Do you need a blog? Yes, maybe, but ….
A lot of businesses today are wondering if they should start a blog. And for many businesses, a blog is indeed a great way to build traffic to your website by providing relevant content for the search engines to pick up. It is also a very effective way to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in your particular market.
But before you rush to start a blog, here is a word of warning. Blogging may not be the most effective use of your time, in terms of marketing your website.
When should you blog?
Blogs are best for companies that need keep on the cutting edge of their particular niche market. If your market is continually changing and you want to keep your prospective customers up to date, then blogging is a good choice.
Furthermore, if you want to build and maintain a “newsy” or “daily thought” element to your website, you should add a blog.
If you create something remarkable and capture the attention of a few thought leaders who like it, you are going to get links.
But how do you create content that people will like?
If you are passionate about a topic, know more about it than anyone else, and openly share information, then it’s pretty straightforward. Start blogging and eventually people will notice and link to you. Express your worldview and your bias in a way that matches their worldview.
Social interaction of any type leads to links. Speak at a conference? Someone will likely blog about it. Want to get thought leaders to promote your site? Create a community project or contest and ask them to participate. Or give out awards, etc.
An example of a successful business blog
One of my clients has developed a hugely successful business selling nutritional supplements and skincare products to the US, Asia and Europe, from a small office in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Virtually all his products are sold via the Internet and he gets over 300,000 visitors a month to his website. Furthermore, he doesn’t spend a fortune on Google Adwords or other online advertising.
The secret, he told me, was due largely to his blog, to which he tries to post two or three times a week. Virtually every one of his posts has comments beneath it from people who have visited the blog. He often makes controversial statements about the nutritional supplement industry, which guarantees him a lively readership.
Here is his blog: http://blog.xtend-life.com
This is a classic example of how powerful blogging can be for your business …. if you do it right. That’s a big IF. A lot of people start a blog and have a spurt of enthusiasm and then give up. Or they try to make their blog posts too overtly sales-oriented.
Your blog needs to be informative, interesting and ideally a bit controversial. For people (like me) who don’t like going out selling face to face but are more introverted, blogging can be an ideal way to build up your credibility and attract new customers. You don’t have to do any sales or ever have to pitch; people will call you after reading your blog.
You can imagine how much more receptive people will be to buying if they have approached you, rather than you approaching them. You’re already half way to the sale before you even start talking to them.
The downside of blogging is that it does take time to build up traffic. You will feel as though you are writing away in a vacuum for a while and wonder if it’s worth it. Then, after a few weeks, you’ll start to see visitors who have found your blog posts in the search engines.
Google seems to love blogs, much more than regular websites
I’ve seen this with my own websites. I’ve had a site for about four years selling my website design services and have got a steady trickle of traffic to it. At the beginning of 2009 I built a new website using Wordpress, which is a blogging software that can also be used to create full websites.
Within a month, this new website built with Wordpress was already getting more traffic than my four-year-old conventional site!
So this is good news if you’re serious about blogging. If you post consistently and offer something of genuine value to to readers, you’ll gradually build up a following and your business will take off more than you dreamed possible.
If you’re not a writer, or simply don’t have time to write a blog, you could do what more and more businesses are doing – hire a freelance writer to share some (or all) of the load.
Another example of a successful blog
To conclude, I’d like to share another example of a truly successful blog, which I learned about today. It is written by a tailor working in upmarket Saville Row in London. You’d hardly expect a tailor aiming at the upper end of the market to be a blogger. But Thomas Mahon sells bespoke suits using mainly his blog, and word of mouth, as marketing. He is constantly booked and his customers include Prince Charles.
Here is his blog: www.englishcut.com
A good business blog is like the best kind of salesperson. It offers information and advice but is not pushy. It makes you want to come back again and again and also spread the word to your friends. It’s well worth the effort!
Now for the downside of blogs
Getting a blog online has never been easier. And therein lies one of blogging’s biggest pitfalls. The sheer volume of blogs (hundreds of millions) makes it difficult to get noticed. Most blogs never do. And this leads to a massive failure rate among bloggers.
And here’s another downside of blogging. As Chris Anderson, executive editor of ‘Wired’ magazine and one of the most prominent bloggers, noted:
“A blog is this beast – a monkey on your back. It wants to be fed every day. But we all have jobs and it’s hard to do.”
Despite all the “buzz” about blogging, the failure/abandonment rate of blogs is nearly 100%. Only exceptionally talented bloggers build up a significant following over a sustained period.
Most bloggers are commentators. The world, unfortunately, only needs so many “commentators.” An excess of supply versus demand is always bad economics.
So, before you start a blog, you need to think long and hard. It’s a long-term commitment and you will need to be dogged and disciplined in posting regularly. Are you up for the challenge? Only you can answer!