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In the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about how businesses can start their own blogs to begin successfully harnessing the power of content marketing.
In the comments to some of those blogs, the most common feedback has been “this isn’t something I can do in my industry.”
I disagree. Almost any industry can create an outstanding blog with topics that will engage and reward readers.
“Prove it!” you say. Well, I’m about to do just that. Having done some research and scoured a huge number of blogs, I’ve come across some amazing examples across every conceivable niche.
Here, I’m going to share eleven of the best and most diverse examples of small business blogs. Together, they comprehensively demonstrate that the keys to a successful blog are predictable, repeatable and within your power to replicate.
By answering four questions about each blog, you can gain deep insights into them, and understand the implications for your own venture.
So, without further ado, here are eleven of the best small business blogs dominating the marketplace right now.
They’re a hostel Amsterdam, with a new location in Lisbon. They offer no-frills accommodation to travellers who want to see Lisbon, Portugal without breaking the bank.
They offer shared dorm rooms with between 4 and 10 beds, WiFi, and a great central location. Their sales pitch is focused on affordability and fun.
Lisbon. Everything to do with the city. From facts and trivia to weather and events. The blog includes no-holds-barred criticism and recommendation, building trust with readers by being frank with them.
The blog is regularly updated, with news on the business as well as seasonal updates on the latest in Lisbon.
Tough call, but probably “Dear Brinker Fans”, as it updates people on the progress of their new venture, advertising it to both existing Brinker fans and those searching for accommodation in Lisbon alike.
All while establishing consistency of tone across their locations.
Without a doubt, it’s the tone of voice. Being irreverent, sarcastic and bracingly honest already put them high on our list for Honest Marketing approaches.
It works because no one has read business communication like it.
They stand out. At the same time, they establish a kind of integrity for having a “no bullshit” approach. Finally, they lower expectations so aggressively people can’t help but be impressed by the service.
Plumbing. Seriously. That’s it. They help people with their pipes, with heating and cooling solutions, and even with kitchen and bathroom fit-outs.
Maintenance and DIY repair tips. Did you realise that liquid drain cleaners can actually help clog your drains while simultaneously eroding them?
Did you also know how to prepare a pool to endure the winter? Can you maintain your water heater yourself to prevent I breaking down in winter?
If you read this blog, you’d know all this and more!
Their recent blog on thanksgiving. They manage to take a seasonal approach to posting, while making it relevant to their niche. They add value for the reader, anchoring the post around the garbage disposal, and preventing it from breaking.
If the garbage disposal doesn’t break down, it will save them money, which helps establish the idea that the company is looking out for customers, not just trying to maximize profits.
What is their unique feature?
The expertise. Despite the variety they manage to present, this doesn’t feel like ghost-written filler. Real expertise is shared, little-known techniques are discussed, and the overall impression is of experts who are unselfishly sharing their knowledge for the benefit of their customers.
It might sound counterproductive to teach your customers how to fix stuff at first. I mean how are you going to get business when customers know how to fix stuff all by themselves?
But in practice, this conveys authority, builds trust, and makes the business feel like a community mission, not a profit-driven venture.
Remember that customers aren’t doing it full-time and they got their own lives to live.
Most will be more than happy to spend a little to avoid getting their hands dirty if they know they can do it themselves.
Dogma Guardian is a fleet management solution which helps people manage their auto fleets, as well as helping individual vehicle owners protect their cars with GPS tracking apps.
Their blog covers everything to do with driving, both commercially and as an individual. Topics range from the dangers of texting while driving and road rage, to detailed assessments of how technology is affecting fleet management, and how companies can improve their driver retention rates.
5 Qualities of A Good Fleet Manager. Fleet managers are no doubt the people who will most likely invest in their product. By identifying the strengths of a good fleet manager they are able to flatter those who possess them, and inspire those who don’t.
While many people in this industry might focus on the technical side, this blog focuses on the human qualities of their product users (and the people who make such products necessary).
Most of their blogs are on evocative topics like catching thieves, or emotional topics like managing road rage. Humanity comes first.
The Blog: http://blog.tourders.com/
They are a travel planning service that enables people to coordinate their bookings, tickets, transfers and more through their computer or smartphones, for any size of travel party.
All things to do with travel. They cover destinations, food, travel tips and tricks, travel anecdotes and more. They even have a post on where to travel based on your favorite color.
The Circle of Life In Tanzania. Good travel marketing makes use of photography, and the photography here is stunning. What’s more, it gives you a great understanding of the unique qualities of the location.
Because it’s a whole country, the sights listed necessitate a travel itinerary like the ones they help create. It sells the product by showing what’s possible when you use it.
Aspiration. They talk relatively little about the practical and focus the discussion on the possible. What’s possible using their product, and why people should want that in their lives.
The Blog: http://blog.petplan.co.uk/
Petplan provide pet insurance, helping owners cover veterinary bills and other costs associated with their pet’s health and wellbeing. They allow people to care for their pets independent of current financial circumstances.
They have great resources not just for current pet owners, but potential pet owners too. They offer briefings on what to expect from different breeds of cats and dogs, including their maintenance and potential health issues.
They also offer advice on the first twenty four hours with kittens and puppies, helping people get through the most stressful parts.
The Secret Life Of Pets series of posts. The film has a range of adorable animated pets to choose from. The company managed to tie into current affairs and find a topic that is aimed more at children.
Using children to pressure adults into purchases is a well-established marketing tradition. This blog therefore effectively uses multiple strategies effectively.
Optimism. Insurance is designed for when things go wrong. Instead of focusing on that, as might be obvious, they instead cover a range of added-value topics that focus on the positives of pet ownership.
They address the challenges with a can do attitude, challenge negative myths about pets, and keep things positive throughout.
The Blog: http://www.sideshowtoy.com/blog/
They sell high end toys and merchandise from popular franchises, including Marvel, DC, Star Wars and more. The quality of their products means their audience is most definitely the adult collector over children.
They keep their finger on the pulse of the latest movie releases. They also post about the latest merch releases, rare figurines, and holiday themed tie-ins like movie themed pumpkin carvings.
By covering movie news, they can hope to hook avid film buffs and turn them into collectors.
New Pictures of The Alien Internecivus Raptus Statue. The post works because it helps to sell upcoming produce, but it also shows what the natural extent of this modern artform can be.
HR Giger was a world famous designer, the Alien is an icon, and the sculpture manages to be both faithful and creative at the same time.
With a comprehensive gallery of images from every angle, they sell the product without ever having to mention that it’s for sale.
The blog has a dedicated series on Featured Collectors. Toy collecting may be seen as niche, but by bringing it into the light and glorifying collectors, they encourage others to become more enthusiastic about their own collections.
It builds a sense of community.
The Blog: http://www.farmers.com/inner-circle/
Home, life, auto insurance and much, MUCH more. Renters, business, recreational, financial, pet… the list goes on.
They blog about lifestyles. As they provide insurance for more or less anything, their blog can cover more or less anything and still be relevant. The blog balances this broad brief by diving in on specifics.
They offer advice on life insurance for people with special needs – advice to those with student debt who may be terminally ill on where that debt will go, and how to prevent lightning damage in storm hot spots.
Varied, but specific.
How to Prepare You Car For Fall Like A Nascar Pro. Tying into the season and sports, they take professional tips and explain how they can be applied by average drivers, to make their cars safer and help them perform better than ever.
Their blog is beautifully organized into unique sections. These cover auto, life, home, health and more, so that it essentially breaks their blog down into a series of equally effective niche blogs.
By providing optional focus like this, they make it more readable for anyone with specific needs.
The Blog: https://www.osgpaintball.com/blog/
They offer paintballing sessions with full equipment rental options to the citizens of New England.
They use the blog to advertise their scenario games, which allow people to undertake a paintball mission with a storyline, in keeping with movies first person shooter games, only the action is real.
They also blog about technique and advanced practices.
Paintball For Beginners. They sticky a post at the top of their blog which will be the one most relevant to most of their blog visitors.
It features a cheat-sheet to getting familiar with paintball best practices, so individuals can make the most out of their very first session.
By establishing themselves as a trustworthy source of information, they create instant loyalty with anyone who enjoys their paintballing experience, guaranteeing they will come back time and again.
Reinforcement. Every single blog post uses high quality imagery from their own field. Every blog post relates to how they do things, their homegrown culture and community, and more.
They are constantly re-establishing the value of their brand through the topics they post about.
The Blog: http://honestaccurateauto.com/blog/
They offer auto repair, maintenance and cleaning services in Colorado Springs.
They cover a broad range of topics related to auto care. They have posts on pre-purchase inspection for buying a new car, back to school vehicle maintenance checklists, brake tests, and winter safety preparations.
All designed to help people get the best from their car’s performance.
Staycation Ideas In Colorado. They help people think of a fun and easy way to stay close to home over the holidays, lowering the burden on vehicles while creating high quality locally optimized content for Colorado Springs.
The genius of such post is that they’re targeting people going on long trip during vacations. And what do people do before they go on a trip? That’s right – they need to check and service their cars. And guess who’s providing such service?
Their local focus. They have understood that the people most likely to use their two Colorado Springs locations are the people who live in Colorado Springs.
As such, they have focused on making their blog as invaluable to those people as possible.
The Blog: http://www.zappos.com/about
Zappos are an online shoe store specializing in transforming how people buy shoes online.
The company blows up their blog, big time. They have grand ideas for their brand, and the blog is the platform for them to promote their charity and community work, culture and lifestyle promotion, sustainability promises and more.
They also sometimes blog about things tangentially related to shoes, like marathons.
The Soldier Named Gummy Bear. It’s a heart-warming story, tackling grand themes and hoping to inspire. It’s also a customer service case study, that presents the company in an extraordinary light while putting the focus on the customer in question.
If you wanted to be cynical, it’s the ultimate humble brag. I call it great marketing.
Grandeur. They want to be thought of as much more than a shoe store, and the blog helps them achieve that by talking in grand terms about their values, their many missions, and their constant work toward positive causes.
Suddenly, buying a pair shoes online becomes about supporting a company that wants to change the world for the better, and that makes changing habits easier.
The Blog: http://blog.rei.com/
Rei is a co-op business that sells outdoor gear, clothing and footwear online.
As well as outdoor tips, how-to’s, and the kind of thing you’d expect to tie into their products, they also have lifestyle and current affairs content. The CEO weighed in on the US elections.
They have long-running campaigns to get more people into the outdoors.
#OptOutside. A clever campaign recommending people go outside into nature instead of inside into shops.
Not only is it a clever move for an online business with no bricks and mortar store, it’s a campaign that plays right into the culture and passions of their customers.
Their member portrait section. As a co-op, they are open to anyone to become members. They then feature these members, their stories and perspectives, their favourite outdoor activities and gear.
It’s another way to shift from shop to community, from business to mission.
So, with these 11 great examples, you should have seen:
These blogs all make great use of education, promotion, emotion, and more. They use blogs as a diverse and comprehensive messaging platform.
And their success can be replicated easily by answering these same four questions for your blog before you begin, and using these blogs as inspiration for your first content.
If you’re still in need of ideas for your own blog, then leave a request in the comments section below and our community will attempt to deliver some inspiration your way.
It’s not about you, it’s about the readers
Updated: 22 February 2017