The first thing a start-up business thinks is they should have online is a website.
And then they go and spend a load of dosh on something that turns out to be a money-wasting dinosaur that gobbles up all their funds and produces very little.
Whereas if they had taken a step back and thought strategically about their online presence, they would have realised a website is a reality that is much further in the future.
Avoid being bamboozled from the beginning
You look around you and see all these successful businesses with fabulous websites.
And therefore it would be natural to assume you should also have one. After all, it is so important to have a presence online so that people can come and see what you do and make contact with you.
Yes, that’s true. But it doesn’t have to be via a website that has had heaps of money spent on its design and costs a fortune to host. All that can come much later once you’ve started to succeed in your business.
The answer is much simpler and easier.
Begin with a blog
Now I would say that, wouldn’t I! This is what my blog is about – helping people to create a blog. But actually this is one of the easiest ways of creating an online presence that is totally yours and not reliant upon someone else to do it for you.
Start-up businesses that begin with a blog rather than a full-blown website are much freer with what they can do online. Here is a medium where you can have your say, show your expertise and talk about your business.
Use your blog to write posts that explore your ideas and aspirations. A blog is a safe environment where you can reveal your progression through your start-up experience, share your ‘ah-ha’ and ‘Eureka!’ moments, and revel in your successes and even your failures.
Remember it’s important to be honest with your readers with what you write about, as this humanises you, makes you more approachable and allows your potential customers to relate to you before they buy.
Develop your blog into a website
As your blog increases its content, you will naturally want to add some static pages that contain information you want to keep constantly available to your readers.
This is the beginning of a website. A website that is more dynamic and relevant to you and your business.
This is because you decided to begin with a blog, and all those posts you have written and will write, have given and will give your website more of a fighting chance towards being seen and succeeding.
Work your website around your blog, rather than the other way round, by connecting the pages to the posts. You will find your new website will grow organically and with a proper purpose that is more relevant to your customers’ needs.
This is more important than how pretty your website looks. Certainly good design is necessary, but not so that it blocks user experience and distracts your viewers away from what you want to them to do on your website. Which is to read your content, make contact and buy your product or services.
Use your blog to have conversations
A natural progression with start-ups that begin with a blog would be to progress onto social media. Some fledgling businesses may already have done this as part of their market research as to whether their new venture will succeed or not.
However, remember to take full advantage of the ‘social’ aspect. It’s all too easy to share your latest posts on your social networking profiles, and even encourage your readers to do the same. But you will be missing a trick if there is no interactional activity to accompany this.
Social media is where you can make appropriate and relevant connections through conversation. Find influential people you think could help you and strike up a conversation to get them to notice you (for the right reasons). Without conversation softening your introduction, they probably will just ignore you.
Find a group where your ideal customers hang out. Start talking to them about their businesses so you can learn more about how you can help them. This is not the time to mention your business, this is purely a connection and information gathering exercise.
Then write a post associated with your recent conversation, and tell the relevant people about it. This personal interaction will guarantee at least one reader, especially if the recipient is flattered by what you’ve written. They will be more likely to link to it from their websites and share it amongst their friends and colleagues.
Write fantastic content in your blog
All start-up businesses who begin with a blog should take advantage of the power of content marketing. Because you started with a blog, you will know what to do with it and not neglect this particular feature as so many other businesses do.
Now you can start to write relevant and highly readable content for your readers. As I mentioned above, conversing on social media will give you plenty of subject matter to write about. This way you will know exactly what they want to read, which will make your blog more poignant and worthy.
Even though some readers may not be your ideal customers, they may know someone who is. Encourage your audience to talk about you, comment on your blog and on social media, and share your content socially and personally. As a result your posts will soon be placed in front of the right people.
This is why the style of your posts need to be conversational, approachable, readable and actionable. Clever bloggers link posts to relevant content both on the blog and elsewhere. Together with gaining lots of feedback through comments, your blog will appear to be popular, which is highly attractive to the search engines.
Offer value to your customers through your blog
This means what are you offering your customers that can really make a difference to their lives? Work out what makes your business stand out. What do you have that would attract customers? What sets you apart from the rest?
You can begin with a blog post to suss this out. Ask your readers what they want. As them questions to find out what you need. Encourage discussions in the comments. This is a great way to find out your customers’ problems and test the solutions on them before launching your product or service onto the unsuspecting public.
And once you’ve found your own solution, start writing about the results and the affect it has on your customers in your blog. Remember showing your vulnerabilities and thought processes is not a sign of weakness. It allows your customers to associate with you, notice you are human and therefore just like them. The more they can relate to you, the more likely they are to favourably respond.
The only choice for a start-up business is to begin with a blog
When your start-up business is strapped for cash and needs to make an impact right from the beginning, a blog is the best solution. It can be effectively used with social media to raise your profile and get you noticed. It is a good sounding board for research, a hub for a community and an archive for information.
And if your website is based around your blog, your business has a much better chance of flourishing. Spend time on forming a consistent editorial calendar, and hire a good content writer if you don’t have time yourself. Avoid neglecting your blog, as this will give out the wrong messages to your visitors, who will assume your business is not succeeding.
Constant interaction with regular updates not only satisfies your blog’s readers, but also the search engines as well. They react to fresh content by indexing it, and if you’ve managed to include SEO within your posts, they have a much higher chance of attracting the right kind of customers to your website’s pages.
So what have you got to lose? Begin with a blog today. It is a safe stepping-stone towards success you cannot afford to miss out on.
And let us know your experiences in the comment box below – I will look forward to reading them.
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