A question we are often asked is "why we blog", "what is the business benefit", and "will it increase my business". These are all great and valid questions. We love hearing them as it shows a business owner is truly thinking about how they can improve their business and the future of their company. The question is not just blogging to blog; but to decide why you want to blog. Are you going to be adding a value for people? Will you be using your blog as an information center about your business or something completely different? Other reasons a person may blog is for a financial return where you will see advertising on a blog. By looking at yourself, your business, and determining if it's the right thing you will know if a blog is for you.
When you start a blog you need to develop a plan. We knew with a growing business we could not just jump in and hit our end game of one post per week. We did know we could start out doing one every four weeks, then three weeks, and finishing at one to two per week within a 3-year period. We are on a positive course to achieve that goal. Our first post was on 10/22/2013. From that date forward everything was in motion. It took us nearly seven months of planning and preparation before our first post. We had to define what we would and wouldn't write about, schedule specific times to post (3-5 hours per post between text, titles, and pictures), define how we wanted it to look, and who would be responsible for writing a specific blog post. Along with that we needed to determine the tone we wanted to have the posts come across as and who would be reviewing the posts prior to being approved to go live.
Our goal was to eventually reach a post every week. This is what we like to call the holy grail of posts as it takes a lot of discipline to do so as well as making certain you can deliver on that goal. It is never good to start writing, quit for a while, and come back apologizing for not writing as you promised. In 2013 we averaged 17.5 days between posts. In 2014 we averaged 10.7 days between posts and in 2015 we are at 10 days between posts. Our goal was that by the end of 2016 to reach that magical goal of one blog post consistently every week (52 per year).
Having a blog is a true discipline of the mind. Not that writing a blog is technically hard but because you need to be disciplined to constantly write and write on a consistent basis. You need to set time aside and accept to what you've committed to. You need to research your information, find appropriate images if you are using images for a specific post (not a requirement), and write in a way that your readers want. You can't just write off the cuff as those are Twitter Tweets or Facebook Posts (which should also be scheduled and properly vetted!). A key point to blogging is a true discipline to want to provide a value to your readers. We average 31.8 unique readers per day (yes getting a .8 reader is hard but we are a determined bunch!). We are on a pace to meet our original goal and knew it would be a challenge and each post is a challenge and one we actually truly enjoy.
You could easily say that there has been more than one post already for every subject on the Internet. You could go further stating that for what our Valparaiso company does the information has been posted dozens, if not hundreds, of times. So how can we add value to an already plentiful source of information. We could easily aggregate the information from all of the sources but to us that doesn't help prove we are experts in our field. We find that if we put forth the effort and write we are establishing we truly know what we're doing. Posting what others have posted we definitely do on our Twitter account by re-tweeting other articles but we create our own content. We don't have guest authors as our content we build based on the needs of our current customers and know that it will provide value to future clients. Many of our posts are directly from questions our clients have asked us and we want to share it with others.
By creating the content, we are proving to everyone we not only talk the talk but walk the walk. This to us is important and for our clients they state it provides a value proposition to them. Not only are they able to get free advice but they also get information that is current and representative for the area around Northwest Indiana and the Chicagoland area. Search Engines are more local these days and a blog is a way of providing value to your local audience.
But why blog? Each blog post that you create that provides value adds quality content to your website. Each post is should not be just an article or an additional webpage. Your blog if it provides a value proposition will help you with your search engine optimization (SEO) and make people want to come back to your website. Depending on how busy the blog space is for the subjects you are writing for has the potential to bring in some very targeted inbound web traffic to your website over time.
This is probably one of the most important reasons why anyone should write in their blog on a daily basis. Social media marketing and blog posts go hand in hand when it comes to marketing a business. Each post can be leveraged in the social communities and the more quality blog posts a blog has increases the opportunity for additional targeted web traffic to find its way to your blog. If your blog is built how it should to convert, you could find yourself with some newly found business or simply just additional actions happening on your website from your social media traffic.
When we started JM2 Webdesigners from Michigan City Indiana we never thought about branding. We were truly "all over the place". It has taken us three years to learn how to brand ourselves. We were always close to who we are today but we knew we needed to be better. It was no surprise to us that by being more consistent across not only our website but our digital marketing (newsletters and social media) and our printed materials that people started recognizing more each time we went out our logo and branding efforts. We know that by having our blog and staying consistent with it we have established a much needed boost in our branding power.
When we started our blog we had three viewers per week compared to today. This wasn't discouraging to us though. We knew it would take time and we had to build our credibility. We now have a solid voice and a way to showcase our company, culture, and personality to everyone. A website for a business at this point in time should just be a given but a blog can give your business a reason to distance itself away from your competition and really stand out from the pack. A blog can be used as a journal for your business audience to see and read ultimately allowing it to have a voice and a personality in your community.
There have been benefits we never realized as we started writing. We have become much better writers being technical people. We are much better at articulating what we are trying to get across to people and we do so now in a much non-nerdy way (e.g. techno-speak).
While being able to better explain a topic we also spend a lot more time researching and making certain we truly know a subject inside and out. As technology changes we are able to more adeptly be on top of the changes before our clients are even aware a change is coming. This allows us to provide value to them while maintaining our "A Game" for them as well.
We would be amiss to not talk about the financial gain as every business is in the business of generating a profit and we are no exception to that. By writing our blog and showing to existing and potential clients that we do know what we are selling we are able to gain more clients. We can say that each one of our Digital Marketing clients where we help with their social media and search engine optimization have come because of our blog. We are always told they appreciate the free advice but that they spend enough time growing and maintaining their business that they don't want to learn "another technology".
While we write our blog we've received emails, phone calls, and had in-person conversations with others on how our blog has inspired them to write their own blog. This is rewarding to us that we did that but more importantly many of them are blogs we often read as well. Many are on completely different topics but allow us to see what they are up to but also allow us as a company better serve their unique business needs.
Writing a blog takes passion, dedication, and a desire to add value to the lives of others by spreading good words and helpful information. You will be able to improve your search engine optimization over time as well as become a better expert in your field. We also want to say that a blog is not for everyone and truly takes a discipline to do on a constant basis.