#TechTuesday: A guide to blogging for handmade businesses

Joanne Dewberry, founder of  Charlie Moo’s is a big fan of blogging and maintains her own blog offering guidance and advice to other business mums and craft business like hers. Here’s Joanne’s brief guide to the whys and wherefores of blogging for craft businesses, taken from her Enterprise Nation-published book Crafting a Successful Small Business.

Why have a blog? A blog enables you to:
  • build relationships with potential customers
  • build your brand awareness
  • develop an email list/customer database
  • develop SEO (search engine optimisation)
The value a blog gives to your business really depends on you. A blog takes dedication but if you can keep it going, gain lots of readers, Facebook likes, retweets and comments, then you can build up your own community. Blogs are particularly popular with craft businesses as you have far greater freedom with the design and content than on Facebook and Twitter, which you can use to direct people to your blog. You can give your business some personality and show off your skills.

Which blog platform?

- Blogger. Owned by Google, this is a free platform that’s great for beginners. However, the design is limited and you don’t actually own the blog. You can transfer your Blogger to WordPress in due course if you wish.

- WordPress.com. The .com version is free and easy to set up. Set-up, upgrades, spam and security are all taken care of and everything is backed up automatically. However, you cannot customise the themes, display adverts or make money from sponsored advertising – or use WordPress plugins.

- WordPress.org. The .org version allows you to have full control of the templates and design, and you can install plugins. You are required to backup your system yourself and perform manual upgrades, but neither of these are difficult. You also have to pay a hosting fee which varies considerably, from £14.99 a year to over £50.

- Blogs attached to websites. Many websites come with their own blogging facility and these are fine to use, but be aware that they may not always be compatible with software designed for platforms such as Blogger and WordPress. The blog I use for Charlie Moo’s is powered by Create, my website provider, but it’s incompatible with Technorati, the blog-specific search engine.

If you’re unsure about investing money in your blog, start with Blogger or WordPress.com. You can always transfer your content to WordPress.org later.

How do you make a blog work for you?

Plan your blog posts for the month and write and schedule as many as possible in advance. This frees you up to deal with daily issues such as taking orders, making products, going to fairs and social networking. Here are a few writing tips:

- Post a minimum of one article a week.

- Make a list of the topics for the amount of posts you plan to write.

- Write notes for each topic or, if you can, jump straight in and write 200-400 words about it.

- If your blog platform doesn’t allow you to schedule posts through its system, then write them as Word documents or draft emails, and plan the dates (and time) you are going to post them. Weekends aren’t ideal, and neither is after 3pm or days that you are out, perhaps at a craft fair (but don’t forget to blog about that before and after!).

- If you write at the same time every week, then your regular readers will begin to expect that – so try to be consistent.

- If you’re not writing purely about business then decide whether you want to include any personal information. Try to keep it consistent either way.

- Use lots of keywords on your blog and link from it to your main website, social media channels, and so on.

These are very general tips, so if something happens to you, your business or there’s something topical in the news, then run with it and blow the schedule. It’s better to post lots than nothing at all.

Building a routine

You will need to schedule blogging in and make it part of your routine. Having a list of topics is a good starting point and will ensure you are not staring at a blank screen with half an hour of unexpected spare time thinking ‘hmmm, what to write?’ As with social media, it’s all about engaging with people and developing relationships. Customers will enjoy seeing/reading what you have been doing or even your general life musings. People buy products and services from people/companies they like – so be likeable.Don’t think about blogging as a chore. Remember what it will add to your website in terms of traffic, interest, interaction with potential customers and hopefully generating more business.

Buy Crafting a Successful Small Business

If you're a producer of handmade products or you have a craft hobby and are thinking about taking the next step and wondering how to do it, Joanne Dewberry's Crafting a Successful Small Business has the answers. It's available as both a downloadable ebook and a print book. [product id="56587"]

Need more tech tips? Join in with #TechTuesday, sponsored by HP

HP logo Every Tuesday on Twitter from 11am BST, we host a live tech support and discussion hour, using the hashtag #TechTuesday.
Photo credit: Becky Stern

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