This guest post was written by Gordon McLachlan of 8 Gram Gorilla.
I’ve been both an avid blogger and a huge advocate for blogging for many years now. But until recently I’ve never had any personal “success” to be able to back up my claims that blogging isn’t just an excellent pastime, it’s also a tremendously useful business resource.
Sure, it’s easy to point people to the likes of ProBlogger as a testament to the power of blogging when answering the question “why have a blog?” but I’ve always struggled to relate any major achievements of my own as further proof to my assertions.
How my blog helped my offline business grow
It all began three years ago when I first started blogging in earnest and opened the doors to an online gaming blog (think World of Warcraft et al), the subject matter being a hobby of mine that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed for many years.
I guess, if I’m being truly honest, I did have a little thought/hope/dream in the back of my mind that one day I might “make it” as a blogger and become so popular and make so much money through advertising that I could relocate to the Bahamas and live out the rest of my life sipping Mai Tais whilst blogging from a laptop on the beach. Of course, that never happened.
I wasn’t particularly cut up about that, though, because I was primarily blogging for the simple reason that I enjoyed it so much. Plus, within a year or two, I’d managed to establish myself as one of the more popular blogs in my niche with a loyal readership and tens of thousands of visits a month.
I was content and never thought my blog would help me in any other way.
Then something magical happened.
Five months ago, I took the biggest risk of my life and left my job with a company I’d been with for over six years. I started up my own business, a web agency, with two other very talented individuals. The web has always been my passion and not only did my new colleagues and I want to make a living running our own design and development company, we also knew that we wanted to engage with the Internet through all available means.
Taking a punt, I wrote up a post on my gaming blog advertising my new company site and new company blog, 8 Gram Gorilla, hoping that we might be able to pass through some link juice and garner a little bit of interest from my gaming readership.
The response was overwhelming.
Securing international business
Within a few days of my blog post, we’d received emails from readers about job opportunities, some national, here in the UK, and some international. These people had looked at our company blog, our company website, and our portfolio of work, and decided that we, as a business, were worth investigating.
Long story short, through contact stemming directly from my gaming blog, we were able to secure international work that, as a result, has helped us survive and thrive—no mean feat given how tough it is for new businesses to establish themselves in the current economic climate.
I think it’s important to stress here that we didn’t have people just phoning us up and offering us guaranteed jobs or easy money—we still had to pitch for the work and go through the usual hoops of tendering and proving ourselves to be the right people for the job. In fact, not every lead even converted into a project. But that’s not the point.
The point is, just like any form of networking and relationship building, it’s about getting in front of people who might actually have a need for your service, and who respect and trust you enough to give you a shot at going up for it.
At the end of the day, we only won the work we got because we were the right people for the job. What my blog did give us, though, were some amazing leads and the ability to pitch for work that we would never have known about otherwise. And that’s been truly invaluable.
Better than any networking event
I’ve attended a lot of local networking events and I can tell you that most of them are a waste of time. Aside from the fact that they’re usually filled with people all trying to sell their own wares and services to each other and not actually buy anything, they don’t tend to offer enough time to really get to know anyone properly. And that’s why blogs are so beautiful.
Over the two and a bit years my blog had been running, I’d written several hundred posts on, mainly, my views of gaming, but also about my personal experiences at home, details about my wife and family, and other bits about my life, like my reading interests and holiday activities.
All this information helped cement a relationship of trust and friendship with my readers. They felt like they knew me enough, and perhaps more importantly, liked me enough, to give me a chance when I started my own business.
Funnily enough, this intimate connection has also made the business relationship with any readers easier and more relaxed than any other because, after all, it’s hard to maintain a stern, impersonal corporate facade when someone’s seen your embarrassing holiday photos. I can be completely natural with them because I know that they’ve already read hundreds of hours of my thoughts, moans, and opinions, leaving me nowhere to hide—even if I wanted to.
And all of this is why a blog, any blog, can help benefit your offline business. It allows you to make connections with thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people from all across the world whilst constantly establishing a relationship of trust, authority, and kinship.
It doesn’t even matter what your blog is about, because your readers will ultimately share your passion for the same subject and, importantly, over the course of time, they’ll come to relate with you more and more.
The moral of the story
You don’t need a blog that makes money itself by selling products or generating huge ad revenue to reap the real, tangible life-changing benefits of having one.
Just writing about what you love, regardless of what it is, is enough. People respect passion and admire talent, and sometimes, just using a blog as a vehicle to establish trust and connect with others is enough.
Indeed, one of the best things a blog can do for you is introduce you to thousands of people who share your interests and hobbies and, just like networking in the “real world,” maybe one day one of those people will need the services your offline business has to offer.
After all, you never know who might be reading.
This post was written by Gordon McLachlan, one of the founders of Primate, a digital agency driven by an overwhelming passion for the web industry. In addition to having a slightly unsettling love for monkeys he also co-authors their rather witty blog, 8 Gram Gorilla.