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How a Blog Can Help Grow Your Offline Business

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.

Until now.

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.

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Comments

  1. Hi Gordon,
    When earning money through blogging we need to be more flexible and persistent daily in order to get to our goals. It happens eventually as long as you stick to it.

    I agree that it is crucial to get in front of the eyes of the people that need our product or services, this is definitely the tricky part in the beginning.

    Blogging has helped me to connect with thousands of like minded people that I otherwise would never had come in contact with.

    • At the end of the day it’s all about creating a community and establishing trust and blogs are an excellent way to do this. For me, although I’ve never ‘sold’ anything through my blogs, it’s still benefited my life is so many other tangible ways.

  2. Gordon,

    Thanks for sharing your story to prove that blog is a powerful tool to do enormous things.

    Important point to understand here is that no tool regardless of their price can do any good for you, it all depends how do you use that tool to achieve success.

  3. Freddy says:

    The important thing is to have the mindset and the patience to get what you want.

  4. Hina Naz says:

    Indeed, a most powerful tool to grow the offline business is best experience and commitment but i really like to praise this article which you defined in a very well way to check out all the leakages and drops that we do normally at the time of devising strategy.

    Thanks for sharing and good luck for your success..

    Regards,
    @Nazhina

  5. Nico says:

    Hi Gordon
    I had the same experience, blogging boosted my sales. As a starter it wasn’t easy to find clients. But after my blog become more and more popular, potential clients started to contact me. Blogging really works!

    • Great to hear you’ve had success from it too, Nico. I think that as technology evolving, it doesn’t matter how or where you find people to conduct business with, instead all that matters is that they’re the right people for the job!

  6. Daniel says:

    It make sense, Gordon.

    If a person has an offline business, having a Blog(site) to promote the businesses products and services, over the net, could only be beneficial.

    The amount of exposure and free advertising(Okay, you probably have to pay somewhere down the line) would be substantial.

  7. Guy Lawrence says:

    Hey Gordon.. I agree… A blog can certainly help your business offline too for those who wish to do so. The No.1 reason I blog is because I love doing it, but it has certainly helped grow our brand offline as well as on.

    Because of the blog I have found myself doing more and more talks in my field (health & fitness) through corporate HR departments. This is something that has simply evolved from blogging which i’m thoroughly enjoying and probably would not have happened without it…….

  8. Eddie Gear says:

    This is a very interesting post. However, what would you say if my business is my blog.

    • Kalen Smith says:

      He was specifically referring to offline businesses, not blogs. But yeah if your blog is your business you better do it right!

  9. Adam says:

    I liked how you said about dreaming of earning enough money to re locate to the bahamas haha, I too had that pipe dream, as a blog on its own I doubt mine would allow that, but like so many other people in my niche I am hopeful that one day I can use my blog as a platform to project myself into mainstream comedy media, I plan to release a book and who knows maybe my own show! keep it up and well done for succeeding….maybe now ou can at least afford a holiday to the bahamas…..and not have a crabby boss breathing down your neck about targets and accountabilities……sigh

  10. Jack00 says:

    i have no idea about that. i love blogging as amateur blogger. writting my daily activities. i doubt about that because i dont no anything about blogging. just tried 30 days building blog tips by darren rows.
    i save this article for next 3 or 4 months. nice post.

  11. I’ve always contended that a blog is the centerpiece of any small business. It’s the hub of your social media activities. Your content is distributed widely and it is your “home base” where people come to learn more about you and your business. Some people do very well selling directly from their blogs. But I’m glad you pointed out that blogs can also serve as a portfolio of your work and lead to offline business.

    Nowadays, potential clients want to learn more about the companies they buy from. They may browse your LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter accounts. But that’s not the complete and true picture. If they are truly interested in doing business with you, they want to visit YOUR social media base, and not only your presence on other networks. And that’s your blog where you have the opportunity to define your brand and how it will benefit them to do business with you.

    • “It’s the hub of your social media activities.”

      Couldn’t agree more and, unfortunately, I think it’s something that people overlook and underrate. Being able to give voice to your passion and opinion is incredibly important in building up trust and reputation.

  12. Marcie says:

    This is great to know because I was beginning to wonder if I was blogging to myself by myself. My readership has grown over the past few months, but still, I was a little concerned. Your story helped to ease my concerns. Thanks much.

  13. Kalen Smith says:

    I agree about the value of blogs in general, but have to disagree that it’s better than any networking event. They both have advantages and disadvantages. Networking events are great for making face-to-face connections. People can’t ignore you as easily and can trust you much more when they see you in person. They also can connect with you on a much more personal level.

    Frankly, maybe the reason you found networking events to be a waste of time was because you are someone who is more adapt at dealing with people online. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but other people may thrive in an offline networking environment. I think people need to generate business however best works for them. You mention the tirelessness of putting on corporate facade, but some people live for that kind of thing. Also, not all networking events are so stuffy. I’ve been to plenty that were much more laid back.

    That being said, I feel that blogs can provide more value than any one-time networking event, because they are a long-term marketing tool. Either way, you have to work on them consistently to get results.

    • “Frankly, maybe the reason you found networking events to be a waste of time was because you are someone who is more adapt at dealing with people online.”

      Quite possibly, yeah. I do find networking events a bit heavy going because I’m not a particularly gregarious or outgoing person although it does depend on the event. At the end of the day, it’s all about building relationships with people, regardless of the medium!

  14. Si Kasep says:

    Hi Gordon..

    I agree with you with this explanation and I kind of admire about you that you took the risk left your job and replaced with something that you really like ans you’re passionate about. It’s has happened to me too in last year, that I had left my job in Bank to be a full Blogger, that something I really want to achieve all I wants.. and it worked.

  15. lex says:

    wow, I will never look at blogging the same way again.

  16. I love this post. I am convinced that all businesses need to use blogging as one of their marketing strategies. With open access and the number of freelance copywriters there are, there is no reason, other than ignorance, to justify why any business does not have a presence on the web. Blogging alone cannot support most off-line bussinesses. However, it is a vital addition to any marketing plan. People may not buy things directly on-line but more and more they do research on-line before they drive to the store to purchase.

    There are hundreds of ways to market a business. As a sales manager in the insurance industry I would coach rookies to master 5. Back then, blogging was not a viable option. It just took too long. Today there are enough tools to make it quick and easy. In my opinion, every small business owner needs to have blogging as one of their 5 marketing outreaches.

    I would love to share this article with business owners who are not using the web but do not know how to make them sit down and read it. They are too busy getting ready to go to mixers and writing newspaper ads,

  17. Nick says:

    I wonder if you have as much interest in your company blog. I’m having trouble garnering much attention with mine and I have a hunch that it’s becuase most people don’t enjoy reading about insurance.

    • Yeah, something like insurance maybe isn’t the best topic. Do you have any hobbies you enjoy doing? Maybe that would be a better space to blog in… after all, even people who play golf still need insurance ;)

  18. As a web consultant, I recommend to everyone of my offline customers to use blogging to a certain degree.

    I recommend smaller companies to invest in a blog that is updated about twice a month keeping customers in the loop about products / sevices, promotions and events.

    For bigger companies, a more frequent post schedule, and some guest posting to get their name out there.

  19. Raj Mehta says:

    Blog can also grow an offline business

    nice article

    :)

  20. Josh Jones says:

    Great story! I hope that I can achieve a similar goal.

    I have the blog and I have the company, just need more traffic and leads. Baby steps! :)

  21. Mark Aylward says:

    Sometimes all it takes is to keep going while most everyone else just gives up. Good story and congratulations
    Mark

  22. Jeanne Marie says:

    Love this. You have an enormous network because of your blog. Then you started a business and your community turned into leads. Better than a LinkedIn recommendation. Show up, show passion, show integrity and people will think of you when they need the service you provide. Great thought-provoking post.