To Blog or Not to Blog
In startup meetings with clients, we frequently get questions about blogs. At Papercut, our clients tend to fall into three camps where blogs are concerned: 1) they have a blog but it’s not integrated into their website, 2) they don’t currently have a blog and are interested in adding one to their website, and 3) they already have a blog and want recommendations on how to make it better.
While there are definite benefits to blogging on your site, they don’t come without a lot of hard work, and this is perhaps the biggest reason why people are hesitant. It is very effective when done correctly, but it’s definitely not for everyone. If you’re on the fence about blogging, hopefully this post will help you decide if it’s the right form of content for you.
The Benefits of Blogging
There really are countless benefits that come with blogging, but here are just a few biggies:
- You can drive traffic to your site and earn links – This is one of the most important benefits of having a blog on your website. Each post is a unique page that has been added to your website, and the search engines love sites that are constantly updated with new, valuable information. Think of a blog as a flashing neon sign on your website that says, “Hey, Google! I’m here—pay attention to me!” If you start to blog, the search engines will notice, they’ll pay more attention to your site, and they’ll add more of your site’s pages to their index, meaning there’s a better chance that one of your URLs will show up in the search results pages. When that happens, your content is in front of more people, increasing the chance that someone will find it valuable and link to it, adding more SEO value to your site.
- You have a platform for conversations with your customers/visitors – When you have a blog, it’s easy to have a conversation directly with the people who are reading your content and interacting with your site. Ask questions, share opinions, and encourage your community to do the same. Answering questions and making your blog useful to your readers can go a long way when it comes to building brand loyalty.
- You can grow your business – Your blog is just one more place to show how well you know your stuff. Your site visitors can encounter your blog content anywhere in the conversion funnel—they can land there from organic search, they can visit while they are browsing your site, or they can return to a piece of content and convert from it at a later date. If the content on your blog strikes a chord or contains prominent calls-to-action (or both, ideally), it can become a lead generating machine.
The Deciding Factors
Deciding whether or not to blog really comes down to two important factors:
- Time – There’s no doubt about it; blogging is a time-consuming task. It takes time to come up with ideas, to write and edit content, and then to publish and promote each piece. The amount of work and time involved in maintaining blogs is one of the biggest reasons why people choose not to use them. So, before you dive headfirst into blogging, consider whether you have the time to post at least once a week. Regular posting is key to maintaining readership, and posting once a month or so isn’t going to do you much good. If you can’t commit to more than that, you might want to consider other forms of content, such as videos or monthly newsletters.
- Resources – Do you have an in-house team of writers and editors that can oversee your blog and ensure that it is regularly populated with new content? Chances are, if you don’t put at least one person in charge of the blog and make producing content part of his or her job, it will quickly fall by the wayside. You need someone with the interest, the bandwidth, and the know-how to keep the engine running. If you really want to have a blog but can’t maintain it in house, consider finding a reputable agency to help you produce and publish your content.
I Want to Blog, Now What?
If you’ve decided to start a blog, there are some things you’ll need to keep in mind as you work. I’ve written about the content creation process before, but here are a few high points that are worth repeating:
- Create an editorial calendar – Plan out some content topics and publication dates in advance to help keep things on track.
- Know where to turn for ideas – Everyone has trouble coming up with fresh ideas. It comes with the territory. If you’re stuck, keep a list of “emergency” topics at the ready. These can be things like easy “how-to” posts, interviews with team members, or even funny posts.
- Optimize your content and promote it – Take time to make your content search engine and people friendly with images, headers, and keywords. Then, promote it on social media, in email newsletters, or on related sites so people know it exists. Ideally, this should happen as close to the publication date and time as possible.
Summing it Up
If there’s one key takeaway from this post, it’s this: blogs can be very useful marketing tools, but they’re not for the faint of heart. If you add one to your site, you should invest the time and resources necessary to keep it updated. A blog that hasn’t had new content added in a month or so can make your company seem uninterested and detached, and that’s the last message you want to send on your website. We all know that content is important, but choosing the right kind of content to produce before entering the game is half the battle. Be sure you’re playing to your strengths.