Many small businesses are using TypePad to boost search engine traffic to their websites and raise their profiles as thought leaders in their fields. We know that many of you could benefit from their stories and experiences, so we’ve launched the TypePad small business center, focused on connecting small business owners and experts in blog design, branding, marketing, social media strategies with all of you out there who are looking for inspiration and great ideas.
We recently spoke to J.D Iles of the very successful Signs Never Sleep to get his insights on starting a small business blog.
The flexibility has been key to J.D. Iles’ blogging success. In 2004, he purchased a boutique sign shop in New Hampshire called Lincoln Sign Company, and decided to try blogging as a way to add fresh content the company’s existing website. “I didn’t know any HTML,” J.D. says. “Code was voodoo to me – I’ve since learned a few things, but I don’t ever want to be a coder.”
His Lincoln Sign Company blog soon attracted traffic from around the country, with people from Austin to San Francisco requesting sign quotes. The success was a mixed blessing. “Signage is a very local business,” J.D. explains. “Most sign companies conduct their business within a 30 miles radius, and I couldn’t handle the long-distance requests as affordably or easily as their own local sign company could have,” he says.
J.D. decided to change the focus of his blog from Lincoln Signs to the sign industry at large. He launched Signs Never Sleep on TypePad, based on a recommendation from Seth Godin. “My number one criteria was to find a company that would host my blog,” he says.
Nearly three years later, J.D. is very happy with his choice: “TypePad is more reliable than my car,” he chuckles.
Today, Signs Never Sleep is an online sign magazine for people interested in learning about signs and how to purchase them. “There are four other online sign magazines, but they all address sign makers, not sign buyers,” J.D. says. “The buyers are the demographic I’m after.”
J.D. and his co-blogger Christine cover topics on everything from what you need to know before you buy a sign to great ideas in signage to profiles of top-notch sign makers around the country. “We’re continually working to make the blog better – looking at other blogs, finding ways to improve,” J.D. says. They seem to have found the right formula: the Signs Never Sleep readership has grown from 4,000 page views per month in 2008 to over 24,000 page views in May of 2009.
J.D's advice for small businesses
J.D. offers this advice to small business bloggers: “Search engines re-index the web constantly. For any business that wants to grow, your static website isn’t going to cut it – you need to have a blog.” He recommends TypePad for its reliability and ease of use. “As a small business, you want to choose a blogging company that is accountable and will be there for you.”
He firmly believes that it’s worth the effort: “Once you get started, blogging is tremendously rewarding - if you can spend just a few minutes a day creating content, it can be so beneficial.”
Find out more
We have compiled a whole host of information, including free webinars, case studies and a network of designers, marketers and independent TypePad experts for the small business at the Typepad small business center.
Let us know what you want to find out more about in the comments.