Iam a blogger who is also a small business owner. No, I'm a small business owner who is also a blogger. No, I'm both. I am exploring the distinction, if there is one, on Twitter. Since I've been a small business owner for nearly 10 years, and a blogger for nearly 5 years, I guess I'm probably both at this point.
In my years as a “small business owner blogger,” I have developed some habits that I consider to be vital when it comes to managing a blog that is interesting, informative, easy to use and fun. Here are some of my best tips.
Ask Questions. I often hear people complain that no one comments at their blog. When I visit their blog, I see at least one obvious reason why. There are no requests for comments.
To fix this, at the end of each post, ask people to share their thoughts. The best way to do this is to wrap up the post with a simple question that flows logically from the subject matter of the post.
All of my posts do this, so take a look around and get some examples. This is one of the easiest things you can do to generate discussion at your blog.
Focus On Readers. Popular blogs connect the blogger with her readers by featuring content readers enjoy. The only way to find out what readers enjoy is to blog and then see what they do.
Do they comment or do they ignore you? Do they Tweet certain blog posts so their friends can see them? If so, guess what you should do? That's right — publish more around the topics covered in those posts!
This is a process and it takes time, but it's worth it. Once you tap into topics and subjects that interest your audience, you can focus your efforts better on catering to those interests.
Link Out. When you trap people at a blog with paragraph after paragraph of words and phrases and don't give them anything to do, their click fingers gets itchy and they click out. Wouldn't you rather have them click out because you want to share something with them, than click out because they are bored?
Show some link love! Link out to interesting information and ideas. Your readers will thank you for it, your blog will be more relevant to them and they will tell more people about you.
Link to Your Satellite Sites. Your blog should make it easy for people to connect with you in places besides your blog. If you have a FaceBook Fan Page, let people know they can meet you there. If you have a Twitter page, let them know that you can Tweet together. This is important because some people prefer FaceBook and/or Twitter to your blog. Give your audience some options.
Let your readers know that you want to conect with them wherever they are most comfortable. When you do that, they will engage with you more and tell more people in more places to check you out.
Automate, But Be Careful. People crave personal interaction. In fact, that's what blogging is all about. While it's fine to automate certain things, the automation should seem as un-automated as possible.
I like to use PeopleBrowsr to cross-post the same content in different places, but I don't use it all the time. Sometimes, I actually cut and paste the same thing in 3 different places, making minor adjustments to account for the different audiences in those places. Yes, it takes a more time, but the people I want to connect to are worth it.
If you want people to take time from their busy lives to engage with you, you must first take time from your busy life to engage with people.
Recognize Contributions. When people at your blog leave interesting and provocative insights at your blog, share them with others. For example, yesterday, I published a post about the movie “Julie & Julia.” I didn't raise the topic of motherhood, but one of my commenters did and this generated an entirely new line of comments on the post.
I posted a Tweet about it and more people came to share their thoughts. I also posted to my FaceBook Fan Page and to my private FaceBook page as well, and even more people commented. Some of the poeple who commented at FaceBook are not on Twitter and they don't read my blog. In about 60 seconds, I created multiple interesting discussions, inviting people to comment wherever they wanted to!
The goal is not to create engagement at any particular place. The goal is to create engagement where the people you want to engage with, want to engage with you.
It takes far more energy to force engagement at a blog than it does to simply use the blog to create engagement in other places. Either way, all roads lead back to the blog, so it's a win/win situation for you and your audience.
Don't Force It. I can always tell when a blog post was published just to fill up space or tick off a requirement in a blogging e-class. I'm sure you can too!
Moreover, I don't believe anyone who tells me that they can't think of anything to blog about. Saying that is like saying you have no life, and that you haven't learned a single thing that you can share with another human being. That's not possible.
Every day, something makes you feel happy, sad, frustrated, angry, excited, turned on, turned off, smart, stupid, young, old, fit, fat, chatty, quiet — the list is endless. Pick one from that day and blog about it. If you blog from the depth of your emotions and heart, your sincerity will be appreciated and people will reward you with the gift of engagement.
Mix It Up. Try new things to generate enthusiastic discussion. You may be a photographer, but that doesn't mean you have to blog about photography every single day. If you're a photographer, you must know something about small business, so blog about that. You probably have a spouse or significant other, so blog about that.
You probably visit other photography blogs, so blog about them. You have a voice, so publish an audio post.People love being surprised, and as a blogger who is also a small business owner (or a small business owner who is also a blog), you can inject an aha moment into your readers's day on a regular basis.
Quesiton: If you're a blogger who is also a small business owner (or a small business owner who is also a blogger), what are some of your best blogging tips?