Blogging can be a real challenge for businesses, and so when I was asked to speak at a conference for SMEs in Dublin, I thought it appropriate to address some of the barriers to blogging faced by SMEs. And I set them a challenge which I hope will help them to come up with some great topics for their business blogs.
Before I share some of the content from my talk, I must doff my virtual cap to the organisers and attendees of this conference, in particular Samantha Kelly. I’ve attended so many business events in the past, and they’re all quite generic – a little formal and stuffy, a few pretentious attendees, feelings of intimidation… you know the sort.
#BizPartyInspires was a business event with a difference. Everyone who attended is raving about it for a reason. There was a real sense of positivity and inclusion on the day which I have yet to experience at any other business event I’ve attended. Everyone was excited and supportive – no heirs and graces here. This was real people, being genuine.
The speakers were varied and every one had a story to tell. I’ve listed them below for those who’d like to follow up. The theme of the day was Inspire, and it really lived up to this.
We had the craic and the banter, we learned something from each speaker, we even shed a tear. And very importantly, there were a lot of connections made and there was real business done. Who says you can’t mix business with pleasure?! Utter nonsense!
I’ve come away inspired, and I’m quite sure every other person in the room did too.
So, back to business and blogging!
One of the challenges I talked about was the struggle to generate fresh ideas for a business blog time and time again. I know this is a struggle for many businesses – I hear it every day. Here’s what I had to say on the matter.
Blogging is not a one off thing. When you start a blog for your business, you’re committing to producing content that’s fresh, relevant and interesting for the long term. So how can you continually come up with topics to cover which appeal to your audience?
Start with tapping the resources that are available to you.
Talk to your customers, your network, and your staff. Draw on your own experiences – what questions have you been asked and what conversations have you had that you could transfer into a useful blog post?
The internet and social media are invaluable – go and have a look at what people are saying about your industry, products or business.
Don’t just look at your immediate competitors when you’re doing your research – broaden your horizons. What are they doing well in other parts of the country, and other parts of the world. That doesn’t mean you simply go and copy someone else’s content, but you can get ideas from it.
Set up some monitoring so you don’t miss anything. Ok, so I missed this one when I got up to speak, but I’m giving it to you now! Have a look at Google Alerts – it’s a great free tool which allows you to receive notifications when Google picks up something new on whatever topic you choose.
Follow the news and seize the opportunity when something relevant to you and your audience comes along.
Good research can help to generate lots of great ideas, so it’s certainly worth spending some time on.
Get yourself into a room with the people you work with for a creative brainstorming session. This should be relaxed and fun to get more creativity flowing. You might surprise yourself.
Make it clear that everything is up for discussion and make sure everyone feels free to contribute.
Make it fun!
Don’t dismiss any ideas off hand – not only will it make people reluctant to contribute further, but sometimes it’s the seemingly ridiculous ideas which can be developed into something truly original, and originality is exactly what you want.
Look at the tried and tested formats for blog posts that we see every day. There’s a reason we see them so often – they work!
When I spoke, I gave some examples of these formats and put out a challenge to those in the room to take the list and try to come up with 2-3 ideas for their business under each of the headings. As promised, here is the list along with a few examples.
I would love to hear what everyone comes up with for their business, so feel free to share your ideas. I may even have one or two more that might help!
The Blogging Ideas Challenge
Lists – “10 low cost ways to transform your wardrobe”
Interviews – “Norah Casey tells us the secret to business success”
Reviews – “Tried and tested: the new iPhone features we love”
Links round-up – “10 safe websites to keep your kids entertained on a wet weekend”
Controversial viewpoint – “Why an open relationship is good for you.”
The process post / How to – “The step by step guide to creating a great flower bed.”
News round-up – “Budget highlights and what it means for your business.”
You might think some of these simply won’t apply to your business and just feel like concentrating on the formats which instinctively fit. Force yourself to come up with ideas for each type. You may never use them, but it will challenge you to start thinking outside the box and you never know where that might lead. So, get brainstorming!
I’ll write about the other barriers to blogging I covered in the coming weeks, so come back for a look, and do let me know of any issues I may have missed if you were at the conference.
Picture courtesy of David McAuley Photography
Blogging for Business Workshop
And finally, I’ll take this opportunity to let you know about my upcoming Blogging for Business workshop in Dublin Institute of Technology. I’ll be covering a lot on the day and hope that everyone who attends will go away with plenty of ideas and tips so they can really get cracking on their business blog. Here’s a bit about what will be covered:
- Why you should have a blog for your business
- How to create a manageable content plan for your blog
- How to generate fresh and original ideas for your blog content
- What tools to use to create different content formats
- How to structure your blog posts
- How to write a compelling headline
- How to optimise your blog for search engines (such as Google and Bing)
- How to promote your blog content and drive traffic to your site
Go ahead and book for Blogging for Business or feel free to get in touch with any queries. Places are limited and the cost is an introductory price so best get in there quick!
#BizPartyInspires speakers included:
Samantha Kelly, Tweeting Goddess
Felicity McCarthy, Spark Digital
Anita Whyte, Dolledup.ie
Simon Chapman, Quotefish
Adrianna Mannix, Goal Getters Eat 4 Life
Aine Bermingham, Utter Digital
Pat Kelly, Life Focus
Joanne Sweeney-Burke, Media Box and former Apprentice star
Jason O’Reilly, Pride Watches and the guy who cried on Dragon’s Den!
Connect with Utter Digital…