One of the first things clients ask us is whether they should have a blog. While we believe that a blog is one of the most effective and personal ways to market your business, we also think that blogging is not right for everyone. There is a lot to take into consideration, so we put together this guide to help our clients understand the day-to-day reality of having a blog.
Should you blog?
1. You grow a built-in audience
Blogs are a good way to get to know (and become known by) people in your area of expertise and experience. It is a great way to network and build up a fan base that respects and values your opinion on your respective subject. Blog posts lead to conversation which will put you in direct contact with your audience.
2. You can provide a good source of information for your friends, fans and followers
People love feeling savvy and up to date on the latest news, topics and trends. Blogs like Engadget, Gizmodo, and Mashable are successful because they deliver just that. Your blog can become a great source of content as well as news about your business and organization. Reliable, quality content keeps readers coming back which, in turn, keeps people interested and talking about your brand, business, or organization.
3. You have something to say that people want to hear
Your company often has news that is interesting to your fans but may not be appropriate for your main website, especially if it is timely. Blogs are updated more more frequently than traditional website and can offer a venue for the latest news and information about your company, brand or organization without a “permanent” change to your website.
4. Syndication, Syndication, Syndication
Not only can your followers read your blog in their web browsers just like any other website, a blog also provides your content in the form of an RSS feed. This allows people to read your blog posts as they are published without visiting your site. Further, this content can be syndicated by anyone else who finds it valuable and wishes to promote it. Conversify’s clients will often syndicate their blog to feed automatically onto their Facebook page.
5. A blog is a place to have conversations.
Once you have established an audience and valuable content, you can begin using the real power of social media to your benefit: Conversation. Blogs are less formal than a traditional website because they are more conversational. Bloggers and their audience have an open dialogue in the form of posts and comments/responses to those posts. Often, conversations will even take place between blogs.
6. Blogs help to share and collate your other Social Media channels.
Blogs are search engine friendly and your content can generate a lot of buzz. Your blog can be a destination unto itself or a combination destination and gateway to your other social media sites. So, when people discover your blog through a post they can also find your other social media channels and website.
Further, a blog can offer further exposure to embeddable media you post on your social media channels like your YouTube videos and Podcasts!
7. Most blogging platforms are FREE and EASY to set up!
The most popular and successful blogging platforms like Blogger and WordPress offer easy to use hosted blogs that are free. Your domain will have their name in it (for example: http://conversify.wordpress.com) but if your blog is successful you can always upgrade to a registered name.
1. Blogs aren’t what they once were – ‘SO’ 2005 🙂
There is a perception out there that not as many people read blogs as once did. However, not many people know that when they go to Google, find an article and start reading they may actually be reading and getting information from a blog post. According to thefuturebuzz.com 77% of active internet users read blogs. Blogging may seem passe, but for now its not going anywhere.
2. Isn’t someone else saying this already?
If your niche is popular there could be hundreds or thousands of blogs on your topic. This is a real concern and something you should consider very carefully before starting a blog. When planning your blogging strategy we at Conversify recommend researching your niche or topic before getting started to ensure your blo g stands out from the crowd. Remember, lots of competition also means that there are LOTS of people interested. If you can discover what other blogs are lacking, and the weaknesses of your competition, your blog can grow.
3. Many businesses. brands, and organizations get it wrong
Some readers are instantly disillusioned if they know a blog is done by a business. Why? Because so many business ‘get it wrong’. Readers ‘in the know’ hate excessive banner ads, too many self promotions, and impersonal, uninteresting, or inaccurate posts. If you are considering a blog, make sure you have a sound strategy in place and a strong presence (in your content, platform and design) that will attract loyal savvy readers.
1. It takes a lot of time
No matter where you are in the process. Blogging takes a lot of work. Period.
On the front end: Research into your niche and competition, setup, registration, strategy, choosing a platform, design (subsequent redesigns) and planning an editorial calendar can take up to several weeks if done properly and requires a lot of expertise.
Ongoing: Post frequency is different for every blog and is reliant on your goals and strategy. However, as a general rule we recommend that posts on blogs should be frequent. The bottom line is that the more quality content you can create, the more traffic is possible via search engines and RSS feeds. While posts don’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) incredibly LONG they should be high in quality which can take time. Further, it will also take a while for readers to get to know you, see you as a source of quality information, and value you as a source they’d recommend.
2. Blogging requires consistency
Readers appreciate consistency because it helps them fit what they want into the rhythm of their lives. They like knowing that on a certain day, at a certain time, they can go to your site for new information and/or insights. This doesn’t mean you need to be posting every day, but readers should know when they can expect to see new content. If your rhythm is inconsistent you may be frustrating and dissuading people from returning.
3. You need original content
The biggest mistake a blog can make is providing unoriginal, uninspired, boring content. Readers don’t want to spend time on something that they perceive was regurgitated from somewhere else or written while you were half asleep. As a rule of thumb, if you find the post interesting and/or informative your readers will notice, appreciate, and (hopefully) come back for more.
4. Your blog should be creative, on the right platform, and offer some visual design
Ok, while this may seem a “shallow” concern, readers DO in fact judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a blog by its design and platform. An attractive, easy to read, thematic presence will go miles with your readers. Further, updating and redesigning the appearance periodically shows care and attention to detail that will attract readers.
There you have it; the Good, the Bad, and the very Ugly about blogs and blogging. So should your company have a blog? Most likely, yes, but only if you can get it right. If your blog falls into the Ugly category, then you’re just wasting your time.
Are you considering a blog for your business/brand/organization? What are your major concerns?