I like to occasionally ask small business bloggers how things are going and whether the efforts they’re putting into blogging are paying off. This time, I chatted with J.D. Iles, head of the Lincoln Sign Company, whose Typepad blog can be found at Signs Never Sleep. I’m sure J.D. will be happy to answer any additional questions posted here too, if there’s something you’d like to ask him.
Q: Tell me about the world of signage, to start. How many signs do you produce a week, and for how many companies, on average?
Well, the first thing that you need to understand, is that the sign industry is very different from what people expect. 80% of sign companies in the US are small, sometimes home-based “mom and pop” type shops (as we are, but don’t call me POP!).
We have 3 full-time (including me but I don’t really do all that much) and three part-time employees. At any one-time we might be working on 15-25 signs at once, and a few actually leave the shop at the end
of any given week.
Q: How do most of your clients find you?
As Tip O’Neal said, “all politics is local” and so it is with signs. Mostly
word of mouth, but that is really starting to change as more and more people find me via the weblog.
Q: How successful has your Internet presence proven to your business?
Our weblog is getting us more and more “far-flung” business every day, and it is something we are really excited about.
Q: What made you add a weblog to your site?
I wanted a way to show my perspective customers what we do, day in and day out, and help them understand the process of making a sign. Too many times people thing it is all about computers and machines, when it is really about good ideas, good design, and, believe it or not, pain and suffering. All of us here really agonize over every detail of a sign, and I wish a customer could stand right by our side as we work for an hour to get just the right shade of blue to compliment the border of their sign.
In my mind, a sign is the most important thing a business will every
purchase, because it is the customer’s first impression of that business
Q: What do you write about, and how tightly do you keep it focused on business topics?
I write about pretty much whatever I want, and a lot of personal stuff does creep in, but I think that is OK. My take on a business weblog, is that it is a “conversation” between us and a prospective or existing customer. It is pretty much what you would get if I sat down with a customer for lunch. We would talk 80% about the business of making that customers sign, but we would also talk about the fact that I hope the Steeler’s win the Superbowl, my kids ski every Friday as part of their school curriculum, and that my wife and I ballroom dance every Friday with a group of friends.
Q: Do you allow comments? Edit / moderate / delete comments you don’t like or don’t want on your weblog? Do you have a written policy?
I allow comments and I love when I get them. They really have not been a problem.
Q: Who in your company is authorized to post on the blog, and how frequently does the blog get updated?
I update every day and right now I am the only poster. I think this is going to change soon, because I would really like to get more people in the company actively involved with it.
Q: How’s it going overall? Happy with the findability of your business and are you seeing more business coming from your Internet efforts?
Blogging has been great all around. One thing that I don’t ever see people talking much about, is the fact that blogging is just plain FUN. It really is a hobby with me, and I really enjoy it!
Thanks, J.D., for sharing this with us. If you, dear reader, have a question you’d like to ask the Lincoln Sign Company, please add it here as a comment.