Should You Start a Business Blog?
You hear about it all the time. Businesses are supposed to have a blog. But is blogging really right for your business?
The answer is: it depends.
Blogging brings a lot of benefits, which is why it gets so much attention in business and marketing publications. But every business should carefully consider whether or not starting a blog makes sense for you. Here are the main things you should know to help you decide.
5 Benefits of Creating a Business Blog
1. Blogging is good for SEO.
One of the big reasons business blogging has taken off is that it helps businesses improve their search rankings. Representatives from Google have come straight out and said that high-quality content is one of the most important things their algorithm uses to determine search rankings. And blogging is helpful for other factors that play a role, such as link building (blog posts give other sites more opportunities to consider linking to yours) and time spent on site (reading a blog post takes time).
In addition, blogging gives you a lot more chances to try to rank for a wider variety of relevant keyword terms. For instance, a florist that aims for the terms “florist” and “flower delivery” on their main pages could try for long-tail keywords like “best flowers for a funeral” on their blog – creating more searches they’ll potentially be found in. People looking for helpful information that find blog posts that answer their questions will be that much more likely to buy what they need from the company providing those answers.
2. Blogging is crucial for content marketing.
If you’ve given any consideration to doing content marketing, then a blog is likely to be the cornerstone of your content strategy. Blogs are the most obvious format for publishing ongoing content. Even though they’re mostly known for written content, they’re a good space to promote other content formats as well – you can easily embed videos and podcasts into blog posts and include visual content like infographics in them as well.
Your blog gives people interested in your content a consistent spot to check back for any updates. And by having a lot of your content in one place, it makes it easy for you to promote other pieces of content to any visitors that show an interest in another piece. Blogging is generally just one part of a solid content strategy, but for most businesses doing content marketing, it’s an especially important part.
3. A blog is a good tool for building your email list.
Email marketing is largely considered one of the most effective forms of marketing available to businesses. Two-thirds of consumers have made a purchase because of an email they received, and email marketing has an ROI of $38 for every $1 you spend. But for email marketing to work, you have to have a list. And building an email list isn’t easy.
While promises of discounts can definitely get you some signups, many consumers will be more likely to sign up for your email list if they know they’ll be getting valuable information from every email you send. For those consumers, you can get their attention with blog content and promote your email list while they’re on the website. Then, the new blog content you create will give you something new to email them about. It’s a whole cycle that helps you build positive relationships with your prospects.
4. Blog posts give you opportunities to interact with your audience.
If a person’s only association with your brand is when they browse your products or make a purchase, then you’ll be easy to forget.
But if they know your website includes a treasure trove of useful information on subjects they care about, then they have a reason to check out your website more often, sign up for your email list, and maybe even leave comments or share your blog posts to their networks.
5. Blogging helps you build a positive brand reputation online.
Being seen online is a challenge all businesses face. For anyone to think about buying from you, they first have to figure out you exist.
By improving your SEO, giving other websites a reason to link to you, and providing visitors with interesting content to share, a blog provides a lot of opportunities to grow awareness of your brand online.
3 Reasons Not to Create a Business Blog
Those reasons should all be sounding pretty persuasive right now, but blogging isn’t for every business. There are three main things you should be aware of before you take the plunge.
1. It’s a lot of work.
In order to regularly publish new content:
- Somebody has to pick topics and plan a schedule.
- Somebody has to write the content.
- Somebody has to edit the content.
- Somebody has to find or create relevant images.
- Somebody has to load it to the blog and publish it.
- Somebody has to moderate and respond to comments (if you keep comments open).
- Somebody has to promote the content.
Those are all pretty basic tasks required for blogging, and depending on your business, that somebody might be you. It may not be practical for you and the staff you have now to suddenly take on this big new project that takes a lot of time. Which brings us to the second thing…
2. It can get expensive if you hire help.
To keep a blog going, you will probably need to either hire new staff or contractors to help you with content planning and creation. Good content strategists, writers, and designers cost money. To do blogging right, you should be prepared to commit a budget to it. Since most blog-related costs are ongoing, you’ll have to expect to keep up expenses over time and should be prepared to spend a lot.
3. A bad blog is worse than no blog.
This point relates directly to the other two. If you try to rush your blogging just to get something out there, it will look sloppy and hurt your reputation rather than help it. If you hire the cheapest writers you can find and get keyword stuffed low-quality content or worse, plagiarized content, it could hurt your SEO and it certainly won’t meet any of the goals you want a business blog to achieve.
The main reason a business shouldn’t create a blog is if they’re not prepared to commit the time and money it takes to make sure it’s good. That means consistent, high-quality content designed to help you meet clear goals. All the benefits mentioned above only kick in if your blog is good, so don’t waste time and money trying to have a blog just to have one. Make sure you do it right.
How to Do It Right if You Do Start a Blog
If you’re convinced that blogging does make sense for your business, here are a few steps to take to help you get the most out of it.
1. Create a plan.
Your blogging will be more organized and successful if you take time before you start to work up a blogging plan. Figure out what you want your blog to accomplish, what types of topics you want to cover, and the types of blog posts you want to publish.
2. Figure out a realistic blogging schedule.
A common reason brands give up on blogging is burnout. If you underestimate how much work is required to keep your blog going, you’re likely to overextend yourself and decide it’s just too much work to keep up with. To keep that from happening, be realistic in working up a schedule for your blog. Don’t try to publish every day if you have one person on staff trying to fit in blogging on top of other responsibilities. In that case, starting with one blog post a week may make more sense.
Whatever you do, do make a schedule in advance. You’ll be far more likely to stay on top of blogging if you create a content calendar and commit to sticking with it each month.
3. Define who you’re writing for.
You can’t just write about whatever topics interest you personally – your interests aren’t necessarily the same as those of your customers. To help you focus your blogging efforts and make sure they reach the people you most want to see them, take time to figure out who your target audience is. What do your customers tend to have in common? Think in terms of demographics, interests, and online behaviors.
Building out buyer personas can help you visualize the person you want to talk to when you plan out your blog and create content.
4. Promote your blog content.
These days, publishing great content isn’t enough on its own. The web is too saturated with content on all types of topics.
To stand out and make sure your content reaches your audience, you have to put some effort into promoting your blog posts. That means sharing them on social media, sending them to your email list, and considering paid distribution and promotion. All your blogging work won’t count for much unless you make sure people get the chance to see the content you create.
5. Pay attention to analytics.
Once you start blogging, you’ll start collecting data on how people find and interact with your posts. Expect it to take a little while for your blogging to find traction, it usually does. But as you go, keep an eye on those analytics so you can find trends in which types of topics, blog post types, and promotion tactics perform the best with your audience.
Your data will provide you a lot of insights into how to improve and get more out of your blog as you go. Committing some time to data analysis can go a long way to getting better results from blogging over time.
Is a Business Blog Right for You?
If blogging for your business sounds overwhelming, then it honestly might not be for you – for some businesses the time and monetary commitment makes it a no go. But if the benefits sound worth the work, then you may be ready to start enjoying the benefits of business blogging.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.