The best way to market your small business online is through blogging. Blogging provides the perfect avenue for you to share your expertise, build credibility and generate leads. It also helps with SEO (search engine optimization) and PR (public relations). The following are a few tips on how to get started blogging:
Create A Blog And Share Your Expertise On The Topic You Specialize In
Blog about your passion and expertise to share information with others in the same industry. You can start a blog for free at Blogger.com. Some other blogging sites include WordPress.com, Ecto, Tumblr, Posterous and TypePad. Share valuable content on expert topics to build your reputation as an authority in your field and establish yourself as someone who is worth following or connecting with online. Find popular blogs related to your topic and read them daily so you know what’s trending in the field of interest. This way you can stay up-to-date on important news that may affect your business if it is remotely connected to yours, or be able to answer client questions instantly knowing what they are talking about (This has saved me so many times).
Tweet And Connect With Others By Joining Twitter
Connect with potential customers on Twitter, where people post questions about the topics you blog about. When someone tweets a question, it’s likely that they are looking for an expert opinion. Be among the first to answer their question and share your expertise with them in 140 characters (2 tweet exchanges). This establishes you as an authority in your field. You can also ask questions of followers to learn more from them or have them recommend businesses like yours to follow via @mentions. People may even retweet your question, which is free advertising for your business. Tweet using hashtags (#) related to your topic/niche to gain more exposure and potentially be seen by more people. You can also use the search box on Twitter to find recent tweets about topics you are interested in (e.g., #seo, #smallbiz, etc.)
Blog And Tweet Regularly
Post valuable content on your blog at least once a week. As for Twitter, it’s not necessary to post there every day — some days two or three times is fine; other days just one time works best (it depends on what else is going on in your life). Be consistent in posting quality content that your audience will appreciate.
Write Outbound Email Outreach Messages For New Connections
Do this for everyone you connect with online or offline so they know who you are and why they should follow you or connect with you. Include a link to your blog and/or website in the email so that people can see what you have to offer.
Add Key Words To Your Website And Blog
This helps when someone searches for something on Google or Bing, which links them to your content if it is relevant and valuable (and ideally contains those keywords).
Use Social Media To Keep Up With What’s Going On In Your Industry
Find Twitter chats related to your niche and participate in them. This way you can follow others who are also interested in the same topic, answer questions that others may have, and find opportunities for collaboration or guest blogging. You never know what connections you may make just from participating actively in a few social media conversations.
Start An Email List
Email lists are important because you can send valuable content to subscribers when they opt-in (i.e., join your list) — this creates a connection between you and them. You can also use it to communicate with customers on a regular basis about new products, sales or other events you want everyone to be aware of. An email marketing company called MailChimp offers free accounts up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails sent per month. This is a great way to build your email list for a small business on a budget especially with their free account. For more email marketing ideas, visit MailChimp’s blog.
Collect Emails At Events
Instead of handing out pens or business cards at events you attend, consider collecting emails from potential customers who are interested in what you have to offer (you get bonus points if they opt-in by providing their email addresses on a tablet or iPad). You could also use the social networking app CoPromote, which makes it easier for people to connect with both new friends and businesses without leaving an event.
Connect Via Facebook Pages For Your Small Business
Create a Facebook page for your business with a link to your website. It’s also important to post valuable content that people will appreciate, such as links to articles and resources that help people in your niche or profession. On Facebook you can run ads targeted at groups of users within specific location areas.
Try Social Media Advertising
Here are two great sites where you can set up an ad campaign (or multiple campaigns): Google AdWords and Facebook. If you want them to be seen by more people, then choose “Display Network” under “Placements.” I’ve had good luck with both these sites and their corresponding tools for creating ads — it’s free to set up the ads, but they cost money if you want to pay for them. I like the Facebook ads because there are targeting options that allow me to hyper-focus on a demographic with interest in specific topics (e.g., small business owners or entrepreneurs).