The Gifted Blog

March 5, 2012

Blogging for a Small Business: Your Input Appreciated

Readers, I'm writing today not to talk about my own blog, but to ask for advice for the Common Thread Studio blogDo you read the blogs of any small (or large) businesses? Why? What keeps you coming back and interested?

I've been working at this local sewing studio for over a year, and I'm still figuring out the best way to blog for the store. I went into this job responsibility a little cockily. With a year and a half of blogging under my belt, this should be easy, I thought.

Then I actually started blogging. A few challenges emerged:
- I was unfamiliar with Squarespace and would often mangle/erase my posts in the process of writing them (darn you, Squarespace!). 
- I had to blog while multitasking - if a customer had a question, if the phone rang, or if merchandise needed to be rung up, I would stop blogging to attend to these priorities. 
- I had never blogged to promote a small business before. Of course, here on The Gifted Blog, I hope to build my readership and earn money. But I didn't have any experience blogging for a business that sold merchandise and offered classes.
I found that my blog posts started to sound an awful lot like, "Hey! Check out this cool thing you should buy!" or, "Hey! Look at this new class you should take!" When I read this excellent post on Craftypod, I realized I had been practicing "push" vs. "pull" marketing.

So, I have some new things I'm practicing on the Common Thread blog now, but I would really love to hear from you. Again, do you read the blogs of any businesses? Why? What keeps you coming back and interested? Your thoughts are very much appreciated.

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{All photos by me via Common Thread Studio}

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing the link to Craftypod — an excellent post that every blogger should read!

    I think for Common Thread, you should keep posting about new products in store and upcoming workshops, but mix it in with lots of projects, DIYs, tips and other stuff going on. Is anyone there working on a new project? Do your customers have Etsy shops or what have they done based on product/classes from there? What little crafty how-to tips can the staff share?

    For inspiration, check out these two store blogs: http://purlbee.squarespace.com/ and http://www.makesomething.ca/

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    1. Excellent input. My co-workers are super talented and have lot of cool projects on the side...the challenge will be being in contact with them to get their images, descriptions, etc (I mostly work alone, not a lot of face-to-face overlap w/ them, unfortunately. They're super cool.).

      Thank you, Corinna!

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  2. I don't read a lot of small business blogs, but I do read wedding vendors' blogs, particularly my own wedding vendors, because I've built a personal connection with them, and/or I really enjoy their blogging voice, particularly when they blog about their lives. I love seeing pretty things in pretty pictures, and they've created a brand that I love following.

    For the Common Thread blog, it'd be great to see:
    -a weekly "link love"/"pinspired" type of post, with links to creative sewing projects all over the internet
    -step-by-step easy DIY projects, involving Common Thread products (fabrics? patterns?)
    -behind-the-scenes stuff. I love reading day-in-the-life posts or learning what goes into creative jobs. For example, I sometimes read fashion designer/stylists' blogs, because I'm fascinated by the (often non-glamourous) hidden side of things.
    -more personal anecdotes/tone. I continue reading small business blogs when I feel like I'm building a relationship (however one-sided) with the owner/blogger. I noticed that you have a shop dog, perhaps you could incorporate him/her in some way? Not necessarily as much as Swatch, the Mood Fabrics dog (http://www.moodfabrics.com/blog/), although that'd be cute, but people love reading about animals. Also, it'd be cool to read a profile of you, the owner of Common Thread, and any other people who work there. Maybe even a little interview! Or you could talk about your first sewing project!
    (my apologies if you've done any/all of these, I only scrolled through the first few pages of posts)

    Thanks for alerting me to the Common Thread blog, I'll make sure to check it out from time to time! =)

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    Replies
    1. Jessica, this is great. The 'link love' idea is so obvious but I've never done it! One challenge is that I don't have a lot of time at work (usually 1 day a week), but I wonder if I gather links gradually if I'll have enough to post every few weeks.

      One challenge for me is that my boss is pretty private, even though I find her totally inspiring and would LOVE to tell her story on the blog! I asked her about the employee profile idea a few weeks ago but I'm not sure if she wants to be written about.

      Finally, YES, people love Jin's dog so much, and I'm sure they would love reading about her. I'm not usually there when she is but I love the idea of quick Facebook updates on our shop mascot when Jin's able to snap an iPhone pic.

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  3. For people selling supplies, I think tutorials and new product notices are well received by your followers. Once you get a few tutorials showing up in search results, that blog post can turn into a decent advertising for the shop.

    As for the personal connection with customers, I find that works better on facebook than on blogging. Lots of people will respond to "pull" marketing on facebook even if they will never, ever comment on a blog post.

    I really like when somebody acknowledges my existence online rather than ignoring my comments. It makes me feel connected, like I'm a friend or aquaintance and not just another customer. So the next time I see more "push" marketing from that shop, I'm likely to buy something out of loyalty. People just want to be loved, ya know?

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    1. Hi Luci - Thanks for your thoughts. I hadn't thought about how a well-done tutorial could draw new people, but I think you're right!

      I can see what you're saying about Facebook. I have resisted it for a long time, but finally started an account just to be an administrator for our business' page. It's actually been fun! I like posting 'behind the scenes' kinds of updates and it feels like a casual but meaningful way to be in touch with our customers.

      Appreciate your input!

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