Does your business need a blog?

23 Aug

Load up on these “content is king” tips from DIY entrepreneurs

By Amy Schroeder

Are you ready to take your online business to the next level? You might want to get into the business of blogging.

Blogging is a great way to engage shoppers and beef up your site with additional content. For an August 5 panel called “Etsy Success: Crafty Blogging” at the Etsy headquarters, a crew of DIY bloggerpreneurs talked shop about reeling in readers, crafting creative content, and incorporating a healthy dose of self-promotion. Here, they share a handful of their tips.

Pull the Trigger Already

Is fear standing between you and blogging?

Crissy Herron of IndieBizChicks.com

Everyone’s got to start somewhere. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take baby steps. For instance, give yourself a goal to set up a blog on the first day (or week), and on the second or third days, write your bio or “about” page, and then, write your first post, and so-on.

“Don’t be afraid to start blogging until your blog design is perfect or until you have the idea for perfect posts,” says Crissy Herron of IndieBizChicks.com. “Your blog is going to be a continual work in progress. It will never be perfect, so just get started.” In fact, many first-timers find that once they get rolling, so too does the inspiration.

Show Your Best Side

“Compelling content is the key to an awesome blog,” says Rachel Johnson of Swap-bot.com.

Bethany Nixon of RewareVintage.com

If you’re not sure what makes for good blog content, similar to dating or applying for a job, it’s best to play up your strengths while playing down your weaknesses. For instance, if writing is not your strong suit, why pressure yourself to crank out 3,000 words of nonsense? If, on the other hand, your strengths are photography, reporting trends and news bits, or writing hilarious captions, rock out those skills.

Also, keep it real by reflecting your personality, says Bethany Nixon of RewareVintage.com. “If your blog reads like an advertisement, readers will only see you as your business,” she says. To avoid sounding like an infomercial, “inject moments from your life to encourage your readers to see your business as you instead,” Nixon says.

Take a How-To, Interactive Approach

Looking for ways to spice up your content? Think of creative ways to involve the readers with a how-to angle.

And by how-to, we don’t mean you have to provide a step-by-step guide on how to make your product. This could be as simple as “Five Looks for This Necklace” or “How to Wear this T-shirt as a Skirt, a Dress, and a Scarf.” Or, better yet, invite readers to get involved with content development and offer up a prize for the winner.

In short, “don’t just talk about you,” advises craftalicious blogger Tonya Staab. Instead, she says, “Ask questions, network, and share information.” The “I’m loaded with info” angle not only juices up your blog content, but it makes for attractive fodder in your social-networking smorgasbord (Facebook, Twitter, what have you).

 

Lish Dorset of Handmade Detroit

Know Your Readers

Not sure what your readers want? Ask them, says Handmade Detroit co-founder Lish Dorset.

Herron says that once you know what makes your community tick, you’ll be able to cater your content to them—and keep them coming back for more. “Your blog acts like a virtual watercooler between yourself and your reader,” she says. “Write in a conversational manner so that you can develop a relationship with them.”

Rachel Johnson of Swap-bot.com

Make a Good Impression

Not sure what your blog should look like? “Start simple,” says Johnson. Stick with a white or solid-color background emblazoned with a bold and beautiful header. “Try to resist the urge to clutter your sidebars with lots of icons,” Staab says. “Too many buttons and links will make your blog look cluttered and detract from your content.”

Content is, in fact, king, but if you’re not so much a wordsmith, focus instead on compelling visuals. “Use fun and original photos to engage your readers and pull them into your story,” Nixon says. If photography’s not your thing, invite friends (and even readers) to help.

Stick with the Program

Are you a master procrastinator? To fight the urge to put off blogging until tomorrow, Lish Dorset recommends creating a schedule for yourself—for example, Mondays could be “trends” day, Wednesdays are “customer appreciation,” days, etc. “Many blog platforms offer scheduling options so that you can [pre-schedule] several posts at one time,” she says. “Regular content means regular readers.”

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19 Responses to “Does your business need a blog?”

  1. Frieda August 23, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    Fascinating blog post, Amy! And I love the pics, the colors are luscious.

  2. Ruth Crean September 11, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    Great tips for seasoned bloggers and newbies. It’s so true, it’s best just to get started and then the ball gets rolling from there. I started my blog a couple of years ago and I love doing it. My internet was down recently and I really missed blogging!

  3. IKABAGS September 14, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    Hello ,

    I started my blog before but only for our life, some nice place, cooking, my hobby etc , but know i am using for my business , etsy !

    I am trying to write but I am sewing alone all my bags and i need more free time for this, but i will try again this year !

    Thanks

    yes here is mine
    http://feyzadem.blogspot.com/

  4. Paul Spenvcer September 14, 2010 at 9:25 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful blog. I need encouragement. I began a blog a few months ago and I just let it slide. As a glass artist and teacher I have lots of ideas and tips to share with others but I just don’t know how to tie it all in. Now that my etsy store has skyrocketed I am busy filling orders but I want to stay connected with my buyers and other members of my community. Any suggestions?

  5. Megan Fischer September 14, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    Thanks for the tips! I’m a month in and find myself always tweaking the blog. It’s good to know that’s “okay” and I’ll be doing that forever. 🙂 Patience, patience, patience.

  6. Drawcity September 14, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    Great article, thanks! And I agree, the best way to start is to just…START. I use to procrastinate and try to perfect the right content, style, which blog host would be the best, research, brainstorm, research. Eventually, I realised that time and missed online opportunities were passing me by! Now I just approach my blogging with informality and guess what, even though I don’t have a big following yet, I’ve had lots of positive feedback and people seem to like that.
    🙂

  7. Vanessa September 14, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

    I can’t wait to look through this more carefully! Just started the “blog” thing and would love to get more exposure!

  8. kerala stores September 15, 2010 at 12:06 am #

    The first step is always hard , cause fear of sounding funny or ridiculous is fearsome.

  9. Dawn September 15, 2010 at 4:42 am #

    This is great – thank you! I’ll have to work on my blog tomorrow!

  10. Anya Pany September 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    Great information for a novice blogger. I only have couple of posts on mine (www.daybeforefridayblog.com), but you are giving me inspiration to be persistent and dedicated! Let art live and prosper!

  11. diybusinessassociation September 15, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    We’re just getting going with DIY biz tips! Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the very latest advice and to connect with other DIY businesses:

    Twitter: @diybusiness

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/DIY-Business-Association/141519159205491?v=info&ref=ts

  12. Luzmina Jalil September 15, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    Thanks so much for the great tips. I started with my blog in December 2009, and it was just for talking what I see around my country.. art, nature, people, costumes, cook…and now is my handicraft business!
    Sometimes, I don’t have any new desing to offer, but always have something new to share about my country folk art…and it’s really fun to have a blog… sometimes I feel myself like a “journalist”. 😉
    Happy blogging!

  13. craftystaci September 15, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    I started my blog a few months ago, and am now gearing up to open my Etsy shop. I was nervous to start writing, but I feel like my blog has improved with practice. I’ve changed the style of it several times, trying to make it feel like it represents me and have managed to gain a pretty decent following. I completely agree with your just-do-it advice!

  14. Emily September 16, 2010 at 1:30 am #

    Many thanks for the advice. I started our blog awhile back, thinking it would be a nice complement to our Etsy shop: The Second Fiddle. I’m having trouble finding readers. It doesn’t seem anyone looks at the blog. Any more advice?

    Cheers,
    Emily
    (blog: http://the-second-fiddle.blogspot.com )

  15. Dorie September 16, 2010 at 3:46 am #

    I always have a lot to say and think this would be a really wonderful way to connect with others and get some exposure for my etsy shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtfullyYoursHawaii. Mahalo for sharing and continued success to all! 🙂 Dorie

  16. Sheshanna September 17, 2010 at 12:10 am #

    Very interesting and straight to the point! I agree that a blog is an ever changing platform for getting ones ideas and passions out in the open and individuality is the key to building a community around oneself. My readership is slowly creeping up and with every new follower I feel more motivated to define what I’m (my blog) trying to get across. Blogging in two languages poses a few problems, but I’m determined to stick to it. It sometimes means I don’t post. Like a writer’s block 😉
    Thanks for the great info,
    xoxo Sheshanna – PIECE UNIQUE

  17. Cat Lombardo September 19, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    Great article, thanks for the tips…heading to my cluttered blog to clean it up!

  18. theuntamedblog September 29, 2010 at 2:30 am #

    this was seriously such a great and informative read. packed with encoragement.
    thank you!!
    i’m getting mine going any day now.
    thanks!
    oh and i’ll be following you as well ;]

    twitter.com/stylestruckblog

  19. Anailuj October 10, 2010 at 4:18 am #

    Hi, thanks for the article. I’ve been thinking about blogging, but I’ve no idea how to start blogging. Is there a specific format to follow? Thanks Anailuj.

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