Small business owners are encouraged by web developers like myself to write blog posts related to their businesses. But it’s not always easy to determine what blog topic will 1) interest readers 2) be related to one’s business and 3) engage readers in a useful sort of way. How does one get inspired to write yet another blog post? One way to find some blog post inspiration is to read a book and write a book review.
In a discussion with my children, we asked each other: would you rather write a book report or watch TV? My children (who range in ages from 11 to 18) declared, of course, TV. I, on the other hand, would much rather tackle the book report. I decided to make this a poll on a blog post (I changed “book report” to “book review” as that is what one usually calls discussing a book on a blog post):
(Poll will be open until September 10th):
If you answered “book review,” you could read a book related to your business and write a blog post about it. Maybe if you answered TV, you should write blog posts about the shows? Then again, maybe not – most people use TV as a way to zone out at the end of a long day. I find I can’t read a business book when I’m tired. I prefer a classical novel or a history book – a topic unrelated to business.
The Referral Engine by John Jantsch
Recently, I read the book The Referral Engine by John Jantsch. The rest of this post will be dedicated to what I liked and what I found less useful about Jantsch’s book. Long ago, someone taught me to pick and choose ideas from self-help books – not everything will be relevant or useful, but if you get one or two good ideas, that can be motivating. Three or four and the book is a golden prize!
At some point in The Referral Engine the author talks about hand-written notes. Aha! There’s a great one for me. I then wrote a hand-written note to one of my recent new clients. Have you used hand-written notes to say thank you to your clients?
There is quite a bit about blogging in The Referral Engine. Some of it I will save for my next blog talk, such as:
- Create engagement by asking questions and comment on comments.
- Use keywords: “you should focus many of your posts on the actual words and phrases that your ideal customers use”
- Learn benefits of blogging, such as testing out new ideas and a focus on learning.
He says blog at a minimum three to four times per week. Three to four times per week? Do you know active business owners who do that? If a business owner can write one or two great posts per months, go for it. Don’t get all stressed out over the blog every day or even once per week bit.
He also stressed the importance of podcasts. Here’s another one where I hesitate. I haven’t developed any podcasts, and I don’t expect to start. Unless I end up working with others who do this sort of work already, I don’t think it will be part of my business. You have to know your strengths and what you enjoy. I’ve done some video editing for a client, but it was not high end video and my son helped with the editing (he’s quite good at video, but only in eleventh grade, and he’s not ready for the business angle. He does video to relax).
The basic idea of The Referral Engine is if you get your clients talking about your business, they will be your advertisements. I like that idea. I’ll keep looking back to the book (and talking to others) for more ideas on how this can happen.
Your Turn, Please
Have you read any business books that you have found helpful? Do you also pick and choose from self-help books? Do books inspire you to write posts? Do paintings? Do you find yourself choosing TV over blog reading, book reading, blog writing or other evening activities? Or can you not remember the last time you watched TV for any lengthy period?
About the painting: Vilma Reading on a Sofa by Tavik Frantisek Simon – circa 1912 – what do you see? Do you notice the letter on the table? Do you think if Vilma were alive today she would have a laptop on the table open to her blog? Or would the book be lying by itself on the bed, and she would be busy reading blogs on her iPad or laptop instead of perusing the old-fashioned book? The light in the painting is strange – it is dark outside the window, but the room is bathed in a glow, clearly from something other than the outdoors. Note how many books she has on the shelf above her bed.