THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

4 posts from March 2019

26 March 2019

Six reasons why you should be writing a blog for your business

Our next big exhibition here at the British Library is Writing: Making Your Mark from 26 April to 27 August. It will follow the remarkable evolution of writing from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs carved in stone and early printed text such as William Caxton’s edition of The Canterbury Tales, to the art of note-taking by some of history’s greatest minds, and onwards to the digital communication tools we use today.

Writing_whats_on_image_624x351

Which brings us very neatly to blogging. Blogging continues to be one of the most important ways of marketing your business. And according to online marketing experts HubSpot:

With all the hype around video content, it’s tempting to think that blogging is over. But ... Your strategy should still involve blogging as usual. Because blogging is, and will remain, an essential game plan to reach your audience.
...

  • You have a 434% higher chance of being ranked highly on search engines if you feature a blog as part of your website (Tech Client).
  • Businesses using blogs as part of their content marketing mix get 67% more leads than those who don’t (Hubspot).

I have been blogging for over ten years on behalf of the Business & IP Centre here at the British Library, and have learnt from experience its enormous power. 

Wordpress-300x187 Typepad-300x74 Blogger-300x91

Here are my six reasons why you should be writing a blog for your business:

  1. To build trust – 
    Today customers want to deal with real people vs anonymous business. This is your competitive advantage as a startup, and your blog will communicate your personal passion.

  2. To build an audience –
    You can start to tell your story even before your business goes live. You might even attract some pre-launch orders.

  3. Increase your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) without risk –
    Google loves blogs, but hates cheaters, so keep away from search engine optimisers with claims of ‘magical’ abilities.

  4. Drive more traffic to your website –
    By 434%...

  5. Be seen as an expert in your field –
    You will have the knowledge and experience of your industry to provide insightful, quality content on a regular basis.

  6. Reach a wider market –
    You will share your blog content via your social media channels, so you might even get to go viral.

For those of you who are not convinced here is some hard evidence of the power of blogging. In 2011 I wrote a post about the British Standard for a cup of tea (BS 6008 in case you are interested). Eight years later and this post still comes up as number one on a Google search...

British Standard for a cup of tea

Even if you are promoting what might appear to be dry or boring topic, a tangential blog post can be the an ideal marketing tool.

So, for instance, if you want to promote an "Award-Winning Pet Insurance" business, why not write a review of the British Library Cats on the Page exhibition, which ended in March, on your Animal Friends blog

Animal Friends

Neil Infield, Business & IP Centre Manager at The British Library

Neil is a manager in the Business & IP Centre at the British Library, where he leads a team of business and intellectual property reference specialists. The Centre provides information and advice to inventors, business start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Neil is a SFEDI accredited business advisor, and runs regular advice clinics. He has also delivered a range of workshops including What next for my business idea, and Introducing social media for small business.

Prior to joining the British Library Neil spent 16 years working in the City of London for an investment firm, managing their business information services. He has spoken widely on innovation in business information. He blogs at www.inoutfield.com, and tweets at @ninfield.

He has been active in SLA Europe for nearly 20 years, including President in 2004, and being made a Fellow in 2006. In 2011 he became a Fellow of The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce (RSA).

Click here for more information about the Writing: Making Your Mark exhibition and click here for more information about how the Business & IP Centre can help take your business to the next level.

19 March 2019

Business support in London by Deputy Mayor of London for Business, Rajesh Agrawal

As Deputy Mayor of London for Business, I would like to thank the British Library Business & IP Centre for giving me the opportunity to tell readers about the importance of business support in the capital and what the Mayor of London has to offer London’s SMEs and entrepreneurs.

Rajesh-1

With over 1 million micro-businesses and SMEs in the capital, we recognise the crucial role that small and medium sized enterprises play in London’s Economy. And as an entrepreneur myself, I closely identify with the many entrepreneurs that I meet through my new role in city government – and I know the kind of challenges that SME owners face day in day out.

I also know that there is help, advice, support, and funding out there to help businesses grow, but it can be difficult, complex and time consuming to find. But the vast majority of businesses that do take advice find that it adds real value to their business. So, to help more businesses access the type of support that can really make a difference, in 2016 we launched the London Growth Hub, funded by the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP), London’s local enterprise partnership.[1]

Initially an online support tool, the original objective of the London Growth Hub was for it to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all the available business support in the capital. Since its launch, it has provided support to hundreds of businesses and entrepreneurs. The website offers various forms of support, such as fact sheets that provide key information for starting a business. Using the Growth Hub’s support search tool can help you find new solutions that you might not have initially thought about. Users can also filter their search to find support specific to their needs, and their sector.

Networking is a great way to meet potential clients, collaborators, investors as well as mentors. So, we’ve created an events calendar, updated daily, where you can find relevant events taking place near you. Shared and open workspaces are also a fantastic way of broadening your networks, as well as marketing your business. The Growth Hub’s interactive workspace map lists over 400 workspaces, studios and more in, as well as incubators and accelerators.

The Growth Hub team also meet with businesses from around the capital to find out how business support programmes in London have helped them to grow. The portal hosts a series of inspiring case studies showcasing business support in London, as entrepreneurs who have benefited in the past take you through their business journey, the ups and downs that come with starting a business, and the importance of perseverance.

However, we also understand the importance of providing face-to-face support to entrepreneurs so we have now launched a series of free pilot programmes that provide one-to-one mentoring, master classes and tutorial events. The Growth Hub launched Mentoring for Growth last summer, a programme that matches up SMEs with high potential for growth with leaders from top British businesses. The London Growth Hub can link you up to the right mentoring scheme for you through government, local councils, trade associations and more.

Meet the Buyer, launched in 2018, helps small companies access buyers from street markets, through to major multinationals. The programme offers London’s SMEs the chance to learn how to pitch products to different sectors and types of buyers and gain the essential knowledge to present ad pitch successfully, as well as attend events where they can meet potential future clients. Participants have also been able to network with other SMEs that have successfully pitched to buyers and find out the lessons learned to hone in on their technique.

We have begun to work with London’s entrepreneurs to ensure that the face-to-face programmes we offer are inclusive for all Londoners. LEAP began hosting a series of roundtables with BAME female, disabled and LGBT entrepreneurs in 2018, as a way of initiating discussion with London’s minority entrepreneurs to get guidance and recommendations on what we can do to help access to growth. One of the outcomes of this has been an events series with Funding London, aimed at supporting BAME and female-founder start-ups.

We also teamed up with the British Library Business & IP Centre on their season of Digital Disruption, which included a series of including workshops, mentoring, talks and online webinars, taking place at the British Library. As we covered a variety of topics, including marketing, SEO, social media and more, SMEs were able to learn what it takes to be noticed and make their mark. These events helped SMEs in all sectors get ahead by embracing change and forging new, creative solutions to existing problems.

Click here to find out more about how the London Growth Hub can support you.

[1] Chaired by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, LEAP is responsible for allocating over £440m government funding across regeneration, skills and business support initiatives. LEAP is also investing over £300m in London’s Royal Docks Enterprise Zone and provides strategic oversight for London’s £650m EU structural funds programme. It brings entrepreneurs and business together with the Mayoralty and London Councils to identify strategic actions to support and lead economic growth and job creation in the capital.

11 March 2019

A week in the life of... Angela Steel, founder and CEO of SuperWellness

Angela is the founder of SuperWellness, a company that specialises in workplace well-being and nutrition. Since she started working with corporate clients in 2014, Angela’s mission has been to make ‘nutrition smart’ workplaces the norm. This means supporting employees to make diet and lifestyle choices which benefit both their mental and physical well-being, but also fit with working life. Angela is an alumni of our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme. SuperWellness’s range of services includes a Monthly Plan of eye-opening and engaging communications content, interactive workshops and programmes which deliver measurable results.

1

Monday After dealing with the most urgent emails, a long brisk walk to the station and off to my co-working space in Victoria. The commute takes well over an hour so it’s always tempting to stay and work from home but I get much more done when I’m in a buzzy atmosphere.

I focus on project work – a couple of new clients going live next week. One is running an Awareness Day in the City – a chance for us to inspire employees to join a longer term programme of their choice. The other is a global company organising a team meeting in Krakow. We’ll be providing a half-day mindfulness workshop kicking off our SuperMind programme, which the team will subsequently attend via webinar.

Tuesday I start the day early – at my desk by 7am – to prepare an email to our subscriber list. I want to gauge interest in a new subscription based well-being communications package planned for launch in April. Having pressed ‘send’ and with an eye on the responses (always an exciting moment), I get my head into our sales figures and projections for the month to come. I have my weekly call with one of my board advisors at 12pm, which helps me to stay on top of the numbers. With all of the business’s key performance indicators on a single page report, I can see at a glance how we’re doing and where we need to focus our attention. After a bite to eat, it’s off to a local park for some fresh air and a walk with my partner Johnny.

Wednesday I’m excited about my meeting today. I’m visiting a Charity near Canada Water to discuss a corporate partnership. The idea will be to donate 10% of revenue from our new subscription programme to support its mission to tackle food waste and fight hunger. Being into food and nutrition, the idea that 1 in 8 people in the UK go hungry is really difficult to accept. I spend a couple of hours being shown around the London warehouse and meeting the corporate fundraising team to discuss possibilities. I’m impressed by the quality of the food they get to redistribute and the fact that 50% of it is fresh produce. Fantastic!

I make my way back home in time for our 4pm monthly team meeting on Zoom. We have 15 associates around the UK and one of our challenges is to stay connected as a team where everyone works remotely. Most of our nutritionists run their clinical practice with private clients in parallel to their work with SuperWellness. We meet physically as a team every quarter and in between, keep in touch through our monthly online meetings. It’s a chance for everyone to share project updates, including new learnings. We also get to brainstorm solutions to challenges which come up. Our projects can be very bespoke and we have to be creative to fit specific work environments. Last year we delivered programmes on board six cross Channel ferries, which involved a lot of logistical planning.

2

Thursday Today I’m meeting with a potential client – a large construction company at the early stages of planning a well-being strategy. One of the most exciting, but also challenging aspects of our industry is that it’s still in its infancy really. More and more employers are considering well-being as a part of their business strategy and seeing the benefits it can bring to the business.

I learn about the company’s challenges and begin to brainstorm some ideas. At this stage the next step is to win buy-in to the overall plan from the board of directors and secure budget for a project next year. I promise to follow up with an outline of a business case to help my contact present her initial plan.

I open an email from one of our clients with fantastic feedback from a recent ‘Ready Steady Smoothie!” competition with their staff. Nice way to end the day.

Friday I begin the day with a 30-minute workout at my local kickboxing gym. It usually takes a bit of motivation to get going, but I find the high intensity exercise amazing for my energy and mood. I can feel the endorphins flowing after this! It sets me up for a day of writing and creating content for one of our workplace posters, called Switch off and Take a Break. I read through the latest studies on the subject, highlight the content I feel will be most insightful and then start writing the tips for the poster. The result will go to the designer next week to create our poster infographic for August.

Weekend Saturday is my day of rest. Johnny and I will often have a day out and I’ll switch off completely from work. I’m trying to keep Sundays off bounds too but it’s not always the case. After relaxing with the Sunday papers and a walk, today I have to organise a shipment of binders ready for the SuperMind programme being run in Krakow in a couple of weeks’ time. I can start next week feeling all is under control – well for now at least...

3

04 March 2019

Targeting your audience through blogging

Here are some top tips from our partner UK2 on best ways to target your audience through blogging. UK2 is one of the UK’s leading hosting providers with over 20 years’ experience providing services to the UK's finest start-ups and businesses. To see more from their blog, click here.

Creating a website to share your message is an incredibly exciting time, and often turns out to be a lot more work than many realise. Website tools and platforms are great at helping you create a place to share, but not as helpful when deciding what to say and who to say it to...

Whether you are an ecommerce business looking to add a blog or an individual blogger looking for growth, having a firm grasp on who you are writing for is a crucial attribute to your online success. Far too many bloggers focus on what they are writing rather than who is reading your valuable information. In reality, once you find loyal blog followers, they will be interested in your topics because they are interested in you.

However, identifying this audience is 90% of the battle. In this post we will help you identify exactly who you should be targeting with your content creation. We will offer helpful tips for identifying your audience and creating a blogging strategy for the future.

Shutterstock_387831115

Why pinpoint an audience?

It may seem like a lot of work to target a specific group of people, especially when broadcasting your content around the globe feels like a such an enormous group.

Unfortunately, writing content for the entire world will yield very few results. Your message will quickly be drowned out by the hundreds of thousands of other voices all competing for attention.

Instead, you must target a specific demographic of readers to speak to. By pinpointing your audience, you can specialise the message you send and gather more engagement for your website. To be a truly great content creator, your audience must relate to the message you send. By understanding your audience, who they are, and what they want, you harness a powerful form of focus to widely spread your content.

Sighting in your scope

It can be easy to fall back on industry knowledge for your blog content. However, your audience most likely doesn’t want to learn how to do what you do. Instead, they would rather pay you to do it for them, with either actual money or their attention. This is not to say that how-to guides don’t serve a purpose, they absolutely do as long as you keep in mind that you are not the star of your blog: your customer or reader is.

So how do you learn enough about your customer to appeal to them? Let’s look at some methods for reaching this goal…

What do you already know?

Brainstorm everything you know about your current audience. Where do they live? What are their job titles? Use any resources that you may currently employ like Facebook Ad pages or LinkedIn contacts. Make lists of who currently engages the most with your brand or persona. If you are an ecommerce business, think about who is currently purchasing your products. What do you know about your customers? If you are in the early stages of building an online presence, you won’t have much to work with. However, any details that you can set in stone will help build a foundation for your eventual targeted audience.

What do you still need to learn?

Use Google Analytics or other site analytics tools to reach as many readers as possible. Look for important information like age, gender, education and income levels, location, occupation, and other background information. Don’t be shy about creating fictional readers in your mind. Large corporations will often create personas to represent their various targeted demographics.

Engage and evaluate!

The next step is to engage with your audience as much as possible. You might consider turning on your comment option for your blog as well as investing additional hours on social media platforms.

Once you have a pretty good picture of who you are creating content for, ask yourself if this audience is enough to meet your goals. If your answer is no, then go back to the beginning and broaden your scope as much as necessary. However, keep in mind that “everyone” is not an adequate audience. You cannot appeal to everyone all the time, so try to pinpoint and drill down as much as possible.

Important note: You should spend just as much time promoting your content as you do writing it. Blogging is a two-fold process of creating and sharing your message with your audience.

Consider all the variables

There’s a lot to keep in mind while writing your blog posts. Creating content alone isn’t enough. You also have to consider how your content will affect your brand, your marketability, and your search results. Try out the content exercises below to vary your reach and boost your blog:

Follow the experts

To be truly valuable as an expert content creator, you have to know who is doing (and writing) what in the digital space. Be sure to take a look at QuickSprout’s Complete Guide To Building Your Blog Audience.

Along with the tested and true content creators like Brian Clark from Copyblogger and Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz, pay attention to who is trending in your specific industry. For example, if you are writing about technology, it’s worth following TechCrunch and Gizmodo. However, if you are in the beauty industry, then you should follow Zoe Sugg and Refinery29.  

Keep Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in mind

SEO can be tough for bloggers who focus on writing and promotion. There is a different thought process that goes towards satisfying search algorithms. Luckily, there are many resources available to help you turn pesky search results into a stream of organic traffic. Use Google Analytics to help you find keywords, and employ an SEO tool like Website SEO Guru to help you stay on top of meta descriptions, broken links, and other areas of your website that could damage your search engine results.

Promote your blog on social media

Social media is a great way to draw attention to your blog. It also helps you identify who is interacting with your brand. Profile pages contain basic yet crucial information about the people who are reading your blog posts. Make sure that you just focus on a few social media pages and update them regularly. Do not share posts that could be seen as offensive to your audience and interact with readers as much as possible. Well-managed social media accounts open up a window onto your audience if handled appropriately.

Start with a great platform

Having the right hosting platform affects your website more than anything we’ve covered so far. You need a host who focuses on security, uptime, and speed to be sure that your web pages are available when readers find your website. Your website will also need the proper tools to drive traffic, such as Website Builder, for example, which comes with everything you need to get online, or WordPress, a preferred blogging platform.

Your web host helps you find the perfect domain, the best website platform, and the tools you need to maintain a prosperous blog. Partner with a web host with the reputation, experience, and expertise to help you along the way. Learn more about what you can expect from industry-leading web hosts at UK2.NET.

Extra 10 Button

To see all of our upcoming workshops, webinars and events, including ones from UK2, visit our Events page