Why Retail and Hospitality Businesses Need to Blog…and Here’s How to Do It in Four Easy Steps
In a recent conversation with a colleague, we were discussing one of my duties here at ArcherPoint. She asked me when I am briefing the new team members on business blogging how I explain to the process of writing a quality blog post. She also asked if I had a document saved somewhere with my notes on the process, and I realized I didn’t have anything formally written down. Well, it’s always good practice to capture your ideas, especially when you’re talking about blogging!
However, before I dive into the “how,” let’s discuss the “why.”
Why should professionals in retail and the hospitality industry care about blogging?
Let’s start with two big reasons. First, blogging—if done correctly (see step #4)—builds your authority as an individual and therefore, reflects that authority onto your business. Second, regular blogs keep your website fresh, which gets you ranked higher in Google searches because you are adding new content to your website. This, in turn, keeps your business top of mind with your customers (who, as you know, talk to other potential customers, who will visit your website, read your blogs, and so on...). These are just a couple of notable reasons why you should blog. There are many more, but let’s move on to the how.
How to write an awesome blog post for your website
I’d like to tell you I have the perfect formula for creating (or completing) a blog, but I don’t, other than letting my mind wander. Don’t confuse this with mindlessly surfing the web, which doesn’t offer any benefit unless you have a plan and a process. I personally rely heavily on freewriting (http://www.archerpoint.com/blog/Posts/6-steps-cure-writers-block-and-str...) (which I will explain later) to help develop ideas, but I often simply start with consuming large amounts of relevant industry content.
I have put together instructions on my process for writing blogs; however, everyone is different, so you might find a process for brainstorming and writing that works better for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
1. Consume mass amounts of relevant content
The best way, in my opinion, to uncover an awesome and compelling topic is to read other great blog posts and determine what you like about the post. If I see a post in which I really like the style of writing, the organization, or the topic, I save the link in a folder on my web browser and refer to it later. This way, I can easily navigate back to the post and use whatever element I liked when creating my next blog. You may also find that you tend to like other bloggers in general and begin following them by subscribing to their blogs or RSS feeds.
I know not everyone likes to read as much as I do, but you can also listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, sign up for newsletters, read industry trade publications (people do still read paper, don’t they?), and yes—even talk to actual people! See what people are saying at conferences, meetings, networking events, talk to your customers when they’re in your store or restaurant, or even host a small weekly or monthly breakfast or lunch with colleagues to discuss what’s going on in your world (be sure to bring some paper so you won’t forget what you hear!). You’ll learn a lot and get great ideas. Regardless of how you do it, keep your ears and eyes open to what’s going on around you. That’s the key to finding good blog material…and of course, save what you find (links, clippings, notes, scraps, etc.) someplace where you can find it again or it won’t do you any good (see Step #2)!
2. Keep an ideas and brainstorming document or folder
If I find a blog post whose topic I want to use to create my own spin, I paste the URL into my blog ideas document and take down my notes. Sometimes my notes are extremely short—one or two bullet points on my position or maybe even a possible title or two, but not always. I often write down whatever compelled me to save the article. Then I save those thoughts for when I have more time to write a complete blog.
Typically, I can come up with more topics than I actually have time to write and complete, but you never know when an old idea will become gold. Some topics never get used, some just sit in that document for over a year, but some end up becoming my best blogs.
3. Rely on freewriting to allow your ideas to flow
Freewriting is simply writing non-stop for 10-15 minutes, without taking breaks. It is putting pen to paper or fingers to laptop, without going back and fixing any grammatical or structural errors. I know this seems counterproductive, but it really isn’t.
Freewriting is a way to streamline your thoughts and get as much information onto your paper without worrying about making it polished, which tends to stifle the creative process. Polished writing happens in the editing stages, not the brainstorming and initial writing stages.
4. Edit your work and have someone else edit your work
Not only do you need to revise your work multiple times, but you also need to have someone else review your work for you. It never fails that someone with a fresh eye will catch something you did not.
It is important to review and edit, because you do not want to publish posts full of errors on your business blog. That hurts your personal credibility and reflects badly on your business. So, the bottom line is: Edit, edit, and edit some more.
This is not a foolproof system, and this is what has worked well for me. However, if you have a method that works well for you, please share with us below in the comments.
Furthermore, how do you engage your customers to keep them engaged? Is blogging part of your strategy?