As a group of people, entrepreneurs must be among the busiest on the planet. How then, can we justifiably recommend that they spend their valuable time blogging instead of, for example, clinching that next sale? One has a clear and measurable return on investment; the other does not.
Here’s the truth: we all have too much to do. For most of us, it’s a rare day indeed when we reach the bottom of our to do list. Being able to prioritise tasks according to the value they create is therefore a very useful skill. We believe that, done well, keeping or contributing to a blog can have consistent and far reaching benefits. Which is why we think blogging should sit right to the top of any entrepreneur’s to do list.
Trust between businesses and customers is like a lubricant – it makes everything flow more easily, and reduces any potential friction. For a business, building trust with customers is incredibly valuable but can be very time-consuming.
One reason for that is that it doesn’t come naturally to us to ‘trust’ a faceless organisation – particularly one that exists primarily on a screen of some kind. Which means, as that ‘faceless organisation’, you have to put a lot of effort into convincing your customers you understand what they’re about and aren’t going to run off with their cash!
A blog is the perfect way to connect with your customers on a personal level. Telling your story in an honest and humble way – the good and the bad, the highs and the lows – will help your customers see the ‘real you’. They’ll still buy into your polished product or service offering, but now it’s framed by the appreciation that someone just like them is doing the polishing. Which might just tip them into choosing whatever your business is offering next time they’re looking to buy.
Although there are other places where you can connect with customers in this kind of honest way – from your official website to your email marketing – a blog is one of the cheapest and most authentic. It also gives you a lot more space, and allows you to create a more immediate dialogue with your customers, avoiding having to go through the usual channels.
A loyal following and diverse network
There’s still a lot of stigma attached to blogging. Why would anyone read it? No-one has enough time or attention any more. You don’t know what you’re talking about. No-one’s interested in hearing what you have to say…
Of course, the value of a blog depends on its quality! Get it wrong, and you may well fall prey to some of those criticisms above. However, there’s a golden rule you can follow to make sure your blog is a worthwhile use of time: create value for your readers.
That value can take many forms: entertainment, insight, interest, connections, advice or a combination of all of these. Whatever you offer, if it’s valuable then it will build you a loyal following. Although everyone who reads your blog might not be a customer or potential conversion (in fact, many readers might be other entrepreneurs), by providing value to these people you’re building yourself a network of individuals who want you to succeed.
This desire can manifest in many different ways, depending in part on the nature of your business. Maybe you’ll build a readership who share your blog posts and tweets, and therefore raise awareness of your business. And maybe you’ll build a network who can help you source suppliers, recruit talent or find answers to obscure questions about your tax return!
The more diverse and widespread your following, the more useful and unpredictably helpful this network becomes. Of course, it’s worth remembering that this relationship is symbiotic: not only must your blog provide value in the first place, you might also be part of other entrepreneurs’ following. Quid pro quo, as it were.
The third reason entrepreneurs should blog is that it’s a great way to practice discipline, reflect on your learning and refine ideas. The life of an entrepreneur can be hectic, and forcing yourself to carve out time in your schedule to create something worth reading (or watching!) could actually make a big difference to your time management.
Of course, displaying this discipline and excellent time management to the world is also a great way to build credibility with your customers! For example, who would you rather do business with – someone who is constantly too busy to stop and think, or someone who can manage their time, prioritise their actions and recognise the long term value of sharing their story?