Let’s rip the bandaid – your online shop needs a blog. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking (it’s probably something like “no thanks Kate”, except it sounds like like “f off Kate”).
You already do a LOT of work on your products, social media and general customer inquiries. A blog is just another thing to add to your list. And I get it, you’re super busy chasing your dream and you’re not a blogger. However, a blog is one of the best tools you can use to give your brand so much value beyond what social media or your shop can provide.
Customers that are shopping at small boutiques love a good story – they want to know who you are, why you got started and see how you live; basically, we’re creepy like that. But we also want to know, “What’s in it for us?” How will this product help me [save time, cook faster, entertain better, feel pretty, fit my closet]?
While social media can often give a glimpse, I encourage small business or shop owners to consider a blog for several reasons as it allows you to share a peek behind the business, provide value to your customers, show how you interact with the product, and be a consistent voice throughout your product line.
Did I forget to mention it’s also a game-changer for traffic?
Because it is.
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This is part 5 of 6 of the Retail 101 Beginner Series
Part 3: Retail Math 101 (ya know, how to make money)
Part 5: Why Your Online Shop Needs a Blog (plus 12 ideas to get started)
Why Your Small Business or Online Shop Needs a Blog
1. Provides a permanent home base to share your story + connect with consumers
Social media is constantly evolving and some platforms may come and go (please not instagram!), so you don’t want to risk building your business on a platform that may not be around in a year. Your blog will be a place that can grow and change along with technology updates and the best part, you own it.
This is especially true for Etsy sellers as you do not own your platform! Etsy could make changes tomorrow that affect your business and you would not have a “home” to call your own.
If you want to set up a blog, I recommend SiteGround for hosting – it’s what I use and love with my WordPress site. Once you set up your main site, simply connect your Etsy shop via a quick link.
2. Trust Factor: You become a source of helpful + inspirational information
By sharing helpful information you become more valuable to your customers (see below for ideas), which creates a deeper meaningful relationship; rather than a simple transactional one. Remember that “helpful” can mean many different things depending on your business. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and look for ways you can provide value, as if you were swapping ideas with a friend.
Sell your own greeting cards/stationery line?
Provide tips on organizing a “just in case” card box or how you keep tracking of the family’s birthday schedule.
Sell delicate handmade jewelry?
Provide care tips for cleaning, how to properly store, how to travel with jewelry so it doesn’t end up in a knot, or a round up of your favorite jewelry organization DIYs.
Get started with some DIY inspiration here!
3. Improves your site’s SEO (search engine optimization)
Ultimately, Google is that friend always looking for the better plans. It wants the best information to match an individual’s question and prefers sites with pages that are updated frequently, rather than static pages.
So the more resources you can provide to your ideal customer, the better your site could rank in search. Think of commonly asked questions or concerns your customers face either before making their purchase decision or ideas for use once they bring it home; and craft a few blog posts to help answer them in detail.
If you’d like a quick overview of how SEO works, Lauren from Elle & Co, SEO Made Simple as a quick and easy post.
New to blogging or struggling to grow your blog’s traffic? Grab this free guide from Lena Gott of What Mommy Does. She grew her blog from 17k monthly pageviews to over 350k in just 9 MONTHS. And in this free guide she gives us 3 actionable tips to grow your traffic, grab your copy of the (free!) Blog Traffic Bonus Guide.
4. Capitalize on Pinterest’s potential
This is the big one. Pinterest is one of the best ways to drive traffic because a) pins are evergreen, unlike social media posts they live on for months; b) users are using Pinterest specifically to plan their shopping (67% of users have checked Pinterest while shopping to buy something they’ve pinned).
By creating more content to share and promote, outside of just screaming buy-buy-buy, you’re building a relationship with your current and potential customers. And if you’re providing valuable or interesting articles, others may share on Pinterest, which will drive referral traffic your way; which in turn, leads those customers to buy-buy-buy!
For many bloggers, Pinterest is one of their top referral sources (join me in the pinning party here!). It also provides a home to showcase gift guides that can easily be shared on Pinterest during the holidays, as well as other valuable information during your busiest (and often most profitable) time of year. Pop on over to check out these tips on creating gift guides to increase sales.
Pinterest has single-handedly been the difference between me getting a couple hundred pageviews a month, to several hundred pageviews a day. The best part? I schedule a majority my pins in advance with Tailwind so it’s really an easy set it + forget it form of promotion. YAY.
If you’re brand new to the idea of blogging or not sure how to get your blog off the ground, I really recommend checking out the Building a Framework course. It’s a fantastic step-by-step guide that walks you through effective strategies and actionable ideas to create a better blog. Setting yourself up with a strong foundation from the start will make everything so much easier.
Want help creating your content plan? Meera is seriously one of my favorite people to learn from. Her writing style is so clear + thoughtful and she put together this ridiculously helpful resource
The One Hour Content Plan: The Solopreneur’s Guide to a Year’s Worth of Blog Post Ideas in 60 Minutes and Creating Content That Hooks and Sells
Grab your copy for just $2.99 today.
Blog post ideas to get you started on Pinterest
(hint: pin this for later!)
1. Share buying guides
I love buying guides as they highlight one of the most important ways to build a relationship with potential customers, creating value – without the hard sell. If you haven’t created one before, check out my tips on how to increase sales by creating a buying guide which walks you through what to include.
2. Vendor Spotlight
Showcase what makes a vendor unique, why you chose to carry them in your shop, or some of the good work they are doing with their brand. Basically, give them some love! (plus, they might give some back with a share or shout out to their audience for featuring them <3)
3. Why you got started
Share your history of where you came from, why you started your business and your future vision on where you’re headed. Also a great time to loop back in + ask for their feedback! This helps customers feel like they’re part of your journey, which creates more loyal fans, as you look to incorporate aspects they’re requesting.
4. Behind the scenes at market or vendor meetings
Show a fun showroom or the process of products actually being made at a studio – maybe you even got to try making a piece! Or if you’re the maker, show us sneak peeks of your process and share a story behind a few pieces.
(Anyone else having to look up peek vs. peak just to triple check themselves? Oyy, rough day.)
5. Showcase new trends
Share trends at least four times a year with each season, but trends can pop up anytime! Let your customers know what you’re seeing as it relates to your business and ask what they think about it. (I mean, it took awhile, but Birkenstocks are back baby)
6. New Arrivals
Highlight a new vendor, category, or fun collection. This can be an easy way to kickstart some excitement and keep your momentum going throughout the year.
7. Sneak peek behind the scenes before you launch
Share new vendors you’re adding or fun design features you’re working on to give your audience an insider’s view.
Bonus: Your vendors should be as excited to partner with you and will (hopefully!) share the news as well to start generating excitement for your launch.
8. Interview your local squad or members of #theshopsquad!
Share the story of local shop owners or women you admire online that your customers would also enjoy. Your customers will love you for showing them a new awesome brand and you’ll be building your business connections (ahem, the secret to networking) in a totally non-icky way!
Focus on your core customer’s interests:
9. Decor + styling tips
Design ideas are great in helping your customer visualize the product in their own home and it helps establish a more personal connection when you mix it in with other pieces they may have. I know products always seem more irresistible when I find myself saying, gahh I need this whole set up!
10. Local Stories
If you’re a shop that focuses on your community, share some local places with your customer on where to visit, eat + drink, or who to support; could even be other shops (gasp!) in your area with similar brand or customer profile, but different category offerings.
One of my favorite local Chicago spots, Gather Home + Lifestyle, does just that with “A Gather Guide to Chicago” page.
You could also take a few photos at these places that show off your product in a natural way. If you feature products in a genuine way it’s not as sales-y, but you’re still getting exposure to your items. For example, if you do a short piece on favorite taco joints (which you should because I wanna read ’em all), wear a dress or earrings from your shop, be featured in a photo, then kindly link the product underneath incase your customer is interested. No hard sell required.
11. How does she interact with your product?
Clothing – Does she need styling advice, tips on organization, or ideas on what to pair with?
Home Decor – How to style, party tips or ideas for hostess gifts
Kitchen/Cooking – Share recipes for favorite dishes or cocktails (ahem, please share with me!), or advice on hosting a dinner party.
This is also a great opportunity to network with a local or favorite blogger to guest post!
If you haven’t worked with one before, read here for how to successfully partner with a blogger so you both come away with a positive experience.
12. Share tutorials or how-to’s
This would be a great opportunity to try video (like YouTube or Periscope), or simple step by step guides with a few pictures are great. We once had a vendor rep in-store showing 20 different ways to wear a scarf. It was fun, interactive, a little quirky and got a lot of great conversation going with customers.
I use a blog planner to help narrow down my focus on the core actions I need to take each month. If you prefer the digital route (which I also keep for more detailed notes), check out how I use Trello to manage my editorial calendar (fancy schmancy name for “keeping my shit in order”).
Shop Talk: Do you have a blog for your business? What are some of your favorite posts to write?
If you don’t currently blog, what’s the biggest thing holding you back?
If you work better with a step-by-step guide, I recommend you check out the Building a Framework course. It’s actionable, strategic, and effective (win-win…win?)!