How blogging helps you improve your relationships with clients and colleagues
In February I shared a blog post about Why All Entrepreneurs Should Blog and offered six ways that blogging helped entrepreneurs – especially solopreneurs – grow their business by demonstrating their in-depth knowledge of their subject area, attracting opportunities through guest blog posting and other media exposure, and enhancing their SEO (AKA your search rank on Google).
While growing your business is a worthy goal, you can also use blogging to deepen your relationships with clients by speaking directly to their challenges and concerns. As a business owner, you solve problems with your products and services. A blog is one of the best ways to express your competence and a professional with creative solutions, patience, experience, and gravitas.
Below are eight reasons that blogging will build stronger connections with ideal clients and colleagues.
1. It will strengthen your comprehension of your clients’ primary obstacles and barriers. Start by pondering the questions clients most often ask you. As a career counselor, I am asked by someone at least once a week, “How do I explain gaps in my resume?” While I only have one blog post on that topic, it could easily spawn two or three more posts. I have even been known to take a long email I’ve sent to a client to answer a tricky question like how do I ask a boss for a raise or how to gracefully quit a job without burning a bridge and converted into a blog post (eliminating any identifying details about these clients, of course).
This gives me the chance to augment the number of people who could benefit from solutions for people facing complicated professional quandaries and showcase my personalized approach. Every time I have answered questions like through an email, I have progressed as a career counselor and then advanced further in my ability to discuss similar issues with clients by honing my expertise. It gives me the chance to think through difficult dilemmas and find the language to ease people’s pain and frustration in the moment when I’m actively in a session or answering an email from another client with a career conundrum.
2. You will become more knowledgeable about your field and focus area. By addressing pain points and improve your understanding of your clients’ needs and concerns. List the top three motivations your client seeking out your services or products. For a massage therapist, it might be, say, three options – 1) to reduce stress and anxiety, 2) pain relief, or 3) increased energy and flexibility – she could write a series of posts about each one and track the performance with Google Analytics of each of the three topics. She could ask clients who book sessions with her to specify their reasons for needing a massage and grow her expertise and heighten her reputation as a practitioner who is known for addressing specific health and wellness challenges. Pam Wilson offers great insight on how to generate content that is strategic and captivating yet manageable.
3. You can list resources that will benefit current and prospective clients and signal that you keep your fingers on the pulse of your industry. I mentioned this idea in my blog post about Why All Entrepreneurs Should Blog but that article mention the potential for resources to improve your SEO. (Google loves it when websites include resources sections). Just as resource pages and blog posts boost your authority with Google, they also lend you cache as an expert in your field. We tend to trust people who know just the right book, podcast, blog post, nonprofit, professional service, or magazine article to mention to address a specific challenge. If you routinely suggest resources, convert these suggestions into blog posts (i.e., a realtor might write a post called, Best Books to Read Before You Sell Your House). Over time you can transfer this blog post information to resource pages that you build out over time into a highly sought-after directory specific to your field.
4. It allows for a flexible timeline yet keeps you on your toes. You can do it at night or in moments of downtime in your business. I write blog posts among 30-minute and 15-minute gaps in my calendar and on days when I dedicate time to marketing tactics like updating my website. I even have been known to outline blog posts while walking on Mt. Tabor and an idea strikes me. I have notebooks full of blog ideas and sometimes start by writing a post in longhand. This keeps me curious, sharp and in tune with trends and news that is compelling and helpful to individuals in career transition.
5. You can process your own thoughts, which can be therapeutic in and of itself and help you deepen your ability to anticipate and prepare for trends in your industry. I am often surprised by my own thoughts on a subject related to career transition or entrepreneurship when I write blog posts. Recently, all the media chatter about the Great Resignation has stimulated some blogging ideas and given me the impetus to explore the reasons behind this phenomenon, leading to more constructive discussions with clients and deeper reflections about my clients’ pain points and challenges. I believe that blogging not only makes me better at my work but also helps me enjoy it more so that I can feel connected to my purpose and, more importantly, engage meaningfully with my clients and their common struggles.
6. You can offer others hope, ideas, solutions, perspective and wisdom. By the way, this doesn’t mean that readers won’t call you if you run a service-oriented business—they are more likely to hire or refer you actually. If they do hire you the relationship will start on firmer footing If they refer you to friends, they will speak more glowingly about you (and better understand who you are meant to help).
7. You can deepen your relationships with colleagues and friends you already know with interviews. Six years ago I interviewed a friend who worked in affordable housing in Portland and learned in a 45-minute conversation things I never knew about her — how she started as a temp 20 years prior without any specific intention of working in the field. She also shared that she had recently reached a milestone of creating more than 1,000 units of housing throughout her career. I posted the interview as a blog post that included the audio of the interview as well as a transcript of the conversation. I was not only able to share a fascinating interview with readers of my blog – I also gained useful insights into her field and a better understanding about the trajectory of one woman’s mission-driven career path. Surely, there are people in your field about whom you are curious and believe they possess knowledge and experience that would be engaging to readers of your blog. If recording an interview feels too scary, simply email them ten questions and ask them to respond by a set deadline. Remind them to send you their headshot along with any other photos or videos that could enhance the post. They will no doubt be flattered, and you will have a blog article that is easy to write and post.
8. You might get a book out of it. Many people do this. The trick to this is having a clear outline for a book and then posting parts of the book as you write it. This can help you break down the book into manageable chunks and give you the chance to road test and promote your content sooner than later. How to Blog a Book by Nina Amir offers tips on how to write and promote a blog with the intention of building a platform and attract a book deal. __________________________________________________________
Kristin Schuchman, MSW is a career counselor, small business coach, and author based in Portland, Oregon who works with creative and mission-driven professionals. She coaches fledgeling entrepreneurs through the startup phase and seasoned business owners through periods of burnout and indecision. She also consults individuals seeking support for career indecision, next steps, work re-entry, advancement, and work-life-balance. She offers a free 30-minute Zoom or phone session and presently works with clients both remotely and in person (with COVID-safe precautions). You can find her books The DIY Website Workbook and Jump Start: How to redirect a career that has stalled, lost direction or reached a crossroads on Amazon. (Photo by Shan Applegate.)