I recently wrote a post showing how blogging had helped me to gain significant press coverage for my online shop, amongst other benefits and as there are so many business people out there using social media effectively to create more brand awareness and increase sales, I’ve decided to share some of them with you by means of interviews. First up is Dee Sewell of Greenside Up, Dee teaches people how to grow their own vegetables in gardens of any size – from containers to community gardens.
How long have you been blogging for Greenside Up?
I started blogging in June 2009 (about a week after we had broadband installed and a few weeks after I launched my business). Initially I used the Blogger platform as it was the first one I came across and was easy to get started.
Why did you start blogging?
At the beginning it was to give my business some credibility. Nobody else was going out to teaching people how to grow vegetables in their own gardens so I had to ‘sell’ the idea. Anybody can say they know how to do something in adverts but through my blog potential customers could see that I was growing vegetables and cooking them for my friends and family.
Can you provide examples of how your blog a) improved brand awareness and b) actually brought you definite business.
In a sense, blogging is now my main form of marketing. By linking it through facebook, twitter, pinterest, google & linkedIn people are aware of my brand and what I do. Because I update it regularly with topical subjects, when I’m teaching I can often point people to posts that I’ve written which would be too much to cover in a regular class. I’m also able to link relevant articles in monthly newsletters to customers – past and present – which helps with the customer care aspect of my business. Because customers feel looked after, they talk to their friends and make recommendations. Word of mouth is now my main source of work.
My monthly workshops at Kilgraney House & Herb Gardens are as a result of my blog. I attended a very enjoyable open day there last year and spoke to the owners about the possibility of running a day course there. When I returned home I wrote a post about the open day which the owners read and enjoyed. I was delighted when they contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to run a series of courses. When the workshops were advertised and people were booking in they were asked how they found out about them. Some of the attendees mentioned they’d been following my blog and decided to attend the workshops because they enjoyed reading it and wanted to learn more.
Do you think your website would work as well without your blog (bearing in mind your excellent use of other social media platforms)?
No! As I mentioned I started blogging using the Blogger platform but also had a separate website which was managed by a third party. Because I didn’t have ‘control’ over my website I found myself updating the blog much more frequently. People found this confusing – they didn’t know the difference between my blog and website and I found I was duplicating things – I became confused so the public and search engines must have been even more so! My website page views were much less than my blog, probably because I wasn’t updating it as often.
Because of the confusion about a month ago I made the decision to switch from Blogger, ditch my old website and move to WordPress.org which would allow me to host a website with an integrated blog. Everything is now under the same ‘roof’ with no more confusion. I can make any changes I want to my website and because I blog on average twice a week, the search engines can see that my website is being updated on a regular basis. I’m thrilled with my new website and haven’t regretted changing over at all.
Was the changeover easy?
Because I went to WordPress.org I needed help as it’s a bit more technical than I’m familiar with. The first few posts from 2009 didn’t transfer over, but apart from that the transition has been fairly smooth. My page views have only dipped slightly which indicates that the vast majority of my readers have found the blog’s new home and it’s still early days.
I know from reading your blog that you really enjoy writing it. What do you find the most enjoyable part of writing a blog?
You’re spot on Lorna – I love to write! At the beginning I wrote my blog even when I thought there was nobody reading it and I guess you could say it’s my main hobby now.
I like the fact that people try out the recipes I post (the courgette cake recipe has the most page views of all my posts and lots of people are discussing and trying out the latest Dandelion Honey recipe). It’s rewarding when you hear that that others find the posts useful. Today is a good example as I was able to tell a class about a recent post I’d written on dealing with Slugs organically and when I arrived home, found it had been a twitter topic too and could forward the link on there.
Lately I’ve become much more interested in the photography aspect of it too, trying to include more close ups and interesting photos. Lastly it helps to keep me on track and informed. Some of my topics need some serious research – for instance I was reading about genetically modified food for a couple of weeks before I wrote the GM post – so the blog helps to keep me informed and improves upon my own education.
Do you have any suggestions or recommendations to make to any business or personal bloggers starting out?
I’ve picked up some fabulous tips at the monthly KLCK meetings but the one I use religiously now is to write down any ideas for potential blog posts, however mad they might seem at the time. I have a list in my diary of future posts – I had two more ideas today and if I don’t write them down now I know that I’ll have forgotten them by the morning.
I hope you enjoyed the interview and that you have picked up some tips from Dee’s experiences of blogging for her business. Do check out Dee’s website and blog
. Do let us know if you have found blogging to be a useful tool in your business and if you would like to learn how to blog more effectively or even just get started, do ask a question in the comments or get in touch with Marie or I