Writing is hard. But marketers are constantly telling you how great blogging is for your small business.
I write for a living. Specifically, I write marketing copy for a living. At least my job title says I do – copywriter. You might think that means that ideas for blog topics just flow through my fingers like water from a faucet. But I’m going to let you in on a well-known secret (yes, that’s an oxymoron): writing is hard. It’s really hard. It’s so hard that most writers will tell you how much they hate writing.
And yet, we constantly tell you that as small business owners you must blog. Plus, you feel terrible, because the Internet, and “the gurus” of content marketing have told you that all you have to do is blog, and customers will glide gently through the cyclone, I mean marketing funnel, allowing your business to magically blossom into a successful flower of profits and joy as you skip merrily down the yellow brick road to early retirement.
You can get trapped into writing the same blog posts on the same topics that everyone else in your industry writes.
Google the title of this piece and it gets crazy! Ideas for blog topics for small business blogs will yield you numerous blogs all about the same exact thing, each with their own list of 10, 20, 50, even 101 essential blog topics for Small Business blogs. See how easy writing is? The professionals all came up with lots of ideas and they don’t even own your business! No wonder blogging is intimidating.
Your customers don’t want superficial or salesey content. They want authentic experiences.
But if writing is hard, I’ll tell you something that isn’t hard – telling stories. That’s because only you are in the unique position to tell the stories of your business and your customer’s stories of doing business with you. That’s right, I said it, you’re a better storyteller when it comes to writing blogs about topics related to your business than a professional writer like me is. Study after study and article after article over the last several years has shown that today’s customer wants authenticity from businesses, and how a potential customer judges your level of openness and honesty is based on their experience of the personal stories you tell about your business.
That’s great, but I just want the 5 essential blog post topics.
With that said, it can still be tough when faced with a blank page to come up with ideas for stories. So for those times when you’re stuck for ideas, or you’re feeling nervous when your account or marketing manager hands you a blog post that doesn’t even mention that a customer should purchase something from you, here are 5 story, I mean topic ideas to get you started with your small business blog.
Tell the story of your business.
You might have seen this described as an “About Us” blog or even as a website page. But if you want true authenticity, telling your personal and unique story about why you started your business or why your grandfather’s grandfather started it and how it’s changed and grown over the years, or decades your business has been around in an open and honest way is a story your customers old, new, and potential will enjoy and appreciate. Tell it all too, both the good, bad, ugly and triumphant. Think of all the movies you’ve seen about businesses. At its heart, even “The Godfather” series is essentially a story about a family business. How popular were those movies? Too dark? Watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” for inspiration.
Share a story about a real customer.
Bonus – you can use this one over and over with a different customer. It could even become a monthly feature on your blog. The boring sounding jargon version of this is called a “case study.” However, writing a so-called “case study” can seem intimidating, but writing a customer product or service success story is never boring and definitely something your customer can relate to. Stories about other customers help potential customers see themselves using your products or services. Google does a great job of this with their video series, “Google My Business Stories.” You can accomplish the same thing in written for with your blog, and if you have customer photos or videos, you can add those to the blog post too. I love filmmaking, so my favorite is this one about a super 8 film processing business.
Share your take on a current news story as it relates to your industry or customer base.
This is referred to in marketing as, “newsjacking.” But really it’s applying a current event to a story about your business. Your product or service might help prevent or be the solution to the event you read about today. For example, if you make a product that helps track a person or vehicle’s location, a story you read in your local paper about a local woman with Alzheimer’s wandered into a snow storm might inspire you to write about how your product helps prevent a family member who has dementia from wandering, or help a loved one find them quickly if they do And it’s not exploiting a story if your business has a solution that will help others going through a similar experience. For example, I wrote this blog post that uses new stories about Snopes to talk about what to do when someone holds your business domain hostage.
Share a story about an employee or have an employee tell their story.
Just like your personal story, and the stories of your customers, potential buyers and potential employees for that matter, crave authentic stories about your employees from the employee’s point of view. They give both customers and job seekers an inside look at what it’s like to behind the scenes at your business. Customers feel like they’ve seen behind the curtain to the secrets of Oz, I mean your business. Prospective and new employees get a glimpse of what it’s really like to work for you and what a typical day in your company is like from an employee’s point of view.
Make stories out of your most common customer questions.
You know what the most frequently asked questions about your business are, and you know your business and your customers. That means you’re perfectly positioned to tell stories based on your FAQ. Don’t write one long story about the entire FAQ in one post. Instead, choose 1 question and write a post that answers the question and think of it as a story about the solution rather than a dry how to post. I can guarantee you that a lot of your competitors have written about the same question. Sometimes you can’t make the solution a story, but you can tell a story around the answer or your tips that shows your journey or the journey your customer might take on their way to discovering the answer. (Clue, this blog post is a story about telling stories with a list of tips in it).
You’ve done it. You made it through the flying monkeys of blog topic inspiration and have 5 topics to get you started. That must mean it’s time to click our heels and get you back home to your business.
Yes, writing is hard. But you’re not alone. Even if you don’t feel confident writing a blog for your small business yourself, you can still use these tips to provide stories for a professional copywriter to craft authentic blog posts that reflect your small business, your industry and your customers. Sharing your authentic business experiences could bring in new customers and hopefully growing revenue. Maybe that yellow brick road to early retirement is within reach afterall.
Have questions? Need more ideas for topics? Have topic ideas to share with other small business owners? Drop them in the comments.
Annette is a film school dropout and former child therapist. As a child, she was in the Oakland Ballet’s Nutcracker two years in a row and wanted to be a professional chorus girl. Annette is the resident copywriter at BizIQ. She likes sci-fi and horror movies, her dog, and is obsessed with the tv show, “Supernatural.”