Although many people believe starting a blog is overwhelming and intimidating, nothing could be further from the truth, even if you are hearing the term “blog” for the first time.
What is a blog?
A blog is a website (or part of a website) that offers regularly updated content, known as blog posts, and encourages interaction through reader comments. A successful blog can be about anything at all, though yours will likely focus on the games and hobby industry.
One of the main advantages of blogging is connecting with your target audience. Most people coming to your website are games and hobby enthusiasts like you, who are mainly looking for information about products or the industry. Your interaction will prove to them that you “get them”, so ensure that your blog offers a personal perspective. Interact with your readers through their comments; share what you know with them.
When prospects realize that you understand them, they are more likely to trust you. It is this confidence that will prompt them to buy from your business.
Should you start a blog?
Yes, but not right away.
You need to listen first, then blog later.
When you are just getting started in the games and hobby industry, you will not know what to blog about. Spend a little time monitoring the blogosphere.
Use free tools such as Google News Alerts that help you to listen to what bloggers are writing about -the games and hobby industry, companies, and products.
Listening helps you learn the culture of blogging and how others already in the industry are using it. You’ll learn what is acceptable and the etiquette of blogging. The knowledge you obtain will help you differentiate your blog from what others in this niche are doing with theirs.
Listening helps you identify key bloggers and influencers – people who can teach you a lot about the industry, introduce you to the blogging networks and perhaps help you get started.
Benefits of Blogging
A blog is one of the most powerful marketing tools that you can use to scale your business. Blogging has many benefits:
- A blog helps you create awareness and interest for your gaming products. Studies indicate that over 80% of shoppers conduct online research before buying. If that research includes reading your blog for opinions and reviews, you have the opportunity to empower these customers and encourage them to buy from your business.
- Your blog can earn you recognition. No, you won’t have paparazzi following because of your latest blog post, but it can gain you tons of recognition in the industry. Some bloggers are seen as experts purely because of their blogs, a status which can open doors to many opportunities.
- You can create a community from your blog. Blogging encourages reader engagement. When you post relevant, informative and entertaining blog posts, you encourage your readers to come back for more. Including a comments section on the blog promotes reader interaction, both with you and each other. The bond you create enhances their trust and loyalty.
- A blog is an excellent search engine optimization tool. Blogging is about creating interactive new content on a regular basis (you decide how frequent you want it to be); search engines love new content.
- You can update your customers on what’s going on, such as new product releases or add-ons and upgrades for existing games via your blog. The more you keep them coming back to your blog, the higher the chances they’ll spend in your e-commerce store.
- Blogs can make money. Besides encouraging game and hobby product sales, your blog can also generate income from options such as advertising and affiliate products.
Downsides of Blogging
Blogging is a great marketing tool, but it has its fair share of disadvantages, including:
- Blogging is time-consuming. You have to update your blog regularly, or your readers will find other sources of information. Unless you are specifically linking to another website, you never want to lose your readers to your competition.
- You need ideas. Read widely to avoid having nothing to write about. You can also curate content from others or create alternative posts, such as using videos. If you’re struggling to find ideas, hire a freelance writer or invite guest posters to contribute to your blog.
- The payoff isn’t immediate. Building readership and gaining momentum with a blog takes time. You’re likely to work for 6-9 months before you see any returns, unless you are very lucky or an outstanding blogger.
For your blog to be successful, you need powerful blogging ideas. The topics won’t come easy sometimes, but you can try the following:
- Generate titles with your keyword list. Use the Google Keyword Planner to fill up your keyword list, include long-tail keywords.
- Take notes when browsing the web.
- Search related social media profiles, forums and groups to understand what others in the industry are discussing and what readers want.
- Take risks. Choose to be different. Don’t say or write about the same topics in the same way others in the industry do. Take a chance on blogging your own way.
- Write about your experience. People love people they can relate to.
- Reply to your readers’ comments and questions. When you are sociable, you encourage engagement and fresh ideas that can help you ace your next blog post.
- Speak directly with your readers. Blog about things that game and hobby enthusiasts like you can relate to. If you distance yourself from your audience, they’ll go to someone else’s blog.
- Subscribe to newsletters from established game and hobby websites. There’s nothing wrong with borrowing a leaf out of successful bloggers’ books.
- Closely follow game and hobby industry news. Knowing what’s trending will help you stay on top of the game.
Write, Publish and Promote your Blog
Writing great content and publishing for the whole world to read is just the start, whether you do it yourself or hire outside help.
The next step is finding readers for your blog, by promoting it.
One of the best ways of getting readers to your blog is to post links on your social media accounts, including Facebook, Reddit, and Quora. This is great because your followers see the link and can easily share it with their friends. Assuming you have created high-quality posts on your blog, social media is a great way for your content to go viral. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising!
In addition to getting new readers to your blog, you will also want to make sure existing readers are coming back for more. Start a list of subscribers right away to increase your readership. Most blogging platforms have built-in email subscriptions that notify followers whenever you publish a new blog post. Email marketing is important if you want people to keep coming to your blog over time and it helps you build a lasting relationship with your readers. Blog subscriptions are a great way to collect addresses for future email marketing campaigns.
Achieving your blogging goals
Our aims in life and business vary, but your business blogging will be the same as everyone else’s: to grow your readership and realize some ROI. Stick to these four fundamental rules and you’ll be off to a great start:
Be professional and personal
When you start blogging for your business, your purpose will be to give your company a face, a voice and a personal touch. Write conversationally and use pictures; add a profile picture of the author or other staff members. Be real!
Use different media (videos, images, audios, text) to keep things interesting. Show your readers what goes on inside your business. Prove that your company is more than a logo and a mission statement – it’s real people who work to offer your customers the best products and services.
Maintain professionalism by only publishing high-quality content that evokes your company ethos. Remember, anything you post has the potential to make or break the reputation of your company.
Don’t be shy to sell, but don’t be too salesy
Always state when you are promoting a product or running a sales campaign, so that your readers know why you’re being salesy; most people hate overt selling, even on an e-commerce site’s blog. If you offer them useful information most of the time, they won’t mind if you run a promotion every once in a while. The focus is to maintain value on your blog: ensure that your content is useful, without pushing a product down your customers’ throats every other day.
Establish a posting rhythm
Readers love to know that they will get a regular stream of content when they come to your blog and not a burst of material followed by an extended period of silence.
When you are starting, you can post 2-3 times per week and then progress to more frequent posts, depending on how big your readership grows. Always encourage readers to subscribe, so they get email notifications of new posts. Those emails remind them that you exist.
It’s best to include a comments section on your blog, but be sure to interact with your readers. Engagement helps build trust and loyalty with your brand, company, and products.
A blog is a great marketing tool that requires regular updating to be useful, relevant, informative and entertaining. It has its sets of benefits and downsides. However, if you have the right ideas to blog about, know how to write or can hire a writer, exercise professionalism, have an established posting rhythm and are interactive, then you can run a successful blog that can promote your company, brand and products, engage your audience and generate significant ROI.