5.1 Steps to Blogging

Have you seen them?  Are you on their email lists?  Those amazing businesses who send out these incredible looking e-newsletters on a weekly basis, each one leading to yet another fantastic blog post?

Maybe you’re inspired?  Perhaps intimidated?

Remember, we all have to start somewhere! 

You’ve got a to do list that’s really long.  The days fly by.  Things come up.  You dread wrestling with the technology of it all.

Look at the upside.  If you could increase your blog posts your customers will find you more interesting and their loyalty will increase.  You’ll have more content to share on Facebook and Twitter.  You’ll run into someone and they’ll comment on how they enjoyed a certain tip you suggested.  You might even get in a routine and enjoy blogging!

Try these steps to get started!

#1 Start a blog idea file.Tip 1 Start a Blog File

Perhaps it’s a file folder stuffed with pages – like mine in this photograph.

Maybe it’s a page on your fridge you write ideas on.  Or it’s a small notebook you carry with you.  Start it right now.  Decided on a spot and put something there to indicated it is your blog idea file.  Great!

#2 Brainstorm topics.

Review this blog post on topic ideas.  Take 30 minutes (time yourself) and wander the Internet to see what others are writing.

Write each idea on a separate piece of paper if possible.  You’ll want to leave room for any notes to include in each post.

Place all these ideas in your blog idea file.

#3 Just write.

Sit down and start writing or typing.  Often 3 to 4 paragraphs I write will end up in the scrap pile.  That’s ok.  They helped me warm up.  The important thing is to get started!

Aim for 400-600 words for a post.  Use the “Word Count” button in the Review tab of Word to keep track.

Just can’t write that many words?  Take it slow – start with a couple of paragraphs.

Alternately, include mainly images in your post and simply include 1-3 sentences describing each image.

#4 Edit.

Take a look at it on screen for sentence structure and obvious typos.  Print a copy out and make notes on it.  Take the print out to a different location to help you concentrate.  (More proofreading tips here.)

In addition to looking for basic errors, consider the flow of the post.  Move what you consider to be the most interesting point to the top.  (You will want to try and grab the readers’ attention with it.)

If possible, have someone else read it over.

#5 Get it out there.

Once you are reasonably happy with it, get it posted on your website.  Talk about it and provide links to it from your social media accounts.  Send out an e-newsletter that includes the start of the article and then a link back to your website. Or it could be the entire article if it’s short.

If you have a hard time wrestling the content out into the online world, consider finding and/or hiring someone to help you with this.

#5.1 Avoid perfection.

It’s much better to add a short post every 2 weeks than it is to post an 800 word essay every 3 months.  Quality is important but so is keeping in touch.

Give yourself credit for what you are able to accomplish.  Keep in mind that many of those other businesses with weekly posts have teams of people working with them to make that happen.

Is there a certain aspect of blogging that you have difficulty with?  Drop me a line to let me know, and I’ll aim to tackle it in an upcoming post!  You can reach me at susan@milkweedmarketing.com.

 

7 Blog Ideas for Green Businesses

Stuck on what to write about next for your blog?  Consider these questions and let the ideas flow!

 

1 – Why do you do what you do?iStock_000005164183XSmall yg woman chalkboard light bulb

Did you experience an illness or health concern that got you started?  Was there a specific childhood experience or tradition that you loved?  Be personal, but then expand on how individuals can take their own personal experiences and grow from them.  Look for statistics and facts related to your experience to include in your blog.  For example, ‘A Gluten Free Diet Is Not The End Of The World’ or ‘Teaching Your Children To Love The Outdoors.’

2 – How did you get started?  What was your personal journey like?

As it relates to your product or service, provide basic step by step suggestions on how individuals can get started.  Use your personal experience as a starting point and then translate this into how this experience could help others.  Perhaps it’s ‘5 Tips For Eating More Greens’, or ‘7 Steps to Healthier Lunches’, or ’10 Easy Games to Play Outdoors’.

3 – What questions do you always get from friends/family and customers?

Sit down and think about what questions you get asked the most.  Talk to a friend or family member who is not as familiar with what you do and find out what information they find most interesting.  When you are selling to customers keep a clipboard and record any questions asked.  Answer these questions in your blog.  If possible dedicate one blog to each question.  Turn the question into a statement to create a title for your blog post.

4 –Have you told your customers about your individual products or services?

Pick one and write about it.  Why do you offer this item?  How do people use it?  What benefits does it offer versus mainstream options?  How long does it last?  What kind of feedback do you get about it?  Be sure to include a photo and avoid being ‘salesy’.  Keep it informational with a touch of promotion.

5 – How does your product or service fit in with an upcoming event or season?

For example, consider holidays – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, etc.  Or consider the seasons – Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter.  Would your product or service make a perfect gift at one of these times?  What kind of production activities do you take throughout the year and which ones are impacted by the seasons?

6 – What facts or research could you share?

For example, would your followers find information about the Dirty Dozen vegetables helpful?  Do they know about the top chemicals to avoid in personal care products?  If you sell second hand clothes, what are the current fashion trends?  Some of this information can be negative – balance it with positive information or suggestions.  Don’t forget to clearly recognize the source of any statistics or quotes.

7 – Think about your day.  As you go through your day, why do you make the choices you do?

Eg.  If you are a food coach – What do you eat for breakfast and why?    What did you pack in your child’s lunch?  If you sell cloth diapers, did the sunny warm weather this week prompt you to hang diapers outside to dry?  What kind of hanging system do you use, and how long did it take for them to dry?  As with any post, use your personal experience as a starting point to generate ideas and then write the post as it would apply to your followers.

Providing information through a blog helps you share your story and is very educational for your followers.  As your customers increase their knowledge so will their loyalty to your products and services.

Green Business Owners – Tell Your Story!

Are you a passionate, determined individual that has started a business offering a green product or service?

Perhaps you have created a line of toys made from recycled materials, or skincare products without chemicals.  Perhaps you provide permaculture landscape design consultations, or teach canning workshops.

As a green business owner you face unique challenges.  Tell them your story

Your products or services are often higher priced and not always seen as essential.  It may be inconvenient (compared to mainstream options) to locate, purchase and use your products.  For example, you may only sell your produce at the local farmers market once a week in the summer months.  Those who purchase your vegetables need to further prepare them for consumption.

There are many benefits to telling your story.

You build trust.  In providing information in an ongoing, consistent manner about your products and services, customers see your long term commitment to the environment and to your business.

Customers understand your product better.  For example, you could provide information on the ingredients you use and why you chose them, the steps you take to create your product and why you do these steps or how it should be used and its benefits.

Your products and services become essential in the customers mind.  Knowledge is power.  And as you educate customers about what you do and how you do it, they will become more committed to what you offer, and see mainstream options as less appealing.

Customers will become more committed to obtaining your product or service, and will make the necessary adjustments in their life to purchase it.

Consider a mainstream example.

Think of a popular brand name figurine type toy.  Visualize how it looks on the shelf of a big box store.  It likely has bright colourful packaging and the figurines might be posed in some kind of scene.  The figurine is well known – it may have a television show, movie(s) and/or books.

If you were to purchase the toy you may find that although the package took up a lot of space on the shelf, the actual toy and included accessories really aren’t that big.  In this case, the brand name of the toy and the packaging created perceived value to help increase the appeal of this item.

When you tell your story you create perceived value around your products and services.  No longer are you selling JUST ANY OL’ tomatoes, but you are selling heirloom tomatoes with amazing taste!  By purchasing them your customers can help preserve diversity, feel pride in supporting a local farmer and feel comfortable feeding them to their family because of your sustainable or organic practices.

When you communicate your story you are communicating all of the intangible benefits of your product or service.  As customers increase their understanding of these, they begin to understand the overall value of what you offer, and can see beyond the price tag.