Blogging isn’t for everyone, but that’s why they make chocolate AND vanilla. Because my clients are authors, I always recommend that they have a blog. But truth be told, not everyone is cut out to be a blogger. Not everyone has the time to blog. Not everyone has the perseverance or patience to keep going until they see results. Here are some of the realities of blogging.
Blogging Takes Time.
I’m a fairly fast writer and my average blog post takes a minimum of an hour to write (when things are working) and, if I need to do research, two to four hours. It’s another half hour to put it on my site with an image and headings, and then SEO it to the best of my (limited) abilities.
I also take several hours a month to brainstorm topics. I keep an eye on my writing and marketing groups and make note of frequently asked questions. I keep a running list of blog topics and use maybe half of them over the course of the next month or so. I schedule my posts on specific days because having a deadline helps me to get the work DONE. Most weeks I make deadline. Some weeks I miss by a day. Sometimes two days.
All that is to say that blogging takes a consistent effort and real butt-in-the-chair time. Not everyone has a four hour block of time every week to write a post that may or may not be read. If you don’t but still want to maintain a blog, you may want to hire a content writer to write the posts for you.
It’s a Slow Build
If you’re blogging once a week, you’re yelling into the void. If you’re blogging once a month, you might as well not be blogging at all. Sound like fun yet?
I was blogging aimlessly for years. Yes, I blogged about writing and marketing, but I paid no attention to SEO. I didn’t blog consistently enough. I didn’t advertise my site or promote my posts and the traffic to my site reflected this. I finally got serious and built my own blogging planner to keep myself on a schedule. (Shameless Plug: The Brilliant Content Planner) And it made a difference in that my content was more focused and it was easier for me to blog consistently.
Did blogging matter to my business? Yes and no.
As I’ve mentioned many times, I run a “boutique” business: I work with fewer than 20 people a year and almost all of my business is referral based. I have met about half my clients in person, often after I have worked with them. My business is not based on location or traditional office hours. I was very intentional about this.
But I also know that as a writer, having a blog that publishes regularly is important. It showcases my writing. If I had built it sooner and bigger, I may have gained a few more speaking gigs or been a more recognized authority. In the long run, it may have helped me over a few dry spells, but for the most part, I don’t get the bulk of my business from my blog.
But that’s my business. Your business might be different and for that reason, if you’re blogging to gain clients, you need to blog more often, at least in the beginning stages of your business. If you’ve been blogging off and on and want to keep blogging as a marketing strategy, then you need to turn on the fire hose. Let me illustrate…
Unless You Blog A LOT
I have had my website for years and monthly visits have been consistently pitiful. In March, I decided to blog every weekday for the entire month. I researched keywords and topics and every day, Monday through Friday, I put up a post. I have an RSS feed that creates a social media post automatically whenever I publish a blog post. I’m no longer on LinkedIn so the post only went to my Facebook business page and my neglected Twitter account. I shared each post from my business page to my personal feed, the same as I have done for years.
At the end of the month, I checked my stats. Traffic to my site had doubled. Page views had more than doubled. My bounce rate (when someone hits a page on your site and then “bounces off” without going to another page on your site) was cut almost in half.
In April and May, I pretty much rested—two posts a week. In April, the number of “Users” went up a bit, and page views went down a bit. In May, traffic went down again, page views remained about the same, and the bounce rate went up (though not as high as it had been). Daily blogging definitely boosts traffic (duh) and you need to give people something that keeps them coming back.
If you’re going to blog, go big in the first few months to get momentum going and gain your audience. Even if you’ve been blogging for a while, an all-out effort done quarterly will get your numbers up. If I had it to over again, I would have blogged daily for three months straight when I first opened my business. Now I will blog daily at least twice a year on my own blog. I’m running an experiment next month on another platform (Stay tuned.)
And Then You Have to KEEP DOING IT
There are countless abandoned blogs on the internet. There are many (many, many) websites that put up three blog posts initially and never added another. (You know who you are.) I used to say that the readership of most blogs is one person, two if your mom is still alive. It’s hard to keep doing something when you don’t see the results in a short amount of time. Who doesn’t like immediate gratification?
One way to help you keep going is to ask for feedback in the comments section—that is ask a question at the end of your post and specifically TELL people to post a reply in the comments. You might not always like the feedback you get, but at least you will know someone is reading what you put out there. Also, use the share buttons and ask readers to share your post if they like it or find it useful. (As I write this, I realize that I hardly ever do this. No wonder my blog had so little traffic for years…)
Blogging is a long term strategy. It’s not a one-and-done thing. I make a to-do list at the top of each work week and three of the items are blog posts. I will never have a completed to-do list for more than a day or two. It’s like exercising. You have to keep doing it for it to keep working. Sigh.
Blogging is (for the most part) an Indirect Revenue Generating Strategy
Can you make money directly from a blog post? Yes, especially if you have a niche site that is geared to selling products. If you’ve ever read a roundup post that gives you “The Seven Best Whatevers” and lists off the pros and cons of each with a link to buy, you’ve hit on a blog post that is geared to directly generate revenue for that blogger. Travel blogs that tell you where to get all the cool gadgets and cases that the person uses on their trips are direct revenue generating blogs. Fashion blogs do the same thing. If you’ve viewed makeup tutorials on YouTube and there’s a link in the comments (or in the video itself) that sends you to a site to buy a product that is being used… well, you get the idea.
I have gained followers and subscribers through my blog and some have become clients, whether it was attending a seminar, buying a book or course, or working with me one-on-one. But, for the most part, my blog is not the place where people come and click a link and buy something. You get information from me, whether you’re a paying customer or not. Some blogs are paid subscriptions. I’m trying to get useful information into the hands of people that need it in a sometimes-entertaining fashion. I try to save people from spending too much money when they don’t have it to lose because I’ve been there.
For most small businesses, their blog is a credibility builder. It is there to answer questions that the business’s clients may have and to demonstrate that the business owner is the person who is capable of giving the reader the help they need. Posts are a way for the reader (and potential client) to “get to know” the blogger and to help them determine if this is a person they want to work with. I have a weird sense of humor and my blog posts reflect this. If you don’t like my sense of humor, you will decide not to work with me. And that’s great for me, too, because frankly, I find myself endlessly amusing and I’m going to have a hard time working with someone who doesn’t share that view. (See what I did there?)
Is blogging right for you and your business?
When you know what is involved with blogging as a marketing strategy you can make an informed choice in your marketing. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is your target market open to consuming information in written format? It doesn’t have to be their preferred method, but they do have to be open to it.
- Do you have the time to write on a consistent basis, at least twice a week? (You can do fast, short posts like Seth Godin or you can hire the writing out.)
- Are you willing to commit to blogging without seeing immediate results?
- Do you actually enjoy writing? Does the writing process help you clarify your own thoughts?
And… if you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know what my next question is.
- Can you repurpose your blog posts? Can you use them (or parts of them) for social media posts, as articles on other sites, as freebie listicles to download or hand out at networking meetings? Can you organize your posts into the bulk of a first draft for a book?
Blogging isn’t right for everyone or every business. You might do better with a podcast or YouTube channel. That’s okay. For some people, blogging isn’t even about getting business—it’s a way to express themselves and their thoughts and maybe do something creative that stretches their minds. That’s even better. Blogging isn’t always easy but there’s a certain sense of accomplishment each time you hit Publish. A bit of an endorphin rush. And an even better feeling when someone comments that you’ve helped them out.
When you go into blogging with the goal of helping people out by giving them information they need, it doesn’t take long to start seeing results that matter more than number of page reads or length of session times. At the end of the day, it’s about connecting with your people. Go connect.