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Blogging For New Business: 10 Things To Consider Before You Start

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Blogging For New Business: 10 Things To Consider Before You Start

I was asked today by a business associate, and friend for some pre-blogging advice. So rather than e-mail back an answer, I thought I’d share my thoughts here by way of a blog post.

Let me start by saying that I don’t consider myself a blogging expert, in fact, I consistently find how little I know each day, in how much more there is left for me to still find out.

That said I have learned some lessons over the years that I believe are pretty solid advice for anyone starting out, so here goes:

1. # You’re not as interesting as you think you are

Strange place to start you might think? But yes realising you’re not as interesting to the rest of us as you might wish to be can be somewhat of a difficult adjustment.

Blogging has a habit of bringing you to terms with it pretty quickly. In other words, expecting that truck loads of people are going to read your first few posts is a tad unrealistic.

The lesson: Plan for a much longer haul.

2. # You still have something valuable to say

OK, so maybe you’re not an instant Seth Godin but you do still have something valuable to say. There are plenty of people that will want to listen; you will just give them some time to find you.

Everyone has a voice and an opinion that’s interesting; it just takes some time to know how to get what’s in your head down on blogging’s virtual paper.

The more you do it, the better and braver you become, and the more people that will pay attention.

The lesson: Remember to keep the faith!

3. # Really define your audience

One of the shortest ways to find your audience online is to first decide who they are. Spend lots of time defining your audience, start by asking yourself, what content would they find most interesting?

If your objective is new business and new customers, go out and ask your existing customers and some customers that you’d like to have ‘what do you need most?’

The lesson: The more you know, the better you’ll write and the more successful your blog will become.

4. # Don’t skimp! Design a great first impression

I’ve read and listened to many of the best of the best over the years, and one consistent takeaway is the importance of design. Good design doesn’t have to cost the world.

Social Media Examiner for instance cost around five thousand dollars at the start, and it’s now a multi million dollar business.

Unfortunately, design is often also the place that new bloggers cut corners, and so one of the main reasons for me, why many also fail. The key point here is that first impressions count big time online.

New visitors to your website or blog will make a really quick decision to stay or go.

The lesson: If your design let’s you down, well… you know the answer.

5. # Content is King, networking is Queen

We all heard that content is King, but that’s really only half the story. If you want to build a kingdom online, networking is your Queen.

  • That means commenting on other blogs.
  • That means sharing other articles
  • It means guest posting.

Essentially it’s about being really really nice to everyone else, and then being prepared to wait on the return.

The lesson: You may be a big shot in business, however, in the world of blogging you start off carrying the kit bags.

6. # Headings, pictures and formatting walk the talk

People read books and scan websites. To keep the online reader interested.

  1. You need to capture their attention (Headline)
  2. Give them something nice to look at (pictures)
  3. Make your posts easily or partly digestible (sub-headings and formatting)

Online folks have zillions of choices, and will often not need to read the entire article to get value from it.

The lesson: Always make your content online friendly.

7. # Know the difference between promotion and causing offence

There is a bit of a myth with the purists that promotion is bad, that is not the case. In fact, self promotion is a huge part of making it online. Those that are brilliant online promote, and they do it quicker, faster and better than the rest of us.

The difference is that, they don’t offend in the meantime.

If you tell me that your post is great, I’m going to wonder why you needed to . That’s not promotion, that’s stupidity. If on the other hand, I’m looking for an answer to a question, and your content can help me find out, you just became a little more valuable in my eyes.

The lesson: Online, don’t ever push, pull in relevant people instead.

8. # Make it easily sharable

People love to share and social media is the greatest tool ever invented for sharing information.

  • If you manage to capture my attention, if you manage to get me to read your content, Congratulations!
  • If you managed to give me value and I’d love to share your article with my BIG communities of people online, Congratulations!

If however you managed to do all this and then don’t give me an option to share, seriously?

The lesson: Make your content sharable by giving the options to share.

9. # Consistency and time equal returns

Rome wasn’t built in a day and every successful business and blog you can mention, also took time before it was successful.  Unfortunately, many bloggers give up before they can be successful.

Your blog can and will deliver readers, traffic, and ultimately new opportunities and customers for you and your business, but to get there will require a consistent strategy and adequate time.

Don’t start unless you have both.

The lesson: Blogging success will probably take twice as long and cost twice as much as you think.

10. # Closely pay attention and learn from the stats

Measurement is fundamental to success online. You will have successes and you will make mistakes, but if you don’t pay attention, you’ll fail to recognise the difference between the two. You can learn lots from both, and your analytics will tell you what you need to know.

Pay attention to the content that flies, pay attention to the content that bombs and aim to consistently seek out ways to replace latter with the first.

Use social media to find  the news, stories, people and trends in your industry. Pay attention to them. Take hold off and manage all the opportunities that are there for you to learn online.

This will continually optimise the speed and potential of your success.

The lesson: The figures don’t lie, study them wisely for they contain all your blogging truths.

11. # ? Now, it’s your turn!

what advice would you give to my friend before she begins her blogging journey?

Thanks for reading,


Digital expert, top 10% influencer with over 10 years’ senior management experience - including managing projects and teams, and growing companies in the Irish, international and online marketplaces. Co-founded one of the largest B2B blogs in the world, helped grow a B2B social media to over 1,000,000 members, created the strategy for one of the most effective SME Facebook pages in the world and have grown 3 business websites (, & to in excess of a 100,000 unique visitors per month. Have consulted and worked with both corporate and SME clients on leveraging digital to drive business KPIs. Speaker at industry events, have authored several industry reports on the Digital Economy and appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Business Insider and other leading online and offline business publications. Specialities include: Entrepreneurship Business Development, Start-ups, Business Planning, Management, Training, Leadership, Sales Management, Sales, Sales Process, Coaching, Online Advertising, Blogging, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media Strategist, Digital Strategy, Social Media ROI, User Generated Content, Social Customer Care.

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  • Great blog post of course Niall. I still value the advice you gave me when I was starting off with my blogs. A piece of advice I’d give is never forget that just because you know something doesn’t necessarily mean other people know it too. Something may be common practice to you and a time saving device. Someone else may not ever have heard of it. So think about others and imparting information to help people no matter how natural or common it may seem to you. It doesn’t always have to be technical and highfalutin, sometimes just the basic blogs can help people learn something they didn’t know before reading.

  • Anonymous

    Great post Niall. Think point number one is really crucial. We all hear about managing expectations – yet we hear so little about how to manage our own! Because my blog is quite generic i.e. my musings about professional life etc. I find defining my audience hard but your tips will make that a lot easier!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the great advice. One question. In point 4, you talk about the importance of design, and you give the example of Social Media Examiner costing five thousand dollars. Was this the cost of getting the site started? What happens if a person or group don’t have access to those levels of funds at the very beginning. Are there any tips on where to start, if you want to get a good website up and running, with a view to reinvesting in the site, once there is a revenue stream.

  • Thanks Frank, pretty much in terms of the design piece, I’m sure they have reinvested since. I don’t think that you need to invest that much, my point is that you should invest what you can afford. Solid design and your positioning/message will make a significant difference in whether people stay and revisit so?

  • Cheers Connor, I would agree that perhaps you are still maybe defining your audience. In saying that, what I like so far is that your voice is unique and you have a lot more courage than I did when I started off 🙂

  • I agree, and I think it’s a main reason why your posts are so popular. You don’t try to compete with the Zestys, Channelships and Krishnas of this world, you focus instead on the folks who are starting out. I also believe that one of your strengths is in communicating in a language that the rest of us can always understand.

  • Derbhile

    Put in a call to action at the end if you want people to connect further with you. nTotally agree about the first point in particular. Always rather a downer to see the words ‘no comments’ after what you consider to be a fascinating blog post. Doesn’t happen on Bloggertone though!

  • Great tip Derbhile! For instance, inviting people to comment is a great to get them to do just that. 🙂

  • Hi Travis, thanks for the great comment and super insights. Interestingly, I’m now getting a sales enquiry or two a post lately, maybe If I asked I’d get even more?

  • Hi Niall, I’ve been blogging for about a year now and so I’m still a newbie, probably always will be! I think it can be useful to keep a notebook handy to jot down blog post ideas through out the working day. You can discover from comments and questions from clients or colleagues the sorts of things that are useful to folk, and maybe they haven’t had the time to research the answers for themselves yet. It took me a long time to work out that I had to network with people online to build an audience. Although I have always read blogs, I was a little cautious about leaving a comment, because I didn’t really have the confidence to do it. (Was there an unwritten netiquette perhaps?) This is a great post for newbies, it’s both practical & realistic.

  • Hi Niall nnWhile I struggle with agreeing with you on point 1 (I’m not as interesting as I think) lol – I really found the post very well structured and thought provoking. Points 2, 3 and 4 truly resonate with me, for various reasons. nnAs referenced by Derbhile.. I believe you are one of the best proponents of the question-at-end-of-blog approach to prompting discussion.. and of course quality comments can so enrich a post.

  • Brilliant post Niall, fantastic tips all of them. I would say allow yourself to make mistakes and get it wrong some of the time and then learn from the lessons. Sometimes experience is the best teacher although I would have liked to have this type of “how to” before I started and could have avoided some of mine.

  • In relation to design, which is my industry, I completely agree with this point. Design is almost virtually a last consideration, if it is ever considered at all. When design is good, really good it not only looks good but ends up driving the overall personality of a company/product – unfortunately, most companies tend not to value it

  • To address Frank’s question, the first place we always start with a client is setting the objective. This helps define positioning and messaging – absolutely core to any product or service set. My firm deals with a lot of this work and we work to create the overall story of a company, incorporating the messaging and the design. There is always one key objective which creates the focus and tends to set the budget. When budget is the dictator, we try to tailor accordingly so that when you come back later you aren’t throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Bad is always bad whether its a website or social media or design – my advice would be to take the plunge and invest because when done well it is an asset – if you really can’t invest then take it down to bare brass tacks and keep it simple – still expect outlay of 2 – 3k though, depending on the degree of design you need.

  • This is interesting actually and it is something that does crop up – in our experience on a technology blog we have, we disabled comments due to the high number of unsavoury remarks that were posted – managing the comments took time too much time so we just stopped doing it but I do agree it limits the connective value of the blog.

  • Thanks Ciara, when you say unsavory, do you mean spam? Disabling comments is not something I’d recommend, and if I’m honest when I see comments disabled, I form an impression about the company. I know I’m not alone in that regard. Might you possibly reconsider?

  • Mistakes are critical to all learning, I agree Mairead! Our aim here at Bloggertone going forward is to start to provide better guidance based on what we’ve learned so far 🙂

  • Sean, You won;t mind if we continue to disagree on the first point then. Thanks for the feedback and yes, Derbhile is super at asking people to engage.

  • Wow Helen, I would have presumed longer based on your first Bloggertone post.”You can discover from comments and questions from clients or colleagues the sorts of things that are useful to folk” That’s exactly has in happened for me in the post, I was asked a question and decided to blog about it. As regards comments, they reckon only about 4% or readers leave them, and I have an instinct that figure is even lower in Ireland. I also believe blogs with comments are more likely to get more comments. I am a big believer in walking the talk in relation 🙂

  • Aileenomeara Media

    Great advice, Niall! I think if someone has a good strong story to tell – about how their business was set up, or how they came on the product they are selling – it really helps in keeping people connected. Social media is about building communities of people and customers who want to be connected, and everyone’s story is unique.

  • Hi Niall. A variation on what Helen Cousins said above – I use online sticky notes for jotting down ideas during the course of the day. I used to use until I upgraded my PC and the new one came with sticky notes bundled. nnEvery time that I read something or have a conversation with someone that I think might be useful to others, I flick open the sticky notes on screen and add a reminder for myself. Then later when I’m sitting down to write something (a blog post or printed media piece), I’ll scan the recent sticky notes for inspiration.

  • Gina

    Hi Niall, thanks for the tips. As someone who still needs to find her voice and start blogging, I’m not about to give your friend any advice yet! Best of luck to her and hope to meet her on my own journey into blogging nGina

  • Thanks Gina, and the best of luck! Make sure to keep us all posted 🙂

  • Thanks Liam, great tip, I like it! one of the reasons I need to start doing this is ideas come to me as a result of reading someone else. However, it’s often after that much time has passed, that I can’t remember, but if I was using your system! 🙂

  • Great points Aileen, I agree, people want to see the personalities and culture that exists within the walls of the business. Make sure you allow them in. Stories sell and we buy from people so promote both.

  • I always think of blog posts when I’m driving – and can sometimes recite whole paragraphs I want to write. So I use the voice memo or recorder on my phone. I have been known to phone home and leave a message on my answerphone too. Works for me anyhow 🙂

  • Hi Niall, there is so much written out in the ether about blogging, how to do it, what to say, define the audience, create a content schedule and all that stuff. What I love about your post is that ‘building’ is the big part of it and in this the ‘commitment to the pain’ of no one listening initially or maybe even for a while because it is a big big big internet world out there and us newbie bloggers can’t help wanting to grow up fast. So as I say to my 10 year old daughter, have patience, enjoy what you are doing each and every day and before you know it the things you wanted to happen, happen because you are that bit older and ready for them to happen. I hope this happens to me and I practice what I preach 🙂 as always love your thoughts.

  • Hi Sharon, I love the the way you tie it back to what you to tell your daughter, and it’s so true! Unless you enjoy it, what’s the point? Another point is that not everyone is going to like your stuff, in fact, it may be just a few, but those same people will make the most wonderful customers. Blogging and social media act like a lighthouse in attracting the right customers, but you got to give it the time.

  • Lol, lol, That’s unorthodox but brilliant! You should do a blog post about it 🙂

  • Love that Sian, I sometimes wake in the night with an idea which I tend to jot down on a post it and stick it to my bedside light….. some weeks the light is full of little post-its 🙂

  • I really like the blurb about networking. Everyone is looking for readers and commenters, and if you comment on someone else’s blog, they will surely check you out. It’s like a rising tide raises all ships. They call it “social” media for a reason

  • Tagging on Facebook for instance is another tool that can be used to network, but people kind of miss the point 🙂

  • Niall nnI started blogging recently. The best advice I got was to use – the blog was up and running over a weekend and the design was taken care of. nnAny advice on the best places to get good pictures? nnWell done on setting up Bloggertone, it is really useful.nnregardsndonncha n@donnchadhh

  • Thanks Donnchadh, appreciate the tip and the support. The following post should help with the pics: n

  • Thanks Sian for the kind words. Happy Xmas and let’s aim for BIG 2012 🙂

  • Thanks Helen, Happy Xmas and looking forward to staring in more of your posts in 2012: 🙂

  • Wishing all at Bloggertone a very Happy Christmas and all the success you deserve in 2012… looking forward to what the new years brings for everyone … I have a good feeling for the coming year 🙂

  • Yes at first I assumed that the firm was in the cloud, and it was great to discover that it was even easier than that. As you say – just plain smart! Thanks John
    ~ Helen

  • You are another great example of a virtual worker Sian, and cutting out the commute is a big plus. I used to sub contract for a Big 4 firm when my children were small and techology wasn’t so advanced. It was about 14 years ago, and I worked mainly from home and encrypted files via email sorted us out! It doesn’t have to be high tech or hard to do.
    This firm offered Jennifer the option immediately and it was all sorted before her notice would have expired. A classic win | win.  
    Thanks Sian, keep up the good (remote) work!

  • Great interview Helen, It’s interesting to see this from both perspectives! I’m a big fan of virtual workers and continue to believe that it’s a great way to improve both productivity and morale. More small businesses should consider regardless of whether employees request it or not. If a small business is looking for a competitive advantage right now, this is surely one way to succeed, plus the technology is now both cheap and easy to implement. I would go so far as to say that sooner or later, remote/virtual workers will become the norm. Well done Philip, Jennifer and everyone at Richard Place Dobson and thanks for sharing your story with us. 

  • Thanks for the feedback – Philip, Jennifer et al will be delighted!
    ~ Helen

  • Thanks Niall, I agree that it’s a great way to work. With determination (and Google / YouTube/ Skype and more), the tech stuff is simple really, and we shouldn’t be put off by it.
    Early days, but I’ve an employee working remotely for me for the last month and it’s terrific. It gives us both flexibility. We meet once a week to agree the work and then we go and do it, collaborating online as we need to. It keeps us both focused and delivery driven 🙂
    Kudos to Philip and Jennifer for sharing their story with us!
    ~ Helen

  • Enjoyed the interview Helen. As a virtual marketer for several businesses who has worked alongside virtual employees in the past, this really is going to be the future for many businesses. I would totally agree with Jennifer that the impact on performance is positive as without the distractions of an office or a stressful commute, the quality of the hours you work is greater. It also enables an employer to retain employees who need a more flexible arrangement or increase their available skill-set as impact on the bottom line isn’t quite so significant.  Great to see a positive account from both sides.

  • Thanks Debbie, good to hear from another virtual worker who has more encouraging comments on the benefits of!
    ~ Helen

  • Thanks for the feedback Niall, and the twtr share.

  • Debi Harper

    I love this post, can’t wait to hear what else is in your head:) good style,kept me interested.

  • Great article Helen, more of this type of thing please 🙂 I found it really interesting that they didn’t use Cloud software to facilitate a mobile workforce. I’m wondering about the I.T support needed to keep her computer in the communications room running 24/7. If this is a standard machine I imagine it would eventually overheat whereas if the software was in the cloud this would all be managed by the hosting company and she could access it from any machine. However they have found a solution that is obviously working well for them.

  • Philip

    We keep Jennifer’s machine in an air conditioned comms room so it’s kept pretty cool.  After about three years we’ll replace it for about £500.

  • Warren Rutherford

    Helen – great interview and insight into the virtual workforce and relationships. The demonstration of trust and respect by Richard and Jennifer towards each other (and I would suspect the other employees at Richard Place Dobson) is supported by a vibrant use of technology. As I move our offices to a more paperless situation I am quite encouraged.  Thanks for the opportunity to review a great piece on virtual workers – and the businesses that help them thrive!

  • The most important and effective is content writing in blogs and it has to be considered before starting and all your tips are informative and nice.

  • Niall – the very best of luck with all your existing and new projects. I don’t know how you do everything in 24 hours and still manage to make it look easy. I can’t believe it’s three years. Wow. Time flies!

    And Sian, we’ll be saying that in three years time too. I’m thrilled for you – you did a great job when Niall was on honeymoon and I’m sure the content will still keep coming. (Note to self – finish that article and post!).

    All the very best to you two.
    Take care,

  • Facundo

    Welcome on board Sian & thanks Niall for everything you’ve done and continue doing daily 🙂

  • Cheers Denise, Sian will be great!

  • No problem to her! Thanks Christina

  • Thanks a mill Facundo 🙂

  • Thanks Denise – I’ve no idea how Niall fits everything in either. Big shoes to fill but I’ll do my best. The TYB community back up will keep me going I’m sure 🙂

  • Lol Christina – thank you for your kind words

  • Eileen McCabe

    Congratulations Sian and Best of luck to you Niall … always enjoy reading the valuable information on TYB !! 🙂

  • Congrats Sian! You’ll do a fabulous job.

  • Smallbiztrends

    We’re so excited to get more of your time, Sian! And Niall — love what you’ve done for the site! Woo-hoo!

  • Thanks so much Anita – it’s an honour to be asked and I’m really looking forward to it

  • Thanks Susan, I’m looking forward to it

  • Thanks Eileen….and please keep reading 🙂

  • Congratulations! Truly deserved!

  • Congratulations Sian and you will do a fantastic job. Niall all the best with your new and existing projects.

  • Thank you Susan

  • Thanks a million Cendrine – that means a lot to me

  • Niall, you will be missed here at TYB. Thank you for inviting all of us to create a warm and fun group of bloggers. Best of luck to you!

    Sian, I’m looking forward to working with you more here. You are such a natural replacement!

  • Heather Stone

    Sian, Congratulations! We’ll all miss Niall but I think you’ll do an excellent job as Managing Editor of TYB. Looking forward to new and exciting things from you and the TYB community!

  • Thanks Elli, that’s a really lovely thing to say

  • Thanks Heather – I shall do my best

  • What’s the world coming to – accountants taking over TYB – you’ll have to hang up the ledgers & spreadsheets 🙂 lol Well done Sian – you’ll be a natural
    Niall – good luck with your current & future ventures!

  • Thanks a mill Tom – will share the ledgers and spreadsheets with you still 🙂

  • Thanks Tom!

  • Thanks Heather, appreciate you saying so!

  • Thanks Elli, I’ll still be around in the background.

  • Thanks Susan!

  • Thanks Anita, we’ve now got two great ladies steering the TYB ship 🙂

  • Thanks Eileen.

  • Harry

    Sean – Excellent tips. My recommendation is not to rely too much on PowerPoint, but focus on story telling from your experience instead. Too many people spoil their presentation by putting too much details on PowerPoint slides and just reciting it in front of the audience.

    Watch Steve Jobs presenting at Apple product introductions to learn the art of story telling.

  • Sean_McPheat

    Thanks Sian, I’m looking forward to writing for you again.

  • Sean_McPheat

    Hi Ava, glad you like the post. I always like to add famous quotes and footage of famous speeches into my presentations as this really helps bring it to life.

  • Sean_McPheat

    Couldn’t agree with you more Harry. Your audience can read, the don’t need you to cram the slides full of bullet points and then read it out to them!

  • Thanks for a great post Peter. Like Niall says I hadn’t thought about Social Media being useful for selling a business but you’ve explained it perfectly. I guess in the age we’re in Social Media is the avenue to everything

  • Peter Watson

    Thanks for the feedback guys. When selling a business, the owner wants and needs to gain as much exposure as possible. Social media is just another arm of advertising that a lot of small business owner do not consider. Hopefully if they come across my article they will change their minds.

  • Hi Peter, Good serve of social media marketing. Yes you are very right that the social media is the best and important way of the small business marketing. Through the social media we can attract the customer for the selling our product . Thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks for the feedback Sian,
    yes we like to think that by scoping a job and fulfilling the client’s needs
    with the right staff, we can really deliver a good value service.

  • I like it! Competitions are everywhere. Business owners have their own marketing strategy on how to beat their competitors. You can actually promote what you can offer and you will win them over. Also, having an active presence on social media could be an edge.

  • intouchcrm

    Glad to hear you liked it Gabby!

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