When I first heard the word blog, I thought…what the heck is that? I thought it was a weird name for what I later learned was an online journal/collection of articles. It sounded like a combination of “blob” and “grog”.
I’m sort of resistant to new technology and always about a decade behind when it comes to new gadgets. Ask any of my friends or family…I’ve never gotten the hang of carrying a cell phone. It’s just not something I think of. I forget to charge it, I forget to grab it. It’s always lost…dead…or on silent. I wear yoga pants most days and since women’s pants are usually pocket-less or the pockets are non-functional, I leave it everywhere.
My first response to new fangled notions is almost always negative. And then slowly, I find myself trying out said gadget and finding that I can’t live without it. For example, I rather enjoy texting. I love to write and I’m better at writing than I am speaking so texting has been a lifesaver in the communication area of my life.
My love of writing has been a lifelong passion. I’ve always kept a journal, and I love to take photos. Really, I love to document my life and interesting things I experience, and one of the most interesting things that I’ve experienced is starting a farm.
When I started blogging, it was really just for my own personal enjoyment. After my initial negative knee jerk reaction, I found that blogging was the perfect platform for journaling and sharing photos. With a farm, you have an endless supply of material and subject matter. I didn’t really have big ideas when I started the Iron Oak Farm blog, I thought…maybe my kids will read it someday…maybe we’ll look back on it when we’re old and laugh at all the crazy things we did. Little did I realize that our blog would be the beginning of a farm business and writing career.
As I explained in my post Selling a Lifestyle, homestead based businesses may be more about the process, the behind-the-scenes more than any other trade. You have to convince your customers that they should buy your $5 gallon of organic milk rather than the $2.50 gallon at the super market.
You have to convince your customers that they should buy your $15 skein of handspun yarn rather than the $5 skein at Jo-Anns.
And how do you do that? By telling the story of your product. How it came to be. The love and care that you give your animals, the attention to detail that you give your craft, or the sustainable ways that you grow your produce. People want to know. They want to know the people behind the product. They want a slice of that lifestyle.
So how do you tell your story? Or more importantly where?
As I said before, technology really isn’t my thing. So it’s strange that my life is bisected into two worlds. One half of my day is spent behind a computer sharing photos, writing blogs, answering e-mails and working on my new book that is due to come out in November.
The other half is shearing goats, milking goats, collecting eggs and feeding animals.
But each of these worlds are dependent on the other.
I need the technology to tell people about our farm. To share our brand, our experience and our knowledge. To earn money to buy feed, seed and equipment.
A blog is a perfect way to gather a fan base of people who are interested in what you do. The type of people who follow your blog, are the type of people who will be interested in your product.
For example, one aspect of our blog appeals to people who crochet, knit, spin, felt and weave. I share techniques on knitting and crochet, projects I’ve finished, our dying process, spinning videos, and how we shear and care for our fiber goats. All of this information is free to our customers. In return, when I finish a skein of yarn and put it for sale in our shop, all of these fiber enthusiasts get a notification.
Sometimes you have to be willing to give away a bit of knowledge… a bit of your secret in exchange for enthusiasm and interest. People will appreciate it and come back for more.
Be honest. Mistakes make you genuine.
We have a website, why do we need a blog?
A website is a must in this day and age! But a website, for the most part, is stagnant. It has information about your store, farm or product, but your customer must seek it out. Once they know your hours, product price or location there’s not much to draw them back until they need to buy another product.
On the other hand, if you incorporate a blog into your website, every time you upload a post, your followers get a notification. It draws people to your site.
I don’t have that much to write about/ Our product is pretty straightforward
That’s fine! Maybe you only write a post once a month, maybe it’s short, maybe you only post a photo once a week. But I encourage you to push yourself to find a creative way to share your product.
I’ve found that by striving to find content for our blog helps me to see our product through the eyes of our customer. It’s a great way to generate new ideas and new ways of presentation.
Try to be consistent with your posting. The most successful blogs are those that are updated often (at least once a week) and at regular intervals, for example every Tuesday. This gives your customer something to look forward to.
How to start
The best thing is about starting a blog is that most blog platforms are free and pretty self explanatory. I’m familiar with Blogger and WordPress.
Blogger is very user friendly, but limited. The Blogger platform is a little outdated so a lot of the “fancy things” that you might want on your blog aren’t available.
WordPress is slightly more technical but you have a ton of options. Spend some time navigating the site and after a while you will learn the basics of where everything is.
Take your time, don’t get frustrated.
If you can’t figure something out, Google it or search for an instructional on Youtube.
Use the best photography equipment you can get your hands on. If that means it’s your cell phone, then so be it. But photography is a big part of blogging.
Get familiar with an editing program for your pictures and logos. I use a combination of Photoshop and PicMonkey, an online photo editing program.
If you’ve made it to the end of this post, then you know for a fact that blogs work! You’re here because you’re interested in a lifestyle and took the time to learn more. Your readers and customers are after the same thing! Give blogging a try!