If you’re running your own online store, then you know that having a blog is critically important for generating traffic to your store. A blog significantly improves search rankings and gives you a chance to connect with more customers.
But what if you’re not an amazing writer? And what if you don’t know what to blog about?
Don’t worry. The first blog post is always the hardest. That’s why we collected examples of different kinds of posts for your inspiration.
Take a look, and consider writing to tell your story, announce a sale, or give a guide to your products today.
Make a List of Influencers to Follow
Here’s an easy way to create good content – and offers the potential to be widely-shared:
Make a list of the top 25 blogs, Twitter accounts, or even Tumblrs, for someone interested in your industry to follow. Compile that list, write a few sentences about why you included each blog or Twitter account, publish it, and send it to the people you feature. If you do it tastefully, there’s a good chance that they’ll share the post with their audiences. That will get you lots of traffic – in addition to improving your SEO.
Here’s an example of a post that compiles a list of blogs to follow, from Coffee Cup News. And here’s an excerpt:
Dear Coffee I Love You – Simple and clean coffee blog in which writer Brian Jones shares cool coffee stuff.
Pure Coffee Blog – Bill reviews coffee and tea shops as well as coffee and tea at home.
I Need Coffee – A wealth of coffee information started by Michael Allen Smith in 1999.
Answer Questions About Your Industry
Some of the most successful pieces of content marketing ever comes via Marcus Sheridan of River Pools and Spas.
River Pools and Spas installs fiberglass pools, the cost of which is not always transparent. Sheridan decided to write blog posts about every aspect of fiberglass pools.
Sheridan’s posts were so good that the New York Times profiled him with a headline: “A Revolutionary Marketing Strategy: Answer Customers’ Questions.”
His blog posts often rank on the first page of Google for their search terms. And that’s driven both traffic and sales.
Here’s an example of a very informative post in that ranks well and answers customer questions, from River Pools and Spas. Take a look at this excerpt:
As you can see, there are many options available, and when someone receives a quote from our company, we thoroughly examine each option as to educate the homeowner on the option’s benefits as to identify its overall importance to the success of the project.
When an inquiry is made as to how much our pools cost, extent of installation is also a key factor. What I mean by this is that as a company, we have four different packages we offer our customers. Unlike most pool companies, we will do as much or as little as our customers would have us do. This flexibility leads to less stress and more savings for the customer. The packages are as follows, with their corresponding price ranges:
1. Self Install…
Profile Your Team
Your team is made up of interesting people. Why not feature their stories?
There’s a variety of things that you can do. You can write up a short bio of them that includes their interests and where they’ve been. This can also take the format of a Q&A, when you spend 15 minutes chatting with someone on your team and then write up the questions and their responses.
This is an especially easy way to generate some good content. Most importantly, it gives your customers a sense of who they’re dealing with. When they purchase a product from your store, they know that they’re buying from real people with real passions.
Here’s an example of a wonderful profile of a bookbinder at DODOcase. DODOcase is proud of being based in San Francisco, and notice that one of its questions is about why the employee loves the city.
WHAT MOST DO YOU LOVE ABOUT SF?
I moved here almost 20 years ago. I’ve seen a couple of tech booms, a couple of busts, and I raised my son here. What do I most love about San Francisco? I most love that I met my wife here.
WHAT’S SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
If you know me, you know I brew my own line of craft beers. If you haven’t tried them then you don’t know what you’re missing. My wife is an amazing chef. When we have people over, it’s never necessary for our guests to bring their own beer. Actually, it’s not really allowed.
Give a Sneak Peek of New Products (and Ask for Feedback)
There’s two ways that this tactic can be valuable:
First, it generates excitement from your customers for a new product. If they like what you do and are loyal towards your brand, they’ll feel especially good that they get to see a new thing first.
Second, it has the potential to increase engagement. If you manufacture your products, consider floating a prototype for people to see; they may offer valuable input on what can be improved. And if you don’t manufacture your own products, ask your readers which of the options you can stock most appeals to them. Let them anticipate something that they’ll buy from you.
Here’s an example of a company putting prototypes up on its blog while asking for feedback, via Catan Boards. There are two photos of the prototype, and the commenters are quite excited about it. And here’s an excerpt.
Catan Bag prototype in the works
What do you guys think? It’s still pretty rough, but we’re getting close to a finished pre-production prototype. Let us know your thoughts here…
Make a Tutorial for Your Products
Everybody wins when your customers know how to use your products.
Not every product needs an in-depth tutorial on how it’s used. But for certain products this can be a big help.
Does your product have cool, non-obvious uses? Is it best enjoyed in a certain condition? Is there something that the customer should do to make the most of it? By all means point all of these things out. Potential customers may see one more way to use your product and existing customers may be pleased to discover a new way to use it.
Here’s an example of a blog post that offers ideas for getting the most out of a hearing aid, from Audicus. Much of it is non-obvious and can improve the experience of customers. Here’s a brief excerpt.
Auditory training can help you discern soft speech in noisy environments such as parties and restaurants. Listening And Communication Enhancement (LACE) Auditory Training programs can increase speech comprehension by as much as 40% and offer multiple listening exercises.
Recent studies have shown that audio games, when supplemented with specialized hearing aids such as Visually Guided Hearing Aids, can actually improve your ability to detect soft speech. Audiogames.net offers hundreds of free games, many of which rely on sound alone.
Announce a Sale
This one’s pretty obvious. When you have a big sale coming up, announce it on your blog. It’ll give people something to link to.
Use the space to talk about the products you have on sale, and if it’s applicable, why these products are right for the occasion. (It may be, for example, the perfect present for Mother’s Day.) And if you’re able to design something, put together a graphic.
Here’s an example of a blog post that announces a sale in the form of a great graphic, via the Cult Crew. Notice that the red, white, and blue theme goes perfectly with the Fourth of July.
Run a Contest
Running a contest is similar to announcing a sale. They’re both effective and attractive ways to get more attention for your store. Just make sure that you’re not making the common mistakes with giveaways and contests.
You can have all sorts of giveaways, of your products, of gift cards, or even special experiences like a visit to your store. And entering the contest can take a variety of forms. The easiest way is to submit a comment at the end of the post. You can also ask people to tweet about your store or share it on another social media platform.
Set up Gleam to make the most out of your contest. Gleam offers one-click entry, built-in viral sharing, and multiple ways of picking new winners.
Here’s an example of an effective contest run on the blog of Kigurumi, which sells animal onesies. It asks entrants to submit by posting a picture of themselves in their onesies on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or email, for a music festival pass the following year. Here’s how Kigurumi introduces it.
Headed to a music festival or concert this summer? Snap a photo in your kigurumi onesie and enter this contest (older photos OK too)! We’re giving away music festival passes and kigurumi onesies this summer! Simply submit photos of you and your friends in our kigurumi onesies from Wednesday July 3rd until Saturday August 31st, 2013 and you’ll qualify to win a prize pack!
Write About an Event You Participated In
If you help put on an event then you should definitely write about it. But you can also write about something that you don’t own, like your thoughts on a conference.
Write up your impressions and thoughts about a conference or meetup you went to. It shows that you’re paying attention to where your industry is going and people will appreciate the insights. Make sure to snap a few pictures and post them up too.
Here’s an example of a blog post that shares actionable tips for how to succeed at a trade show, via Sycamore Street Press. There are lots of photos among the tips and the recollections of how the event went. Here’s how the piece starts:
This was Sycamore Street Press’s fifth time showing at the National Stationery Show, and the first time I was completely happy with the way our booth turned out. It was also our best show yet as far as sales and press coverage goes, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
Here are my top 5 tips for creating a successful National Stationery Show booth, if you are interested…
Tell the History of Your Company
Being an entrepreneur means something special. Few people think of it, and even fewer people act on it.
So what’s your founding story?
Share the story of why you decided to become an entrepreneur. Was it driven by an event? Was it the result of a special trip? Were you struck by inspiration of some sort? Tell the story and connect better with your customers.
Here’s an example of a post that tells the founding story of Pura Vida Bracelets. The business was started when two friends visited Costa Rica, and is now successful enough to have been featured on Good Morning America and Sports Illustrated. Here’s how the post starts.
A five week college graduation trip to Costa Rica turned into a business venture for two Southern California friends Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman. Between the beautiful sunsets and the rolling breakers, it wasn’t long before these two friends began to deeply appreciate and fall in love with the simple Pura Vida lifestyle and culture of the people they encountered. This is how it all began…
Make a Video: Product Tutorial
Okay, we don’t want to give the impression that content marketing is only blogging. It can be making videos, writing emails, and other kinds of content-generation too.
Sometimes you just can’t write about how to use a product. You have to show, not tell. Then it’s time to post a video on Youtube (or some other platform).
Besides, video marketing is effective. By one estimate, consumers are 64% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video.
Shoot a product tutorial to introduce your product, its benefits, and how it can best be used.
Here’s an example of a video that very informatively discusses how to fit a road bike, via Performance Bicycle.
Make a Video: How Your Product Is Made
Our last suggestion for an easy piece of content: Make a video of how your product is made.
Do you have a very interesting manufacturing process? Does it require special tools and equipment? Is the process fun to look at? Shoot a video of its production.
Here’s an example of a very cool video via Doucette and Wolfe Furniture of a Windsor Chair leg being made.
You know your business well, and there are lots of opportunities to create good content by telling people about cool things in your industry. Write a blog post, shoot a video, or generate some other type of content today to tell your story and improve SEO.