5 Benefits of Blogging for Farmers
Every farmer is a business person. They are usually self employed and their income relies on selling a food product. Some farmers will sell their product directly to market,e .g. cheese at a farmers market or icecream to a supermarket, and more and more farmers are working at adding value to their product and selling it themselves. Other farmers sell their grain, milk and meat directly to the milk processor or factory. I believe the majority of farmers should be using social media. We only have to look at the example of Kerrygold to see how good marketing for a fantastic product works so well. ?Ireland has so many great food products and they need to carve out a niche, we need consumers to see how our food is produced and attach value to it.
1. Increase Brand Awareness Of Your Product
People need to see or hear of a product a number of times before they will purchase. I’m not sure of the number – I’m sure the number increases with the price but brand recognition will definitely help them to pick it up and put it in their shopping basket. I was recently shopping for cheese at Carlow Farmers market and having watched a video by The Little Milk Company, I picked up their brie cheese to try it – just because of one interaction, and yes, it was scrumptious. I’ve bought it again and again. But it was the video that got me to try it the first time.
When selling my book at Tullamore Show recently, it was so easy to sell to the people who had heard of it – they told me how they read my blog or how they had heard me on the radio. I had people coming up to me to say they had bought the book last Christmas as a result of my blog / radio show and how much they enjoyed it. Yes, there were people who hadn’t heard of it so there’s a lot of work to be done especially as selling to them meant I had to explain what the book was like. they had to leaf through it, some of them put it down again.
Advertising costs serious money. Social media can be expensive in terms of time but not of finance. Yes, the product has to be good in order to sell but sales can really increase with effective social media.
More and more people are removed from the process of food production. Kids think that carrots come from jars and milk from the supermarket. ?Many of my city peers had grandparents that farmed and they used to visit and stay for weeks during the long summer holidays. One of my cousins used to visit us for 2 weeks every summer and then stay with our gran for another 6 weeks. But we are moving another generation away from farming and kids don’t have that experience now apart from Agri Aware and the Farm area at the zoo.
Many people seem to be genuinely interested in farming, it’s like they want to go back to their roots if only to hear about how their food is produced. Watching First Time Farmers the other evening and keeping an eye on the #firsttimefarmers tweets, people were genuinely surprised to see how arduous it can be for farmers in terms of the general workload as well as the difficulty in remaining TB free in the UK at the moment.
If people are looking for the information, if they want to be educated, it seems silly not to provide that in the form of blog posts and other social media platforms doesn’t it? To present it in a way that they enjoy seeing the cattle, lambs and hens out in the fields and that they connect that experience with the Irish lamb they buy in the butchers or the Avonmore milk they buy in the shop is the only way that farmers are going to survive because there the supermarkets and the factories are becoming more powerful and the squeeze is on.
As business people, farmers seem to be slow to take to blogging. Yes, there are some using the blogging platforms but there’s so much more potential there.
This follows on from educating consumers really as people love stories and as a farmer, you are creating stories every day. How the cheese is created from the high protein milk that is produced from the cows eating good quality summer grass is a story. ?The lineage in your herd is a story, share how a particular maternal line is doing well and improving on its EBI with each birth. ?Tell stories of tough births and how a lamb or calf survived against the odds.
4. Be Sociable
Farming can be isolating. Some of us enjoy that enforced isolation and others struggle with it. ?By writing or creating videos and having people respond to it means that there’s interaction and a conversation going on. If you’re writing blogs, you’re bound to be reading other ones. You move to having a facebook page or a twitter account and you find there’s people there to chat to any time of day or night.
I have to admit that I enjoy the fact that I can dip in and out of social media as I wish. If I have a busy day or prefer to be unsociable, it doesn’t matter but if I feel like writing, reading. tweeting or connecting with others, they are there.
5. Historical Record
Don’t you treasure those few photos you have of your grandparents or great grandparents out in the fields? Imagine if you could hear what they thought of farming back then, if you could read their diaries and journals. With blogging (whether written/photographic, podcast or video), you are making a record for your kids and for future generations. To me, that is priceless.
Blogs don’t have to be written blogs – everyone has their favourite styles of delivery and there’s plenty of followers who prefer different genres too. Personally speaking, I prefer writing and reading but podcasts are becoming increasingly popular (and there’s less competition for listeners too as there’s not that many farmers making podcasts as yet). Blogs could be video blogs, they could include lots of photographs with minimum text, they could include vine videos – there are so many ways to enjoy getting your message across.
This post which provides?step by step instructions for starting a wordpress blog?should you want to get cracking. Do let me know if you do start, I love reading new farming blogs.
M T McGuire
Oh and PS I love the kids on the sileage bales shot!
M T McGuire
I loathe and detest Facebook, not just because its corporate ethics are morally bankrupt (cf the kitten burning versus veteran’s leg stumps debacle) but because it’s so hard to use. I’ve had to install a special app that shows all the posts by everyone I follow, rather than the ones Facebook arbitrarily decides I should read. I keep in touch with friends on there but I’m not sure it works for authors, indeed, I sincerely doubt I’ve sold a single book.
Blogging on the other hand. I love blogging. I love wittering away on my blog, chatting to people in the comments. I just wish I had more time. I have to really pick and choose my posts, these days I fail to read every post by all the bloggers I follow in a week because there are just too many things to read and not enough hours in the day. I feel bad cherry picking but at least, by doing that, I can keep in touch with everyone. Interestingly, in the weeks when I don’t blog, or visit other blogs, my book sales dip. So although I have to visit a lot of blogs and chat a lot to make it work, blogging does seem to be an actual selling tool… as well as fun!
There’s a certain irony in the fact that I’m spending more time on spreadsheets than reading and writing blog posts at the moment, looking forward to the blog awards being over in 2 weeks. I’m at that stage when I always say ‘never again’ but with the Ploughing match this week too, I’m saying it with more certainty this year! I haven’t had time to do another social media saturday post since!
Pat Fitzpatrick was saying that he sold less when he didn’t blog too. I haven’t noticed but am securing some radio interviews this week so I’m hoping for a significant surge. Have another print run in my hallway so I’ll be feeling a bit ill if most of them are still there at the end of the week!
I use facebook but don’t overuse my time on it. tbh, I think twitter is most effective, where people can really get to know you.
In our region of Illinois , I am one of the rare regular bloggers. At first there were many say five years ago but one by one they either stopped blogging or stopped farming! I would say farmers here, especially those who sell direct to the consumer, use Facebook more often. It is quick, it is fast and it is effective. I am also amazed at the decreased number of comments I get on my blog while the number of questions on my Farms Facebook page continues to grow. Sometimes the questions on Facebook are about a blog post I had made! Social Media is growing and shifting so rapidly it’s hard (impossible?) for any of us to keep up so I always appreciate any of the help you can provide us Lorna. Great post as always.
Thanks Donna, that’s a shame to hear some farmers have stopped blogging – I thought it was increasing in America or maybe I’ve just found more bloggers recently. I tend to get more interaction on my posts over on facebook or twitter too but I think that is partly as people feel they will get a interaction more quickly there, plus it can be tricky commenting on blogs if using a mobile or tablet.
I do think it is a mistake though to rely on Fb, a blog works like a website, farmers can write in more detail, people can see the full McCoy there, sign up to newsletters, get more info, sign up to RSS feed. We can own our blogs, we can’t own facebook. Facebook is great but I see it mainly as a means to send people to my blog / website and to interaction with people.
Instagram is becoming hugely popular now too – do you use it?
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