Why Blogging is Good for Business
'What's worse than not having a blog? - a dead blog' - Jawad Khan, jeffbullas.com
In our seminar on blogging for business we talk about how having a blog linked to your website, either internally or externally, can increase traffic by a huge 81%. Having a blog is incredibly important to succeed online, because gone are the days where target audiences want to read sales spiel. They want original, engaging content that is useful to them. They want a two-way interaction, not a one-way lecture. They want businesses to show interest in them, to pre-empt and address their issues and questions. They want genuine, meaningful interaction.
All of these things are what blogging gives your customers, if you do it right.
But what if you've started off with good intentions, set up your blog, only to run out of steam with it after a few months? What if you are impatient to see tangible results, tangible income from it, and have just given up?
This is understandable, and there are so many businesses who feel frustrated with the 'slow and steady' approach that is often the way with blog marketing. Business owners and managers are busy. They have demands on their time. And they don't always have the luxury of the budget with which to pay a professional content writer to compose well-written and engaging blog posts for them. So it falls on them to do it, to keep it up week in, week out. And this can lead to burn-out and giving up.
Reasons Not to Give Up
There are many reasons not to give up, and they centre around the very real benefits having a lively, living blog can offer to your business.
Jawad Khan says: 'Any company website without a blog is clearly missing out on a lot of traffic'
1. A blog shows that you're a fruitful mine of knowledge - By sharing your knowledge with others via blog posts and articles, you're also advertising yourself as a credible business person. People trust businesses that show a wide range of knowledge about their specialist area. Show them you know your stuff and you're not a one-trick pony, by keeping your blog going over weeks, months and years and gradually, you will build up an audience who appreciate and even look forward to your posts. It may seem like a whole lot of work for very little immediate, tangible result, but it does take time. Like anything in business, you have to gain that trust. Trust is not something that's built overnight
2. An up to date blog shows you're 'on the pulse' - Stamina over time in blogging is difficult, but not impossible if you find the time to read about and respond to news in your industry. Highlight news and latest developments in your field of expertise for your readers' benefit and they will love you for it. Pre-empting any questions you may have relating to these developments and answering them in your blog posts is a great way of connecting with your audience and letting them know you're on their side. Relating, analysing and interpreting industry news in a way that is accessible and easy for people to digest, shows that you are putting your audience at the forefront. It shows that you can problem-solve, that you're versatile and up to date
3. A live blog shows you are reliable and can stand the test of time - Clients want old-fashioned reliability. This is no different online to their expectations in traditional business transactions such as going into a shop or calling a company on the 'phone. We are essentially creatures of habit. Once we have formed a habit (eg. reading a particular blog every week at a set time), we're reluctant to waver from this. This is great news in terms of customer loyalty. But not so good if you're struggling to keep your blog going. Keep in mind that once you have lost an audience's loyalty, it is hard to recoup it.
If readers know they can rely on you to deliver, they'll reward you with their loyalty.
It's about building and maintaining a connection between you and your customers. This meaningful interaction is how blogs thrive and grow and carry on engaging audiences over time.
4. An active blog shows you're an active business - unfortunately, a 'dead' blog can give out a very negative message, and many visitors to your website, upon seeing a blog that hasn't been updated for weeks, or even months, will assume the worst: that your business is no longer operating. Keeping your blog regularly updated shows that you mean business and that you're still in business
So now I've talked about why keeping your blog going is a good idea, let's get on to the how. How can you carry on with it when you're out of time or ideas or both?
1. Read! - It's always good to get inspiration from what's out there already. There is no need to put extra pressure on yourself by saying 'I must write about something totally original!' Being original is not only about your subject matter. And your subject matter is not the only, or indeed the main, reason why your audience would read your blog posts. Having a unique slant on a topic, a friendly and interesting voice that engages readers and truly 'speaks' to them, can often be enough. Read blogs in your niche, look at news articles in your industry, look at journals online, see what's trending in your field on Twitter, check out your LinkedIn groups to see what people are talking about. All of these pieces can help you build up your completed puzzle, and generate some interesting blog posts.
2. Create an editorial calendar - editorial calendars are great for those of us who have flashes of inspiration in short, sharp bursts. They can really help you maintain your blog over a period of time. Yours doesn't have to be indepth, just jot down ideas for possible titles and topics. You could even have a monthly theme and explore this theme over the weeks of that month, so your readers have consistency and continuity.
3. At the start of your day, give yourself a blog workout - take twenty minutes at the start of your day, before you even turn on your laptop and check your emails, to do some free writing. Take your brain out of gear, put pen to paper and see what ideas come up. It could be 90% nonsense and 10% pure gold, but those small nuggets of gold can help you keep your blog ablaze. As a creative writer, I find that most of the stuff I write is junk, but that junk is an essential part of the process of finding something good. It's too much pressure to put on yourself to expect everything you write to be amazing. For every thought you have to blossom into brilliant blog posts. Adjusting your expectations and being realistic will definitely help with blogger's block.
4. Move away from burnout - you can prevent blogger burnout, simply by not setting yourself up to fail. When you're planning your blog, think realistically about what you think you will be able to manage on a regular basis. You may be tempted to bow to the pressure: 'I must write one post per day because that's what other people are doing' - but think about it carefully first. It's far better to blog consistently in a manageable way once a week, than to burn yourself out blogging every day for four months then stopping altogether. Your readers will appreciate that consistency. And who has time even to read a blog post from one company every single day? Set realistic expectations, both for you and your audience, and you'll all be happier!
Erin Loechner, writing in the New York Times, advocates 'slow blogging' - the slow and steady approach that stands the test of time and prevents blogger burnout. Remember, quality not quantity is the key to blogging success.
5. Build a community around your blog - In her article 7 Tips to Keep Your Blog Going Long-Term, Heidi Cohen says: 'A blog takes a community'
Engaging with this community, encouraging your readers to make comments and ask questions can ultimately keep you involved. It can even give you ideas for blog posts. Finding out what your target audience's issues and queries are and setting out to answer them in your blog posts and articles can help you engage and build up meaningful interaction with them that will grow over time.
Please write your comments below, I'd love to hear what your experiences are of blogging and thinking of fresh ideas.
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For further reading, we've got some related posts you might be interested in - visit our Creating Better Content article section!