Businesses are turning their attention to how to make money blogging. Blogging may have once been an online journaling platform, but businesses are identifying the unique benefit of not only informing their audiences about their products but also using it as a platform to engage with potential customers.
Related: Competitive Edge with Company Blogs
Blogging specifically can help you to share your vision with customers and should become the foundation of your marketing strategy. This marketing strategy will show you how to make money blogging as well as giving your business a platform to communicate directly with your customers.
What is a blog?
Blogging began as a type of online journal which enabled users a quick and easy way of writing, publishing and distributing their opinions. Entries appear in a chronological order which promotes the idea of a type of online diary.
How blogging has evolved?
Blogging are now more comparable to a website which has become very effective communication and marketing tools for businesses. Each blog post about your business will archive on your blog and become another resource for your customers.
Successful businesses have positioned their blogs as highly informative, positioning the business as a thought leader in their space, building trust in their expertise. Your business blog should be the centre element of your online marketing strategy.
Blogs can be used in every field and for any purpose. These will give you a starting point of what type of business blog your business could use. These are the 5 most common types of blogs:
1. Thought leadership blog
Blogging from the perspective of the CEO/Founder. Can also be the voice of senior leaders from within their areas of expertise or from the perspective of their roles and responsibilities. These types of blog posts can have a big impact because it’s coming from the source of influence in the business.
This is quite a powerful perspective for your customers to be exposed to. These types of blogs are few and far between making them a rare and precious gem.
Challenges: The leaders in your business might not have enough time to post consistently or regularly. This could hurt the blogs potential.
Opportunities: Invite experts in their field to contribute to your blog. This will not only build your own networks but will also build audience trust of your content.
2. Company blog, several contributors
This is when you have general blogging with one or more contributors. These can sometimes be a full-time position in a company or a group of key leaders within the organisation will rotate publishing responsibilities. This offers a well-rounded perspective of your business. It also helps distribute the responsibility of publishing consistently.
This type of business blog works particularly well for smaller companies with fewer staff members but can also work for larger companies. This type of business blog can be a good starting point as well as a place to test the waters with your blog posts as part of your social communication strategy.
3. Department or team blog
This is an interesting option if your company is big enough to have a dedicated department that writes your business blogs. These blogs can then be specific to what each department is responsible for. Examples of this are:
- The IT department having a blog expressing their opinions on infrastructure and data management
- The software development team discussing their method and difficulties with shipping their product.
- The HR department could discuss their strategy of how they hire well.
- Customer service department have an open line of communication with customers. Possibly receiving feedback from the comments feature.
Challenges: Some departments may have excellent sector specific expertise but lack the ability to write well. It will be important to set guidelines and the business orientated writing for your blog so that your teams adhere to the same editorial style and your businesses tone remains uniform.
Opportunities: Involve your employees in the content of the blog creates ‘brand ambassadors’ out of your teams. Your staff will have a vested interest in your business growth.
4. Product, service or marketing specific blog
This type of blog strategically focuses on products, specifically a flagship product. This business blog would then be devoted to communicating the details of the product, the team of creators, the difficulties, the updates as well as a behind the scenes look. Very good business blogs use this as a marketing tool by work in soft-marketing strategies to lure new customers.
Challenges: if you punt your products to much you could lose your customers interest. Make sure to write it in a way that doesn’t sell products directly to your customers but rather helps them engage with you brands.
Opportunities: You will receive instant customer feedback on your products. You will easily be able to identify which products are preferred by users and what there “pain points” are with your products.
5. Employee blogs
Employee blogs or even a network of business blogs powered by individual employees. This can be a blog which is company branded or an independent blog which became the voice of the business.
If employees understand their responsibility to your business and are made aware of what the detailed expectations are, then this can work very well.
Challenges: Difficult to control what your employees are posting as well as maintaining a business perspective and not letting it turn into your employee’s journal. When staff leave their blogs must be taken over by another employee preferably the one who takes over their position.
Opportunities: This helps your employees become brand ambassadors and makes them feel like they are uniquely involved in the marketing of your business.
- This platform allows you to communicate and connect directly with your customers
- Blogging creates a conversation between you and your customers, potential investors and industry partners. This platform encourages interactions and feedback. How else will you know where you’re falling short if you don’t see your feedback?
- You can use this platform to introduce new products and services to your customers. You could also comment on significant new events or market trends. Share your businesses behind the scenes initiatives. A business blog give your business a voice and personality, potential customers can now get to know your business.
- Businesses should use all free marketing tools at their disposal and a business blog allows you to build both brand awareness and brand trust.
- Your blog analytics will allow you to determine who your audience is, when they prefer to visit your site and which entries are the most popular.
- Cost-effective marketing investments. Every entry you publish becomes a long-term asset which will help with brand awareness as well as promote your expertise, products and services.
Business specific benefits:
- To have a successful blog you need to keep up to date with news, trends and what your competitors are doing. This helps you stay on top of your industry and helps you to be a leader in your industry.
- With blogging you can tell your businesses story. You can offer more insight into your business, your philosophy, employees and ideas.
- It is great PR. Journalists will often interview business bloggers as industry experts.
- Allows you to share your experiences and introduce yourself as an expert in your field and perhaps even a thought leader in your sector.
Ways to make money directly from blogging
- Advertise and selling your own products
- You can sell or advertise directly through your business blog and you’ll get paid directly. No need to outsource or get anyone else involved. Make sure to have a polished product before putting it on your blog. Make sure that the blog is correctly targeted for the product.
- Paid for reviews
- You can be compensated for putting a comprehensive review on your business blog. Make sure that the review isn’t completely irrelevant to your business.
- Affiliate marketing
- You can sell or recommend connected products on your business blog. You’ll receive a commission when a visitor to your blog clicks on the affiliated link and buys the product.
- Commission is usually 30% – 70% of the product/service price.
- You can earn money by setting up a donation button or asking readers for additional funds. Make sure to tell your readers what you will be spending the donations on for example: Product creation, researching costs.
- Selling advertising space
- You sell the space around your business blog at a certain price every month. The price will depend on the amount of traffic your blog gets and you will get paid upfront every month
1. Choosing your platform
- Which platform is the most popular?
- WordPress is home to over 72 million bloggers
- It doesn’t require HTML or code knowledge
- It offers a choice of 3000+ free themes and templates
- Offers a host of 1000’s of plugins which can add different features such as newsletters or photo galleries
- With so many people using it, there is a vast community who will assist you if you get stuck.
- Why free blogging platforms are traps
- They control your content
- They can shut you down
- They can prevent you from making money for any reason they decide
- With a blog in your own domain you are in charge of the content, you are not limited by branding or monetization
- Because the software is open source, free blogging platforms are vulnerable to being hacked
- WordPress is home to over 72 million bloggers
2. Creating a name for your blog
The web address is called a domain name. This is where your blog will be found. Choose a name which is:
- If you choose a made-up name, something that is difficult to spell or is too complicated, it won’t stay with your potential customers. Choose a name that is:
- Catchy and memorable – if you can’t remember it how will your customers?
- Easy to pronounce
- Easy to spell
- Isn’t similar to your competitors domain names
- Doesn’t violate some else’s trademark
- Out of the ordinary
- Your name needs to reflect who you are and what is important to you.
- Be creative, your name should excite you
- Avoid using domain extensions like “.rocks” or “.biz” because they are less well known and will not inspire trust. Rather stick with the well-known options like “co.za”, “.com”, “.org” or “.net”.
- If you choose a made-up name, something that is difficult to spell or is too complicated, it won’t stay with your potential customers. Choose a name that is:
3. Hosting your blog
- Requirements for a good host are:
- Support: Help options in understandable English. With various contact techniques like chatting, email or phone
- User-friendly control options: Beginner orientated way to manage your blog
- Consistent Uptime: Your site should be consistently up for 99.9% of the time.
- Reasonably priced: Find a balanced host, you don’t need to spend a lot. But cheap isn’t always good.
1) Being inconsistent with your blog posts
- When writing a blog your publishing schedule should be consistent.
- Create an editorial calendar for your blog writing. This will help you stay on track.
- Readers will not continue to visit your blog if they don’t know when you will be publishing a new blog post.
2) Not staying on point
- Your blog posts need to provide value to readers who either are customers or may potentially be customers.
- You need to answer their questions and tell them how you can help them.
3) Weak appearance
- Make sure you have a strong, interesting and creative blog title
- Include good relevant images which will catch your audience’s attention
4) Ignoring comments and questions
- Readers want you to respond to their comments and questions. You need to keep your audience engaged and feeling connected to you and your business.
These blogging tips will help your businesses image and connect you to more potential customers which will essentially mean you will make money online. You can also use the direct money making techniques to make money blogging.
Social media marketing can result in more customers, more traffic and more conversations about you and your business. These are fun, create ways how to make money blogging.
4 Key Social Media Mistakes You Might Be Making – And How To Avoid Them
Social media can revolutionise your brand presence, or do more harm than good, depending on your strategy and execution.
Whether or not you’ve already embraced social media in your business, the facts can’t be denied. Not only is it the fastest growing global communication medium, but it’s completely revolutionised the way brands and consumers interact.
The problem is that for many businesses — large and small — it remains unchartered territory viewed with uncertainty and even a degree of suspicion.
SMEs in particular seem to struggle with social media. This could be due to a misunderstanding of the role that social media plays in business, underestimating the sheer power of it and not using it effectively as a business tool.
Here are four common mistakes many SME social media pages display and some of the solutions you can implement to overcome these shortfalls. Why should you care? Because social media is a relatively inexpensive way to really boost your brand presence — if it’s used effectively.
Let’s get started.
According to www.imagibrand.com:
“Social media marketing done the right way requires skilled talent. Your brand should never hand its social marketing over to an inexperienced marketer or marketing team without making sure there exist true capabilities and talent to develop, design, produce and execute the volume of creative needed to have successful social channels.”
1. Misconception and misuse of social media
The problem: Social media is often (and incorrectly) perceived as a ‘nice-to-have’ but unnecessary by many SMEs. I’ve met many business owners who are sceptical about social media and its place in the business environment. Sometimes, the only reason that the brand even has a social media presence is because its competitors do.
Social media is also typically viewed as a platform for brand-centred content. Some use it purely for hard-sell advertising posts, while others use it as an online company bulletin board. Both are completely ineffective ways to use social media.
Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing
Why you should care: A lack of understanding often leads to misuse, and this is particularly true of social media. A vicious cycle results: Social media is already viewed as a waste of resources, but it’s still used (incorrectly) to push sales or publish fluffy content. These strategies (or lack thereof) do little to promote business goals, strengthening the view that social media has no place in business. An example of a self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there was one.
Worse still is the misconception that your social media pages are there to solely promote brand objectives. This could cause serious brand damage as social media users expect, no, demand, attention and value from brands. Failure to meet such needs risks losing current and potential clients that perceive the brand as being ‘self-centred’.
What you should be doing: Social media is a powerful business tool and should be treated as such. It has the capability to serve as an integral component of your organisation, and as a key catalyst for growth. For SMEs, social media holds incredible value, including the options of extensive audience reach, detailed consumer targeting and sales generation. Effective, well-strategised use of social media is the path to achieving these tangible returns.
From a content perspective, the main point to remember is this: It’s not about you. Unless you’re Kim Kardashian, nobody cares.
Social media is all about the user experience. When creating a post, view it from an audience perspective to ensure it has user-value of some sort. Ask yourself these questions: Is it informative? Is it interesting? Is it useful? Is it entertaining? If you can’t answer yes to at least one or two of these questions, don’t post it. Research your audience and craft posts that they are likely to engage with (i.e. like, comment and share).
According to dreamgrow.com, 46% of users will stop following a brand’s social media platforms for sharing too much promotional content.
2. Assigning management of platforms to junior and/or untrained staff
The problem: Most SMEs view social media management as a non-essential, non-priority task. The general practice seems to be assigning this role to junior and/or untrained staff, such as interns, receptionists or any employee that happens to be available.
Why you should care: Consider this. A social media page is potentially the single most impactful touchpoint for a brand, making it a highly critical, powerful and very public portal. And then consider that many SMEs assign complete management and control of this critical contact point to junior or untrained staff. Can you spot the reason for concern?
Not only does this open you up to risk ranging from an undesirable public reaction to an unsuitable post or response, but in serious cases, could also result in legal action.
Aside from such drastic situations, poorly or inadequately managed social media pages generally lead to a negative consumer perception of the brand as a whole.
What you should be doing: Treat the position of social media manager the same as any other role: Assign it to an individual with the required knowledge and experience. As most SMEs are unlikely to already have a social media expert within their team, this could mean recruiting a new employee or agency.
While this sounds like an awesome solution, it may not be practical for SMEs with budget restrictions. In this case, consider ways to use current resources. For example, get managers of different departments to provide input and suggestions for content, as well as approve relevant posts. If possible, assign non-critical tasks to junior staff as a means to free up time that senior staff can then dedicate to social media.
3. Not using paid advertising
The problem: SMEs often allocate little or no financial resources to their social media activities, such as Facebook paid ads. Instead, they rely on organic reach or inbound audiences.
Why you should care: For someone to see an unpaid post, they would need to actively search for your page themselves. This is the equivalent of leaving a stack of printed flyers on a table in a corner and hoping that people would stumble across it.
The recent Facebook Feed change further necessitates the need for paid advertising — the new algorithm restricts the organic reach of business pages. This means that the only way to get any real exposure is through paid promotion.
What you should be doing: Paid advertising means that you actively distribute your message to consumers. Your content appears directly in users’ content feed — they are exposed to your message even if they have never heard of your brand. What’s better, targeting means that you can restrict this to your desired demographic — it’s like handing out those above-mentioned flyers to a room full of people who have already indicated interest in your product or service offering. The result? High conversion potential and little to no wastage on irrelevant market segments.
(At this point, you may be shouting that you don’t have money for paid advertising. But keep calm and read on.)
Social media advertising is highly affordable. For example, Facebook promotions start from as little as R100 a post. Even though realistically you would need to invest a bit more to get decent results, the point is that it’s accessible even on a shoestring budget. Important: Read up on the dos and don’ts when attempting paid advertising for the first time (especially regarding setting spend limits).
4. No structured social media strategy
The problem: The vast majority of SMEs have a social media presence that lacks any sort of structured strategy. This is evidenced by a number of factors, including erratic frequency of posting, unclear purpose of posts, and even content that holds little relevance for a brand.
Why you should care: Without a planned strategy, your social media activities lack purpose. Any business task that serves no clear function or purpose is a waste of resources. It’s no wonder that decision-makers are reluctant to invest in social media as a result.
“Almost 90% of marketers say their social marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business, and 75% say they’ve increased traffic.” — www.smallbiztrends.com
What you should be doing: Rather than being an isolated function, social media activities have to form part of an integrated strategy linked to core brand objectives. The starting point is to identify priorities across your entire organisation, and then list key focus points. For example, if you have a current promotion, you can drive sales by targeting consumers through a paid social media ad. If you are looking to grow brand awareness, you can create user-centric content crafted for high reach and engagement. If your current focus is on product development, send out a poll to gain insight into consumer preferences.
Once planned, content then has to be crafted and scheduled to form a well-balanced strategy. This then needs to be tactically executed accordingly, incorporating a budget for social media ad spend to realise tangible results.
A result-driven strategy means that you can now measure return on investment. This includes social media generated stats (such as engagement rates and brand reach), as well as business data (such as sales volumes or leads). And once the numbers are out, my prediction is that decision-makers will become much more willing to allocate resources towards social media activities.
Local SEO Is A Digital Marketing Tool That Most South African Businesses STILL Aren’t Using
You’ve has been using Search Engine Optimisation for a while now. But what about Local SEO? Make sure you go above and beyond when listing your business.
If you’re running a business in the 21st century, you’re at an advantage. There’s never been more information freely available to your audience that’s working 24/7 to ensure that your business becomes successful, and nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to your marketing efforts.
The average South African business owner has a keen grasp of the power of marketing and leveraging a business brand in an advantageous way. Despite this, too many still stick to the same old means of online promotion (SEO which is frustrating in a competitive industry and AdWords which is expensive in almost every industry), with many valuable tools getting left behind in the process.
Canvas any number of digital marketers in South Africa, and you’ll find that many of their clients seem to stick to these more popular digital marketing efforts (SEO and Adwords), leaving otherwise fruitful options on the shelf gathering cob webs.
One of these incredibly effective and yet sinfully under-utilised digital marketing tools is Local SEO.
Just because it’s obvious, doesn’t mean everyone’s doing it…
Consider the following statistics:
- According to Google, a third of all online searches are location related.
- Over two thirds of people conducting searches on their smartphones prefer businesses that offer location customised information.
- While searches using terms like ‘closest’ and ‘nearby’ have dropped, searches using terms such as ‘near me’ have increased.
- The majority of people who conduct a local online search end up visiting a retailer within 8 kms of their location.
This tells us that while customers still want to experience a product in person before buying it, being able to locate the closest retailer and get their contact details and address online is critical. We can also see that customers now expect search engines to automatically use their geographic locations to provide them with relevant information, without them having to volunteer it.
Businesses should be falling over themselves to tell customers who they are, where they are, how they can be contacted and how a customer can get there. All this information (and much) more can be populated in a matter of minutes in a business’s Google My Business Listing.
And yet, the Local Search Association, tells us that 56% of businesses have yet to claim their Google My Business Listing.
A wasted opportunity indeed.
Tips for a better than average Google My Listing profile
Claiming your Google My Business Listing is pretty simple. It costs nothing, and you don’t even need to have a brick and mortal storefront to get it. Using a Google account, you can have yours set up and verified in two simple steps. The trick is not to stop at just the information required and instead to include over and above what’s being asked for. This could include the following:
- Asking your loyal customers for reviews. This will generate an average rating out of 5 that appears on your listing. Make sure that any less than stellar review is attended to and not ignored, as you’ll be judged on how you respond to these as well.
- Claim your map listing: Ensure your location information is accurate and that your map listing brings customers directly to your doorstep.
- Track and tag your location information. This will involve specialised SEO expertise, as it allows you to see what traffic is coming from map listings and searches as opposed to organically.
- Make it easy to make contact: Make it as simple as pushing a button for a customer to get in touch with you. Show them exactly what they should do to take the next step with your business without any confusion or ambiguity.
- Upload the right photos: Uploading a photo of your business logo is great. What’s better is including images of your product and service in use.
- Create a mobile only website: As mentioned earlier, many customers are going to be encountering your business for the first time on a smartphone-sized screen. Will your website load quickly if they click through to it? Ensure that you have one that’s easy to navigate, read and act on.
Finally, and most importantly, be prepared to actually convert any customer that ends up on your website into a sale. This means answering every call and email and chasing up leads. Be prepared to answer their questions to help them make a purchase and if they aren’t ready to make one yet, ask them if you can email them about future offers and promotions.
Within a few months you’ll be kicking yourself for not paying attention to your Local SEO sooner.
Putting The Brakes On Insta-Fakes
A huge following means nothing where there is no trust.
Is it possible to buy friends? In the realm of influencer marketing, some brands seem to think it is. Let’s call a spade a spade: paid-for likes and shares create what is essentially a fraudulent illusion of high product endorsement.
“Sponsored” tags embedded deep within posts’ comments sections are inevitable. And because higher following means more attention, everybody feels the pressure to keep up. However, once an influencer is exposed as excessively using bots to generate traffic, they are black-listed. So it’s a catch 22 for brands who lack true grit. Most importantly, consumers value brand authenticity. A huge following means nothing where there is no trust.
Keeping it real is the new deal
Brands may find themselves treading a fine line, because influencer marketing has gone mainstream and is highly lucrative, bringing in almost $2 billion revenue in 2016, often delivering an 11x higher ROI. Of course, paid endorsements are almost old school now; they are common practice, and marketers have come to depend on this tactic.
32% of marketers say they cannot live without them. Nevertheless, there needs to be a balance between showcasing high-end popularity, but also communicating brand experience from everyday people. Relatable feedback builds connections between consumers and brands. Trust in a brand is invaluable in the long term.
Living the dream?
With great power comes great responsibility. If you could buy likes and followers at a vending machine, would you? Well now you can, in Moscow, via credit card none the less. This seems a far cry from the good old days of word of mouth brand recommendation. What happened to an endorser epitomising what the brand stands for, having actual connections to and experience of the brand? Consumers want true stories, relatability, and can tell the difference between what’s hot and what’s “bot”.
New measures are being taken in an attempt to weed out fake media frenzies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent “reminder letters” to some major influencers due to inadequate disclosure of bought advertising. The FTC now requires that more restrictive guidelines be followed, including disclosure in the first three lines of text of a post. Sanctions of up to 20 years have been imposed for inadequate disclosure.
One suggestion is to shift the focus to incentives for disclosing paid-for sponsorship; for example, boosting posts that make disclosure. Instagram is moving towards a standardised disclosure process. Posts may soon include a tag disclosing paid partnership which also allows partners to view data relating to engagement.
Bot spotting is easy for the savvy consumer. Extreme peaks and lows in comments and engagement disproportionate to the number of followers per user generally indicate misleading marketing ploys.
Instagram has unfortunately created the perfect environment for “pod problem”. Some influencers use Instagram’s algorithm to increase their visibility in Instagram’s Explore tab. This is done by joining with other influencers in a mutually beneficial relationship to make daily comments on each other’s posts. This increases engagement numbers and visibility. False brand competition and, ultimately, a disconnect between brand and target market are the undesirable results.
Related: The Launch Of Instagram TV
The most vital element in the brand-consumer relationship is authenticity. This is not a new concept, but it is refreshing to step back and recognise what matters. Brands with foresight see further than likes and shares. People want integrity and ethics from brands that are relatable to real lifestyles and needs. Quality brands will generate engagement because of what they stand for, without the need for grandstanding.
All we can hope is that with any new trend, the kinks get ironed out and these #ad posts get less #annoying and more #authentic.
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