Any business, especially a start-up, needs a web presence today. This includes a website or, at the very least, a listing on the Google directory so people can find you. One of the easiest ways to go about engaging with customers and potential customers on the web is to have a business blog. They do not work for everybody and for small traders in particular, there are pros and cons for having a blog at all.
Pro: It’s Easy To Do
It is the easiest and most effective ways of engaging with your customers. When you use WordPress, Blogger or one of the other ready-made sites, you will have a website within minutes. You can customise them with relevant pages and content and have a professional looking site without too much web know how. HTML is helpful but not vital and you will learn as you go, picking up tips to tweak your site from others in the community. Before you know it, you will be a confident blog veteran.
Pro: Cheap! In Some Cases, Free
The easy to use and easy to set up blog hosts mentioned above are often free of charge, providing you with a marketing tool at no cost. Of course, many will offer premium services that you may wish to consider investing in later. For the time being though, you can put the word out about your business at no cost – and marketing is one of the biggest costs for any business.
Pro: Putting a Human Face on Your Business
The human face is vital for any business – no matter its size – but vital for your outreach as a start-up business. When you discuss your work, your experiences and make it personal, people will respond. You will get subscribers and commenters. All of this will be encouraging to your business and could lead to potential engagements, depending on your business type.
Con: You Need to Update Regularly
In order to be effective, your blog needs regular updates. At the beginning, you have very little content and it may take months before you register your first follower, let alone have any impact on the search engines. As a sole trader, you may not be able to spare the time to keep on top of the blog as you might like or need. Also, search engines penalise sites that have not been updated in a while.
Con: There are No Guarantees
You could receive thousands of hits every day but are they useful hits? The blogging community is largely a hobbyist one. Your web searches may be looking for something specific and then disappear, never to visit your site again. Bigger businesses can afford this investment as they have the resources to cast their nets wide. As a small trader, you only have so much time and money to invest in a blog that may not be able to justify the outlay for few returns in the long-term.
Con: It Can Distract You From the Important Things
The internet is like a vortex. Armed with the mistaken belief that more hits will lead to more sales, it can be relatively easy to focus more on your blog. You may find that you can’t help but chase ever increasing hits, rather than using other marketing methods. As a small business, you have limited time and resources. In your line of work and with your business size, there are more effective and less time-consuming methods of outreach.
You have to weigh up the relative pros and cons of the type of work that you do in deciding whether to start a business blog. In some cases, a blog will be an asset; in others, it will be a distraction. It all depends on your confidence as a small business on your ability to build up a relevant audience. Ask yourself “Is your audience, or potential audience, likely to include potential customers?” and you will have your answer.