last week i put the call out to find some examples of blogs that are fantastic additions to a little biz. i received an overwhelming number of submissions and i thoroughly enjoyed looking through each and every one of them. i narrowed them down to 15 blogs that i hope will give you some real life examples of how you can use a blog as a marketing tool for your biz.
what i looked for in the examples:
- blogs that are run in conjunction with a business and that are related to the products/services sold by the business
- blogs that do not just post photos of the business products and try to sell their item repeatedly
- established blogs so we can see a variety of post types and examples of awesomeness
- blogs by a variety of business types: handcrafted goods, visual art/design, sourced/manufactured products, and services
note: i looked at a number of blogs that are not on this list only because they didn’t fit this criteria, not because they weren’t fabulous! in fact i encourage you all to follow all types of blogs for inspiration =)
characteristics of a blog that will enhance your biz:
tells stories - perhaps about the products/services being offered, the creative process, the clients you have, inspiration for products, meanings behind your products
demonstrates expertise - provides tips, advice, instructions, additional resources, solves customers problems, helps people!
entertains - is funny, quirky, interesting, shocking, shows personality, inspires or motivates
connects - Q/A type posts from reader questions, features photos & images from customers, includes polls or voting that encourage reader participation,
re-inforces brand message - eg if the brand message is 'funky' or 'eco-friendly' or 'elegant' or whatever... and that is clearly reflected in the types of blog posts, if the blog directly speaks to a specific 'ideal client'
stands out - really if the blog does more than just try to sell the same thing being sold on the website/online shop/market stall, if it stands out and is memorable and is something you want to go back to again and again!
a few tips for your blog:
as i was looking through the blog submissions i noticed that a number of blogs were missing a couple of key ingredients. remember that many people will happen upon your blog because of a google search or a link shared; they will visit a blog post first before they have seen your business site so they have no idea what you do, what you sell, or the point of your blog. make it easy on them!
- clearly show new visitors what the purpose of your blog is. what is your passion, your interest, your intent? have a clear tagline, an excellent about page or an info section in your sidebar.
- have obvious and direct links to your business: your website, your online marketplace, or your products page. your blog posts should entice readers to like you and trust you enough to want to buy your thing. make it easy for them!
- keep it clear and simple. have a call to action (to visit your website, sign up for your newsletter, send you an email or whatever) so that people have something they can do after they fall in love with you. keep the rest of your page clutter free. some blogs are so full of ads and links and categories i have no idea what i am supposed to look at!
- don’t just promote your product over and over. customers can look at your shop to see those same products. use your blog to engage with me as the customer: tell me a story, offer assistance, appeal to my emotions... you can do so much more with your posts than sell, sell, sell!
15 fabulous blogs to inspire you:
blog: megan auman
products: handcrafted metal jewelry
why i like it: tells a story about the products, the inspiration behind them, the process and passion behind the design. the brand message stands out clearly and is so consistent; the passion of the designer just shines through in every post, every image, every interaction.
product: handcrafted wooden jewelry
why i like it: doesn’t just show photos of the products, you find out about the wood used, the meaning of the shapes etc, the symbolism or inspiration behind the designs. i like the comparisons to ‘what’s in fashion’ and i like that you get to know the designers themselves.
product: custom handmade clothing & accessories
why i like it: this blog really gives you a sense of the interest and passion of the designer and every post really exemplifies the brand message. there is a nice mix of how too, inspiration, new product ideas, tips & advice etc.
product: handcrafted toys, patterns, craft classes
why i like it: this blog is so entertaining! the personality of the designer shines through, the photos are fun, the posts are funny & quirky & interesting. i love the stories that are linked and there are some great freebies for crafty types too!
blog: Lunch Boxes with Love
product: lunch boxes
why i like it: very simple connection between the products and the blog posts, but so fabulous. the images, recipes, lunch box ideas – i want to come back for more and more. when i want to buy a new lunch box for the kids i will remember this site. simple & so effective.
blog: You and Baby
product: baby products
why i like it: shares tips, advice, support for new mums/families without being preachy or know it all. you feel like you are on the journey with the author, via story telling. it is a new blog but with further growth and genuine interaction with readers it could become a go to spot for mums to get some advice or support, and that in turn could cause it to become the go to spot to buy baby products.
blog: Retro Chick
product: vintage clothing, accessories & books
why i like it: the brand message is just so freaking consistent. every single post supports the passion & interest of the author and the products that are being sold. it speaks to the ‘ideal customer’ so clearly; there would be no mistaking you were in the right place!
blog: leaf journals
product: journals, stationary, story starters
why i like it: the posts themselves are inspiration for using the products – ideas for journal entries, sharing your stories, writing with kids. you don’t have to purchase their products to make use of these ideas, but i would bet that if you fall in love with the inspiration here you would fall in love with the products too.
blog: kids travel 2
product: kids travel gear
why i like it: immensely helpful (and free!) advice, tips, tricks, information, how to’s and activities for travelling with kids. if this was your go to spot anytime you had to travel with kids you would very likely end up making a purchase there too. i would visit this blog over and over again and share it with every parent i know. isn’t that the whole point of adding a blog to your biz?
blog: little sooti
product: party supplies, stationary, event styling
why i like it: the images are stunning and found in large numbers! you don’t just get a taste of the parties described, you get to see every detail. i like that the author is not afraid to share these party concepts, for fear of someone just copying the idea to DIY. those people would probably not make a purchase anyways. but the ideal clients, the ones that love these exquisite parties, would be so inspired by the ideas here that i would bet they remember this site for the future!
blog: frangipani designs
product: photography, graphic design, custom art work, invitations
why i like it: i like seeing ‘artist’ blogs that are not just about showing samples of the artists work. (as a photographer i get guilty of that, just showing client images over and over…) this blog has a mix of inspiration, testing out new ideas, inspiration for home décor/fashion, and fun point & shoot images from home. you get a sense of the artist and what her style is, and i think these posts would appeal to her ideal clients.
blog: Easy Peasy Kids
product: child behavior consulting
why i like it: this blog offers great advice for raising children, dealing with behavior, communicating, motherhood and more. this advice demonstrates expertise, builds trusts, and lets people know they are in the right place for solutions to their problems. parents who have found the free advice helpful will be very likely to go to these ladies for further help when they need it.
blog: copywrite matters
product: copywriting services
why i like it: the branding is so fabulous! i love that the blog has it’s own name “the copywrite detective”; it is memorable, fun and completely exemplifies the purpose of the blog. the target audience of the business will be attracted to the helpful, free content and again this will build trust & loyalty which leads to readers becoming clients.
blog: Bridie’s Typing Service
product: typing services
why i like it: this is another blog directed towards businesses but i chose it as an example of how a blog can attract the target audience by addressing other needs of your readers, besides just the service the business supplies. in this case all kinds of biz topics are covered, knowing that the target audience is looking for information in all of these areas, as a way of attracting the right people to their site.
blog: Styling You
product: one-on-one personal styling sessions & online styling memberships
why i like it: again, another great example of offering free, helpful information as a way of demonstrating expertise, attracting the right people, building trust and loyalty. it has been nominated and won awards for best blog a number of times, so clearly this author is doing a fantastic job!
3 bonus blogs:
these are not blogs that are run by little businesses, though some have evolved over time to sell stuff too (even though they didn’t start that way.) i wanted to share them because i think they can give you great ideas for your own blogs:
blog: Rants From Mommyland
why i like it: this is one of the funniest and most entertaining blogs i have ever read, and i am not alone as it has a huge following. i love the inclusion of ‘is this blog right for you’ – very clear target audience! these posts resonate with so many mums; if you can write posts that generate this kind of interest then way to go! this is also an example of how you can start out with a blog and then later turn it into a business selling something that your readers need from you.
blog: I Heart Faces
why i like it: this blog is a great example of really engaging with readers. the weekly photo challenges are hugely popular and a lot of fun, generating traffic for both the blog and the participants, and creating a real community amongst readers. if you can engage your fans in any way (having challenges, contests, buttons to display, reader submissions etc.) it can be a great way to grow your blog and your biz!
blog: I Love Pretty Things
why i like it: this blog is just plain pretty! each post is like a little treasure to open and discover. the branding is so consistent, the purpose of the blog and the target audience so clear. if you know your right people this well and create blog posts that are this appealing to readers you could generate a loyal and avid group of customers!
well - that is quite a list, no? i had a lot of fun looking through all of the submissions and i hope these blogs inspire you and give you ideas, as that is my goal in doing this post.
would you like the step-by-step instuctions on building your own awesome blog for your biz? click here to have a look at the blueprints to build a blog.