Blogging has become one of the most popular forms of internet self-expression.  For the uninitiated, a blog is an online website where the writer (or writers), express personal thoughts or opinions quite frequently surrounding a particular area of interest.  Posts to a blog can have any kind of style its writer(s) wish, and there are no hard and fast rules regarding content, length, style or even substance. There are many estimates as to the number of blogs on the internet, however, it is difficult to pin this number down as many blogs get started and stopped each day.  Suffice to say that the number is large – over 100 million – and growing.  Internet blogs have been created covering everything from sports, food, lifestyle, fashion, travel, and more.  If it is a passion of some individual, it can become a blog; there are blogs that will cover only one single football team, or single topic.  Very large corporations, media companies, and businesses of all kinds are also using blogs.  According to statista.com, in 2013, 46% of specialty retailers used blogs.  Keep this in mind, because we will come back to it later in this post.

 Who are bloggers? And why are they blogging?

As we said earlier, blogging has become a form of self-expression, and (thanks to the search engines that now dominate our lives), an important part of business marketing.  Ordinary people and experts alike are all blogging.  Every day, thousands of new bloggers join the “blogosphere” (while more than a few drop out).   Some are creating massive followings as well.   All bloggers can leverage blogging to help create brand identity and image, using their blogging platform as a means to present their point of view as well as to provide advice, tips, instructions, and other useful information to customers and prospects.  The key is to provide valuable information that people will want to read and share.  Many bloggers monetize traffic by leveraging online stores, advertising, and promotional offers.    

 Why is Blogging being discussed by IncomeShops?

For IncomeShops store owners, creating a blog can be a fantastic way to generate traffic, and increase sales.  With the right strategies, blogging could be a very important component of a store’s traffic generation, image, and brand success.  It helps to accomplish a number of things any good business must seek, including:

  1. Establishing credibility – writing good content that is valuable, honest and credible with visitors to a web store (of any kind, not just an IncomeShops store) will allow store owners to create followers, which means repeat business.
  2. Creating a customer base – blogs help to keep a loyal following.  Like any business, an online store “lives and dies” by customer satisfaction.  The advantage that you bring to your customers by blogging – as long as it is of value – will be rewarded by the customer in their repeat business.  Having an informative blog that helps them understand and recognize your value goes a long way to creating such a base.
  3. Increasing traffic – we mentioned the world of search engine dominance.  Like it or not (and we’re not fond of it either) search engines like Yahoo!  Google and Bing are the onramp to the internet for millions of users.  Blogging helps position you in the vast search stream.  It also gives you a good way to influence and leverage social media. 
  4. Helping Engage with customers – having a mechanism to engage your customers more deeply is always a good idea.  It’s not easy – especially if you have thousands – but it is something you should keep a sharp eye on.
  5. Increasing your income – increasing your income of course is a huge benefit.  If you keep customers coming back to your stores, blog frequently and post information of value, people will trust you and tend to buy from you as well.

In our opinion, all IncomeShops store owners should have a blog that is consistently updated on a cycle the store owner is comfortable with and of course, within the confines of their time and expertise constraints.

How to get content for your blog

Getting started in blogging is very straight forward.  First, you need to start thinking of the topics you believe would be of value to your customers.  Make a list.  Then rank the list (high, medium, low) based on “return vs. effort”.  High, medium, and low can be classified in terms of time required to do a post.  If one post will take 30 minutes and another will take 2 hours, you need to weigh that investment based on the value you believe each gives your readers.  At the risk of overstating the obvious, quality content is key, so the more original and unique you can be the better.  Here are some content generating ideas you may wish to consider to help create your own unique content:

  1. Make Lists, e.g. for an apparel store
    1. Top 10 Hats we Like (hat store)
    2. Top 5 Designers of 2015
    3. Our Top 10 Celebrity Looks for the Summer
  2. “How To’s”
    1. How to tie a bow-tie
    2. How to make an awesome Margarita (for a store selling Margarita mix)
    3. How to build your own shed (for a store selling hardware supplies)
    4. How to develop the perfect beach body (for a fitness store)
  3. Do “Case Studies” – these are analyses of specific events or projects. So for the “perfect beach body” catalogue results from your readers – get them to send in YouTube videos, post them on YouTube with links back to your store; embed the videos in your IncomeShops store blog.
  4. Do Product Reviews – these are terrific.  However, you need to be honest and fair.  It is not going to serve you well if you do product reviews that are good for products you get a high commission on if the review is not fair or accurate.
  5. Do an interview with a new designer, or a person who is new to your industry – this helps establish you as an authority on your area of expertise.
  6. Post a quiz or a survey – surveys can help you learn more about your customers.  Currently, IncomeShops stores do not have this capability built in, but there are options to create free surveys on the web that can drive traffic back to your store.
  7. Post news stories with your editorial opinion (e.g. if you have a new electronics store, you can get news feeds for a new product (e.g. an IPhone) and post our own opinions on the product
  8. Share ideas, use social media extensively with your posts to get ideas from friends and followers; don’t be afraid to get your blog into the capable hands of friends and family who can help promote your store
  9. Keep a diary or notebook for new ideas that come to mind.
  10. Collect images from websites you like and use it for inspiration; if you actually use it, give credit.  It will build trust and increase credibility.

The bottom line is – with a bit of creativity, effort and consistency, you can create great content that others will find useful.

Blogging on IncomeShops

IncomeShops stores are delivered with a blogging feature.  It allows posting content along with social media feeds with each footer.  We encourage you to take advantage of this capability to help drive traffic to your store and establish your brand as an authority.  Take your business seriously, and others will too.