Blogs are everywhere, and that’s good news for the music industry. Music fans love reading about music – in fact, they crave it and actively seek out other fans’ opinions, reviews, videos, and behind-the-scenes experiences. From pop stars to specialty guitars, there are endless possibilities for music-related blog post topics.
So why does it feel like such a challenge to simply sit down and create blog posts on a regular basis? We’re guessing you have plenty of passion, but not enough time. Running a music retail business is time-intensive, and blogging often falls to the bottom of the list.
With this time pressure in mind, we’ve created a guide to 10 crucial things you must know about blogging. This list will help you get the most out of blogging, so it’s always worth your time and contributing real value to your music business.
1- Blog Toward a Goal
The cardinal sin in blogging is to blog just to blog. Or, to put it another way: Don’t just talk to hear yourself talk – and without a clear purpose, blogging is just talking to yourself. That’s boring and won’t build new audience.
Your blog should have a clear, overarching goal. It needs a greater purpose beyond “having a blog.” What are you trying to accomplish for your brand? What do your customers want and need?
That last question is absolutely critical. Your blog should always keep your audience in mind. Think about their questions – their actual day-to-day challenges – and create blog post topics that are helpful to them.
Your big blogging goal should NOT be any of the following:
- To have a blog because your competitors have them
- To give the store owner a place to blog
- To sell new products or increase sales
These are unrealistic and unhelpful goals for your blog. If you’re doing it just because your competitors are, it will turn out boring and scattered. When a blog is a pet project of a store owner who likes to drone on and on … Well, that’s just not interesting to readers.
And your blog also isn’t a place to push new products. Blog readers prefer that you teach, not sell. If your blogging goal is “sell more instruments,” you’ll be sorely disappointed. Blogs don’t sell products directly, but they do boost your reputation and build interest in your brand. That’s all very valuable to your business.
A good blogging goal reads something like this:
Our blog will educate people about the history of the region’s folk music, introduce them to new instruments, and inspire them to visit our store and join our acoustic folk music community.
That’s a goal that suits the individual store, understands its audience, and has a reasonable expectation of results. It’s also broad enough to spark ideas for hundreds of blog posts in the coming years.
2- Speak the Language of Your Audience
At Octave Media, we often hear our clients say, “But I don’t know what to blog about!” Don’t worry, that’s a common feeling. Luckily, we have a tried-and-true method to battle blog writer’s block: social listening.
Social listening is a method of examining what your fans are discussing on social media and using their language to inspire your content generation. Read through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube comments, and so forth, and write down the exact words and phrases you’re seeing.
We repeat: write down the exact words and phrases. Don’t summarize. It’s important to understand the word-for-word language your audience is using, because it will help you with keywords – the words recognized by search engines and social platforms. (We’ll go deeper into search engines in #7, below).
Social listening comes with an important disclaimer: You might cringe at what you hear. Your fans could be talking about “buying on iTunes” or “Kardashians favorite music.” That’s not necessarily music to the ears of a retail store owner, but it’s reality.
Take it in stride, and use it all as inspiration for blog posts. Add a keyword that will catch the eye of your fans, and tie it in to your message, like, “Our Favorite 5 Folk Musicians Top-Ranked on iTunes.” Seize the opportunity to mention that one of them plays an interesting mandolin with a connection to your store.
By speaking the language of your audience, you’re instantly connected with them – and you’ll never run out of blog post topics. Glance through social media anytime for fresh ideas.
3- Become a Storyteller
Storytelling has become a big part of marketing, especially for music businesses that thrive on players’ passions. People love to read a good story and feel a twinge of emotion. Better yet, they enjoy seeing photos and videos that build a deep, memorable connection to the subject of the story.
That’s why a true story is a blogger’s best friend. Seek out real stories and share them in your blog. Not only does this take some of the pressure off you as a blogger, but it comes across as open and inviting to your audience.
Are there any local celebrities who could be guest bloggers? The answer is almost definitely yes – in fact, local up-and-coming musicians are great for Q&A-style guest blogs that appeal to musicians and fans. Ask questions about their style, favorite instrument, upcoming gigs, advice for newcomers, and on and on.
Some music bloggers actually find that vlogging – video blogging – is even more effective for connecting with a music audience. As a vlogger told ReverbNation: “You’ll capture fans’ attention along with random YouTube surfers who have a voyeuristic curiosity about what musicians do all day. It’s a perfect chance to give folks watching a play-by-play full of human-interest stories.”
4- Be a Fan of Your Fans
To further build on the concept of storytelling: Your fans need fans. Your blog is a great place to acknowledge them, and make everyday people feel like celebrities too. Use blog posts to highlight customers and social media followers, making their stories part of the overall blog experience.
These don’t have to be grand adventures. You can do a post about someone taking vocal lessons for the first time, or playing a violin at the local farmers’ market. The point is to show ordinary people succeeding by being connected to your business.
Here’s how this can work in day-to-day blogging. Put a call out on social media for people to share their stories about playing an instrument they bought at your store. Encourage them to include a video clip or photos of themselves.
Then turn their stories into how-to blog posts and behind-the-scenes glimpses. Your fans will enjoy seeing these slice-of-life adventures, and it will enrich their understanding of your company’s connection to their lives.
5- Embrace Your Quirkiness
A blog is a place to have fun and be quirky. Music is all about nerding out on your favorite bands, right? Don’t be afraid to be a bit of a blogging oddball – as long as it resonates with your audience.
The Wild Honey Pie, named after a Beatles song, is a great example of a quirky music blogger – in fact, it’s a blog that became an entire entertainment business, based mostly on producing new music reviews and playlists. Every post is accompanied by original hand-drawn art and a playlist of favorite songs.
The Ditto Music Blog is another example of an effective, yet oddball, music blog that explores a wide range of topics for players and fans. It’s easy to imagine how a post like “Advice for Budding Bedroom Producers” could help your store connect with new buyers of electronic music equipment.
6- Fill Content Gaps
One way you can instantly outshine your blogging competition is to find gaps in content and fill them. Browse through the blogs of your competitors. Look for topics you know are important to your audience, but your competitors are ignoring.
Here are a few examples:
- Competitors focused on new music? Blog about 10 retro favorites from the 80s and the instruments they used.
- Competitors reviewing brand new instruments? Blog about the benefits of renting (which can actually be more profitable for a music retailer.)
- Competitors always blogging about the Billboard Top 100? Blog about local bands instead.
By filling these content gaps, you not only serve your audience better, but you also attract the attention of search engines. They’ll drive traffic toward the specific keywords and niches you’re addressing.
7- Get to Know SEO
Speaking of search engines, it’s time to talk about SEO: search engine optimization. Certain blogging strategies sync with SEO and encourage Google and its colleagues to give you better rankings. Here’s a quick list:
Use keywords that connect with your audience. These are the words you’re seeing on social media, plus the words that are important to your brand. Not just “instruments,” but more specific words like “folk,” “mandolin,” and “acoustic.”
Long-tail keywords are phrases that help you rank higher in niche search categories. Use phrases like “new folk mandolin songs” and “acoustic guitar trends 2018.”
Remember: Some keywords are too popular. Apple, Walmart and Best Buy are probably going to outrank you in “music,” so don’t try too hard to compete on that word. Focus on more local and unique categories that are meaningful to your fans.
Throwaway words don’t add value to SEO. Words like “or,” “but,” and “because” are invisible to search engines.
Don’t resort to keyword stuffing. If you stuff as many keywords as possible into every blog post, to the point that your content becomes almost unreadable, Google will notice. That’s called keyword stuffing, and it’s a huge no-no on the internet.
Engage with both search engines and humans. Do your best to follow the best practices of SEO, but always keep it meaningful to your human readers. That’s what gets maximum results.
8- Blog, Share, Repeat
Blog posts are meant to be shared. No matter how great your posts are, they won’t build audience unless you’re sharing them widely – and not just on social media.
Here’s a short list of important places to promote your blog:
- Social media like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
- Job sites, like LinkedIn
- Partner sites – Will your partners share your posts?
- Email newsletters
- Your own apps and tools, like training software and DVDs
- Printed materials, like sheet music and sales brochures
- Sales receipts
9- Promote Your Blog in Your Store
When people are in your store, is there anything that tells them about your blog? Most people don’t run across blogs by accident. They either find them online, run across them on social media, or hear about them through word of mouth. That word of mouth can happen right inside your store.
Encourage your employees to mention your blog – and it doesn’t have to happen in a salesy way. If someone is trying out a high-end guitar, your employee can mention that your blog has a video where a well-known local guitarist talks about the pros and cons of that guitar.
Signs, posters, and flyers can also spread the news about your blog. A simple sheet in the bag with each purchase can go a long way toward building blog interest.
10- Keep it Consistent
OK, you have a blog, you’re making posts, you’re promoting it, and people seem interested in reading the content you’re producing. What now?
At this point, the key is to keep blogging consistently. That’s no easy task – marketers rate consistent content generation as one of their biggest workweek challenges. Here are a few parting tips for keeping your posts on track:
- Use a content management program like Hubspot
- Set a daily reminder in your phone or calendar
- Make it a scheduled part of your workweek, e.g. Friday afternoon blogging
- Build up a backlog of guest posts to use when you’re busy
- Set a frequency goal, and check quarterly to see if you’re hitting it
- Work with a marketing or content-generation agency to keep posts flowing
Now you’re in a great position to have a popular and effective blog. Need even more assistance? Octave Marketing can help your music business build a blog, maintain it consistently, and grow your business. Learn more on our blog or contact us for a free marketing consultation.
(Photo by Suvan Chowdhury from Pexels)