5 tips for a better business blog

Don't let your company blog become like this -- worn out with tired references.

Don’t let your company blog become like this — worn out with tired references.

It’s probably the most neglected spot on any business’ website:  the company blog. No one has time to whip up 500 words on the work the firm has planned for the summer or provide insider tips for customers, so updates become few and far between. Yet if you are looking for ways to improve your company’s credibility with customers or stand out among competitors, it’s worth it to invest some time into blogging.

Take a look at your company blog, as it is today. Are most of the blog posts little more than a press release retread? A few pics from the company Christmas party — in 2012? It’s time to put more effort into your company’s blog. Here are a few easy steps you can take without a total behind-the-scenes redesign.

1. Always include photos

Think about the blogs and websites you enjoy reading. Likely what drew you in were the great pictures. I like Smitten Kitchen because it has lots of beautiful pictures of food, along with helpful photos showing different steps in the cooking process. Or take Fathom’s list of 24 Best Travel Blogs. All are exploding with eye-catching images that make your mouth water for a vacation far, far away. You don’t have to be an award-winning photographer, but you and your employees should train your eyes to look for great blog photos, and then take them. Set up a Dropbox account where phone pics can be stored so that everyone who posts to the company blog can access them.

2. Think like your customers

If your company provides a service, think of all the different Google searches your potential customers are doing in hopes of finding someone who does what you do. Try to write blog posts that show that potential customer your company is the answer to her prayers. This essentially how inbound marketing works

Take Skillings & Sons, Inc., a family-owned well drilling and water system company based in New Hampshire. Not the first company you’d think of when it comes to producing an interesting and readable blog. Marketing firm and inbound marketing specialists Means-of-Production (which hired me to work on content production), created one advice-driven blog post for Skillings & Sons each week, showcasing their wide range of services and staff’s expertise. After one year, Skillings & Sons saw their web traffic go up 233 percent and online sales leads up 20 percent.

3. Keep it under 600 words

Whether you are providing instructions on how to change an air filter or are expounding on the benefits of blogging (ahem!) your posts need not be more than 600 words. Not many people have the time to read more than that, even if they are engaged in the subject. 

4. Keep it light

Company blogs should be helpful to consumers, but also provide a window into your business culture. Do you allow people to bring pets to work? Snap a photo of Rex and post it on a slow Friday. Have you brought on a new hire? Post a welcome message, introducing him to your clients. The main focus of the blog should be pertinent to your business, but customers respond well when they see the faces of the people behind the company. Don’t be afraid to let them into the break room once in a while.

5. Keep it up

As someone who struggles to keep my own company blog current, I know it’s tough to produce the content needed for regular posts. But maintaining a schedule is important not only for your site’s SEO, it shows your company is consistent and credible, important attributes to highlight when trying to attract new customers. Of course, you can also hire a firm like BLH Writing Solutions for content production and designing post schedules that will keep your company blog regularly updated. 

For more information about blog content services, contact Beth at blh@gardnerstate.com.

Manchester Love


The longer I work in Manchester, the more I come to realize it’s my second home. Although I’m not in the city as often as I was during my Union Leader days, I have more professional connections in the Queen City than I do in my hometown. I’ve gotten to know the place from a unique perspective — as one who works but has never lived there — which inspired me to do a quick post about it.

There’s plenty to complain about when it comes to Manchester, like traffic. Seriously, how is it that traffic is so bad here. Perhaps the 1 million lights? Or the worst drivers north of Boston? Crime is another factor, which is relatively low compared to some other cities the size of Manchester, but people in New Hampshire are outraged by a dog fouling epidemic. Hearing about a rash of break-ins or a drug ring bust is cause for panic.

Manchester is one of those funny places that has a small town feel, but big city problems. I think the big city aspects add more to Manchester than diminish, but I hold things like culture, entertainment opportunities and diversity in high regard.  Here’s a sample of the Stay Work Play piece I wrote this week:

5 Reasons to Love Manchester

Manchester has many personas, depending on who you are and where you live. For some it’s where you see Van Halen play on its next tour. For others it’s a place to go bar hopping, and unfortunately for others, they see Manchester as a city where your car might get broken into. I’ve worked in Manchester off and on for a few years now and have found that the city has more to offer than its “Manchvegas” nickname lets on.

1. Manchester is multicultural

For one of the least diverse states in the country, New Hampshire’s Queen City is very diverse. Dozens of languages are spoken by students in Manchester’s public schools and more than 20 percent of the students are non-white. Manchester today is home to Sudanese, Bhutanese and Iraqis. Having different cultures represented in the city means there are stores and restaurants that cater to these cultures. The West Side has the Ali Baba Wholefoods Festival & Treasures, which serves wine, groceries and prepared food like falafel, shawarma and channa masala. Near Gill Stadium is its sister store the Spice Center, a market offering foods mainly from the Middle East and southeast Asia. There are many more small markets throughout the city that have ethnic food sections catering to the neighborhood. Manchester also has an embarrassing amount of good Mexican restaurants and a highly rated Nepali restaurant, Café Momo.

2. Manchester has the Merrimack River

During the Industrial Revolution, Manchester’s riverfront property was taken over by mills and warehouses. Now it has a baseball park, walking trails, and luxury condominiums. The mills are still there, but inside are tech firms, restaurants and the UNH Manchester campus. If you want to get up close to the river, head to Arms Park. Parking is ample and you can walk along the Merrimack just feet from the rushing water below.

New Hampshire Fair Season, My Heaven


Each year in March and early April, Miami-Dade hosts a fair and exhibition, one of the few times of year the weather is cool and sunny like a New England fall day. The Miami Fair is everything you would expect from such an event: food, lame shows, rides, bad art exhibitions. But of course it’s Miami, so everything is a little gaudier, a little more extreme.

When I lived in Miami in the late ’90s, there were a series of AV club-style commercials for the fair on the local television stations. Because I was always very broke and couldn’t afford cable, I was often watching some game show or syndicated sitcom on these local stations, which gave me ample exposure to the Miami Fair advertising strategy. These commercials featured flashing lights, quick shots of exciting rides and young people taking huge bites out of cotton candy and hot dogs. At the end, a chorus of cheesy singers would belt out in an ascending melody, “Be there, the fair, be THERE!”

Around the 10th time my roommate and I heard this catchy tune, it was permanently ingrained in our memories. We would sing it as often as we could comically fit it into conversation. If someone asked if we were going to a party, the response was, “I’ll BE THERE!” Or if I ran into my roommate on campus, we’d spontaneously break out our beloved fair song. I could still sing you this song today.

Now I live in New Hampshire, which is the heart of fair country. Each fall when my friends and I go over which fairs we want to attend, I annoy them to no end with this stupid song. Unfortunately, they didn’t get to hear how great it really was.

After a quick search, I found a toned-down modern version of the commercial, which doesn’t quite have the exuberant singing I remember, but it will give you an idea of what I’m talking about. I also wrote a Stay Work Play post about my secrets to successful fairing, which I sample below.

The Fair, Be There

The end of summer is such a bittersweet time of year. The hottest days are behind us, the swimming is a whole lot colder and everything seems to end earlier in the evening now that people are back in school.

But the end of summer and beginning of fall also brings us fried dough, the Tilt-A-Whirl and animal exhibitions. That’s right. I’m talking about the fair.

New Hampshire is lucky to have so many great agricultural fairs. I’ve done most of the fairs on the east side of Interstate 93 and a few in Maine and Massachusetts. For the past few years, my friends and I have invested serious time and money into studying the art of fair-going and I can confidently say we have perfected the trip to the fair. Here are my tips for maximizing your time this fair season.

1. Get full first

Many people will disagree with this, especially those who like rides. But now that we are all a little older and wiser, can’t we just admit we go to the fair for the food? Why torture yourself longer than you need to?

I usually go with a decent-sized group of people, maybe 5 or 6, all of whom I am comfortable with sharing food. This is the only way I have found you can make it through the wealth of so-bad-for-you-it’s-good cuisine each fair offers. Once you arrive, take a tally of what everyone wants to eat. Then get something right away that’s easy to share, like French fries or a bloomin’ onion. Snack on this as you stroll up and down the food aisles looking for the special fair treats you want. I get a turkey leg and give my friends take a few bites. Another friend gets deep-fried Twinkies, which everyone wants to try, and yet another friend buys a giant root beer with a keeper cup which we can sip to wash down the feast.