Welcome to Blogging for B&Bs, a series of posts exploring blogs and their uses and usefulness for B&Bs. In this series, we’re exploring what blogs are and how they can help you connect with your guests, coming up with ideas for blog posts, and writing the posts themselves. We’re also discussing when a blog might not be right for you, and some alternatives to blogging that will still help you connect with your guests.
Last week we examined how to craft a post for publication. This week, we’ll look at reasons a blog might not be the best thing to add to your website just yet, and we’ll discuss some alternatives to a blog that will keep readers engaged and search traffic coming.
Blogging is fun and can be a huge benefit to your business in increased traffic and better visitor interaction. But blogging is a big commitment, and if you’re not unable to meet the requirements that blogging demands, perhaps it’s better to leave it out. Here are a few reasons blogging might not be the best thing to add to your site.
1. You can’t be consistent/up-to-date with posts
It’s important to be up-to-date on your blog. A blog that sits fallow for weeks or months lends less and less credibility over time for the visitors that show up on your site, leading your guests to think that you just don’t care. You don’t have to post every day, like some bloggers do, but you should publish a new post at least once a month if you want to see any traffic benefits. If you know you can’t post an update on a consistent basis—either you don’t have the time to craft a well-written and relevant post, or you don’t have the energy or desire—then it’s probably best to nix the whole idea all together.
2. Your website isn’t up to snuff yet
You should have a well-designed, organized and functioning website in addition to your blog. Your visitors should be able to find everything they need to know about your B&B from your website. They shouldn’t have to comb through pages of blog posts, and they shouldn’t be confused by the addition of a blog page to your site. For a B&B, a blog is probably not going to be the main traffic driver, but a supplementary one that will also serve to keep potential guests engaged. If visitors can’t find what they’re looking for in the first place, they’re not going to stick around to see what your next post will be about.
3. You can’t think of what to write
If you have too much trouble coming up with ideas, perhaps it’s not a good idea to start, as you’ll soon run out of fodder and, as mentioned above, having an out-of-date blog is worse than not having a blog at all. Or, you’ll start repeating things. A little bit of repetition is ok, provided it’s rephrased and repurposed enough that it could stand on its own, but constantly switching back and forth between only a couple of ideas or stories is a good way to lose your audience. A couple of weeks ago, we discussed how to find ideas, and speaking from my own experience, once I start coming up with ideas, I start finding them everywhere, but if that isn’t the case for you, maybe it’s best to wait until you have a store of ideas written down somewhere before you start running out of them.
4. You can’t respond to comments in a timely or professional manner
The point of a blog is engagement. Though the ultimate goal of your blog, in the long run, is probably to gain more guests, in the short run it should be to increase your audience. And part of knowing about your increased audience is reading your comments and interacting with commenters. When you get negative comments, as the site owner, you do have the option of deleting them, but, especially in the blogging world, it shows more professionalism and integrity to deal with the accusations or negativity in a calm and helpful manner. Flying off the handle at every perceived injustice, or complaining about guests or commenters on your blog, will decrease your credibility in a hurry.
5. You hate writing
The ultimate reason not to blog. A blog is all about writing. You have to be able to write well, and to write in a hurry. If writing is something you hate—and you’re not alone in this: not everyone is an aspiring author—then you’ll never want to write for your blog, even if it is helping traffic. You’ll procrastinate, you’ll invent other things to do when it’s time to write, you’ll simply not do it. Or, you’ll do it badly and, though there’s a little leeway on a blog when it comes to proper grammar and sentence structure, if your writing is consistently poor—unclear and difficult to read—and you’re inconsistent on top of that, your readers will lose interest fast.
Some alternatives to blogging:
Hate writing but love the idea of blogging? Keep a video diary. With a “vlog”, you upload your homemade videos to your website instead of writing posts. You can use your digital camera or the built in camera on your laptop to record your video. You can upload video to YouTube or Vimeo, and then place the videos on your blog site, with little effort. No writing, regular updates. Perfect for the non-writers among us. Video also has the added benefit of drawing more traffic, so even the regular bloggers would do well to consider a video post now and again.
Another easily update-able idea that doesn’t involve writing. Podcasting is vlogging without the video—purely audio tracks that users can download and listen to on their ipods or mp3 players. The technical aspects of podcasting are as simple as video blogging, and audio also has the potential to engage in ways that text-only can’t. Just make sure you have some good sound effects.
If you like to share your information in sound bites rather than articles, perhaps a social media platform like Twitter or Facebook is more up your alley (although if your biggest issue is being consistent, maybe you should think twice about this one). It’s easy to import your Social Media updates to your blog, so even visitors who aren’t your friends on each specific platform can see your updates and can choose to follow or friend you from within the social media platform.
If this constant—and consistent—updating thing just isn’t for you (and really, it’s not for everyone), don’t worry. Just don’t get involved in the first place. Make your website’s content really great, make sure your visitors can find exactly what they’re looking for, make sure everything works, and then leave it alone. Come back to it again in a few months to add some content or make some changes, and then leave it alone again until you have more to update. This strategy is perfectly ok—as I said, it’s the updated content that matters. If your visitors aren’t expecting an up-to-the-minute blog, they won’t be disappointed when they don’t find one.
Blogging is a commitment, and if you can’t keep the commitment to your readers, then it’s best not to make the promise in the first place. It can have great benefits in terms of traffic and engagement for your website, but if you can’t keep the commitment, then sometimes a blog can be more hurtful than helpful.
What are some other alternatives you’ve found to keep your site updated and your visitors engaged?