Every business, including yours, should have a website - at the very least a place where general audiences can find out your telephone number and the specific services that you offer. A website is a great way to bring you to the attention of new customers, but you need something on your website to draw in the right kind of customer whose needs coincide with your specialisms.
Internet search, by which we mean Google or other search engines, is the first port of call for people looking for a product or service, and this is why some organisations spend thousands of pounds every month on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of their websites, to ensure they are at, or near, the top of the list for every Google search that matches their core product or service.
As a small business, you may not have access to these kinds of resources, but you have one thing that Google really likes: content. By adding new and interesting content to your website on a regular basis, you will be able to boost your site’s visibility on internet search engines, when people search for terms such as “Virtual Gastric band York” or “Hypnotherapy agoraphobia Lincolnshire.”
If you do have a website already and you’re unable or unwilling to have a blog added to it, perhaps because it will be expensive, or simply because it is not possible, then both Blogger and Wordpress will allow you to create a free blog on their website, to which you can link from your own site. This will give you fewer benefits in terms of attracting visitors to your site, if you have one, but it will still be a benefit to your reputation and the perception of your expertise and knowledge. If you don’t have a website, then a Wordpress or Blogger page is a quick, easy and free way of making your presence felt on the world wide web, and will be ready to start blogging on immediately. Both Blogger and Wordpress are tremendously easy to use, even for beginners.
The word blog is a contraction of ‘web log’ - that is, a record of writings on the web, typically appearing in the form of short (200-500) word articles, in a long list with the newest at the top. Vlogs are Video blogs, short videos of people talking to camera with perhaps a few simple visuals in the mix like a chart or illustration. As Internet speeds increase, video blogs are becoming more popular and score highly with Google. The other benefit of blogging and vlogging is that you build up a library of posts and videos that demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. Consistent, quality blogging will help establish you as a knowledgeable practitioner in your field and your geographical area.
The important thing to remember about blogs and, to a lesser extent, vlogs, is that to really work, they need to be original content, and they need to appear regularly, preferably once or twice a month. Blogs and vlogs also give you a trigger point for social media, so you can update your various feeds and timelines with a message like “My new blog on hypnotherapy for migraine headaches is out – read it here -” and a link to the blog page.
Writing a blog isn’t difficult providing you have a tight focus on a specific subject, and some knowledge to draw on. Blogs are personal, so you need to gather your own thoughts on the subject (rather than borrowing someone else’s!) and then express them in straightforward language. Start small and aim for a couple of hundred words on a subject. When you’re writing your blog, think of the customer personas you developed earlier, and imagine them reading it. What will they find interesting? What will they be searching for? Try to tune your blog post in to the kind of subjects your customer personas will find interesting and stimulating, and make frequent mention of words and phrases related to that topic.
For vlogs, the objectives are more or less the same but the process requires a little more setup. You’ll need a simple camera set up – many compact cameras and phones can shoot quite good footage and sound – and a suitable place to shoot your footage. When setting up your vlog recording, think about how much space to have around you, whether to appear behind a desk or simply head and shoulders. If you need inspiration, look at how TV programs set up “talking head” shots – usually with the subject at a slight angle to the camera, with an out of focus or distant background. What you will be able to achieve will depend to an extent on your equipment, but good results can be had from even the most basic setup. Write a script for your vlog along the same lines you’d use for writing a blog, but imagine you’re speaking to just one person, and look into the camera, rather than at the screen when recording (or you’ll look distracted and shifty on screen!).
Once you’ve recorded your vlog, you’ll need a way of editing it and putting it on the Internet. Keep your title sequences very short, and leave more time for video footage, keeping the overall length to under 10 minutes, although short vlogs (3 minutes or less) also work well. Youtube ticks both these boxes very neatly, allowing you to make basic edits before putting your vlog online, and you can then simply publish the video on your blogging platform and link to it on your social media channels to maximise its visibility and impact.