Posted by Tasha on January 10th, 2012 in Tulsa Blogs
At bat this week is Becky McCray, the Oklahoma-based blogger behind SmallBizSurvival.com, a resource for the small business owners of rural America.
TDT: Why do small businesses need a tech blog? What lead to the idea?
Back in 2006, I used to email friends with economic development ideas and business support ideas from newsletters I subscribed to. I finally got the idea of sharing that as a public blog, instead of private emails. I thought there were about 12 people who knew me and would be interested. It turns out, there are more people than that interested, because it’s now one of the Top 20 Small Business Blogs worldwide.
TDT: What’s the strategy for reaching America’s small business owners?
They come to Small Biz Survival because we answer their questions, even the questions they don’t know they have. I answer questions people ask me in person, search queries that I see in my analytics, and questions people ask in the comment box.
While I’ve done some guest posting on more general small business sites, there is an unspoken truth about trying to reach “America’s small business owners”: it can’t be done. There are something over 25 million small businesses. The owners are an incredibly diverse and scattered group. That’s why I focus on one small part: small town business owners. That makes it much easier for them to find me than it would ever be for me to find them.
TDT: What are some of the most popular posts at Small Biz Survival?
One of our earliest big successes was in 2008: Checklists for starting your first business got picked up by LifeHacker. People ask me often about time management (especially for multiple businesses), and The Six Most Important Things List is part of my answer and one of our most popular posts.
TDT: The Brag Basket is a regular and popular feature at Small Biz Survival. Can you describe the evolution of that series?
The Brag Basket is probably the best single thing I do at Small Biz Survival. We let anyone and everyone come by and share their good news for the week. We also celebrate worthwhile failures, and people frequently come by to share someone else’s good news. It builds our community feeling. I started it in 2006 to go along with a podcast I did encouraging everyone to review their week as a way to improve their performance. 283 Brag Baskets later, and it’s still around. I actually stole the name and general idea from my local Business and Professional Women’s group, where we paid a dollar to brag about something. It was a tiny local fundraiser that we all enjoyed. I thought it made perfect sense to do online, even though I don’t charge a dollar.
TDT: You offer several small publications at Small Biz Survival. Can you talk about some of the tools and resources that helped you develop the strategy and actual products for those offerings?
It started with the small business ideas for small towns booklet. I had done a whole bunch of posts on cool business ideas I thought worked well in a small town, and so I pulled 20 of them together into a booklet. At SXSW in 2008, I asked Shashi Bellamkonda with Network Solutions to sponsor it. He got approval, and NetSol not only paid to have an ad on the cover of the eBook, they paid to have printed copies made. So we still distribute both the eBook and the paper version of 20 Small Business Ideas for Small Towns today at no charge to readers. Searches for “business ideas” drive a lot of traffic for us, and this series and the booklet tie in with that.
Another publication that came from search traffic was the Shop Local Campaigns for Small Towns eBook. I noticed a lot of search traffic to our series on Shop Local, and I knew that the existing guides were written for big city campaigns. So I wrote my own guide for small towns, priced it very reasonably, and have sold it since 2009.
Writing Tips for Small Business Owners is a free compilation of four guest posts that Denise McGill did for us, so there isn’t a lot of strategy to that.
How to Draw the Line Between Free and Paid came about because so many people discuss those requests for free help. You know the ones, “can I buy you a cup of coffee and pick your brain?” For most freelancers, that is a very difficult issue. So I put together ideas I had written in posts and made it into a workbook. See, if it’s a painful money topic, people are more likely to pay for it. Sales have amounted to a few hundred dollars, so it’s certainly paid for itself, even though I haven’t promoted it much and it’s slightly off my main topic.
TDT: You also post regularly at your personal blog, Out Standing in My Field; you’re a speaker on the national circuit; you co-own a liquor store and cattle ranch; you do consulting work with small businesses and governments. Sounds like you might be able to offer some tips on effective time management.
First, know your goals, for every project and every business.
Second, know the next steps on each project.
Third, plan your schedule one week at a time and include action on those important projects.
Fourth, each evening, draw up the six most important things list for the next day and follow it.
That’s the whole secret!
I keep planning to make that into a product, too. But it’s not a priority project yet.
Thanks, Becky, for taking the time to interview for this new series. TDT readers, feel free to leave any questions or comments for Becky here on this post, and be sure to check out SmallBizSurvival.com for yourselves.
Know a blogger you think should be interviewed as part of this series? Send me a message or leave me a note in the comments on this post.
Photo by Mike Licht