Ignore Blogging at Your Peril
Let’s be clear.
Every business doesn’t need a blog.
In fact, for a lot of businesses they will think it dumb to divert their time, resources and intellect into something as ethereal, misunderstood and vacuous as a blog.
[STICK TO THE KNITTING.]
But hold on…
Keep your cynicism firmly in check.
Websites, apart from being dull, boring, predictable and cookie-cutter, tell us nothing unique, original or interesting about the business.
They are just Websites…
Blogs are different.
Oh, yes they are!
They mark you out as unique, bursting with conviction and purpose.
… and they may just land you more business (read that again!).
However, I know what you are thinking:
- How to deal with our out of date Website?
- How to resource the content when we have so little money, time and/or inclination within the business?
- At what stage does talking (endlessly) about us become SPAM?
- How much time will all this take?
- What about SEO?
- How do we integrate it as part of our business development programme?
- And how often should we blog?
I recognise that these questions look unremarkable, but their simplicity masks, for the majority of businesses, a multitude of structural issues, least of all the fact that normally the people who have the power to influence where time and resources are allocated haven’t the foggiest about blogging.
1. The Website
Before you dive into a new platform or insert a blog, ask yourself the purpose of your Website.
In most cases, the website is no more than a moribund brochure where, at best, you hope people might pick up a phone or email you. Unlike, say, the passive income brigade who know a thing or two about Calls To Action (even if it can be a bit spammy at times), most business websites have no sense of purpose; and, therefore, supplanting a blog is going to leave you sorely disappointed, particularly if all your new traffic goes to your blog and you don’t ask them to do anything (e.g. buy our services).
You might want to consider starting a blog without reference to the main website and growing a platform that you can leverage via a permission asset like a email list (a newsletter is a good place to start using Mailchimp or Infusion).
2. Resourcing content
Just imagine you could start your own book publishing, radio or TV station. That is what the blog offers up. It doesn’t matter that in the early days nobody gives a fig – those bloody metrics – but if you care deeply about something, then in time (it could be minutes) people will find you: “OMG did you read XYZ’s blog post?”
The point is, you have to break down the internal barriers that previously left people feeling cold about creating content. As someone who was passionate about writing articles and pieces for my former employers’ websites, I know how disheartening it can be to: (a) get no feedback on what I produced; and (b) have no idea how successful my content was in converting people to my or the firm’s cause. Both of these issues are (easily) capable of being undone, particularly when you can show people how often the content has been spoken about, Re-Tweeted or shared on LinkedIn. And, of course, the proof of the pudding is when you get instructed.
But as well as putting up the business case, you need to start challenging everyone to have a voice. You could weave it in as part of the job description or appraisal process, but you need to challenge everyone to awaken their entrepreneurial spirit and start talking about something they are passionate about. You might think that you have to blog a sales message, but in time people will quickly turn away “Not more of that guff!”
If someone has an interest in something non-business specific – a hobby, interest or passion – then there is nothing wrong with them putting their best foot forward in a blog. At the very least, it means you look human and less robotic.
3. Enough is enough
We have all seen it: The slew of sameness that spews forth week after tiresome week. In most cases it is focused on the provider talking about the What and How of their business, trying desperately to convince everyone that they are the best in the business.
Of course, you have to get in the mind of your prospect, get picked up in search and stand for something, but be smart about how you do it. A smart way to operate is to put in place a blogging calendar, so that: (a) you don’t repeat yourself; and (b) you can spread out your best content. You might also think to involve guest bloggers. In case you can’t think of anyone or had any approaches, who do you know who would be good to write for your business, not necessarily as an endorsement but as someone who is complimentary and can benefit in some way – givers gain remember.
Even if you get stuck, don’t forget that blogging doesn’t just have to be the long-form, written post. You could think of using Sound (Audioboo, Soundcloud or Mixcloud), Video (YouTube, BlipTV and Vimeo) or producing a free download with a very short post to accompany it.
4. The Time Imperative
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7…
How long did that take?
I am being flippant of course… but it takes as long as it takes, but you can play it smart.
As I have said, you don’t have to think only of writing a blog; and a audio blog (yes I believe it amounts to a blog) can be done very quickly and posted to up the web either through one of the aforementioned platforms or embedded on your website.
Like all non-core topics, it is easy to justify why things shouldn’t done – and blogging is no exception – but if you consider that a blog, well done, could change your business, increase your chances of being found on line and give you that all important Unique Selling Proposition, then you might just see your way to giving it a bit more time.
My advice to kill the time issue is this. Make blogging of strategic importance and you will find the time. If it always plays 2nd, 3rd… 50th fiddle to your mountain of Things To Do, then you might as well forget the idea of blogging. However, when you do get around to it, don’t expect people to come back.
Go and do a search on Google Blogs or a Google search and see what turns up. You don’t need to be a SEO expert to work out that if you create content that people want to read that you will get found.
Of course, you can go through the normal word stuffing, back-link and hyperlink nonsense, but in my experience those people that stand out – SEO or otherwise – find an audience because they are good. Actually, they are better than good. They earn my attention every single time.
6. Business Development
Where to start?
[Not with blogging I would conjecture.]
First and foremost, I would want to work out where my audience was surfing on-line. Never easy I know but I would want to understand the demographic sufficient to work out if I should be producing video content or a mixture of downloads and live events.
Dive deep on this before you go overboard with the content.
What I am driving at – and I am sorry you have had to get this far into the blog post – is that blogging is business development. Period. It develops your business by changing the way you see yourself. It might sound melodramatic, but your business will forever be changed, if you embrace the paradigm.
But of course, most people see business development as SALESSSSSSS££££££$$$$$.
And yes, if that is you raison detre for developing a blog then you can expect to win more work; but it won’t happen at the first or even 100th attempt.
I will say it for the umpteenth time YOU HAVE TO EARN ATTENTION AND GIVE IN VALUE MORE THAN YOU TAKE IN PAYMENT. That means do more for less, at least in the early stages. If you launch your sales pipeline activity too early then it will not only seem antithetical to the notion of blogging but it will alienate your audience that you have so assiduously built up.
7. Blogging frequency
I wish I had the answer.
Whenever you are in the mood?
I haven’t quite fallen into the latter but I have tried different timing and different frequency.
And my advice…
Do what works for you but please, please make it interesting.
And I don’t mean the “really – OMG or WTF!” variety. I mean the insightful, useful and helpful stuff.
What you need to think about is writing what others might be thinking or worrying about, but haven’t yet come up with the answer.
It is tempting to copy others but you must find a find a voice. Not an all knowing one – we are all vulnerable to succumbing to our fears – but something that you think hasn’t been covered.
I always come back to the question:
What is missing?
It’s the gaps that you need to focus on.
They exist in every walk of life. In every business. And with every one of us.
You could focus on the idea of evergreen content – Tim Ferriss is the master of this – but, I repeat, you need to find a voice. It is hard. Really hard.
And if you get stuck go and check out Julien Smith‘s blog. It may not be everyone’s cup of Rosie Lea but it sure floats my boat.
You have to want to blog.
And reach out.
Blogging could just change you forever.
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