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Building a business blog

'The traffic was amazing - I would have been crazy not to add the website.'
Melanie Stapleton, Cecilia Fox

Top tips

  • Ensure your blog reflects the personality of your business
  • Plan content sustainably
  • Start small with something you can manage

The business: interest in my little blog

Melanie Stapleton, business owner of Brunswick florist Cecilia Fox started blogging five years ago, using Blogspot's free blogging platform. 'I was a really small business and I had no money for a website, but I wanted to share some stories and images.' A free blog seemed like the right choice.

'After the first year, I noticed heaps of people commenting on my posts and following the blog.' Even though the blog started out as a creative endeavour rather than a way to generate sales, 'the traffic was amazing - I would have been crazy not to add the website'.

Monitoring comments, Melanie was fascinated to see that her blog was attracting a community, including florists and people who love gardens - not just customers. 'I really wasn't trying; it just happened.' The blog was written up on some other blogs, which in turn generated more traffic.

The challenge: Staying true to the personality of my business

Melanie had been using the blog as a communications tool to build trust and reach out to potential customers who would resonate with how she approaches her work. 'I'm running my business a certain way - it's unique.'

From the start, Melanie wanted her unique approach to floristry to be the focus when attracting customers. 'Initially I tried to be a bit mysterious. I didn't want Cecilia Fox to appear high in internet search results for "Brunswick+florist"

The outcome: a jump in visitors

When Melanie took the plunge and organised a website three years ago, she noticed an immediate jump in web traffic and a shift in the profile of her customers. In moving to a website with a blog (rather than a standalone blog) she wanted to consolidate her presence on the web and build more trust with potential customers. 'If you're going to pay someone to provide a valuable service then you want to see who they are.'

Issues along the way

'When I got the website, I had to let go of the mystery a little,' laughs Melanie, ' because I'm now turning up in search results!' She's balanced out the extra visibility by keeping her contact details on the website and blog quite minimal. 'It's still a little bit mysterious, and people who want to contact me make the effort.'

Keeping it going

Melanie blogs approximately once a month, and she's committed to making each post count. 'I'd rather blog something worth reading once a month, than do more posts with less substance. Even if I had time to write something every day, I wouldn't. People are already so bombarded with emails, blogs and feeds.

She also says that rather than trying to generate business, she continues to blog 'if we've done something I'm really proud of, mostly about personal stuff.'

Sometimes the feedback can be a surprise. 'The best responses happen when I've written about things that have gone wrong.' One of the blog's busiest posts described the experience of opening a box of gardenias, to find that they were all dead, and then told the story of what Melanie did next.

The result

The shift to a website plus blog has resulted in an increase in the amount of bridal enquiries, and Melanie puts this down in part to her improved search engine rankings. 'If someone Googles me they can see so much more than when I had the blog alone.'