Starting a business? Get ready to blog

SEATTLE — For Nikki deRelle, the hardest part of starting a business isn’t acquiring start-up money or drafting a business plan.

It’s something far less expected: assuming the role of blogger.

That’s the thing that keeps deRelle up late at night reading how-to guides and poring over competitors’ Web sites. She’s looking for a magic bullet that will make her feel comfortable fusing the personal details of her life with her clothing design business.

“I’m trying to somehow combine my creative work with the company,” said the north Seattle resident.

She’s read the books and talked with advisers. But when asked what the blog will look like, she still doesn’t have an answer. “I’m still sort of struggling with that.”

Eco Plus launches in January, manufacturing and selling eco-friendly plus-sized clothes for children. And when it does, deRelle will be thrust into the blogosphere — ready or not.

That’s a realm businesses have inhabited for a while, but at rapidly increasing rates lately. The traditional one-way message of marketing has been trumped by a deafening chorus of online chatter, and businesses are scrambling for a place in the conversation.

For large companies, blogging is a way to communicate with customers and break news. For smaller businesses such as deRelle’s, it’s can be even more personal.

That’s the advice deRelle got from Marjorie Tyson, business development assistant at the Snohomish County Small Business Development Center.

“It’s a way to make your (company) more personal, so that they’re coming to you and not just a company,” Tyson said.

Talking with customers using blogs and social media sites isn’t optional anymore, said Laura Christianson, owner of Snohomish-based consulting company Blogging Bistro.

“A company blog gives consumers the opportunity to interact directly with a company’s decision-makers,” she said. “When consumers sense that the company owners are making an effort to be accessible, transparent and communicative, they develop trust in that company and are more likely to remain loyal customers over the long haul.”

But a successful blog takes more than a WordPress account and basic writing skills. You have to strike the right balance between promotional posts and updates conveying useful information. Christianson advises no more than 15 percent be outright promotions of services or products. If customers complain or ask questions in forums, the company should respond promptly.

And the blog should be updated at least once a week.

“Nearly every day, people tell me, ‘I visited a company Web site and they have a blog, but it hasn’t been updated in four months,’ ” Christianson said.

She added: “Neglecting your blog is worse than not having one at all.”

Read Amy Rolph’s small-business blog at Contact her at 425-339-3029 or

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Members of Gravitics' team and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen stand in front of a mockup of a space module interior on Thursday, August 17, 2023 at Gravitics' Marysville facility. Left to right: Mark Tiner, government affairs representative; Jiral Shah, business development; U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen; Mike DeRosa, marketing; Scott Macklin, lead engineer. (Gravitics.)
Marysville startup prepares for space — the financial frontier

Gravitics is building space station module prototypes to one day house space travelers and researchers.

Orca Mobility designer Mike Lowell, left, and CEO Bill Messing at their office on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 in Granite Falls, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could a Granite Falls startup’s three-wheeler revolutionize delivery?

Orca Mobility’s battery-powered, three-wheel truck is built on a motorcycle frame. Now, they aim to make it self-driving.

Catherine Robinweiler leads the class during a lab session at Edmonds College on April 29, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Grant aids apprenticeship program in Mukilteo and elsewhere

A $5.6 million U.S. Department of Labor grant will boost apprenticeships for special education teachers and nurses.

Peoples Bank is placing piggy banks with $30 around Washington starting Aug. 1.
(Peoples Bank)
Peoples Bank grant program seeks proposals from nonprofits

Peoples Bank offers up to $35,000 in Impact Grants aimed at helping communities. Applications due Sept. 15.

Workers build the first all-electric commuter plane, the Eviation Alice, at Eviation's plant on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Arlington’s Eviation selects Seattle firm to configure production plane

TLG Aerospace chosen to configure Eviation Aircraft’s all-electric commuter plane for mass production.

Jim Simpson leans on Blue Ray III, one of his designs, in his shop on Friday, August 25, 2023, in Clinton, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Whidbey Island master mechanic building dream car from “Speed Racer”

Jim Simpson, 68, of Clinton, is using his knowledge of sports cars to assemble his own Mach Five.

Inside the new Boeing 737 simulator at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo, Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
New Boeing 737 simulator takes ‘flight’ in Mukilteo

Pilots can test their flying skills or up their game at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo.

An Amazon worker transfers and organizes items at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amazon cuts ribbon on colossal $355M fulfillment center in Arlington

At 2.8 million square feet, the facility is the largest of its kind in Washington. It can hold 40 million “units” of inventory.

A computer rendering of the North Creek Commerce Center industrial park in development at 18712 Bothell-Everett Highway. (Kidder Mathews)
Developer breaks ground on new Bothell industrial park

The North Creek Commerce Center on Bothell Everett Highway will provide warehouse and office space in three buildings.

Dan Bates / The Herald
Funko president, Brian Mariotti is excited about the growth that has led his company to need a 62,000 square foot facility in Lynnwood.
Photo Taken: 102312
Former Funko CEO resigns from the Everett company

Brian Mariotti resigned Sept. 1, six weeks after announcing he was taking a six-month sabbatical from the company.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Paper or plastic? Snohomish County may require businesses to take cash

County Council member Nate Nehring proposed an ordinance to ban cashless sales under $200. He hopes cities will follow suit.

A crowd begins to form before a large reception for the opening of Fisherman Jack’s at the Port of Everett on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Seafood with a view: Fisherman Jack’s opens at Port of Everett

“The port is booming!” The new restaurant is the first to open on “restaurant row” at the port’s Waterfront Place.