There are numerous reasons to consider blogging as one of the key foundations of your small business marketing plan – for starters, it’s a great way to connect with your audience, demonstrate your expertise and enhance your website’s search engine optimisation (SEO).
But many small business owners find it difficult to sustain the blogging habit, simply because they’re not sure what to write about.
I put this list of writing prompts together at the request of one of my marketing coaching clients. Next time you’re stumped for something to say on your blog, give them a try – they might just help get your creative juices flowing!
Prompt 1: Inspire your readers with a client success story
Potential clients are often looking for reassurance about the kind of results they can expect from working with you.
While you might not be able to make any promises, the odds are that you have some client success stories tucked away that can form the basis of an inspiring blog post, or even a series of them.
Be sure to ask your client whether they’re comfortable with you discussing your work with them online – most will be fine with it, but some may prefer that you do so without identifying them or their business. Either way, it’s vital that you ask.
Prompt 2: Help your reader decide when it’s time to act
Many small businesses sell products and services that customers spend a lot of time deliberating over before they actually buy anything. If that’s you, make a list of situations that may trigger a decision, and write about those.
Suitable headlines might run along these lines:
- How to know when it’s time to change your eating habits/mobile phone/logo
- Six signs your website design/software/hairstyle is out of date
- Four reasons July is the best time to get a new accountant/business coach/marketing plan
Prompt 3: Demonstrate the costs of doing nothing
Along the same lines, sometimes potential buyers need a nudge to help them realise that NOT making a decision could be costing them money or putting them at risk.
Without scaremongering (which is against advertising regulations in some industries), write an article that explains the costs and hazards of doing nothing.
For example, would an article on one of the following be relevant to your business?
- What are the consequences if you don’t exercise/pay your tax/get to grips with social media?
- How much time/money could you be saving by hiring a VA/automating your bookkeeping/preplanning for your retirement?
Prompt 4: Help your reader make a good decision
Sometimes prospective clients know they need to do something, but end up spinning their wheels because they feel ill-equipped to make a decision about which path to take.
That’s particularly likely to be the case if your business involves selling a product or service that’s complex or expensive, or one that a customer is likely to buy on a relatively infrequent basis. Help them out by blogging on topics like:
- The seven characteristics of a good photographer/massage therapist/mortgage broker
- How to choose a new washing machine/pair of sunglasses/home cleaner
- The pros and cons of DIY versus hiring an expert
Prompt 5: Answer your readers’ FAQs
If your clients or prospects ask you the same questions over and over again, you can assume that others are interested in the answers too. Keep a running list of those queries, and make it a goal to answer each of them on your blog over time, devoting an entire article to each if you can.
For bonus points, keep a record of the exact phrases people use when asking you about these topics, and incorporate them into your blog titles and text, where they can help to enhance your SEO for these topics.
Prompt 6: Build trust by sharing your personal story
In some situations, sharing a bit about your personal background can help your readers feel that they know and trust you – and that is always beneficial for your business.
If that’s appropriate for you, consider writing on topics like:
- My personal journey to becoming a naturopath/counsellor/copywriter
- 10 things I’ve learned from 10 years as a marketer/yoga instructor/lawyer
Prompt 7: When in doubt, write a list
You might have noticed that quite a few of the writing prompts here are focused on the creation of list-based articles, or ‘listicles’.
Listicles work brilliantly for both bloggers and readers by conveying a broad range of information in a way that’s easy to write and easy to digest.
This is a great blog structure to use if you’re experiencing writers’ block or are struggling to come up with ideas, because the outline can be quickly jotted down without too much over-thinking.
Got any tried and trusted methods for getting your blogging ideas flowing? Please share your tips in the comments.