Who are our users?
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A. Most of our users are people who own and run small businesses
There are two important words in that description: (1) People (2) Run. The people who use SmallBusiness.com aren’t all small business owners, but they all make decisions and manage things that are important to the operation of a small business. They typically visit this site when they’ve asked Google a question or they’ve bookmarked us for when “how-to” or “why” questions arise throughout the day.
B. Some of our users are people considering starting a small business
We have lots of helpful information about starting a business. A good example is, “The SmallBusiness.com Guide to Starting a Small Business.”
C. Who our users are NOT
Sometimes, we receive suggestions from marketers and public relations representatives for large corporations who envision our users to be like them: that our users speak the language of big business and have the same problems big companies have, only smaller. But our users aren’t like people who manage a big business that is shrunk down to a smaller size. Our users are like people who run a company of one person that is growing larger. Our users often are not just managing departments, say, like finance or marketing—they are managing every department. Even small businesses with up to 50 employees don’t operate in separate silos, there is only one silo. Most of our users wear multiple hats throughout the day. They don’t keep up with the acronyms that are used for different kinds of software or processes.
Also, there are many, many sites where people can read about entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and the founders of Twitter. While we are fans of people like Richard Branson and the founders of Twitter, our role-models and heroes are found on Main Street, not Wall Street or on their private jets. (Confession: We have written about Richard Branson and the founders of Twitter before.)
Here are two articles that will be helpful in understanding our audience of people who are running small businesses:
Please make sure to read the section below titled: Here are some “yes” and “no” questions and answers about the types of content we will consider.
We look for wisdom from people who run small businesses: Being a writer is not necessary to contribute something that can become a SmallBusiness.com article with a “credit line” pointing to you and your business. At the bottom of this page, we have a format for answering a few questions that will help you understand what we mean.
Suggestions, tips and rules for sharing something with the users of SmallBusiness.com:
Here are some “yes” and “no” questions and answers about the types of content we will consider.
No | Link-building
We don’t have the resources to process all the pitches we receive. We rarely use articles from sources that don’t have an “about” page that includes information about the management of the company.
Yes | Help, not hype
We don’t use contributions that tell us how great your product is. We look for contributions in which a small business manager talks about their needs and how a product — perhaps your’s — helps meet that need.
Yes & No | Infographics
(1) We receive lots of infographics.
(2) We use very few infographics.
(3) We never use mega-infographics that try to say everything about some topic.
(4) We don’t use animated infographics unless we create them.
Yes | Tell us about your small business story
We love to share the stories of small business people who have done something unique, historic, fun, innovative, inspiring, challenging, or … If you know someone like this, tell us.
Yes | Tell us about a small business you love
We love to feature real small business people doing anything innovative. Just tell us.
Yes | Keep it simple and real
Don’t use big-corporate sounding words or acronyms. We seek quotes from people at small businesses—the real experts—not executives at large companies.
Yes | Anything you’ve seen or tried and think is clever, helpful
Tell us about something you’ve seen, tried or discovered that you think is creative, a trend, a smart small business gizmo, or just clever. These are especially great if they are about productivity, organization or generating sales. They aren’t helpful if you are trying hide a promotional message in them.
Yes & No | Information about your new product
We will consider products for small businesses. We especially look for items for our Guide to Small Business Gadgets. However, we now only use products that are available for purchase and delivery, not items that are pre-production.
Yes | How-tos about things you’ve discovered about widely-used products or technology
For example, we don’t need another broad introduction to “social media,” but welcome examples of specific ways a specific small business uses a specific social media tool or practice. (“Social media” is probably a bad example because it’s a topic with lots of experts but little expertise.)
Yes | Just ask us a question or make a suggestion
Some of the best contributions we receive that led to a helpful post originated when a small business manager emailed us something that starts out, “How do I … ?” or “Should I … ?”
No | Spam
You can send us a press release, but don’t send us a “guest post” that is a press release. While we credit sources of information, if your job is to merely generate links to your website or a client’s website, don’t bother. Tip: We create content for users, not search engines.
No | Lists
Perhaps Buzzfeed readers like lists of things, but SmallBusiness.com users are typically looking for one (or maybe two or three) solutions to one topic. Utility. Help. Your personal experience. That’s what they’re seeking. Using Google to come up with another list of ways to use Instagram is not.
No | Promotional “guest posts”
We say it several places, but here it is again: Our users don’t need your guest post. Our users need your guest wisdom. Here’s what we mean: We’d love to use your wisdom if it is BASED ON YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE or EXPERTISE and not something you (or someone you hired) used Google to piece together into a list of 5 Things We Hope Will Help Our SEO.
No | Promotional ideas for a post we write
We love great ideas (you’ll find them in green, above), but not an idea that starts like this: “I’m suggesting that you write a blog post about ways small businesses can cut costs without sacrificing quality by using our product.” Why do we not like such ideas? Because (1) We’re not a blog, and (2) we received that suggestion 3-4 times already this morning.
No | Startup funding news, or VC-oriented startup news in general
Personally, we love news about startup companies and the money they raise. But that’s not what SmallBusiness.com is about. However, it’s a topic that’s covered all over the web. We focus on small businesses that are small businesses, not startups.
That said, we have lots of information about how to start a small business.
1. For ideas, questions, suggestions or article queries.
Just include your contact information and email: [email protected]
2. If you want to submit an article or how-to, organize it (as best you can) to the following format:
Introduction: A couple of sentences describing what the article (how-to, etc.) is about.
Background or overview: A paragraph or two that provides context: why does it matter to a small business.
Source: Include a quote from an expert, preferably a person who runs a small business who uses a product, rather than the CEO of the company that makes a product: In other words, we like experts who are similar to SmallBusiness.com users than to ivory towered experts.
Several points that explain, describe or help: If this is a how-to, list the steps here. Our users respond better to numbers than bullet points.
Then send it to us: Just include your contact information and email: [email protected]
3. Or just ask us a question
If you didn’t find what you’re looking for or have something you’d like to learn more about, just email us the question. While we can’t answer such questions individually, we can explore it in an upcoming post.
Just include your contact information and email: [email protected]