Despite its proven success, business owners are skeptical of the time, money and effort blogging requires. So why blog for business? We’ll give you three answers — and fair warning on what this undertaking requires.
Before we deep dive into how blogging for business became relevant, consider some of these blog stats courtesy of HubSpot:
- 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing this year.
- Blogs produced a new customer for 43% of marketers last year.
- 43% of marketers generated a customer via their blog with less than 10% of total time allocation.
Before we get into the “why” of blogging, let’s take a look at just “what” blogs are all about.
The very abridged history of blogs
Like all things born of the Internet, blogging initially started way back when techies wanted a cool platform to share their ideas and express their thoughts.
The term itself wasn’t coined until the 1990’s (according to the soothsayers at Wikipedia), but blogging in its early stages began as newsgroups, email lists, and Internet forums. The blog itself was recognized as an early “online diary.” Important historical dates in the evolution of the business blog include:
February 8, 1997: Steve Gibson was hired to blog full time by Ritual Entertainment, making him the world’s first (known) hired blogger.
December 17, 1997: The term “weblog” was coined by John Barger. It was later shortened to “blog” by Peter Merholz, who broke up the word to display “we blog” on his own blog.
August 21, 2005: I helped bring in Tom Parish to speak to the Madison Advertising Federation.
I’ve included that last note (and I’m not sure the date is entirely accurate), because that’s the first time I encountered the possibility of blogging for business. And like you, I was rather skeptical and uncertain at the time.
Back when I hired him to speak, and probably still today, Tom Parish was an early adopter. Like those on the cutting edge, his modus operandi seems to be assimilate first, monetize later. He was blogging because it was new, and he smelled something big on the horizon.
“You’re a writer,” he told me. “You should blog.”
I didn’t take Tom’s advice, maybe because at that time I was writing for a living. When you write for a living, you only want to pursue something that provides you with cash in return. At that point, I didn’t see the financial benefit to blogging.
Today I do.
The business case for blogging
Fast forward to the economic wreckage of 2008, when the marketing landscape felt like a journey down Mad Max’s Fury Road. The shrinking of ad budgets and the rise of social media left marketers scrambling for relevancy, and it opened my eyes to the world of blogging.
I was realizing, as were some of my more enlightened colleagues, that blogging was not some narcissistic writing exercise. It wasn’t a personal diary. It was a public diary. And the benefits for search engines, social media, and website in general were — and still are — profound.
You want to know our not-so-secret method for achieving great search engine rankings for our clients? It’s very simple. We blog.
Understand that Google does not want you trying to game the system. They want you to build a great website with relevant content. Relevant content can be built via blogging, as a blog post is simply another web page.
These blog posts can rank on Google, just like a home page. One post we wrote for a client has generated over 80,000 page visits.
So you’re on social media, and you’re sharing posts written by other media sources and maybe even your competitors. But what are you sharing that talks about yourself?
You don’t want to share links to your website, as that’s blatant spamming/selling and won’t get shared. However, if you’re writing blog posts with helpful info, people will happily pass it along.
I mentioned that a blog post is another page on your website. That’s technically how the search engines register a blog. Here’s how to differentiate your site from your blog, so they complement one another and set you apart from competitors:
- On your website, tout your products and services.
- On your blog, help people discover solutions to their problems.
The blog is at the top of the sales funnel, where you build awareness and get on people’s radar. The website is where you sell your goods.
How to make blogging work for your business
Okay, I’ve given you some stats on how prevalent blogging for business has become, and also how it has real-world application for your Internet marketing efforts. Here are a few tips before you embark on your own blogging efforts:
- Allocate for a time commitment. According to HubSpot, 45% of businesses spend 1-3 hours to create a blog post. 16% spend more than 3 hours to create a blog post. That’s a lot of time. Even if you hire a writer, you still need to provide input and review the written post.
- Base your frequency on quality. There are all types of opinions on how frequently you should blog, but to me it’s a simple equation: Base your frequency on quality. If you can only produce a quality post every two weeks, then blog bi-weekly. People won’t read it unless it’s good.
- Be consistent. If there’s anything a search engine or a reader values, it’s consistency. It’s like the Sunday paper (I may be dating myself here). People expect to see that paper every Sunday, and they look forward to it. Be consistent with your posting, and people will get the same feelings about your blog posts.
Of course, the ultimate question for any business is: Can blogging generate more money for my bottom line?
My answer is simple. If you want to drive traffic to your site and have something to share on social media, blogging is absolutely essential. For the blog to be an effective revenue generator, it must be teamed with a conversion / lead-nurturing strategy, so you can convert those visitors into leads and customers.
Think of a blog as the foundation for a solid inbound marketing approach. Inbound marketing integrates a blog with social media sharing and all-around Internet branding to generate traffic.
The question today truly isn’t: “Why blog for business?” The answer to that is: Because if you leave that stage to your competitors, the audience will follow them.
So the real question is: “How can you afford not to blog for business?”
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