Blog Your Passion - Bespoke Carpentry by Caleb & Taylor

In part one of the my “Blog Your Passion” series, I spoke to an award-winning wedding blogger. For this edition, I spoke to a fellow bearded creative, Neil McKinlay. I’ve known Neil for years, back when he was creating a mini-empire, taking on huge renovation jobs and had a team of tradesmen under his wing. However, like many of us, myself included, he was getting burnt out. Neil re-centred his business around bespoke furniture making, grew out his beard and developed a habit of wearing checked shirts.

Can you generate new business by writing a blog?

Can you generate new business by writing a blog?

Anyone reading this will understand my affinity with Neil: Beard. Checked shirts. Creating content.

Neil and I dialogue on-and-off via Facebook about the triteness of social media. Our disdain for “influencers”. And our love of “keeping it real”. It made sense for me to include him in my “Blog Your Passion” series as he’s been writing a blog on his Caleb and Taylor website for years, writing in a voice that’s disarmingly similar to how he speaks in person.

It’s not a unique approach, but it’s the right one. And it’s one that works for him.

Tell me a bit about your background and your business.

I’m Neil McKinlay, I run a small design and build outfit from my small studio in the wilderness of Scotland. I build furniture that I’ve designed as well as commissions for architects, interior designers and private clients.

What impact have you noticed writing regular blog content has had on your SEO?

I’ve had a blog on the go from about 2012. I’d write about the jobs I was working on, my thoughts on designing stuff and other things that I’ve seen on the internet that I think people would like.

If you’ve got no money to spend on advertising then a regularly updated blog is the way to do it. I tell people this but they don’t listen to me. About 80% of all my new business comes through someone doing a Google search and they find a blog post of mine relating to what they searched for.

how to get more leads for your business from your blog

How do you go about getting inspired to write a blog article?

Inspiration is for amateurs man, just do the work.

I just write down what I’ve been up to over the past few days and throw in some pictures. I don’t really try to come across a certain way or have an agenda with what I post. I post what I like and maybe someone out there in the world will like it too then get in touch with me to make something for them. 

Should you write your blog for a target market? What’s your approach?

It never comes into my mind really, I’m selfish, I like what I like and the people who don’t like what I like must be weird or something.  I’ve made pieces of furniture for youngsters in their early twenties to the older folks in their sixties, furniture’s a funny game, it doesn’t discriminate.

But sometimes I’m sure the older folk I work for read my website and wonder if I’m ok…in the head. 

What do you do with your blog articles once you've written them?

At the start I used to post them onto Facebook and Twitter but for the past few years I just post them to the website and leave it there for Google to do its stuff. I probably should post to social media to get some action on it but do people even click links on Facebook anymore? [read my observation on this below]

I did one blog post when Trump became President, It was titled something like “What Trump becoming president means for a small business in Scotland” I posted it all over social media and got good action from it, I think mainly because when you clicked the link it said something along the lines of “F*ck all, get back to work, slackers”.

It got me a few re-tweets and a load of likes and comments. Who knows where to post stuff now to get peoples attention now, I’m under the impression that everyone knows what I’m up to but I think now people are only clicking links about what Kim Kardashian is wearing to cover that big rubber *rse of hers, I can’t compete with that crowd so I’ll just keep it to my website.

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“I like what I like and the people who don’t like what I like must be weird or something.”

Neil McKinlay

What would you say to a business owner who spends more time updating their Facebook Page than their blog?

My main thing with something that gets good action on Facebook is that it’s gone in a few minutes, you’ll maybe get about half an hour from it max. You’ve been scrolled past, no one cares.

I don’t know how many times I’ve posted one of my skateboards on Facebook and the comments I get are the typical “Need” “Want” or it’s some graphic designer tagging his mate saying “We need one of these for the office” and they’ll go as far as asking me sh*t like “Can I get red wheels”.

I reply to all the comments to give them the info they need but nothing comes of it ever, I don’t think I’ve ever had a paying job from Facebook. 

What’s the number one benefit of a blog over a Facebook Page?

Your website is the real deal, people are actively searching for a certain thing, Google throws up your blog posts and then they get in about you.

The more you put on the blog about you and what you do the better. People are curious and want to know what people are up to, I’m a big fan of knowing the person or people behind the business I’m buying from, I think a good website is super under rated with the amount of focus put on social media now. 

You’ve got no control over Facebook either, who knows who see’s your posts nowadays.   

I agree with almost everything Neil says about above. I still think having a Facebook Page for your business is a good thing, especially if you use it as a syndication tool; posting links to your new blog posts, for example. In my experience over the years, people will click or tap through from Facebook to a blog article if it piques their curiosity, if you use a good cover image, etc.

As Neil says, putting your time, efforts and resources into your website, building up a solid library of great content on your blog will pay dividends over time.

You might not get the immediate vanity reaction that Facebook offers you. But if, like Neil, you start to see 80% of your business enquiries coming from your website, you’ll realise that blogging your passion is the smart way to marketing your business online.

If you’d like to be featured in my “Blog Your Passion” series, drop me a comment below, or reach out me on LinkedIn. And be sure to SHARE this article with your friends and colleagues.

Finally, a massive thank you to Neil for sharing his thoughts on the importance of blogging. You can find his website here, and definitely follow him on Instagram.