“Should I write a blog for my business?” Google the answer and you’ll find arguments on both sides (including contradictory headlines from the same publication!):
“Why your small business must start a blog!”
“10 reasons your small business shouldn’t start a blog!”
It’s no surprise it’s one of the most common questions I get asked by startup founders and business builders.
So, what is the answer?
Hosting relevant, engaging and up-to-date content on your website is without doubt a fantastic asset. It improves your SEO by demonstrating your knowledge and expertise on your chosen subject. It provides content which you can then use across your other marketing channels to ‘hook’ new customers into your site. And it enhances the customer experience on your site by providing additional opportunity to engage with your brand, your product and, well, you.
So why wouldn’t you write a blog? Why the debate?
The key point is the content must be “relevant, engaging and up-to-date”. Without these magic ingredients, your blog can quickly become a colossal waste of time (time you don’t have to spare when you’re creating, operating and building your own business).
So a few things to consider before deciding whether a blog is right for your business…
Simon Sinek it
Start with why. Ask yourself why you are thinking about writing a blog in the first place. What is its purpose?
Answers usually include:
- demonstrate expertise
- improve SEO
- increase engagement
- improve conversion rates
- increase website traffic
- reduce bounce rate
But why do any of these things? If you’re a commercial business, it all comes back to one thing: sales. If you’re looking to generate sales then start there.
What do I need to do to generate sales and how can I do that?
Advertise online, advertise offline, host events, network, cold call, email campaigns, blog… There’s an endless list of activities which can contribute to an improvement in sales figures and yes, one of them is blogging. But is blogging fundamental to your sales strategy? Is it the best use of your time right now?
If your providing a service or need to communicate your expertise in a specific area, then the answer might very well be yes, in which case crack on (providing you have a content plan that comprises more than just “buy our stuff”).
But if not, don’t feel obliged to start a blog just because you have a website. Your time is precious so prioritise what is going to have the greatest positive impact on your commercial targets rather than what you think you “should do”.
Consider some alternatives to answering your customers questions which don’t necessarily wed you to a regular publishing schedule or demand continuous fresh content such as:
- FAQ page
- Scheduled chats on Twitter
- Scheduled Facebook live event
Do you have the time?
It’s happened to all of us: visit a website, click on the blog, and the last entry was three years ago… Hmm, what impact does that have on my impression of that business? Not a positive one.
It’s arguably the most common blogging mistake business owners make. Build a shiny website, create an awesome blog and enthusiastically publish a couple of posts every week! Then weekly becomes monthly, monthly becomes quarterly and soon the last post was three years ago.
The thing is, it’s common because no-one thinks it’s going to happen to them. Everyone who starts out writing a blog does so with the unwavering belief that they will commit to it and it will stay up to date… Honest!
So, what happens?
- You run out of fresh content ideas so start writing about your granny’s chicken soup recipe (more on that later)
- Your business grows, your priorities shift elsewhere and you forget to update it (also known as “I don’t have time”)
- You’re not optimising or promoting it so it makes zero impact on your marketing, you become disillusioned and stop updating it because “it makes no difference”
- Managing it just becomes a giant pain in the ass so it’s easier not to bother
- All the above
The point being, before you decide if you should write a blog for your business, take time to plan how you are going to make it sustainable.
- How often are you going to add fresh content?
- Who from your team is going to contribute?
- Who manages (and markets) it day to day?
- Who plans future content ideas?
- Who tracks its performance and identifies what’s working and what isn’t?
- How do you make sure it’s serving its purpose?
To publish a great blog, you need to have an operational plan in place to deliver the blog frequency you want, market it through various platforms, and track the impact of your content (and learn from it).
What content do you want to share?
There are two aspects to this and yes, you guessed it, it has something to do with granny’s chicken soup recipe.
A great blog post which boosts your SEO and serves up useful content doesn’t just happen. It takes planning and research. Google is becoming increasingly “human” in the way it scores top ranking content. Pay attention to this next sentence because it’s the secret to all SEO activity… Ready?
What you write about must be relevant to your business and your customers.
Yep, it’s really that simple. And yet so many still get it completely wrong. In simple terms, to boost your SEO you should write content that does two things:
- It’s useful and informative for customers and answers their questions (ie what they are searching for on Google)
- It sits well within the context of your website and is relevant to your business (e.g. If your business sells adult-only holidays, you won’t gain much by espousing the joy of having children – even if the topic is “trending”).
If you run out of useful business-relevant content and resort to waxing lyrical about granny’s chicken soup you’re going to lose your audience (and therefore Google rankings). Unless your business is Granny’s Chicken Soup Company, in which case have at it.
You will (hopefully) know your product, your business, your brand. You will even (again, hopefully) know who you customer is and why they would be interested in your product. But that information alone won’t help you write a blog.
Your blog content needs to be useful. It needs to go beyond the benefits and features of your product and be of genuine value to your customer (otherwise you’re better off just placing a few banner ads and be done with it).
Take some time to build a content strategy for your blog. What do you want it to achieve? If you have nothing to say beyond a 1000-word sales pitch about how awesome your product is then think again (no one wants to read that, or at least I don’t!).
There’s a myriad of strategy templates and matrixes available on the web to help plan your content. It’s also worth checking out some of the free tools available such as Buzzsumo, Google Trends or Google AdWords Keyword Planner to see what customers are searching for relative to your industry.
Finally, and this one will blow your mind, ask your customers what they want to know! Your existing customers are a goldmine of potential blog content. Find out what they’d like to hear more about and write it for them. What better way to ensure it’s useful and relevant?
The reason there are so many conflicting answers to this question on Google is that there is no right or wrong answer to capture all businesses. It comes down to your team, capacity, resource, rationale, commercial objectives and marketing strategy.
Think about why you are considering starting a blog for your business and ask yourself whether it’s the right option, right now.
- Is there a better way to achieve your immediate commercial objectives?
- Can you commit the time?
- Do you have something useful to say?