This is a guest post by Ching Ya. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
It’s always about ‘how blogging would help in a small business’ rather than the other way around. Ever since I started my intense blogging in February 2009, I’ve noticed how much my four and a half years of working background in product and customer service for a small company had taught me much about blogging. Whether or not your aim is to monetize, most of us bloggers are hoping for the same thing: traffic and productivity – which in a small business scenario translates to customers and revenue.
Here’s a basic flow of how a small business usually runs:
Starting & Planning:
1. Deciding the Service/Merchandise
Merchandise is the revenue generator for small business. It depends much on the current market and the types of needs your business could fulfill. Small business conductors will carry out brief market research, identify and test upon the targeted market with several prototypes in a considerable amount. They never sit and wait for business to come knocking on their doors.
Deciding your blog niche is essential. Even if you have no idea which niche that best fits you, tryout several writings for your preferred topics. You will then able to decide which will bring you the most satisfactions and success, while pinpoint your weakness and strength along the way. Actions lead to outcomes. Whether good or bad, gain experience from it.
2. Maximize Your Resources
Are you financially equipped? Knowledge and experience wise? Small business conductors will maximize the use of their assets to help in the business, innovatively turn every idea into action.
Some bloggers are well adapted with knowledge of programming, web designs and SEO. By all means, apply these to optimize your blogging results. Even if you don’t have much to offer, take up a self-learning course on the how-tos, joining forums to get familiarize with the blogosphere, get help or necessary advices from the specialists. Make an effort to build your resources via knowledge database because what you gain is invaluable, and will be a major asset for your blogging career in future.
3. Planning and Precautions; Expect the Unexpected
Yes, we heard a lot about the benefits of owning a business plan. However, un-expectancies are bound to happen during the process, such as product shortage on promised date, warranty issues, customer complaints etc. Such experiences taught our company to be constantly alert and have backup plans whenever an issue comes up.
In blogging, it’s advisable to have yourself prepared for situations like burnt outs, data-lost, commenting issues or a sudden server breakdown. Preparation is always better than regretting later. Try to be ahead of your problems if possible. Trust me, you’re gonna thank yourself for initiating the backup plans.
4. Publicity & Promotional Methods
Being the sole distributor for a particular merchandise helps to gain popularity fast. Otherwise, you need to work extra hard for publicity, such as offering special discounts or free gifts for loyal customers. Educate your new customers: what’s the main attraction of your product? Why should they come to you instead of your competitors? Sometimes it requires patience, but quality is what ensures business reputations and longevity.
Same as blogging, to stand out from the saturated market, you need to start building your own audiences with quality content. Originality will win you backlinks from other sites while ensures sustainability. You could have exposures done effectively via blog commenting, taking parts in forums, initiate promotions via blogging campaigns, guest postings and participate in social media sites. Another great way is to reward your readers with free subscription gifts or link love for their continuous supports.
5. Quality Product & Customer Service
Nowadays, many small businesses overlook the importance of ‘after sell service’, which sometimes one of the reasons that drive the customers away. Word of mouth can either build you, or destroy you. Thus, be attentive to our customers is always our utmost policy.
In blogging, what defines quality content? Subjective as it is, but not running far from solving a problem, generating ideas and creating good vibe for those who read it. Consider about your readers at all times. Unless you’re super busy with reasons not able to give an instant feedback, otherwise, you need to cater their needs asap.
We do monthly reviews on our merchandises. Such action helps to decide whether our business will continue to benefit from it, or should we move on to other alternatives? It takes into account every customer’s feedback, call of complaints, solutions provided by the vendor, and ROI after considering all the aspects.
Likewise, we are concern about blog visitors and their reactions to our writings. We cannot please everyone, but we still need to take in all the feedbacks, good or bad, and improvise them. Knowing the importance of reviewing your blog will ensure acceptance from your visitors. It could be done by observing your blog comments, emails, and monitoring via Google Alert regarding your personal branding on various sites.
7. Follow Ups
In small business, it’s easier to follow up on customers in a regular basis. Whether it is via phone calls, surveys or a casual conversation during their visits to our premise. This is to build up a marketing relationship with our customers, having them to come back regularly for our services or products.
By utilizing the same concept, we can try to get in touch with our readers, not only through comments, but through emailing as well. Make use of the social media sites available for effective follow-ups. Form an author-reader relationship. Bear in mind your readers could always go to other similar blogs but they’ve chosen yours instead. With this simple reason they deserved your pamper and attention at all times.
Research & Development
8. Quality Control
We are always told to deliver more than what we promised and never the other way around. A well manageable small business is never negligent of quality control.
Blogging is always about quality control for that matter. Besides writing skills, try to minimize the spelling mistakes, and have a clean blog layout that is easy to navigate. Make sure the content is well structured and not losing your personal touch. Maybe a new input would be good for your blog? Try occasional use of vodcast or radio show for your blogging presentations. But don’t over doing it, or risk yourself without a proper training at first.
9. Outsourcing & Future Planning
A small business will find ways to survive, for example outsourcing for possible ventures. Most small business conductors are risk takers and willing to expand their business to the next level.
Try to figure the next possible step for your blog. Could it be collaboration with like-minded bloggers for a webinar? Building a fan site in Facebook? An ebook? If you’re all about gaining knowledge on how to monetize your blog, it’s important to know how and when it’s the time to make it happen.
It is said that blogging market is saturated. But we need to be optimistic if we wish to go headstrong in this blogging business. Small business runners are risk takers, opportunists, and customer-oriented, something we could learn much about and benefit from. However, it’s important to never lose touch of our own selves. Be honest, sincere, and a positive attitude will help us go a long way, while running our blog successfully like a small business.
You can read more from Ching Ya on her blog, wchingya.com.