When a business starts blogging, there is usually a huge temptation to use this newly-minted blog as a tool to directly promotion the business and its products and services.  Unfortunately, this is the quickest way to guarantee that your blog will be totally useless and irrelevant to visitors.  So what should your blog focus on?  Providing value to your readers, of course!

Let's use a hypothetical example.  Let's say that Bob's Lawncare wants to start blogging.  Bob offers lawncare services, but has also developed his own line of lawncare products that he sells locally, but would also like to sell over the internet.  Bob knows that Spring and Summer is right around the corner, which is when people turn their thoughts to caring for their yards.

Bob's first thought is that he needs to promote his products and services.  That if he can show that his weed-killer works the best, or that his line of pesticides does a better job of ridding your yard of insects than the competition, that he will be set. 

But let's switch gears for a minute and look at Bob's blogging plan through the eyes of his readers.  How are Bob's readers likely to reach his new blog?

There are three main ways that people would arrive at Bob's Lawncare blog:

1 - By doing a Google search for a term/phrase that Bob blogs about

2 - By clicking on a link to Bob's Lawncare blog from another blog

3 - By subscribing to Bob's feed, or bookmarking his blog.

Now since Bob wants to use his blog as a tool to directly promote his lawncare business, let's say that a typical post from Bob might be 'How Bob's Weedkiller Can Give You the Perfect Lawn!"  Bob would then explain why his particular weedkiller works better than the brand names that you are familiar with. 

But is this the type of content that would build Bob's blog?  Would this type of self-promotion draw visitors from Google searches?  Probably not, since most people won't be searching for 'Bob's Weedkiller'.  Would this type of content be what other blogs would want to link to?  Probably not, since it's a promotional piece that doesn't really offer any value.  Finally, would this type of content be likely to grow Bob's subscriber base?  Probably not, since it's basically an advertisement for Bob's products and services.  Bob's friends and family might be ok with that, but everyone else could probably care less.

Now let's look at what might happen if Bob switched the focus of his content.  Instead of a post about 'How Bob's Weedkiller Can Give You the Perfect Lawn!', what if Bob blogged about '10 Steps to a Weed-Free Lawn By May 1st". 

Notice that the tone of Bob's posts has completely shifted.  Bob has gone from directly promoting himself, to now he is telling his blog's visitors how to solve a problem.  How many people want to learn more about Bob's Weedkiller?  Probably not too many.  But how many people want to learn more about having a weed-free lawn?  A whole lotta people!

By shifting to focusing on how he can solve problems and provide value to others, Bob has suddenly greatly increased his blog's relevance with readers.  Now people that search for terms like 'getting a weed-free lawn', or 'how to remove weeds from your lawn', might end up at Bob's blog post about '10 Steps to a Weed-Free Lawn By May 1st' (And search traffic suddenly helps Bob sell his lawncare products over the internet).  Other bloggers might see the value in this post, and link to it on their own blogs.  And finally, visitors that are interested in caring for their lawn will probably see the value in this post, and are much more likely to subscriber to Bob's Lawncare blog.

The key mistake that many businesses make when they blog is that they attempt to put themselves first.  They want to use their blog as a tool for self-promotion, which provides almost no incentive for visitors to become readers.  When a blog instead focuses on providing value for its readers, then it begins to grow.  People that will come to Bob's blog don't care about hearing about Bob's products, they care about hearing how they can solve a lawncare problem they are having, or how they can improve their current lawncare efforts.

View your business blog as a tool to provide value DIRECTLY to your readers, and you will INDIRECTLY see your business grow as a result.  

January 30, 2008

Mack Collier is a social media consultant, trainer and speaker. He has been actively immersed in social media since 2005, and in that time, has helped advise, teach and consult with businesses of all shapes and sizes on how they can better connect with their customers via these amazing tools and sites. While being passionate about the social media space, what truly excites Mack is the human connections that can result from the proper use of these social tools. His motto is "Don't focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate." His goal is to help his clients create those connections with their customers, and nuture them into relationships that help grow their bottom line.

His social media 'homebase' is The Viral Garden, which in 3 years time Mack has grown into an influential marketing/social media blog with a monthly readership of over 175,000. He is also a frequent contributor to the website Marketing Profs, as well as the marketing blog Daily Fix, and small business blog Search Engine Guide. His writings have been referenced in several mainstream publications and websites, including The Washington Post, MSNBC.com, Ad Age, CNET, and The Boston Globe.

Mack is also a requested speaker and has presented at some of the top social media conferences and events, including South By Southwest Interactive, Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer, and Small Business Marketing Unleashed. He is also passionate about teaching companies how to use social media sites and tools more effectively, and offers training and seminars privately to companies, in addition to his public speaking schedule.

You can learn more information about Mack's social media training and consulting services here. If you need a social media speaker for your event, or want to know where Mack will be speaking next, click here. If you want to email Mack, click here.

Mack wrote this bio. The third-person thingie is just for fun.


This is a perfect, concise, guide on how a business should go about creating a successful, worthwhile blog. It is so hard for many to grasp the no-self-promotion idea, but it's really necessary to get interest in what you have to say.

Thanks Jestep! I really try to stress the 'promote value, not yourself' approach when talking to businesses that want to start blogging. It can seem completely counter-intuitive to businesses at first, but people just don't want to hear you promote yourself. Now they will be ok with some mild promotion if you also provide value, but it has to be done smartly. It's a lesson that many businesses unfortunately have to learn the hard way.

I really love the old saying that "they don't want to know who you are until you show them how much you care, on the web that means providing useful information" Believe it or not this is true offlime as well.
The best self promotion you cxan do offline is to show others you really know your field, by proving with knowledgable information."

Thanks for a great post.

Great post and something every blogger should remember as a golden rule.

Creating a direct but catchy title really gets the attention of the readers. Though there are thousands of blogs on the net that are quite similar to some blogs of particular niche, creating a unique title will always do the trick to beat them.

This provides a lot of useful information. It really makes bloggers stop to think about whether their blogs are providing the information they really want it to.

Super, duper tips Mack!
Especially the part about "solving a problem."
This is the golden nugget that bloggers and businesses alike really, really miss the mark on!

Maria Reyes-McDavis
Web Success Diva

Superb tips Collier...

Good article Mack! ~ Anne Ahira

By doing a Google search for a term/phrase that Bob blogs about , by clicking on a link to Bob's Lawncare blog from another blog by subscribing to Bob's feed, or bookmarking blog.

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Search Engine Guide > Mack Collier > How to Write Blog Posts That Will Grow Your Readership, and Your Business