Reposted from InfusionSoft Blog Manager Ellis Friedman.
The great thing about blogging is that it doesn’t take very much time. Writing – aka typing – is pretty easy; brains are an endless well of engaging, useful, informative content, and all those thoughts flood so easily and consistently onto the keyboard that bloggers frequently find themselves desperately wishing for a good old fashioned case of writer’s block.
And that’s why you can and should totally start a blog. Now.
Was that convincing? Because as someone who literally blogs all day long, let me be the first to tell you that everything in the first paragraph is an outright lie. It took me 20 minutes just to write this far, and the actual typing is such a minor part of what actually goes into maintaining a blog. That’s not to say it’s not doable – it might be my full-time job, but we post every day – and that is very likely not what your blog would need.
So do you really need a blog? A lot of conventional online marketing wisdom says Yes, absolutely! But you might be surprised, because the answer is Maybe, but also maybe not.
Can you consistently produce content?
You cannot write three blog posts in a month and then never touch your blog again. I mean, you can, but it would be a waste of the time you spent writing those three blog posts, it would be a waste of virtual space and most importantly, it would bring you zero benefit, tangible or intangible.
If you’re going to blog, you need to commit to it like you would commit to a dog. This thing has got to be fed and walked at regular intervals – ideally, a minimum of once a week. Can you do it, or can you pay someone to?
Do you have the time for a blog?
You have the ideas, you have the writing skills, you have the verve. OK, but do you have the time? Being consistent is vital, but if you don’t have time to produce worthy posts, a weekly half-hearted attempt isn’t your best option. We’ve seen how much readers love our productivity posts, and based on those analytics, I’d wager a guess that you readers are a little crunched for time.
So be sure that if you start blog, you have the time for it, because I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty time consuming. The best way to overcome this hurdle? Block off time on your calendar to work on it.
Will a blog directly impact your business?
So many people who get over the time and consistency hurdles end up abandoning their blog anyway because they’re not seeing any return from their efforts. That’s not necessarily because they’re not doing it right – it could simply be that a blog is not the right vehicle for their business.
How do I know if a blog is right for my business?
Ah friend, I will tell you. Start by asking yourself these questions:
Do your customers have pain points that a blog can solve?
The key phrase here is “that a blog can solve.” This is a tough concept to grasp, so I asked our social media specialist, Jill Jones, for a bit of clarification. Here’s the gist of what she said:
Let’s say you rent out a photo booth as your business. Your service is a one-time thing, a luxury and it’s part of a larger thing (a party). You could blog about party tips or photography tips, but doing so wouldn’t directly impact your business. Why? Because party décor or food ideas won’t impact a potential customer’s photo booth rental decision. Though you’re being resourceful and it’s a topic in the same wheelhouse, it’s not driving your bottom line.
Blogs are much more likely to have an impact on things that are recurring or always present in your house or your life, including but not limited to items like clothing, food, housing, or beauty products.
Of course, that isn’t always true. A wedding florist, who like a photo booth provider provides what is usually a one-time luxury expense, could run a blog about what flowers mean, what flowers are in season or how to mix flowers and see direct impact from that.Why? Because telling a potential buyer what’s in season around their wedding date or which flowers indicate love has a direct effect on a customer’s purchase decision.
Do you have useful, informative content to share?
That’s what a blog comes down to. They say any publicity is good publicity, but let me tell you that any content is NOT good content. Content is both a strategy and a tactic – it is not a magnet that suddenly attracts eyeballs and business. Make sure the content you produce is created to drive people toward your business. So if you don’t have anything useful to say, don’t say it at all.
Do you know how to write well?
Whoever is going to lead the charge on a blog, whether it’s you or someone you’ve hired, must know how to write well. They need to know about voice and tone, how to engage with your specific audience, how to do research to become an authority and most of all, how to actually get words on a page (trust me – the hardest part of writing is the actual writing part).
If you’re outsourcing content writing, Fiverr is not an ideal solution. Sure, it’s quick and it’s cheap, but for an important, ongoing project, it probably won’t produce the quality or consistency a blog needs. If you’re getting a different person writing your content every time, it will show, and any potential readers will not take your blog as a serious voice of expertise and authority.
Is your content going to be in line with your brand?
This is where knowledge of voice comes in – your blog needs to be in line with your brand voice and values. That’s why I have a job; in addition to writing, I ensure that all the content we post falls under the umbrella of our cohesive voice. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t get posted. All blogs need a gatekeeper.
Do you have a distribution plan?
No, this question is not too far ahead to plan for. The whole point of having a blog is to get people to read it, so you need a plan in place to, you know, get people to read it. Are you going to share on social media? Which channels? How will you know it’s working? Will you have guest bloggers on your post, or guest blog for others to have cross promotion? How will you determine which writers you’ll use or for whom you’ll write?
What’s the point of a blog?
Not to get existential on you, but what’s the point? What are you trying to accomplish with your blog? Are you doing it because “people” say you should and you think “Yeah I’ll give that a go”? Not a good enough reason.
You need to know exactly what value you’re aiming to derive from having a blog. Is it to establish yourself or your brand as a thought leader in your space? To generate leads and drive sales? Grow brand or product awareness?
Blogging rules of thumb
- Start with one blog. Don’t get all eyes-bigger-than-your-stomach on this thing and think that you could start five blogs segmented by location or topic. Just start with one.
- If you already have content you publish – like a YouTube show or a podcast, consider whether adding a blog is really worth it. Start small – you don’t have to boil the ocean in a day.
- Know where your content will live and how it will be found. It should be accessible from your homepage, not just by direct visits or Facebook posts.
- You must know who your audience is before you start anything. Since the whole point is to solve their pain points, you have to know who they are and what they need before you type a single word.
- Know the story you have to tell and make sure it’s in line with your company mission. Is there a specific thing you’re trying to accomplish or a vision you’re trying to realize?
- As with most things in marketing, starting and maintaining a blog comes down to having a greater purpose and goal and tailoring everything to that vision.
Ellis has spent a lot of her adult life chest-deep in small business adventures, especially the year she spent opening the Beijing branch of a Shanghai-based air purifier and lifestyle business. Most of her experience stems from her diverse media background in film, magazine publishing, blogging, and photography, but she’s also a published author and Infusionsoft’s blog manager. Ellis has an idiosyncratic fondness for grammar, style, and sarcasm, and fills most of her time away from the keyboard tasting scotch whisky, traveling abroad, and hiking.