Do you write your own blog and do your own social media?

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InnDeep

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Hi everyone. I’d like to ask if you write your own blog posts and handle your own Instagram & FB posts if you use them? I invested in a new website from InsideOut last year. It’s beautiful and the GA stats look good (I think, I’m not Brilliant yet with GA). They have written one blog post a month for me and our previous owners (we bought our inn 9/20/20). They have always chosen the topics without much feedback from me and charge me $200 a month for the service. Some of them seem to have very little relevance to my Inn specifically (we have a unique history and tie in to our location) or my clients interests although they insist they are researched via Google and that I couldn’t possibly do as good a job myself. My ideas are born out via GA bc the subjects I’ve asked for in blog posts have the top “hits”. However I do know I could use some help maximizing my social media advertising over blog/fb/Insta. Can anyone offer me any guidance as far as best practices for blogging & social media advertising for b&b’s? Should I try to find someone else to ghost write or manage it? Are there workshops I can take? Thanks for any info!!! Is it really so complex?
 

gillumhouse

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I wrote my own blogs (when I was doing it - I lost interest and stopped, may start again). I wrote about what was happening in my area - things to do, places to go, things to see. I wrote about the history of the area. I wrote about thigs happening at Gillum House. Posted photos of my berry bushes, the daffodils, the rhododendrons. I posted about the fire pit when I got it.

I mostly now just take photos of breakfasts (I did photos of my 18th Century Thanksgiving and the couple I designated Lord & Lady Fairfax because they wore costumes of the gentry), of things of interest here and post it on Instagram, FB, & Twitter, No one knows YOUR inn as you do. No one knows your area as you do. The blogs do not have to be long. Just a few paragraphs to spike interest - to let people know what is happening. Blog about an event a month to 6 weeks before it happens - add photos from last year for visual. Give people a heads up so they can book for it. Save money and do it yourself because it IS your baby and no one loves YOUR baby as you do.

If you run out of ideas - throw in a photo of something you make/bake and give the recipe. You might want to do a recipe of the month. Blog at least twice a month and if that gets to be a chore - blog once a month. Just do it regularly, not a sporadic thing.
 

FHI2426

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No one can represent our brand voice better than us and no one knows the area like us. I think it would take longer to explain topics and clean up wrong wording than to do it ourselves.... you can almost always tell the ghost written blogs and articles by a non local.... give it a try you will get better and better at it....
 

InnDeep

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Thanks to both of you. I agree about the ghost written blogs. No matter how much they “insisted” their posts were researched they didn’t seem to recognize that we were a small barrier island where the top draw was always our ponies (Chincoteague). I spent a lot of time “cleaning up” when they even gave me the time or access to do so. Many I ended up cancelling bc they were so far off base. The “voice” was also very “gee whiz” vs someone who knows their own B&B. So perhaps I’m answering my own questions? Still wish I had someone to draft my local blog ideas (I know you are also local to Eastern Shore FH?) then replicate to Instagram then FB also. Frankly, inside out is being hostile at this point since I won’t just accept their “researched” posts at $200 a Mo for whatever THEY choose to write about then charge me after the fact then justify later.
 
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JimBoone

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Can't advise you on YOUR area and I'm not impressed with the idea of someone else writing for me as it sounds impersonal (large chain property). My view is that "I'm Me", my personality and style, how can anyone else properly sell ME? That said, I don't have a blog, beyond an unused spot on our website. I do post on Facebook "when" I have a picture or something to say that I feel might interest our guests.

What is the purpose of a blog? My understanding is that it was to keep your website fresh, keep the ranking up and maybe get new folks to look at our websites. I "intend" to use mine, perhaps you have inspired me to get busy.
 

TheBeachHouse

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We write our own and it’s mostly about events happening in the area. It doesn’t have to be long or w lol researched. Just a note to say the farmers market starts in May or there’s a new restaurant in town.
 

Morticia

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I did all of our social media: blog, Facebook, Instagram, newsletter, recipe. Yes, in season it’s bit of a struggle, but no one outside our area knew our area like we did no matter what GA stated.

$200/month might be ‘just’ one room night, but it could also be ten hours of pay for you to hire someone to cover for you while you write the stories yourself.

With planning, you can accumulate stories to post automatically at certain times. I had all the major holidays and events listed by month and I could pick whatever appealed to me to write about.

Some ideas: your area A to Z. That gives you at least 26 topics. You can blog those and then refer to them via Facebook and Instagram. Make sure every blog post has a link back to your reservation page.

Recipes: heaviest hitter I had in the newsletter. Over 50% of readers clicked that link to look at food pix. Some sent me pix of them making the dishes at home.

Use your GA stats to know what search terms your website visitors are using. (You said that yourself.) Use that info to focus your stories. But, don’t forget the oddball stuff.

Always have your camera with you. Take random pix around the inn and the neighborhood. Guests really (really) want to see what you’re doing when they’re not around. They like to see changes. My best Facebook posts were pix of snow. And Gomez with an award we won from a newspaper with a circulation of about 10 people. It’s the personal angle.

Weather and food. Things to do. Although we rarely went anywhere in season, we went to a lot of places off season so I could take pix for the blog. Any new breakfast we tried was photographed and shared.

We were approached a few times by people wanting to write the blog for us, but it was one of my favorite things to do! I got outside, i hiked, I went to the beach and to museums.
 

gillumhouse

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As Mort said, you can write the blogs whenever. If it is about something in your yard or not time sensitive such as an event, you can write it and save it. Then when you hit a busy or "dry" spot, pull it up and post it. The Community Band is about to start rehearsals again., I can blog about that with photos of whatever I will be playing this season and post them. AND while I am at it, I can write about the July 1 Independence Celebration and save it until June (this will be the 25th year (24th event thanks to 2020..

When I post on Instagram, it also posts to FB & Twitter - they are linked. I do not have to go to each one separately. THAT is an advantage (I post from my phone).
 

bluedragonflyinn

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I have a friend who does this and could use the income, but I would still have to sit down and feed her the information. If I have to take the time to do that, I might as well post it myself. Just like one of you mentioned above, nobody knows your place and its specifics like you do.
 

FHI2426

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Perhaps given my Spring plumbing disaster, and just trying to get open by mid April - I will have to forgo Blogging & social media advertising (we do have TA, Google & TV ads scheduled) since we are booked solid until the fall. If anyone has social media contacts - OTHER then Inside out particularly with knowledge of the eastern shore of VA, please send me any contacts? I just need folks with knowledge of eastern shore of VA/MD/DE or willingness to share ROI stats without a fee, which Inside Out holds hostage unless I increase my “tier of [email protected]?!?
Hi , Yes, we are in Annapolis but know the eastern shore of MD pretty well. We use Acorn but they encourage you to write your own content and do a lot of webcasts on how to blog, do social etc etc... really great. It sure sounds like IO is trying to strongarm you, I hope you at least own your own content, web pages etc, if not you need to figure out an exit plan from them

To those asking what is the point of blogging, Google LOVES new content, and that's a blog... You have the right intuitions, just get to it when you can for blogs. Social post once a week helps for sure, especially when you can boost and get a lot of eyeballs...Happy to talk live sometime
 

InnDeep

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Thanks all! Some great ideas. I may reach out to Acorn also FH - I remember reading your comments about your good experiences with them here previously (I made sure we own our content).

Definitely on my “to do list” to look at other options but will also use all the suggestions above to start working on my own content :) Sounds like it can be fun, if I can make the time during the season - definitely easier than rewriting content that is not “us”.

I really appreciate the feedback and support bc they were making me feel like I was really stupid and naive to try to “go it alone” without their “superior” research skills and tech knowledge and that felt wrong to me 🤷‍♀️.

Thanks Mort, Gillum and Beach House for the specific feedback on ideas and how tos. Gives me great starting places. Very grateful to all for shared experiences 😊
 

gillumhouse

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One idea that was given to me (not my original thought) was blog ten reasons to visit your area. You can list the 10 reasons, then write them as you have time. Then post them 1 a week or 1 every other week - whatever frequency you are comfortable with posting a blog, starting with #10 and work your way up to The #1 reason to visit is............ Maybe this will give you a starting place and you can work from there.
 

Morticia

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One idea that was given to me (not my original thought) was blog ten reasons to visit your area. You can list the 10 reasons, then write them as you have time. Then post them 1 a week or 1 every other week - whatever frequency you are comfortable with posting a blog, starting with #10 and work your way up to The #1 reason to visit is............ Maybe this will give you a starting place and you can work from there.
Joey B told all of us to blog the best reasons to visit the area. If it was in 2010 when she said it, then it was 10 ideas. I kept that going by adding another thing every year and changing the page: 17 things… 18 things…, etc.
 

Northern Dreamer

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No one can represent our brand voice better than us and no one knows the area like us. I think it would take longer to explain topics and clean up wrong wording than to do it ourselves.... you can almost always tell the ghost written blogs and articles by a non local.... give it a try you will get better and better at it....
I agree with this. However, one really good option could be to "hire" a local college student (in web, marketing, Social Media/SEO or journalism) and have them write something for you on a regular basis. If the student is local, they would know the area, and could follow your lead on what you'd like to highlight each season and have shared on the blog or media accounts! And of course you can always proof their content and edit or make suggestions so that nothing goes on your site that you don't first approve. A local marketing/design firm could do the same thing, but I don't like paying for what I can do myself.
My background is is Graphic/Web Design & Marketing and when I taught college courses, there were many local businesses that welcomed and benefited from my students helping with such projects - for free when they were students - and some of these opportunities turned into a job for the student. Some of these types of projects/experiences can also qualify as internships. Have the student write, track, and follow the analytics of how the blog, your social media accounts are interacted with - and by whom - and give them a learning opportunity that also benefits you and the business! I had businesses contact me for this and I, as an instructor, provided collaboration and served as a liaison between the students and local business owners. Some instructors even offer credit (or extra credit) for students who participate in projects like this. Just a thought...
 
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dumitru

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If you can't write often, then you should focus on "evergreen" content. That is content that is relevant every season/year.
Write about popular destinations, attractions or other businesses in your area. Mentioning other businesses (that are not competitors) can help you build better connections in the community. Feel free to write about recommended restaurants and bars, museums, experiences, etc.
Paying $200 for a post is quite high, even if it is a highly researched, high quality article. Especially when you know that most SEO and SEM companies outsource this to freelancers and pay $20-30 for it.
There are great free keyword research tools, something that you can spend time on once or twice a year. Make a list of ideas and relevant topics and hit one of them when you don't have much to do.
$2,400 / year for 10 posts... I wish I had you as a client :)
 

timberbandb

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Lots of great ideas here!
I wrote blogs for one of the companies mentioned earlier. It always worked best when the innkeepers and I got together to schedule blog topics using ideas/events/attractions that they knew in their area (I wrote for B&Bs in Cape Cod, VA, TX, WI, NY, and PA). I would get links from the innkeepers about the topics. Then off I would go on my research adventure! "Top ten" lists seem to do well; "Best of" lists also get good responses (best restaurants in your city...etc).
Try to plan the topics for at least a month ahead of the event; Make a plan for at least 6 months (or more). Then get the proof from the writer before it's posted.
As "F" stated above, fresh content is key. And "how to write a blog" blogs/education is available for you to learn to do it. Good luck with this effort!
 
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