Real-Life Business Blogger Shares All

Several days ago, one of our lovely Sumer Facebook fans, Tracey Wingerter Baxter, owner of Aisle Do, left a comment in response to our wall post that piqued our interest. Our Facebook post said, “This week we’ve been sharing information on how to grow your blog readership and overcome your fears. What have been some of your hesitancies with blogging?”

Tracey responded, “I went to a networking meeting about a year ago; the topic was social media. The speaker said that blogging more or less had seen its day in the sun and to focus on Facebook and Twitter. I was in biz for less than 6 months at the time so I basically neglected my blog. (duh!) I’m working toward being a consistent blogger now—this week in fact I have got it in gear, but it’s taken awhile, and I certainly have had all of the fears listed in the post you shared earlier and then some!”

After reading her response, we realized that Tracey isn’t the only small business owner going through these blogging woes. Tracey was kind enough to come forth and speak about her previous struggles with blogging and what she’s doing today to get back on the blogging wagon.

If you’re struggling with blogging fears and concerns, you’re not alone. Read the interview below for some blogging inspiration:

1. You mentioned in a comment on our Facebook page that you went to a networking event about a year ago where the speaker suggested that blogging was a fading trend and that Facebook and Twitter were rising as essential marketing platforms. Was this the main catalyst that discouraged you from blogging? What other fears did you have that prevented you from blogging on a regular basis?

I think that suggestion gave me justification to continue listening to discouragement I created on my own. For example, I had some ideas that I really didn’t know how to implement. I wondered why anyone would want to read my blog when there were plenty of other established blogs in my industry. I thought it would take a lot of time to blog. I didn’t want my blog to be like everyone else’s, even though everyone else seemed to be doing a far better job of blogging. And I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted out of my blog or how it would fit into my business. I’m still not 100% sure of that, but I’m at least going to actively work to include my blog in my overall plans so I can figure that out. I think my blog will morph into what it’s destined to be just by giving it some regular attention and tweaking as we go.

2. When you weren’t using your business blog as a main component of your marketing strategy, what other platforms did you use to market your business? How successful were those other strategies?

Marketing the first year was a very haphazard strategy. More honestly, I didn’t really have a strategy! I participated in a bridal show and had some success plus repeat business when a past client’s sister got engaged. I advertised in a local publication that I love, but my loving it had nothing to do with my target market, so it was very hit or miss—mostly miss.

I am not actually my own ideal client. It didn’t occur to me until very recently that advertising where I love wasn’t necessarily going to drive my ideal client to me in abundance. I also advertised with another company because I thought, “What a great deal,” but again, not based on any marketing strategy, so I have no plans to renew that contract. It’s only a great deal if it brings in business!

It’s been a little tricky to determine the success of ads because people almost always say they found us online. But my analytics data shows the majority of web visits are by direct link. They had to have found the link somewhere to type it into their browser.

3. What inspired you to begin blogging again?

I wasn’t blogging but had a nagging feeling that I should. I’m good at what I do; I should share that. I think it’s been switching my mindset and finding the right kind of encouragement. I went from why would someone want to read my blog to why wouldn’t someone want to read my blog?

About 4 months ago, I became a member of Natalie Bradley’s Marketing & Motivation Success Circle. I listened to a previously recorded teleseminar that featured Michelle Salater. The topic was press releases, and they talked about using social media to get featured. It also seemed as if plenty was said about blogs. I found the presentation to be engaging and fun. Plus, the information was presented in a way that I had some “ah ha” moments. So, I looked up Sumer on their website and Facebook, found the Copy Doodle blog, and have been able to attend a couple webinars.

In the past couple of months I realized I need to be very sure I’m listening to the right advice.

Relating to the person or business suggesting that advice is not just a bonus; it’s really necessary! Not to say that the speaker at the networking event didn’t know what she was talking about. But I knew nothing about target and niche markets. I think it boils down to the fact that I was not her ideal client so she wasn’t speaking to me. What I have gleaned from reading Sumer’s posts it that it’s important to include all of the social media components in marketing, as overwhelming as that might be.

I am also figuring out that blogs are not going anywhere. Undoubtedly someone will develop a better blog system with cooler gadgets and all that technical jazz, but Twitter and Facebook can’t replace blogs. At least not that I can tell so far! They have audience or conversation style differences, but the nitty-gritty is Facebook and Twitter both have specific limitations on how much you can type in the box. For business promotion, you have really got to be able to link back to somewhere else to share more information. Blogs are pretty user-friendly for any person to navigate and even easier with consistent use.

The final sort of kick in the pants for me was when I added Google Analytics to my blog about a month ago. For so long, I thought blog followers were the only way I would know if people were reading. So, I sort of assumed that nobody was reading. Ha! Wrong! With the analytics data, I found that there are people visiting my blog. This month there were 17 visits in one week. Not huge, but considering it’s promoted through one tiny link on one page of my website, I was surprised to see that many visits. If even a few people are stopping by, I better give them something! Maybe they’ll come back, or perhaps they’ll tell a friend to stop by, too. But I have seen enough neglected blogs recently to know I don’t want to continue to miss the opportunity for someone to become a regular reader and potential client.

4. Where do you see your blog fitting into your overall marketing strategy a year from now? How do you plan to accomplish this?

While doing some market research, I was surprised by the number of business owners that have a blog they neglect. More than one listed resolutions, including to post more frequently, yet that was in December 09, and they hadn’t been back since. I feel a bit relieved that it wasn’t just me, but plenty of opportunities to grow were missed by a lot of small or new businesses. And I’m sure “the economy” takes the bulk of the blame when people evaluate the health of their business. But let’s face it—if we’re not working our business, it won’t work for us. I can’t say the economy affected my business when I wasn’t doing everything possible to properly market it.

I’m currently creating a marketing strategy, since I clearly lacked one in the past. I definitely see my blog as being an integral part my business brand development and becoming a resource for my readers.

My website is being redesigned so getting to my blog will be more prominent. And now that I started moving on my blog, my goal is consistency. I have developed an editorial calendar so I know what I would like to blog about and when it will be posted. I am sure over the next year it will get tweaked, but I think I started with subject concepts that will lend themselves to naturally include timely information into each week’s agenda. My hope is people will comment or click on the cool button so I know if I’m posting valuable information for them.

I also hope to establish connections with other bloggers by following and commenting on their blogs, too.

So far, my Facebook business fan page posts are few, and I have yet to Tweet! However, I’m observing Twitter to get a feel for that. I will begin to promote my blog through both Twitter and Facebook soon. There’s really a lot to do! And I plan to bring on some interns in the coming months to get all of this done faster! I feel a little like I’m starting over in some ways. But I feel equipped with better information to make the next year entirely more productive than the prior.

business blogAbout Tracey and Aisle Do:

Aisle Do opened in the spring of 2009 turning my dream that recurred for years into the reality of being a wedding and events entrepreneur. Prior to that, I worked with a variety of local community groups, leading their operations strategies and planning events. I have an eclectic background including studies in chemistry that give me a unique ability to create delicious menus and find solutions, while working at a large national bank taught me to balance and stretch a dollar like nobody’s business.

Once I started my business, I realized my own reception venue was picked, not based on the spectacular food or even the value of service, but because it was a location similar to what other brides in my family chose. So it reflected nothing about my personal style. This one mistake is disheartening but ignited my passion to help others capture their unique style and pizzazz from venue selection to the smallest details.

Aisle Do offers a range of complete wedding planning, partial planning, and month of wedding services, with some a la carte options, too. In addition to recently beginning adventures in blogging, we publish a biweekly ezine full of wedding planning tips for the DIY bride.

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