If you work as a Plumber, an electrician or in any trade for that matter and you have a website you probably don’t spend a lot of time actually maintaining it.
This may be presumptuous but tradespeople are a busy bunch, what with all the hands-on work.
The last thing on your mind after a hard day is staring at a computer screen.
Even bigger firms that employ a few people rarely have a very active website.
Despite this I am surprised at the lack of decent blogs from tradespeople. I think there is a huge gap in the market.
A typical website for small to medium sized firms will include a homepage, contact details and maybe some sort of online portfolio.
The expectation once you have a site put together is that people will find it.
That may be true if they know your company name or your web address but what about new customers, how will they find you?
Is it really enough to rely on word of mouth alone?
For this reason maybe it’s time to consider making your website more of a priority.
But how do you make a website about your trade an interesting place that’s worth visiting?
Make use of your blog!
One last thing before we get into the nitty-gritty.
It is important to remember that this is a marathon not a sprint.
Patience and commitment are important, if you want your blog to succeed you need to be consistent and stick with it.
With persistence you will start to rank on google and improve your chances of being found by new customers.
1. Where is my blog?
More advanced users might want to skip this bit (just scroll down)
First thing’s first make sure you have access to your sites administration settings and familiarise yourself with the layout.
If you aren’t sure about something don’t make any changes until you are sure, you don’t want to break your website after all!
Basic Tip – You can find tutorials on just about anything on Youtube or just ask whoever built your site to help you out.
Make sure you have a blog platform ready to go. 9 times out of 10 you will have a blog built in to your website from the get go, it’s pretty much standard practice. Again, if you’re not sure contact the people that built your site.
WordPress is the most common platform in use, it’s usually as simple has hitting “post” and then putting your blog together in there.
If in doubt, google is your friend, simply search for your platform and how to post blogs, it should tell you how.
2. Decide on a theme or subject for your blog
What you write about should be relevant to your profession.
For example you’re an electrician – Write about what you know, the electrical trade and the jobs you do.
Here are a few ideas based on blogs I have come across in the past.
- Nightmare jobs
- Taking pride in work
- Day to day banter
- Professional tips
- Tips for customers
- Reviewing tools and gadgets
You should also think about the audience you want coming to your blog – If you are a local firm try and keep things localised to the area you work in.
No matter what you do make sure you keep your customers in mind. Your blog is the public voice of your brand.
Advanced tip – You could also go down the line of video blogging or podcasting if you are less comfortable with writing however, this won’t get you the same SEO benefits without the text (I will explain that later).
PlumberParts have been incredibly successful with their video blogs featuring “celebrity plumber” James Lawrence.
I’d just like to take a quick detour at this point with a short explanation of SEO as it’s needed if this is going to make sense. (If you already know about this just scroll down a bit)
SEO is the practice of optimizing your website for site search. It used to be all about “Key words” and “key phrases”.
These are the words and phrases associated with your site and ultimately, these are the way that people will find you.
Not that long ago Sites were full of “Short-cut” techniques that would get your site onto page one, or at least they promised to.
An example of this was sites used to plaster keywords throughout articles and pages so that they would jump up the rankings.
As you can imagine those sites were often spammy and completely pointless.
These hacks and short cuts were deemed “illegal” by Google and sites using them saw their traffic bomb as they incurred penalties. Good news for everyone (apart from the spammy sites.)
Google wants to make the web a more useful place. Relevance and good content are now the key to SEO.
Content Marketing is the practice of generating regular, quality content for your website in order to appear further up on google searches.
This is why blog writing is such a powerful tool – It keeps your website active and gives you the opportunity to promote your business online cheaply.
To start off with I would suggest sticking to an article per week but the amount of time you spend on your blog depends on you.
Basic Tip – Start off by writing about something you enjoy writing about or something you know back to front. This will make it much easier to get the creative juices flowing.
What makes good content?
Quality – Quality control is pretty hard, especially when you start blogging more frequently.
The temptation once you start writing a blog is to just put something out for the sake of it.
Stick to your original theme as much as possible and try to attach a goal to your blog article. Are you, for example, solving a problem or are you looking to promote a service or product you like?
Make your articles interesting and useful, funny or opinionated.
Ask yourself this: Would you want to read your own blog if it wasn’t written by you?
Have a look at other blogs, what makes the good ones good and the boring ones boring?
Quantity – As a basic rule of thumb you need to write a decent amount, that means 150 words plus to make an impact but you’ll want to aim for a minimum of 500 words.
It’s still possible to make an impact with a shorter article, just make sure you include lots of images and share it on social media.
A decent headline goes a long way – Think about what catches your eye and does your headline fit the rest of your article.
Advanced tip – Look at headlines on social media, which ones grab your attention? Take your lead from them.
Format – Writing for the web is completely different to writing in the old fashioned sense.
People read things differently online. We have a tendency to scan articles so it’s important that you format your articles into bullet points, bite sized paragraphs and images to break up the text.
Look at the way this article has been written – lots of short paragraphs, highlighted sections and lots of sub headings.
Strong images – You don’t have to be a professional photographer but decent images can make a big difference.
An iPhone is enough but my tip would be to use Instagram to edit your photos. It saves the edited image on your phone which you can then email to yourself and upload to your blog.
Good or bad work in the trades often gets shared far and wide on social media so the right images really have potential to work to your advantage.
Advanced tip – Add your firms branding or web address to the images you take using photoshop or other image editing tools.
Important! – If you use images from the internet make sure you have permission from whoever owns the image rights.
Companies like Getty images are really hot on people using their images on blogs and websites and will try to fine you a hefty sum.
Video – I have touched on this but video blogging is another option. Youtube is the second most popular search engine behind google and it’s very user friendly.
Having videos on there that link to your website will help you no end, especially if they start to take off.
Advanced tip – Combining video with written content on your website by embedding the video creates a more engaging article. Video alone will not give you the search engine benefits the written content gives you.
4. Promoting your blog
Now that you’ve published your first blog you should start promoting it.
Use Social media, get your friends to share your post. If you are a social media beginner check out the following articles on our blog:
Posting on social media doesn’t have to be time consuming. There are apps like Buffer that allow you to schedule posts at any time.
Basic Tip – If you write an article that you are particularly proud of don’t be afraid to send it to the online magazines, trade press like Installer Online, HVP, Electrical Times etc will often share worthwhile articles.