What Makes a Really Good Business Blog Post?

This week I’ve hosted the first Business Mum’s Blog Carnival. It’s been fantastic to make contact with so many enterprising mums and read their blogs. Along the way I’ve been asking myself “What makes a really good business blog post?” so that I can improve my own writing. Here’s what I’ve found:

It’s got to ‘add value’ in some way

It needs to be interesting, useful, funny, express an opinion or whatever. As long as your readers have a reason to come to your blog. It’s got to be for them and not all about you. It might not be possible to do this in every post, but if people have got a reason to go to your blog, you can tell them about your new product once they are there.

A blog that is just a sales pitch might keep the search engines happy with a stream of regular fresh content, but it won’t keep customers on your site or encourage them to come back.

It needs to have an objective

If you’ve got a personal blog, you can write about anything that takes your fancy. It doesn’t matter if your only reader is your mum!

When writing for a business blog, you’re writing with a purpose. Top of the list is to bring visitors to your blog, but what are your other objectives? Do you want to build a relationship with your customers? Demonstrate your expertise? Tell them about new products? Get them to join your mailing list?

It’s got to be easy to read

To quote Matthew Stibbe in ’30 Days To Better Business Writing’  (downloadable from badlanguage.net) “You have no right to your readers’ time. They are already as busy as you are”. Keep it simple, direct and relevant. Avoid grammar, punctuation and spelling errors.

Writing for the web is different from writing for print. People scan rather than read every word, so keep paragraphs and sentences short. Use subheadings and bullet points to break up large chunks of text.

It doesn’t have to be a long post

The post should only be as long as it needs to be to get your points across. We all have short attention spans when reading web pages, clicking off to the next page after just seconds. if you write a long post, what are the chances of readers actually reading right to the bottom anyway?

So there you go – all I need to do now is to follow my own advice! My challenge is keeping my sentences short. (I’ve been trying hard in this post, can you tell?) If you have any more tips, please do drop me a comment.

 

 

It’s Here! The First Business Mums’ Blog Carnival

Here it is, the first Business Mums’ Blog Carnival! And what an amazing response! Thanks to everyone who contributed and everyone who has offered to be future hosts.

(If you want to know more about the blog carnival and how to join in, all the details are here: Introducing the Business Mums’ Blog Carnival.)

I’ve had a few tricky decisions to make this week. Such as should I include posts with reviews? What do our readers actually want to read? After a bit of a think, I decided to keep the rules down to a minimum and just go with the flow – well, for this month at least.

Lots of fabulous posts came in giving advice on running a better business. First up we have Karen Sher, founder of Musical Minis, who shares her tips for mums who have their own business. Karen’s been in business for twenty years, so I could certainly learn a thing or two from her!  Iveta Tancheva of Mums Like You has a useful post if you’re thinking of getting revenue from online advertising.

Antonia Chitty of Family Friendly Working talks about how being a single mum can actually make women more enterprising.  Very inspiring.  Ovcr at Hire My Parents you’ll find a post explaining how to get your blog posts to work harder for you. Sam and Helen at Mums The Boss give some handy tips on PR and Sam Thewlis of Mumazing give us her business writing tips.

There’s huge variety in the businesses that mums run. Claire Willis of SnugBaby tells us about baby wearing and Toniann Harwood talks about the history behind Knot Just Jig‘s toy Noah’s Arks. Meanwhile Independant midwife Valerie Gommon tells us about the challenges of doing her job in the snow. And for something completely different, you can read why Tracey-Jane Hughes  is inspired by cake (she’s in the bra business!).

Some of us contributed posts with a focus on family. Andrea Daly of the Accidental Business Mum relaxes with her Wii after a tough week.  I’ve listed my top eight tips for saving time on household tasks (it would have been ten, but I had to clean the kitchen!). Becky Goddard-Hill, author of ‘How To Afford Time Off With Your Baby‘ has some brillient tips for saving money and Maggy Woodley of Red Ted Art shares her tips for potty training.

Finally, Emma Warren of Portfolio Directors reminds us to take some time to look around us.

Next month…

Next month’s carnival will be over at Family Friendly Working. Email posts to antonia (at)  familyfriendlyworking (dot) co.uk by Monday 19th February and the carnival will be posted on the 25th February.

Introducing The Business Mums’ Blog Carnival

So what's it all about?

Each month, a different business mum blogger will be hosting the blog carnival, listing the best business mum blog posts that month. If you're a business mum with a blog, you can submit your own favourite post of that month to the carnival.

Why? Well, it creates traffic,  links and comments for your blog as well as sharing expertise around the business mum community. We're looking for posts that add value in some way, so maybe they inspire, inform or make us smile. It's OK to talk a little about what you do (we're all in business after all) but a post that's just a sales pitch isn't going to be much of a read.

And if you fancy being a host, please send an email to helen (at) business plus baby (dot) com.

*Update* I'm allocating hosts to months on a first-come-first-served basis so apologies if you've offered to host and I've not got back to you yet.

I'm getting a lot of offers from people who want to host and I don't really want to start allocating hosts beyond the end of 2010 just yet! Feel free to offer to be a host anyway as I'll keep a reserve list if I get more hosts than there are months left in the year.

How do I join in?

Email a link to your post to the carnival host for that month – see the list below…

Don't forget to read other people's posts and comments when the carnival is published. The more comments our blogs get, the more popular our blogs look to new readers!

Hosts

January 2010 –  www.businessplusbaby.com

Email posts to helen (at) business plus baby (dot) com by the end of Friday 22nd Jan and the carnival will be posted on Mon 25th Jan

February 2010www.familyfriendlyworking.co.uk

Email posts to antonia (at)  familyfriendlyworking (dot) co.uk by Monday 19th February and the carnival will be posted on the 25th February.

March 2010www.mumstheblog.co.uk

Email posts to info (at) mumstheboss (dot) co.uk by 13th March and the carnival will be posted on the 15th March.

April 2010www.selfemployedmum.co.uk

Email posts to contact AT selfemployedmum.co.uk by 15th April and the carnival will be posted on 19th April.

May 2010www.theefficiencycoach.co.uk

Email posts to heather AT theefficiencycoach.co.uk by 24th May and the carnival will be posted on 30th May.

June 2010www.ivyhouseinteriors.co.uk

Email posts to sarah AT ivyhouseinteriors.co.uk by 18 June and the carnival will be published on 22nd June.

July 2010www.mumazing.co.uk

(email and dates to follow)

August 2010 – littlesheep-learning.blogspot.com

(email and dates to follow)

September2010 – www.littlestuff.co.uk/blog

(email and dates to follow)

October 2010 – www.sizzlingscience.co.uk

Email posts to info (at) sizzlingscience (dot) co.uk by end of Monday 11th October and the carnival will be posted on Monday 18th October

November 2010 www.andreadaly.com

(email and dates to follow)

December 2010www.redtedart.com

Email posts to maggy (At) familywoodley (dot) com by the end of Friday 24th Dec and Carnival will be posted by Friday 31st Dec.

Multiple Streams of Income for Business Mums

Back in December, I mentioned that I was trying a multiple streams approach to starting a business. My idea was that I’d balance a means of earning an income fairly quickly with one that was more of a slow burner. The fast earner is doing some admin for a bookkeeper friend –  I can learn my friend’s system quickly and get paid at the end of the month. The slow burner is this website – I’ve got a lot to learn and do to earn an income from an information website, but once I’ve cracked it, there are all sorts of possibilities including blogging, a membership site, e-books, podcasts and no doubt many other ways I’ve not even considered yet.

The more business mums I talk to, the more multiple streamers I find. We’re so used to looking for one big business idea that the multiple streams approach isn’t mentioned too often, but it has real benefits for business mums:

  • Like me, you can balance two income streams that serve you in different ways. Such as a long term project that will take a while to pay off balanced with freelance work from your old employer.
  • If you have very young children, you can start one stream during nap times, then create more streams as the children get older.
  • You never know who you might meet when networking. You could collaborate with another business mum on a new income stream, but keep working alone on an existing stream.
  • Do you like variety? You can have several complementary streams running at the same time. Or several totally different ones
  • An income stream that you felt passionate about initially might lose its appeal after a few years. You could outsource the work or sell it off completely and expand another one of your income streams to fill the gap.
  • If you’ve built up expertise and a reputation, you could sell your knowledge as an e-book, a course or as a consultant.
  • If you have several income streams, you don’t have all your business eggs in one basket.

So what about the downside? It’s very easy to be distracted as a self-employed homeworker and easier still to be distracted by young children. Add in several projects running at the same time and  unless you are very focused, you might find yourself doing nowhere fast!

If you find staying on track a challenge, then you may be better off with just one income stream – it’s better do one thing well than several things badly.

For each stream, you’ll need to be clear about what you aim to achieve and how you’re going to do it.You may find it’s best to get one stream well established and bringing in a reliable income before you start the next.

Do you have a multiple streams approach? Drop me a comment and let me know how it works for you.

 

 

Get Yourself More Time As A Work At Home Mum – 8 Top Tips

If you’re a mum to small children, there’s never enough time, especially to run a business. My theory is that if I can claw back as much time as possible from household tasks, I can use that time on my business.

Yes, I’ll admit I’m not the world’s best housewife, but life’s too short for perfection.

This was going to be a top ten list, but I had to go and clean the kitchen! Do you have a tip you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear it so please do drop me a comment.

1. Decide on the level of chaos you can tolerate and don’t do any more housework than you need to keep your sanity

We all have different standards when it comes to cleanliness and tidiness, so make sure you’re working to your own standards rather than someone elses. After all, it’s your house.

It’s OK to leave a certain amount of mess for later. If everything has to be  clean and tidy before you start work, you’ll never start work! On the other hand, a lot of mess can be distracting and depressing if you have to work in the midst of it. Decide what level of mess you can tolerate and let the rest go, for now at least.

2. Don’t iron unless you really need to

Where possible, buy clothes that don’t need ironing. And don’t iron things that don’t really need ironing such as bed sheets, jeans and t shirts. If you hang out clothes to dry carefully, it’s amazing how many items you can get away with not ironing.

3. Clean the bathroom when the kids are in the bath

Clean the loo and washbasin when the kids are in the bath. You’ll be there to supervise them and you’ll just need to whizz around the bath after they get out.

4. Get a slow cooker

These are absolutely brilliant. You spend 10 minutes throwing in some meat, veg and sauce ingredients at breakfast time and you have a delicious home-cooked meal ready and waiting in the evening.You can even cheat and use a packet sauce, many are pretty healthy these days (check the label, obviously). I get a wonderful smug feeling knowing that my eveing meal is taken care of by 9.30 in the morning!

You can do much more than just casseroles too-  try curries, pasta sauces, soups and pot roasting joints. Even rice pudding!

My top tip is to buy one with both a high and low heat setting. The low setting takes 6 to 8 hours to cook, the high setting takes 3 to 4 hours. Which means that if you have an especially chaotic breakfast time, you can get the slow cooker on at lunchtime instead.

Even better, get a slow cooker that’s bigger than you need so you can cook extra and  freeze a couple of portions for another day.

5. Get a breadmaker

This means you never have to stop what you’re doing, bundle everyone into their coats and pushchairs and dash down the shops because you’ve run out of bread. Providing you’ve got a stash of flour, dried yeast, salt, sugar and margarine, which isn’t hard to do as they all keep for ages.

6. Do your grocery shopping online

I thought this was a no-brainer, but I’m surprised how many people have said to me  ‘I bet the supermarket isn’t much fun with a baby and a toddler, is it?’. Er, no it’s not!

7. Have a ‘ten minute tidy’ at the start of nap time, then get down to work

If you’re lucky enough to have children that nap, spend ten minutes having a speedy tidy up then leave the rest. Tidying is much quicker without little people around, but don’t let it suck you in so you accidentally spend the whole of nap time cleaning.

I kid myself that the faster I go, the more calories I burn. Well, I can dream!

8. Ask for help

If you work from home, it’s easy for other family members to assume that you’ll do all the housework and cooking, just because you’re there. Not only does this eat into your working time, if you teach young children that mummy isn’t the only one who does housework, they’ll be in good habits for later in life.