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ZOZI Advance is the fastest growing web-based reservation, payment, and customer management platform used by thousands of activity, tour, and event merchants.

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Stephanie Vozza

Want more customers coming to your website? Who doesn't, right? One of the most powerful tools you can use to drive traffic and grow your business is a blog. More than just a place to share stories and pictures, a blog helps small businesses generate 126% more customer leads and 97% more inbound links, according to Yahoo! Small Business Advisor. That's a lot of eyeballs coming to your site, learning about what you have to offer.

Whether you don't have a blog or haven't yet taken the time to maximize yours, here are seven simple steps to make the most of a blog, and, in turn, grow your business and increase your revenue.

1. Know your focus.

While it's tempting to use a blog to promote your latest tour, activity, or rental, your focus should be on what your customer wants. Take time to identify what gets them excited. If you offer rock climbing tours, for example, is your customer a beginner looking for tips on how to get started or a more experienced adventurer looking for inspirational stories from legendary climbers? Once you understand what interests your potential customer, you can move onto the next step: writing posts they actually want to read.

2. Plan your content.

Your blog and everything it contains should be consistent with your brand message. Only share content that represents your company and its values. Personal stories are a great way for customers to get to know you. Other content ideas to keep customers reading: sharing news from your industry; debunking common misconceptions about your field; Q&As with customers or experts; and tips about the activities you offer. Travel experience provider Muddy Shoe Adventures is a great example of a company that writes engaging blog posts that combine personal stories with expert advice.

3. Create a schedule.

How often will you post content to your blog? Sites that publish four or more posts a week get four and a half times the number of customer leads than blogs that post once a week, according to research from Hubspot. Whether you update your blog daily, weekly or monthly, make sure you choose a timeframe that you can handle. It's better to have less frequent but consistent content than sporadic posting.

4. Assign the writing.

Do you enjoy writing? If the answer is 'no,' it'll come across in your posts. Whether you're a small business or a large enterprise, writing blog posts should be a regular part of someone's job. Do you have a tour guide who has a knack for telling stories? Ask if he or she would like to write for the company blog. Do you have a customer who loves to leave long glowing reviews? Ask if they'd like to contribute a guest post. Or maybe you have a friend who is passionate about your industry? Tap them to contribute an article or two to your blog.

5. Include a call to action.

When someone reads a post, what do you want them to do next? Book a rental? Visit another page of your website? Share the post with their friends? End each blog post with a clear call to action. For example, if you're blogging about your newest food tour, end the post by asking readers to comment if they've ever tried the cuisine before. Then include a link to the reservation page. This is how you turn that traffic coming to your blog into leads for your business.

6. Engage with readers - your potential customers! 

Blogs should be a two-way conversation. Make sure you follow up on comments. Thank visitors for taking the time to voice their opinions. People like to know that businesses are listening to them. Plus, comments are often good fodder for additional blog topics. Promote responses by asking questions, and make your blog a community where readers can interact.

7. Distribute your content.

Finally, your blog doesn't need to begin and end with your site. Offer to share your content with associations and groups by simply emailing the site manager and asking if they accept guest posts. Then ask that a link to your site be included in the post. You can also identify and engage with influential bloggers in your field. Invite them to review your tour or event, or ask if they'd be interested in a guest post for their own blog with insider tips on your field. And be sure to cross-post your blog content with your other social media platforms. Photo workshop provider Switch to Manual does a great job of sharing photos and podcasts on its blog as well as its Instagram account,

Remember: Your blog is a relationship-building tool that can increase your business and establish you as an expert in your industry. Make the most of this powerful addition to your business. How does your company make the most from blogging? Share in the comments below.