To blog or not to blog is not really a question for anyone in business who wants to grow and expand their influence, especially when they consider the 9 benefits of blogging.
Quite frankly, the act of blogging is as valuable as the actual blogs produced for a range of reasons I will touch upon in this short reflection.
Here are nine ways you can benefit from blogging:
- Planning to blog will prompt you to plan, and that's always a good thing, even if you get your plans wrong
- Thinking through a topic as you write your blog article is a potent form of professional development
- Publishing your thoughts and experiences tests them in the marketplace and the feedback you receive is highly valuable
- Your website's rankings will benefit because blogging is the primary Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tactic that Google publicly endorses
- Blogs make great social media content, as well as prompts for social media content
- Blogs enrich your email newsletters, providing content to lure people back to your website
- With correct analytics goals in place, you will be able to measure the actual value each blog you've written brings to your enterprise
- You develop an asset of sales tools and staff training tools, with each new article you create
- You can boost your credibility and level of thought leadership within your field, opening doors to untold possibilities
And there are more, but these nine benefits of blogging are good starting points for a quickfire blog.
To blog or not to blog? Let's start by defining what a blog is and isn't
If we take our digital marketing seriously, all of our online content should be geared towards answering the questions and meeting the needs of our ideal customers.
This means the content on every page of your website should be able to pass the "What's In It For Me" test. That is, your reader should find your content valuable and helpful - and sometimes entertaining.
Good writing that works well for your digital marketing efforts is hard work. It's easy to type out words about ourselves and what we do; it's more of a challenge to slow down and empathise with what your website visitors really care about and write for them.
Yes, it will surprise you just how little most of us care about the nuanced detail of your offerings, until we DO start caring. There's the rub. At one point on our journey, we might just be skimming the surface to get the lay of the land but later, as we get closer to making a purchase decision, we might yearn for finer details.
And this is where blogs become powerful.
Your standard, website pages have a broad job to do. They are pillars that cover the main points and questions searchers typically want to find, such as what problems you solve and how, why you are a good match for their needs, how to contact you, and other "top level" and important features and benefits.
Blogs, however, because they are standalone articles, can delve deeply into the most minute detail or expansive, exhaustive coverage of a specific question or problem or challenge. They have the freedom to get one job done and typically that involves answering a specific question, although it might also be a case study, or a rallying cry around an issue, or a "how to" article, etc.
So a blog is just that. A helpful exploration of one single idea, usually written in the first person in which the writer will back up any claims made with cited sources or examples from their own practice.
If it answers a visitor's question well, they are likely to make contact with you, or remember you, or refer you, or even link to you from their websites or social media accounts.
A blog is not:
- a dump of words for the sake of it (yes, some people just outsource their blog writing to blog factories using cheap labour to copy and paste and jumble up words in the vain hope that such junk piles of words will trick Google that you are an expert in a certain field)
- a thinly veiled sales pitch (we are all immersed in commercial culture and can typically smell a sales trick a mile off so when we click to find an answer but just get someone trying to sell us something, we click to go off to another site with our quick exit noted by Google)
So with lines drawn in the sand, let's now turn to the benefits of blogging.
9 benefits of blogging
I did promise a short reflection on the benefits of blogging, so I'll be brief because each of these could easily demand a separate article.
Planning to blog will prompt you to plan, and that's always a good thing, even if you get your plans wrong
In the paper, A Bad Plan Is Better Than No Plan: A Theoretical Justification of an Empirical Observation, authors Songsak Sriboonchitta and Vladik Kreinovich investigate the claim by Peter Thiel from his book, Zero to One, that “a bad plan is better than no plan.”
Their calculations show that the probability of improvement under "no plan" is likely to be 1/2, but under a "plan" that probability is greater than 1/2.
It is a novel finding but it also marries with what we know about the human brain: give it some restrictions or pathways and it can come up with solutions and ideas a lot better than when it's left to its own devices.
So, if you've decided to blog AND have brainstormed a list of the 12 top questions or problems your ideal customers will be searching for, you are ensuring your efforts will be heading in the right direction.
The alternative is simply to shoot from the hip each time you write and risk a lot of shots missing your target, which will result in your giving up on "this waste of time".
Thinking through a topic as you write your blog article is a potent form of professional development
A simple approach I take to blogging is to focus on the question I want to answer and ponder two to three key points or stories or findings that will help me explain how I make sense of the topic.
This is similar to the process you might go through if you've been asked to speak at an event or make a business presentation.
The benefit of this process is that you "play" with your expertise, you think about how you think about certain issues, and this equips you to speak more confidently whenever an opportunity arises. Blogging becomes a boot camp for sharpening your self-promotion skills because you'll be better able to talk about the problems you help people solve, rather than just what you do.
I argue this is a very savvy form of professional development because you not only end up with blog articles to show for your effort but you would have honed your ability to share your expertise on questions of interest to your ideal customers.
Publishing your thoughts and experiences tests them in the marketplace and the feedback you receive is highly valuable
It's not natural for many of us to enjoy sticking our head up and out of the safety of our trenches; exposing our thinking to the world.
And there's good reason. It's bad enough humans don't like public speaking but when you're putting your thoughts and arguments into the public domain, you are inviting others to react and challenge your work.
I have been blogging since 2004 and (touch wood) I've only encountered a couple of incidents in which someone ridiculed my work. And it was quickly determined they were competitors with not-so-hidden agendas from the snake oil world of "SEO spamming".
On the whole, my blogs have encouraged people to share my work and pose earnest questions which have in turn helped me think further on issues and build relationships. This is definitely a benefit worth seeking.
Your website's rankings will benefit
The great internet search god, Google, doesn't go on the record about what helps publishers boost their rankings in search results because that would defeat the purpose of their efforts to provide the most useful results.
However, Google does publicly endorse the use of blogging as a tactic for improving your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) because producing blog articles creates content more likely to match searchers' questions.
And research by Hubspot has repeatedly shown that the more you blog, the more traffic you get, which is yet another indicator that you'll be ringing the right bells to get Google's attention.
Of course, this assumes content of quality (of value to your ideal customers), not just word soup!
Blogs make great social media content, as well as prompts for social media content
Michael and I worked with a client who was posting updates to Facebook instead of his website. He mistakenly thought this was blogging, which is not his fault because there's a lot a rubbery terminology in the field of marketing and social media marketing.
What we helped him do was change his habits to post his content to his WordPress website first, as blogs, and THEN share links to those blogs and even reshare some of the content on Facebook and other social properties.
The result is that instead of his content making little ripples, it now makes a big splash and bigger ripples that keep working their way through his audiences.
What does this mean for you? Simply put, if you blog first, you'll then have content to share through your social media channels in the forms of:
- Links to your blog posts
- Images from your blog posts shared with fresh captions
- Reposted blog posts as native content in LinkedIn, Facebook etc
- Theme or topic starters for original videos or infographics for social sharing
One initial bit of effort; one long tail of content.
Blogs enrich your email newsletters, providing content to lure people back to your website
With some blog posts published, you can then easily write a newsletter to your database highlighting the themes you've been covering on your blogs with links to the original articles.
I suggested this to a client recently and she was shocked that her readers followed all three blog post links from her newsletter.
The trick is that your heavy lifting (or heavy writing) goes into the blog posts, then your newsletters can be brief and helpful and direct interested readers to the original articles to read more.
With correct analytics goals in place, you will be able to measure the actual value each blog you've written brings to your enterprise
The way we help clients set up their Google Analytics, means that every step along the road to important goals for a business has a certain monetary value. Sometimes this is an actual value based on sales, but mostly it is an arbitrary value to put extra weight on actions like filling in a form or emailing and lesser weight on browsing website pages.
In all its high tech glory, Google Analytics can then track what visitors do and if they achieve certain goals on our website, it can apportion some value to each of the blog posts and pages read during a visit.
It's surprising how some popular pages contribute little towards visitors actually converting (making contact, signing up, purchasing) whereas a simple, helpful blog post can entice many quality visitors to trust a website enough to hand over contact details and step inside.
You develop an asset of sales tools and staff training tools, with each new article you create
Another benefit of blogging often about your approach to certain problems or challenges, or sharing your beliefs and values, is that you are building up a library of articles that new staff members or investors can read to gain deeper insights into your ethos and systems.
Imagine having a handpicked selection of your articles ready to share with new people when the start on day one. What a great way to create a consistent process of induction.
Likewise, I have often been able to share a link to a "How To" blog post when chatting with someone at a party or event. This is especially helpful when someone is:
- still a long way from making a purchase decision
- part of a group or family and consultation needs to happen before decisions are made
- well-meaning but highly unlikely to ever become a customer
I refer to my library of blogs as a doctor's bag. And just like a doctor arriving late at night to meet a patient, unsure what they are going to face, I can reach into that doctor's bag and prescibe a helpful blog that can answer someone's question right there and then, warming our relationship and building a bridge for further discussions.
I believe my accountant says this approach is amortizing your efforts; write once, use over and over and over again.
You can boost your credibility and level of thought leadership within your field, opening doors to untold possibilities
This might not be your cup of tea but I can testify that having blogs out there displaying your passion and expertise around a topic is a great first step towards expanding your influence in the marketplace.
I've been approached to speak at many events on the strength of my blogging because when a journalist or event organiser is looking for "talent" they'll often google the topics or questions they want addressed and there's every chance that will lead them to your blogs.
If this is a clear goal for you, then you just need to build in some proactive sharing strategies after you publish each post so that important influencers get to see what you've written.
There's a whole other blog on setting your strategic objectives, which we'll get to in the future. For now, please consider these 9 benefits of blogging and if you'd like some help getting a plan into place, contact us directly or browse our marketing packages to see if one suits your needs.
Thanks for reading, and if you found this helpful and are planning to get your blogging activity into gear, why don't you make yourself socially accountable and share a link to this article with your public pledge to start blogging by a specific date in the future.
All the best!