It's no secret, we're big fans of blogging. Business blogging has plenty of benefits, from attracting and engaging potential customers, to shaping a brand identity, to increasing visitors from search engines.
With so much to gain from blogging, why do so many company blogs fail? Why do we hear from companies all the time that they started blogging only to give up a few months later?
Without the proper strategy and processes, a blog is time consuming and can be a burden to maintain. In this post I'll try to help shed some light on how we've sustained blogging efforts and how you can apply our learnings to your own marketing efforts.
1. Identify your content
Instead of haphazardly starting a blog with loosely written, unfocused material, and just posting when you feel like it, create a plan.
First, make sure your blog is serving your target audience -- your potential customers. Think through what topics are important to your potential customers. We find that some of the best blog topics can be found in conversations with your employees and peers who have direct contact with customers.
Ask people in your customer support team or you sales team what customers are asking them.
- What is important to the people who might buy from you?
- What questions are the most common?
- What are they interested in reading?
Any worthwhile content marketer will tell you that the cornerstone and most important aspect of a successful strategy is engaging content. If you put yourself in your customers' shoes, your content will be much more valuable.
Get topic ideas by listing the questions that your customers are asking during the sales process.
Let your customer determine blog content so your blog will have focus and direction.
2. Create a plan
If you want a blog that will last, it's imperative that you realize that blogging is a long-term commitment. Frequency is key to maintaining an audience's interest and will lead to the best traffic results.
Generally speaking, the more you post, the more organic search engine traffic your website will receive. Check out this chart from Hubspot showing the impact of monthly blog articles on inbound traffic:
An increase in post frequency correlates to more website traffic regardless of whether your company is B2B or B2C.
…or small or large companies.
So how do you maintain that frequency long term?
- Start with setting a schedule for your blog. Now that you have a long list of topics, put them on a calendar. By setting a schedule with the number of posts you're going to write each month, and topics for those posts, you'll be more apt to stick to the schedule and less likely to fall off the wagon.
- Start off slow. Maybe you only want to start with one post every week. That's fine! It's always easier to increase post frequency as you go than to constantly scramble to hit an unrealistic target.
At our company (and for our clients), we keep a calendar of blog post topics that extend from 2-6 weeks in advance, so we know what we'll be writing about far into the future.
3. Get help
Don't feel like just because you're the marketing director of CEO of the company that you have to bare the burden of writing each post yourself. If your company has 100 employees, 50 of them are likely subject matter experts that could contribute to a blog. Solicit input from people in your organization. Seek out those folks who are eager to get involved and willing to help you with the blog.
Since good writing takes time, it's also not a crime to outsource some of the blog post writing. When we work with clients, we'll record a 15-minute conversation with the subject matter expert about a blog topic and use that recording as the basis for writing the actual blog post, rather than asking the subject matter expert to write the post.
We find that this method takes the onus of writing the post off of the subject matter expert while still capturing their knowledge on the subject. Use that tactic in your own organization to extract some knowledge for a blog post from someone whose schedule is slammed and may not have time to write a post.
Interview people in your company about a topic and blog posts will write themselves.
4. Rinse and repeat
Maintaining a blog will be much easier if you can get ahead of schedule and avoid scrambling at the last minute to come up with something to blog about.
9 times out of 10 the post you write in that scenario is going to be worse than the one you gave thought and consideration to. To get out in front of the blog schedule, we encourage recurring meetings to generate blog content. Dedicate an hour or two a week or every other week to interviewing subject matter experts and writing blog posts. Remember, this is a strategic commitment, not a hobby!
By setting time aside on your calendar for blogging efforts, you'll ensure that you are creating content regularly.
The bottom line is that maintaining a blog doesn't have to be a burden. A blog can be a beautiful thing, a direct line of communication to your customers that allows you to share insights previously not available. Get excited about the possibilities, have fun, and don't quit!
If you have any questions, feel free to send them my way via a comment below. I'd be happy to help!
Photo Credit: Frank Gruber