5 Tips to Invest in Your Business Blog on a Budget


Blog, they say. That’s the best way to get your small business noticed, to raise your search engine rankings, to increase customer engagement, to imprint your brand on customers, and much more. It’s true that blogging has a lot of benefits for helping small businesses get noticed. But it’s not always an affordable form of marketing.

Many small businesses struggle with investing adequate funds into their blogs because the capital doesn’t stretch as far as they hoped. As a result, the blog ends up published on a low-quality platform with short, unuseful content and poor imagery. This is unfortunate because when your blog is low-quality, performance tanks and your business receives virtually no benefits from blogging in this oversaturated market.

Fortunately, a lack of funds doesn’t mean your business is doomed to fail. You simply have to make some small changes to your blog and reallocate the funds to do the most work within your blogging platform.

  1. Let your blog pay for itself

There are currently bloggers out there making more than $10,000 per month with their blogs. Though this makes up a very small portion of the bloggers on the web, it illustrates the possibilities. Most businesses don’t focus on monetizing their blog because they don’t want to take their attention away from their primary business plan. But if you’re in need of money, monetizing your blog is a great way to raise it.

Through measures like affiliate marketing, advertisements, paid sponsorships, and products, you can reap decent profits from your writing efforts. It might be just an extra few hundred dollars per month, but that’s more than enough for most small businesses to develop quality blog posts and promotions each month.

  1. Take advantage of freebies

Though the quality is often in question, there are thousands of free tools, software, and resources at your disposal. Use these for both marketing and content generation purposes. Here’s a list of some of the free tools you’d be foolish not to use.

  • Templates and blog themes
  • Security plugins
  • Social media
  • Google AdWords, Trends, and similar tools
  • How-to blog subscriptions
  • Photo editing software like Pixlr
  • Email services like MailChimp
  • Infographic and video software like Canva
  • SEO tactics
  • Google Drive

There are more tools out there, but this is a good place to start.

  1. Social media is free and effective, so you might as well use it

Social media was mentioned in the list above, but it’s so important that it’s worth covering in greater depth. Blog posts have the potential to go viral on social media, reaching billions of viewers. As a small business, you can join Facebook, GooglePlus, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and most other relevant social media pages for no cost.

Once you’ve established a solid profile and generated a following, you can begin promoting your blog through this channel in order to enjoy the many benefits that blogging yields. Also, all of this is usually free.

If you have a little extra cash, invest in Facebook advertisements for your blog or business. These are fairly inexpensive and extremely effective, as they reach a wide audience. Facebook is also very good at targeting users who may be interested in your content by scanning search results and past purchases for individual customers.

  1. Hire interns to develop quality content for cheap or free

Many students majoring in communications, marketing, or English need internships to graduate, and content writing will fulfill the requirement for most. Work with local colleges to set yourself up as a business that can give interns an opportunity to learn and perfect their craft for free without setting you back.

Note: Taking on interns is about more than free labor. You have to provide a solid educational experience for each student so you can remain a qualified internship provider and continue getting quality content from these “employees.” Make sure your office is set up for such an experience.

  1. Update efficiency within the department

It’s the inefficient processes that will result in wasted labor and lost revenue that could have gone towards your blog. Your content creation team can improve efficiency in several ways. First of all, create an editorial calendar that shows which blog posts are to be published and when.

Using project management software, cloud content platforms, and other types of free or affordable software will have your teams working faster and better. Discuss regular ways that you can make content creation more efficient in order to optimize your budget.

How To Engage In Content Marketing Like the Big Boys Do

Here’s a terrific opportunity to educate your customers in a big way and at the same time show your expertise. Write an eBook on your specialty. This doesn’t have to be the size of a novel, it just has to be rich enough to cover what’s important for them to know. It gives you the opportunity to put any myths to bed as well. If a customer takes your eBook, you then have their undivided attention. They are actively seeking the information you are providing. Ebooks are great because not only are they typically a quick read, you also have the ability to put live links in place to bring in other resources for them to enjoy. Maybe send them to your website for more information.

If you move into eBooks you are actively participating in content marketing. This type of marketing is hugely influential online right now. Content marketing is massively desirable to the search engines. Ebooks are fresh valuable content. You can use it in so many ways. If you’re trying to grow your list, you can use it as an email harvester. Offer it to customers who give up their email to possess it. You can use it to influence the way people view you. It shows your authenticity. I try at every turn to show customers what I know and how it can help them.

Once you write one eBook, I can assure you, you’ll write more. There’s a large payoff, when people care about what you say. We all have an audience, most of us are unaware. Take the benefit of a doubt and try one small eBook. Email it to all your existing customers. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. It will show your thought leadership. They will appreciate the education. Many I’m betting assume what you do or at the very least under estimate the full extent of your services. Consider an eBook for each service. Develop it into a series.

If you also do public speaking having an eBook, to draw attention to, gives your listening audience a reason to visit your website. Direct them to a landing page where they can get your latest eBook for FREE. On the front end make it look like the cover of a book. The graphic and message should resonate with whom your speaking. If you get enough ebooks together over time, you could put them all together and do a hardcopy book. I call my book of tips – “101 Branding Tips.” I refer to it as my 114 page brochure. (http://www.edroachbrand.com/) it’s unconventional but is always well received. As content marketing suggests, it’s all about valuable information that customers are looking for. It all follows the mantra of give before you get. NEVER use this platform to sell directly. As you write your content, try your best to not write an ad. It’s tempting, but i suggest you resist the urge. Once you first experience the reaction to authoring content, it’s value will be apparent. 

You Can’t Build A Brand On Today Thinking

A few years ago I pitched my branding process to a mid-size Canadian City mayor. Suffice to say he loved the presentation and the opportunities it would open up. The one item that buried the project was his short-sightedness. Knowing upfront that there were deficiencies in the brand, he didn’t appreciate my comment that those deficiencies would have to be fixed so that their brand had a better chance of being authentic to it’s target audience. The fastest route to failure is to tout something powerful and then have your buyer discover it was all just advertising spin. The city can’t walk the walk. Today they’re still just doing advertising but labelling it branding.

You Can’t Build A Brand On Today Thinking-043015

Here in my community we have a city market. The bylaws people saw an opportunity. They showed up early on a saturday morning and went booth to booth gathering business cards from the grannies selling biscuits, young people selling items from their hobbies and other micro entrepreneurs. Satisfied that they spoke to everyone, they went back to their offices and proceeded to send out notices to all these people that they’d all have to buy a business license or shut it down. Their phoney smiles hid the reality of their intentions – more fees for the the city. They didn’t care what happened to these individuals and their dreams. What they failed to see was the long-term benefits of city market vendors. Many of these folks are testing their ideas and planning for the future. A local furniture store just turned 90. It all started with one guy peddling furniture door-to-door. Where would the 4 locations and hundreds of employees be today if the city had shut them down because they didn’t have a $XX business license?

Another new grocery business in Ottawa, Canada ( Farm Boy ) started in their city market and now have multiple locations and are spreading across the province. That equates to property taxes, bricks and motor leases, employment, and investment all started in a small city market. What our city should have done was gone in, introduced itself and offered to help them in any way they could to succeed. They should provide mentors, and business incentives to go beyond the cookies in wax paper to opening a small bakery in an area the city would like to re-new. But, this involves long-term thinking and long-term branding.

Place brands like any other thrive on long-term thinking. Bureaucrats have to start understanding that short-term gains CAN and DO suppress long-term growth. Being smug about shutting down the painted flower pot booth today changed the future that might have been – namely a unique gift shop in a wanting downtown area. All this is branding folks. Doing it with vision creates log-term wealth. Short-term advertising spin is just that.

Get Real! Brand Authenticity and You.

Today’s marketplace is a great place for brands and their advocates to exist. Traditionally, prior to the web, all a brand could do was to make their consumers “aware” of their brand was using advertising channels such as bill boards, transit, radio, TV and public relations. Once a consumer got wind of the brand that interested them, they would have to physically visit the bricks and mortar location for more information. Or they could look in their mail boxes for flyers, or their daily newspapers for inserts and printed ads etc. The entire buying cycle was initiated by the brand and reacted to by the buyer. Very straight forward and not very deep.

Get Real- Brand Authenticity and You-012815

In today’s marketplace the consumer has a limitless access to the brand’s environment. Brand’s can more easily form strong relationships with their customers. Some would say today’s digital environment makes loyalty tougher. I believe it to be easier, so long as you’re willing to engage customers with a genuine brand experience. If the brand chooses to try and manipulate the experience based on an unrealistic expectation, they will more likely be viewed as not being authentic. That authenticity is a hallmark of proper branding.

But if your brand strives to provide an authentic persona, it’s a great platform to engage customers. You’re able to feed them your expertise on many levels. This acceptance allows you the potential to charge more for your services. If you’re a services based brand this open environment allows you to properly exhibit your expertise and this draws customers to you. Your are perceived as the expert your brand touts you to be.

The bottom line is to embrace the opportunities the digital world is serving up. You make think that there’s no space for you to play or that it’s over your head. Toss those barriers aside and embrace the web. You will be shocked with the results of your efforts over time.

Now’s the Time to Step-up your Game – AGAIN!

9673439_s2015 is the year that you’re going to do things a little differently. The time is right to step up your game. Without gazing at the past too much, recognize that that was how you used to conduct business. That’s when all you’re best strategies delivered on making your brand better, more memorable amidst your stakeholders. Give yourself a well deserved pat on the back.

That said, the fastest way to step-up your game is to change-up your game. Start doing business differently that anyone in your industry. Break the norms, shake the bushes and start acting in a way that has the competition questioning your sanity. “Bob’s finally lost it.” they’ll say. “Where’s he coming from” they’ll add. Those are comments aimed at a person who keeps ’em guessing. These are brands who are following not leading. They spend more time watching the other guy’s butt to the point they have to keep putting the brakes on for fear of (I think you’ve got the picture).

There’s one strategy that will absolutely change the game once again for your brand and that is positioning your brand. I would hazard to guess that well over 90% of companies have never effectively positioned their brands or even considered it. They’ve certainly applied pretty catchy slogans but they’ve never given positioning a second’s thought. Many, if not most think the slogan IS their positioning. A slogan inspires the brand culture while positioning makes your brand the only choice. It absolutely resonates in the mind of your stakeholders. Jack Trout and Al Ries call it, “the battle for your mind.” The perception of your brand in mind of your stakeholders is your positioning whether you enjoy it or not. This perception is key to making 2015 your best year to date.

You see it all around you all time – more of the same. I often wonder why businesses just carry on all the same practices without any strategy in place to help them leap ahead of everyone else. Great brands sometimes get there in spite of themselves, others use strategy to their benefit. We all know there’s no magic answer – there is only effort and a willingness to change-up how your do things. Not only does it keep the competition ay bay, but it also reinvigorates your entire brand culture. Brands people like to talk about are inspiring by just how different they really are. These are the brands who walk the talk. You see, hear and read about them in the media and social channels. These are the brands that are well known within their communities. They are known and spoke about. They are judged favorably and are the ones who seem to bounce back fastest from brand foibles. But don’t kid yourself, these brands are there through shear effort. They keep their eyes on the ball and watch for any opportunity to step-it-up.

What can you do for your brand this year. Make it something that gives the competition the cold sweats. Help them out with a case of Ban Rollon.

Why Are You Afraid Of Me?

I’m seeing more and more of this -especially on tech sites. On the contact us page all they offer you is a form so that they can qualify you. What I don’t see is anything about where they are located, what they’re phone number is etc. For me, I want to know where you’re from. No particular reason -I just like to know. Sometimes you’re near other companies I know.

It concerns me that you don’t want to divulge that information. God forbid I actually call before you vet me. Already I can see that dealing with these hidden companies shows that they are all about their convenience not yours.

It is a pet peeve of mine, but I think it speaks to authenticity in a brand. I would bet that one of their brand values is service. They understand the word, not the effort that goes in to making service part of their corporate culture. If I was to somehow find their phone number what do you think the chances are you’d find a live body answering it?

Great service is not convenient it’s expected. Every little thing you do to diminish service is one step walking away from you. There are manufacturing companies in my region who have replaced live contact at the front door with a telephone and a directory. How’s a new customer to feel when they are forced to sit in a cold little seat searching a tacky directory to hale their contact to recover them from the vestibule?

Both of these examples are from the front end of the business. Both initial contact points. Sometimes saving a few dollars or being closed to connecting personally are small ideas that can cost you a huge amount of money in the long run.

Or it could just be me. I’m guessing a lot of professionals resent these tactics. Are you willing to bet
your brand on it?

The “NEW” Business Card

whatsnewcardUse traditional 3.5″ X 2″ business cards to promote new services, products, specials or whatever is new at your business. They would still have your contact information. Use them to drive business to your website or location. Treat them as promo cards with a personal circulation. A clever new way to celebrate your brand.

When you go to a networking event in your community, you can take the opportunity to NOT hand out your traditional card but instead, hand out your “what’s new card.” One great result is that it initiates conversation on your “news.” It’s a simple idea, but one that is inexpensive and novel. It doesn’t matter what size company you have – there’s always great news to spread. What could you put on your promo card?

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