<![CDATA[Guest Writer for APP, Lynn Stacy-Smith: As a writer and former corporate trainer, not only do I love to write content for my own blog and for my freelance clients, I also love to teach other business owners and help them start their own blogs. From time to time at networking events outside of the pet industry, I get asked if blogging is dead. Fortunately, the opposite is true. Not only is blogging not dead, but it is now more important than ever. Back when the internet was brand new, blogs were just boring, bare-bones lists that the early adopters of the internet used to share their favorite websites and things to do online. They were somewhat nerdy sites, mostly composed of opinions and not very visually appealing. Twenty or so years later, blogs have evolved into an important medium for sharing knowledge and information. Many industries now rely on bloggers as valued partners in promoting their products and services. In the beauty industry, bloggers are as influential as magazine beauty editors. Clothing manufacturers like Lane Bryant now partner with popular fashion bloggers for new collaborations and limited-edition collections. In the travel industry, Walt Disney World embraces bloggers and includes them in their recorded videos on their Magical Express buses and their in-room information. In addition to partnering with niche bloggers, businesses can reach customers by creating their own blogs. The goal of a business blog is to provide great content that the reader finds valuable with the goal of attracting new customers, retaining the ones that you already have, and ultimately increasing the sales of the products that you manufacture or sell. Pet businesses, in particular, can benefit in many ways from adding a blog to their existing marketing efforts. Improve Your SEO No discussion of blogs is complete without these 3 initials: SEO. I know that you have read this in every single article about blogs and marketing that you have encountered. So, let’s just explain why this is so important to you as a pet business owner. Let’s imagine that you have the best website ever created. Your keywords and content are perfect. Your photos are perfect. You spent a lot of time and money getting it to be the perfect representation of your brand. You should be hitting the ball out of SEO Park. Right? Google and other search engines have search crawlers that are constantly seeking answers to the questions that people are asking them. And those crawlers like good quality, well-written content, but they also like new content. When you consistently add new blog posts to your website, and those blog posts are filled with clear, concise, educational information, the search crawlers are going to view your website as favorable and offer your link to the searcher in their results. The more authentic, good quality content that you add to your website, the more the search crawlers will view your site as a reliable source of information, which is going to get your website in front of more and more readers. Additionally, those search engine crawlers get smarter and smarter the more technology evolves, and they can recognize good content versus spammy click-bait that offers little in terms of expertise or knowledge. Of course, to really win the SEO game, you need to write blog content that appeals to your target audience. This will increase the likelihood that you end up in their search results. For example, if you manufacture a product that is used for camping with dogs, you can attract additional clients by writing about camping with dogs, hiking with dogs, outdoor fun with dogs. The blog post does not need to be about your product, it could be 10 Great Hikes to take with your dog. When a user searches for “great hikes to take with my dog” they will find your blog, read your post, and then hopefully check out the rest of your website, including the product that you sell. Your blog post just succeeded in achieving the main goal of every business with an internet presence: getting a potential new customer to your website. Establish Your Industry Expertise The melamine recalls of 2007 forever changed how savvy pet owners choose products for their dogs. Dog owners now want to know everything that they can about a product before making a purchase to ensure that it is safe. Similar to today’s issue of DCM, many companies are voicing their opinions, scientific information, and expertise through their blogs. This creates the perfect opportunity for pet businesses to address their customer’s concerns and continually publish new content on their blog page. Blogs are the perfect place to explain the “why” behind your business, including your inspiration and your area of expertise. You can write about quality control measures, where ingredients or materials are sourced, why you chose those specific components to go into your product. You can write about how the product is made, how to get the best use of it, and any other safety tips that the pet owner needs to know. Build Relationships Successful businesses must develop relationships with their customers. Blogs are a perfect way to build relationships even when your customers are not in front of you. The language of blogging is typically more casual than other content like static web pages, newspaper stories or magazine articles. I mean – you've probably already noticed it from this blog post – but you can get away with a much less formal style of writing. As a result, you can connect with your readers in a more personal way, so that they can sense your passion or sense of humor or anger or whatever emotion you are trying to convey. You can talk about emotions, experiences, and feelings in a blog post in ways that you might not communicate on the static web pages that make up your site. Additionally, pet owners love to talk about their own animals. Blogs are a great way to showcase pets who have used your products or who have great stories of their own. When I was the blogger for a pet food company, I “interviewed” a different dog every week, and told his or her story of how they found their forever home, what they liked to do for fun and games, and how they felt after having various health issues like allergies or pancreatitis solved by their food. We loved learning about how we were helping dogs, our readers enjoyed these stories, and the owners loved to share those blogs on their own social media pages with their own friends and family. Re-use Blog Content in Other Ways Once you have published a blog post, you now have the opportunity to re-use it in several ways. Of course, every post should be shared to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. From there, you can take one of the best quotes or lines from the blog, pop it into Canva with an image that matches your branding, and share it on Instagram. Then make a story sized image and use it in Facebook stories, Instagram stories, and even Snapchat if you use that for business. From there, use the same blog content and do a quick Facebook Live recap on the same topic. And that Facebook Live? Upload it to YouTube and then embed the YouTube link on your website. If you’ve lost count, that is 8 different uses from a single blog post. Keep Readers Going Back to Your Website Having a great blog will keep your current customers returning to your site to read your latest posts. While they are there, you have the opportunity to let them know about new products or services that you offer or upgrades to products that they already have. Repeat clients are a huge win in terms of creating brand loyalty, and having customers want to return to your site on a regular basis is the holy grail of internet marketing. Need Help getting started with your own blog? Or not sure what to write about? Grab our FREE Pet Blogging Worksheet by clicking here! This worksheet will simplify blogging for you and help you set a strategy as well! About Lynn Stacy-Smith: Lynn Stacy-Smith is the author of the blog, Love, Laugh, Woof. Her book, Love, Laugh, Woof: A Guide to Being Your Dog’s Forever Owner, was recommended by Modern Dog Magazine in 2016. Her mission is to provide dog owners with the information that they need to create a happy, healthy, holistic lifestyle for their forever dogs. Lynn also offers freelance writing services for fellow business owners both in and outside of the pet industry through her business Bark Out Loud Communications.]]>
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