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12 Lessons from 4 Inspiring Local Business Blogs

Earlier this week I explained why every business needs a blog. Today I want to show you just how much potential there is for businesses to connect with their customers through a blog.

Spices

Image courtesy stock.xchng user zd

The blogs I’ve chosen here are all for small businesses I know of. I’ve tried to look at local businesses, so most of them are Melbourne-based, though the lessons they teach should be useful for any business thinking of starting a blog.

The bookstore

Readings, a small bookstore chain, has a very frequently updated blog that supports its online store. This makes sense, since new books are always being released, and there’s always something to say about them.

The blog is an important element of this site. Go to the site’s homepage, and it’s all about shopping. But shoppers can buy books online anywhere. As we know all too well here in Australia, price competition on books is a major factor in deciding where to purchase. So Readings augments that offering with personality. As a small book store, they focus on range and catering to the tastes of their specific clientele. Quality reviews are important, as are in-store events and promotions. The blog is an excellent way to support those goals.

Lessons

  1. If your industry is highly competitive, a blog can help communicate your competitive edge to a highly receptive audience.
  2. Take in different aspects of your industry—this interview with a bookseller is a nice way to go “behind the scenes.” It show off the passion that exists in the industry, and inspires a passion in readers, too.
  3. Use posts to subtly inspire readers to purchase. These posts are followed by links to the books by the authors discussed in the posts themselves—a great, logical, unobtrusive tie-in that would certainly boost sales.

The bakery

A cupcake bakery with two outlets, the Cupcake Central blog is interesting in that it’s so light on text.

If you’re not a writer, you could take a leaf or two from this blog. Images play the main role, but as you can see, they also really support the strong branding of the business. This is probably true with a lot of product-related businesses whose physical output is the strongest evidence of their brand.

The blog’s only updated monthly, to focus on recipes, promoting cupcake workshops, and giving attention to seasonal events like Father’s Day. Interestingly, video is also used to supplement the blog content. The posts may be few and far between, but they’re rich with visual interest.

Lessons

  1. Rather than trying to “come up with” content, let seasonal variations and your industry itself guide your posting schedule.
  2. Not a writer? Try video, imagery, or even a podcast.
  3. Let your blog’s design support your branding. Cupcake Central’s logo is echoed in the blog’s post and header design, as well as all the other pages on the site.

The enthusiasts

Probably the least “bloggy” of the blogs we’ll look at in this list is Motorcyclerides, a site that’s been developed specifically to connect enthusiasts—in this case, motorcycle enthusiasts.

It’s not a business blog as such, in that the blog doesn’t support an individual business. But it does support an “industry” of motorbike riders and bike-related businesses. And it’s a really interesting example that many business blogs could learn from.

The blog itself is on the site’s homepage: it’s the list of maps below the header. Each map links to the details of a ride that a motorcyclist can do on their own, or with friends. And each ride (or blog post) is contributed by a rider, rather than made up by the business owners. They’re great rides that actual riders recommend.

This makes the blogging task more about editing and approving content than starting it from scratch‚ and looking at the Suggest a ride form, I wouldn’t expect the site’s owners would need to do too much work to get the content onto the site. Riders can also contribute events to the site.

Lessons

  1. Crowdsource your content to reduce the blogging burden and expand the reach and relevance of your blog.
  2. Find good ways to link provided content that provide the greatest value to users. At the end of each ride listing on this blog, we see links to related businesses, events, and other rides nearby. That’s pretty useful to riders!
  3. Make your blog into a resource for your customers, and they’ll be unable to resist coming back again and again. A great way to build authority in your industry.

The design studio

A small screen printing business in Melbourne, Ink & Spindle runs this blog as part of a larger website.

The site targets “customers”, which in this case means members of the public as well as current and potential stockists of the fabrics that Ink & Spindle make. The blog itself is updated between two and ten times a month, and keeps customers informed of sales and events like open studios. It shows how different designers, customers, and other clients use the studio’s fabrics—which inspires other readers and undoubtedly sparks purchases through the site’s web store.

The blog really helps the studio’s owners promote their brand values: quality, aesthetics, social and environmental awareness, and community involvement. The great thing about this blog is the way it helps the business connect with the people who buy and use its products at a local level.

Lessons

  1. You can easily add a free blog to your existing website, and start blogging for your business in minutes.
  2. If your business’s product or service is visually appealing, use imagery wherever you can.
  3. Bring your customers into the picture with case studies, to inspire others, and reflect your customer focus.

Get inspired about your business blog

As you can see, small businesses in a range of industries and areas are using blogging to promote themselves online. These examples show that you don’t need to be a technical whiz to make this work. You don’t even need a massive online presence.

The main thing you need is a clear understanding of the ways your business meets the needs of customers or clients, and what it means to them. Using that as a foundation upon which to build, you’ll be able to create a strong, unique web presence that builds loyalty and keeps your customers coming back for more.

Are you starting a business blog? Tell us about the challenges you’re facing in the comments.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Ben Troy says:

    Wow, thank you for such an informative post. I own a small business and have been blogging for almost a year on various topics. Your post here has given me some more great ideas to drive more traffic to my blogs

  2. Prime Aque says:

    Hello Sir, this is a very wonderful idea. I agree, local businesses can now promote their services and products through blogging, and you know it will save them cost for advertising. Radio advertising for example is expensive. Through blogging, they can promote all their products and services without limit, and they can have customers’ engagement, giveaways, etc. I am from Davao City, and as what I have observed here, online presence is more and more crucial for businesses. Few of the businesses here have hired IT, web designers to design their own websites, however, upon reading this, blog is much more important. Again, thank so much, your ideas will help me become more creative, and resourceful for my new niche, and this time am serious about it.

  3. Perry says:

    It’s good to see vast venues of blogs. There’s blogs on almost every topic there is. Sharing information has never been easier!

  4. it seems to be very creative information you have given in the article.
    i really enjoyed reading this and gets lo of knowledge about Local business blogs.

  5. That’s really nice one…I am a new blogger and i am following some rules to getting traffic to my blog…..After reading this i need to add some more things with mine….

    At last thanks for a great post…..

  6. Interesting angle on utilisation of a blog for business. Like it Darren!

  7. I’ve been writing for a business blog with a focus on business, and for me coming up with content has been difficult at times. I like the idea about letting whatever’s naturally occurring around us sort of guide the content.

    I also agree that the interview is a good strategy because whomever you interview will also promote the post, if not the blog in general.

    Thanks for the tips!

  8. Rohit says:

    I’m inspired with this post… Thanks for sharing..

  9. Hi,

    Excellent work. It seems that you have given a lot of information from these two blogs. I have been following The bakery from many months and I did not know that.

    Thank you

    Zane

  10. Clare says:

    Thanks for this great post Darren.

    As a lover of cupcakes – I especially like your “Bakery” example.

    I believe every small business should add a blog to their website. It will give them a personality and help them stand out from the crowd. They can use it to connect with their customers instead of being just another “faceless” company.

  11. I love that you touched on crowdsourcing content instead of “coming up” with it. I keep telling myself to do more of that. User driven content creates a bond within the community that is often stronger than anything that comes from corporate. Thanks for the reminder!

  12. Your post here has given me some more great ideas to drive more traffic to my blogs, thanks you for greats informations

  13. Darryl Manco says:

    Could not agree more. I use the blog to communicate many different slants to engage with consumes. The enthusiast written here is our model. Thanks for affirming!

  14. Harshit S. says:

    Great to read a post from you after a fairly long time Darren. I agree with your point of view that every business needs a blog. May be these lessons come handy for me a few years down the line when I jump into some business myself.

  15. Richard says:

    No doubt.Every business needs a blog.Online presence is a must for any business. BTW, great post.

  16. Dion says:

    I like it a lot! The design studio’s lesson really inspired me personally.

    Thanks

  17. Hassaan Khan says:

    Absolutely right. Blog is must for any business. I can’t explain in few lines about this. Its very important. May be, Mr. Darren, you should write some more posts on this topic about convincing some companies who are not closer to social media. How to guide them?

  18. Love the idea of having a link so that people can send topic suggestions. That’s so simple and brilliant.

    Kimberly

  19. Nanang says:

    nice inspiration for me, thanks for sharing this lesson !!!

  20. Wow! I want to let you know, I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks a lot for the informative post.

  21. I like your post so much. It is inspirational. Thanks for the good inscribe.

  22. Reed Nixon says:

    Wow! I like the motivation.

  23. Santanu says:

    Very interesting facts for me atleast….looking forward to learn lot more form you…

  24. Luke says:

    Your ideas really inspiring me, not just a theory but a practicle solution for my business..

  25. The type of business depends on the market and if supply meets demand and vice versa. Some products and services are constant in the market since their consumption is more of basic, e.g. cereals.

  26. piyush says:

    Absolutely right. Blog is must for any business. I can’t explain in few lines about this. Its very important. May be, Mr. Darren, you should write some more posts on this topic about convincing some companies who are not closer to social media. How to guide them?

  27. No substitution for having a blog.

    Some people haven’t realized this yet and are spending their time blogging for free on using social media websites this in the end can be disappointing.

    What do you find in common with all examples?

    seems like its responsiveness to their audience.

  28. Asma says:

    Thanks for this post Darren!
    I am a new business blogger and find it hard to post weekly and also what to blog about.

  29. Amanda says:

    I’m trying to get all of my ducks in a row… pretty hard for one person running a business (I own a portrait studio that I opened in 2008). I’ve finally embraced my Facebook page, and after realizing the full potential of social media, I started doing some research in an effort to get more Likes (and hopefully reach more potential clients). It was suggested to me that in order to get more Likes, I should add more interactive content to my Facebook page (in the form of a link to a blog… or MY blog). So here I am! I’m beginning to see how all of my online marketing strategies need to be connected… and apparently, more is better. I have a very small marketing budget, so I guess I will dive in and embrace the blog adventure too. After all, if business is slow in this tough economy, and I have time to spare, I might as well spend the time trying to make new connections online.
    I’m so glad I found your site. The content I’ve found so far has been very useful. You have inspired me to give this a try too. Thanks for doing what you do!

  30. Syed Balkhi says:

    Damn that was inspiring. Maybe I need to start visiting local businesses in town to see what I can learn from them.

  31. Bill Zientek says:

    Almost any small/local business can come up with creative content to use on a blog. The benefits are too valuable to ignore. Syncing everything together with primary social media platforms (FB, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn) will only amplify your results. The sooner you start, the better off you’ll be!

  32. John says:

    Motivational post… Thanks for sharing.

  33. The Holy Grail of any small business website is to appear on page 1 of Google. If you were to give 1 tip on Search Engine Optimisation SEO, what would it be?