could blog about their menu, ingredients, food preparation and events. Each daily special could form a blog post alone.
Accountants can blog about the latest income tax provisions and tax tips for individuals and businesses.
Dentists can blog about teeth care, dental insurance, dental procedures (why they’re important for various conditions) and
Furniture stores could blog about the latest furniture design and interior design (with a furniture focus).
Florists can blog about flowers and arrangements.
A juice bar could blog about the health benefits of different types of juices and the general health benefits of pure juices. This could turn into a highly informative health blog.
Salons can blog about hair and skin care. These are massive topics that millions of people worldwide want to learn about. Who knows hair and skin care better than salon owners? Not many people … so you are perfectly situated to publish an amazing and informative skin and/or hair care blog.
Psychologists and therapists can write about the conditions and treatments for these conditions for which they provide therapy.
A bicycle shop can blog about local cycling, bicycles, maintenance, etc.
Martial Arts schools can blog about types of martial arts, lessons, weapons, events and include all kinds of videos.
Chiropractors can blog about spine care and treatment. Posts could be highly detailed covering treatment for different types of injury causes.
Tattoo parlors can create an awesome portfolio blog showcasing tattoo designs.
Yoga studios can upload yoga videos and write about all things yoga and meditation.
Fitness centers, personal trainers and gyms can publish a fitness blog covering workouts, nutrition, weight loss, etc.
Moving companies can blog about how to prepare for a move, moving tips, supplies needed, etc.
Website designers can feature their portfolio of websites and can blog about types of websites for a particular industry (in a particular location or globally).
Veterinarians can publish a blog all about pet care, pet toys, types of pets, training, etc.
Doctors can publish a health blog focusing in their area of expertise.
Financial planners and stock brokers can publish blogs all about all things financial or focus on a niche area such as “saving money” or “penny stocks” or “stocks in a particular industry”.
If this form of a business blog appeals to you, start noting down questions put to you by customers/clients. Ask your staff to note down questions as well. Within one week you’ll have tons of blog post ideas.
How does this type of blog attract customers?
People type their questions into search engines. If you, as a local business website, focus a blog post on that question, your post will likely show up near or at the top of the search engine listings (assuming you’ve properly optimized your posts … another topic altogether). This is especially effective when people search with a geographic location as part of their search phrase.
You can also use these posts as a way to continue engaging with existing customers and clients. If you continually answer common questions with detailed and informative answers, you can start an enewsletter for clients which includes your blog post content (or you could simply direct your enewsletter readers to your blog). When existing/past customers return to your blog, they may see your latest deals and offers which may result in more sales.
Doesn’t giving away answers to questions result in customers/clients doing the work themselves? In some cases it might. But generally, especially in technical industries such as law and accounting, they’ll likely end up hiring a professional because each case is different and difficult to the point where they’ll want professional help. In fact, sharing this information sells you as the go-to person because you demonstrate that you know what you’re doing.
NOTE: The above examples provide suggestions that are only the tip of the iceberg for each industry for getting inspired on blog topics and ideas for structuring a blog.
2. Hyperlocal Blog
A hyperlocal blog is providing information about a city, town or neighborhood. The point of this is to attract geographically targeted prospective customers to whom you can advertise your business. This format works better with some businesses than others.
This type of blog works well for real estate agents and other real estate focused industries because people who are interested in learning about schools, crime rates, housing prices, etc. are possibly interested in buying a home.
However, a quality hyperlocal blog can also be a great advertising platform for any local business. The concept is that people interested in a particular area may be interested in your local business.
Go to any hyperlocal blog and you’ll see local businesses advertising on it. Instead of paying for such ads, create your own hyperlocal blog as your own advertising platform. You can sell advertising to non-competing businesses in your area as well.
Before starting you’ll want to plan your hyperlocal website carefully. Plan which topics you’ll cover. I suggest not restricting your hyperlocal website to a business directory because this is not the hyperlocal concept (but you can include a business directory featuring your business at the top for your category).
Hyperlocal blogs can take on all kinds of flavors. It can focus on events, homes in the area, schools, crime, politics, sporting events, urban planning, etc.
Industries and types of businesses perfect for hyperlocal blogs/websites are as follows:
- Real estate agents
- Real estate brokers
- Real estate developers
- Home staging businesses
- Closet/home storage organizers
- Moving companies
- Mortgage companies
- Interior designers
- Real estate lawyers
- Event planners
- Carpet cleaners and carpet installation
- Floor installation (hard wood, laminate, etc.)
- Junk Removal
- Real estate appraisers
- Home repair (roofers, plumbers, electricians, HVAC, window installation, custom cabinetry)
- Appliance stores and repair
- Moving truck rental companies (i.e. U-Haul franchises)
NOTE: Hyperlocal blogs are a lot of work. In order for such a blog to be successful, it must be detailed and offer up-to-date information.
3. The Industry Authority Blog
I’m currently using this model for a few local clients in a particular industry. This type of blog is similar to the first style set out above, but instead of using your business’ logo, you publish the blog as a separate entity from your business. In other words, instead of being another business blog, it’s a distinct authority resource website for a particular industry.
You can narrow this type of website to a geographical region if that makes sense. For example, because laws are geographically based, a locally focused legal authority site works well.
However, even if your industry isn’t geographically controlled, you can still benefit by publishing an authority website for your industry … just be sure to publish content for customers and not other businesses in your industry.
IDEA: When your authority blog takes off, you will build a global audience to whom you can provide services and products. Before you know it, you just might create a great e-commerce business complementing your local business.
TIP: There are blogs covering every industry, and this may scare you … but you read them you’ll probably learn quickly that many aren’t very good. If you own a business, you likely know your industry, services and products so well that it wouldn’t be all that difficult to create a true authority website that is better than most, if not all other blogs and websites covering the same industry.
Industries perfect for the authority blog:
- Yoga studios
- Trades (plumbers, electricians, roofers, HVAC)
- Bicycle shop
- Fitness centers, gyms and personal trainers
- Website designers
- Financial planners and stock brokers
You can use video as your primary content to create any of the above 3 types of blogs. You can of course use both video and text.
Don’t get too concerned with video technology. Your videos don’t have to be perfect … but you can do a combination 5 types of videos for local business websites:
- Web cam videos of you talking.
- Video of events, locations, homes, streets, signs, how-to videos, etc.
- Slide show presentations with narration.
- Virtual tours (real estate agents use these and they can be very effective).
- Screen tutorials if your customer base is interested in information you can provide on your computer. An example would be lawyers showing where and how to get various forms for a particular legal proceeding.
Uploading videos to YouTube (i.e. creating an awesome YouTube channel) is a natural extension of your Vlog.
Patience and Commitment is Required
A blog for your business is not going to bring you tons of new customers overnight. It’s a long term strategy in every sense … it takes time to generate results, but once it does generate results, it can do so with less and less effort indefinitely.