Small biz blogging: why, how, when, where

Yesterday I met Joe Laudenbach, a Bellingham, WA realtor who is wondering how blogging might be something he could use in his business. As I prepped for the meeting, I jotted down some thoughts on how blogging will fit into his business.

Note: my goal was not to get him blogging, but to give him information that will help him make an informed decision whether or not he wants to start.

Why to blog

  1. Better SEO
    Because blogs are more frequently updated, they’re a major benefit to your site’s search engine optimization … the factors that help you rank higher in search engine results pages. 
  2. More interesting site
    A blog is usually much more interesting than a website … it’s not corporate, it delivers content in quick hits, it’s more accessible … 
  3. More human face to potential clients
    Building on the “not corporate” theme, a blog is where your personality comes through – which is attractive (unless you’re Attila the Hun) 
  4. Learn and develop more as a person and as a realtor
    I learn more from blogging than just about anything else. Simply the process of thinking and writing and writing and listening and linking makes me much more consciously aware of trends and opportunities. The same is true for realtors or virtually any occupation, I believe. 
  5. Creative outlet
    People who blog regularly come to love blogging as a creative outlet. And I don’t believe there’s a single person alive who isn’t creative to some degree, in some way. Feeding this impulse has personal and professional benefits. 
  6. Contacts, conversations, communication
    Through blogging I’ve had email contact with Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, and many other major, well-known technology, business, and marketing leaders. They’ve made me smarter. Plus, I’ve had many more contacts with many more people who aren’t so well known … and that’s had even greater benefits. The same can be true for real estate agents or any professional/business people. Jobs, work contacts, and just plain interesting people: blogging can bring all that. It has for me.

Why not to blog

  1. If you can’t write
    Don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to be Hemmingway. But if you absolutely cannot string 2 words together intelligibly, forget it. Find some other way to engage your clients. 
  2. If you won’t keep it up
    Don’t start if you won’t keep it up. Few things are more pathetic than an orphaned blog. However, don’t get too worried, either. One post a week is not ideal, but it’s perfectly fine for many, many professionals. 
  3. If you’re just marketing yourself
    If your blog is only going to be about how your company and you are incredibly, stunningly great (not to mention handsome and wealthy) forget it. No-one’s going to read it – one Paris Hilton is enough, thank you very much. 
  4. If you’re looking for a quick fix marketing hit
    Blogging isn’t a quick fix solution. It’s about telling stories and developing relationships, and those don’t form overnight. Even the blogosphere success stories such as Thomas Mahon blogged for months and months without seeing major results. The good news: all your work is always paying dividends. Old blog posts never die, they just keep attracting hits. 
  5. If you’re not comfortable being authentic, real, and non-corporate
    Don’t be a stuffed shirt – let your hair down and be real. If you can’t tolerate the slightest mistake, if you can’t speak with anything other than the traditional marcom voice: forget it. It’s boring. It’s just advertising … and people are more adblind now than they’ve ever been.

What to blog about
Note: these are tailored for Joe, who’s a real estate agent. But they’re adaptable to different situations.

  1. Why people move to Bellingham/Whatcom county
    There’s probably 10 or 15 blog posts right here … as many as there are reasons. 
  2. What areas are great for kids|seniors|adults
    Another 5-7 posts … 
  3. Things to do in Bellingham
  4. Seasonal events
    If you do to a harvest festival, blog it. Christmas candlelight parade? Blog it. 
  5. House-hunting tips
    Keep it to one tip per blog posts … there’s probably an indefinite number of tips here. Organize them in a category so that visitors can see them all. 
  6. Top ten house-hunting gotchas
    I know I’d love to know what to watch out for when moving … and I’m probably searching for this type of information when I’m about to move, too. 
  7. Things you realize AFTER you move in
    Wouldn’t we all like to have known this – about a month before moving in. 
  8. Stressless moving

How to blog

  1. Intentional keywords
    Be intentional about the keywords you use. Know what people will be searching for when they’re looking to find a home in Whatcom County, WA. Niche it out to the max if you want to rank in search engines, and make sure you use those keywords in titles and posts. 
  2. Regularly (at least once a week)
    As mentioned above, don’t make an orphan out of your blog. 
  3. Naturally
    When you’re blogging, you’re a person. Not a company. Talk to people who are also persons as you would talk to someone on the street. Anything else is disrespectful, stuffy, and annoying. 
  4. Interview people
    Interview key people in your community. This is a great way to expand your circle of contacts, blog about interesting valuable topics, and grow your readership. 
  5. Talk to clients
    Clients will give you all the blog fodder you need, if you just ask.

Other things to consider

  1. Other social media
    Over time, as you become established in your blog and comfortable with the technology, why not explore other forms of social media? Upload a house video or a neighborhood drive-through to YouTube. Then post it to your blog. Or … 
  2. Podcasts
    Create a couple of podcasts so that people can hear your voice. This can really give people a sense of who you are and that they know you.

These are a few of the suggestions I had for Joe. I hope that they’re applicable to whatever situations you’re in, whether you’re a small business blogger, a corporate blogger, or a social media consultant. I’d love any feedback you might have, positive or negative.

Questions/opportunties? Looking for help in your social media adventure? Let me know.


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