Does Your Store Need a Blog? Yes and No
The importance of a blog:
When I first opened my online store in the late 90's, blogs weren't as popular as they are today and to tell you the truth, I don't even know if they existed at the time.
Back then it was also easier for me to get traffic so I didn't have to worry much about content marketing. I also didn't mind spending money on PPC ads and since my ad spend was lower than it is today, I never really felt like it was something I needed to worry about.
Of course as years went by, blogging grew more and more popular and I needed more free traffic so it eventually caught my attention. Unfortunately for me, I didn't really understand it at the time and the approach that I took was pretty bad...
First off, I didn't decide to blog because I wanted to. Instead, I did it only because everyone else was doing it. I actually saw blogging as an inconvenience because it seemed like more work and I didn't like writing. I also only started my blog because I saw it as the next great marketing tool and as a way to get links so that I could rank better in Google.
So, I think it goes without saying, that I failed miserably with my very first blog. I can also assure anyone that approaches blogging with such a mindset, that they will fail as well and this is mainly because there will be no passion in that blog and as a result, it will turn readers off.
While a blog is considered by many webmasters as a necessity and a great marketing tool, if you are not putting your heart in that blog, I can assure you that it will be a waste of your time and a waste of your reader's time.
So if you decide to start a blog, I'd suggest starting one if you have the time to dedicate to it and if you are looking to provide information that your readers will find useful.
So how can you make your blog useful?
By offering valuable information. Of course valuable information can mean many different things...
For many large companies, a blog serves as a great tool for announcing news releases, site updates and other company related information. Of course for something like this, your company must be pretty well known for people to care about it.
So for small businesses, I'd say that a blog with product reviews, industry news releases, how to tips, fun posts, entertaining posts or any other type of information that is worthy of someone's time can serve to be a lot more useful.
The benefits of a blog
While there are many benefits to a blog, I think that many of those benefits sometimes lead to failure because the blogger ends up focusing a bit too much on how they can benefit themselves rather than focusing on how they can benefit their readers. Which is why I will explain the pros and cons of those benefits below.
Blogs are a great way to get people to visit your site. You see, the internet is called the information highway for a reason and you can think of your blog as the ultimate driving machine for that information.
If your information doesn't capture the reader's attention, they won't stay along for the ride.
It's a great way to cross promote your products. Your can use your blog to attract visitors and then cross promote your store through that blog. As a result, the reader can end up buying something from your store.
If you overdo the marketing, people will get annoyed and frustrated because your blog will seem like a big billboard to them. Personally, I don't like it when people try to pressure me into buying something and I believe that most people feel the same way.
You can review products that you sell and link to your product pages.
If you're not honest when reviewing the products, your readers won't trust your blog for honest reviews. If you give a product special placement only so that you can benefit from that special placement, people won't trust your reviews.
You can get a ton of traffic to your blog from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc.
If your content isn't very good, you won't get that traffic. If you run out of ideas or don't know much about the topic that you are writing about, you'll run out of things to write about so there won't be enough content on your site.
A blog is a great way to get links because if you know the topic that you are writing about very well, people will suggest it to others by linking to it.
If your blog doesn't offer unique and useful information, you won't get linked to.
My advice and what I've learned:
Now I no longer write with the sole intention of benefiting from my blog. Instead I write for people and put all my effort in helping my readers and think of how I can suggest a product to my readers in hopes of maybe making a sale. As a result, I have managed to turn my blog into a source of additional revenue.
When I wrote with the sole intention of benefiting from my blog, I earned 0 dollars and 0 cents from it.
So does your store need a blog?
If the blog contains useful information, the answer is "yes". If it doesn't contain useful information, it would be useless and the answer would be no.
Building a blog:
If you've decided that your store can indeed use a blog, see my tutorial on how to build a WordPress blog which will guide you every step of the way.