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Should You Start a Blog?

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Blogging is easy and hard at the same time. What makes it easy is the ability to publish instantly. Most content management systems have a built-in blog capability, so you can write your post and Presto! It’s live.

What makes it potentially hard is that once you start, you have to keep doing it consistently. If you don’t, you’ll make a bad impression on your potential customers.

A stale blog means you’re not minding the store. Sure, you may have so much business that you don’t have time to blog. But these days, many companies use blogs to post news. If a potential customer goes to your blog to read the latest update from your company and the last post is dated a year ago, when the CEO left the company, what does that say about you?

So before you start a blog, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you need a blog?

There are all sorts of reasons to blog (and not just because it’s free as opposed to pay-per-click advertising). Most reasons have to do with inbound marketing and lead generation. But aside from that, think about these reason

  • You want to show customers that you really understand their problems. This means you’re giving away advice. If they find it valuable and helpful, they’ll continue to read your blog. Each blog post helps you earn their trust. When they’re finally ready to make a purchase, they’ll likely go with your service or product over a company that hasn’t made an effort to talk to its customers online.
  • You want more customers to find you when they search for the type of service or product you offer. A blog is a way to add fresh content to your website, and therefore provide more pages for Google to index.
  • Your competitors are blogging. While this may not be the best reason to blog, sometimes you need to keep up with the Joneses.
  • You want to blend news with advice. Some companies have a separate news section, where they put all their press releases, in addition to a blog. If you don’t have press releases, you can use your blog for everything: news announcements (company expansions, acquisitions, new products), helpful tips for customers, opinions about your industry, and fun company stuff (corporate responsibility, new hires, etc.). It’s a lot easier to manage if you have everything in one spot. And it makes your blog much more robust.

2. Do you have time to blog?

How long does a post take to write? That depends. If you have a marketing department, you have a writer on staff who knows your industry and can probably crank out a 400-word post in an hour, maybe two if more research is required.

If you’re a small-business owner and you plan to do the writing yourself — and you’re intimidated by writing — each blog post can be a chore and therefore take you forever to write. However, I’ve met plenty of business owners who say they’re not writers, yet they really know their subject matter and audience and write just fine. All they need is a good editor. I worked with one business owner on his blog, and it probably took him an hour or two to write a post, then an additional hour with me as an editor, cleaning up the post, coming up with the headline, and checking on the use of keywords.

How often should you blog? For inbound marketing, HubSpot recommends you blog two to three times a week. The more you blog, the more leads you’ll generate. Now let’s multiply the time it takes to write a blog.

  • Scenario 1: Staff writer: 1 hour per post  x 3 posts a week = 3 hours.
  • Scenario 2: Business owner who can write with help from an editor: (2 hours per post + 1 hour with editor) x 3 posts = 9 hours. If that’s too much time, blog less. You’ll generate fewer leads, but even if you can blog once a week, that’s better than not blogging at all. Every little bit helps.

Don’t forget: If you’re serious about blogging, you should have a schedule or calendar of topics you plan to write about at least a month in advance. And have those posts written and cued up to publish.

3. Who do you want to read your blog?

You need to ask yourself who you’re blogging for. If your blog is about your business, you do not write about whatever you want. You’re not writing for you; you’re writing for potential customers, or current customers.

So you need to figure out who those customers are. In the marketing world, this means identifying different personas (Hannah the Housewife, Suzie the CPA, Paul the Plumber) that you’ll be directing each post to. You need to think about what each persona’s problem is, and what keywords they would enter in Google in order to find the solution. Your blog post should address that solution and use those keywords, preferably in the URL, headline, first paragraph, and elsewhere throughout the blog.

I once came across a blog for a company specializing in office moves, and a recent blog post was focused on employees Facebooking on company time. While that may be important to someone, it’s probably not what their potential customers are searching for in Google when they need to move 200 employees to another building across town in three months.

4. Who will write the blog?

Will it be the owner of the company? Or will it be the marketing department? It could be multiple people in the company, with the primary editor in the marketing department. Or it could be a freelancer familiar with your industry. Either way, you need to figure out who can write the blog and who wants to write the blog. If you stick to the calendar and write a month or two ahead of time, it’s no big deal when someone takes a vacation.

And make sure to have a back-up. On one company blog I read recently, the last post was April 2015. That was when the marketing assistant left the company, at which point the blog was no longer updated.

Life happens, people leave companies, people change jobs within companies.  But whatever happens, if the blog is working for you, you need to keep it going.

Bonnie Nicholls on Linkedin
Bonnie Nicholls
Bonnie Nicholls is a freelance writer specializing in thought leadership content: case studies, articles, white papers/ebooks and blog posts. She supports industries such as Agile/Scrum, defense and leadership training.