When you look at the data, there is no question that blogging, aka publishing content consistently on your own website, is a non-negotiable for small businesses and nonprofits that want to make it online.
This is because blogging regularly has a disproportionately high return on traffic and lead generation for micro businesses (companies with 10 or fewer employees).
And yet, I still get pushback from clients when I tell them they should be blogging more.
Today I want to address the most common objections head on, because if you’re not blogging at least once a week, you are losing revenue.
On the flip side, if you start blogging twice a week or more, you greatly increase your chances of attracting more customers.
So let’s knock down those roadblocks, shall we?
1. There’s no point in blogging until I build an audience.
This first misconception is the most common one I hear, and it stems from a fundamental misunderstanding in how a blog builds your business.
I think the challenge is that blogging doesn’t build your audience overnight. Instead, it’s a slow burn that provides cumulative benefits over time.
First, simply by producing content, you’re doing SEO…even if you don’t understand how SEO works.
The specifics of search engine optimization (helping your site show up in relevant searches) may change, but the fundamentals remain the same. Google, and other search engines, prioritize websites that produce regular, relevant content.
If you’re producing content for your audience, you’re going to get SEO benefits.
These benefits don’t show up overnight, which is why so many small business marketers get discouraged. It can take 6 months to see the bump in traffic you want, from producing content alone. But if you’re not creating content, your search rankings aren’t going to go anywhere.
Second, your blog gives your growing audience a reason to share your site on social media.
If you want your audience, no matter what the size, to promote your work to their network, you have to give them something to share.
Think about it. Have you ever seen someone just link to a company’s home page on Facebook, and not a specific blog post?
It’s pretty rare.
Every time you publish a piece of content, you’re giving your readers a fresh chance to share your site. Combined with the SEO benefits, these one-off shares add up to a lot of traffic over the course of a year.
A blog isn’t just something you do once you have traffic, it’s something you do to grow your traffic.
2. I only need to blog when I release a product or have something to sell.
I used to have a boss who said the trick to effective marketing is reminding people you existed in precisely the moment they need what you have to offer.
There’s something to that. You don’t ask your friends to refer a plumber until the toilet breaks down.
Blogging gives your audience a reason to stick around and remember you, even if they don’t need you that exact moment.
And in the meantime, you’re able to deliver value to them time-and-time again, so when they do, they know exactly who to call. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to build trust with your audience if you’re not delivering value on the regular.
By far, the easiest and cheapest way for you to do that as a small business marketer is to produce content.
3. No one cares about my story / I don’t have anything to say.
Maybe you know you should be blogging, but you don’t know what to share.
I totally get that — in many ways, blogging is message testing in real time. Because I promise you, you can’t think your way into a perfect strategy or platform. You have to put content out and see what resonates.
When you’re first starting out, it’s especially hard to go it alone, because you don’t get a lot of feedback. It takes a little time before you build enough of an audience to get any clear signal of what’s working.
If you’d love to get prompts, writing tips and promotional strategies for your blog , Megan Auman and I are taking a cohort through our live program 50 Day Blog Boost. You can get more info on the program right here.
Here is what helps me figure out what to write about. I bring to mind a specific person, maybe someone I talked to in a coaching call or exchanged a couple of emails with, and write a piece of content I think they’ll need.
It’s always better to write with one specific person in mind than try to reach the crowd. Ultimately what you want to do with your marketing is attract a ton of folks with similar qualities that make them a great fit for your work. So writing for one person who you know is a good fit is a great way to do that.
In fact, I’m doing it right now. :-)
4. I don’t need to blog, because I post on social media.
We’ve already talked about how blog content gives your audience a reason to share your website.
But there’s another reason you should be reluctant to give all your time and effort to social media.
You don’t own that content. People could move on from Twitter, Facebook could shut your page down without warning, or Vine could get shut down.
Wait, all of these things are happening…
Your content is way too valuable to invest in someone else’s property.
That’s why I advocate that you position your website as the hub of all your content. Social media channels are valuable promotion tools, but they shouldn’t be given ownership of your best content.
Are you reading this list and feeling motivated to start blogging every week?
If you need a little help and extra push to get going, Megan Auman and I are running our 50 Day Blog Boost program.
For 6 weeks starting January 9th, we’ll be giving a blog prompt, writing tip and promotional strategy, so you can make blogging a habit, improve your writing skills and promote your content.
With our support, you get the information and accountability you need to make blogging a weekly habit.
Registration is open now for the 50 Day Blog Boost. You can check out the full program details at www.50dayblogboost.com.
In the 20 years since Bill Gates declared, “Content is King,” only one thing is certain.
There’s a whole lot of competition to wear the crown.
In 1996, when Gates wrote his prophetic essay on content, only 20 million Americans were online. To give those numbers some context, 271 million Americans are online today.
In those early days of the world wide web, there wasn’t all that much to do online. Creating a website wasn’t half as easy as it is today, and most news sites barely even registered online. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, 1996 was also the year the New York Times launched their first website.
I’m sharing this, because I always shake my head in wonder when people now go around claiming, “Content is King.”
This is obviously true, which begs the question. Does this claim really give you any clue on how to set your content apart?
I would argue no. It’s not enough to just put up a blog or publish white papers and ebooks (remember those?). It’s not enough to be insanely useful.
Creating content does little more than meet the bar for entry.
I was listening the other day to a podcast about a lone phone booth in the Mojave desert.
This phone booth, out in the middle of nowhere, should have lived a long, obscure life out in the desert. Instead, it captured the public’s imagination, to the point that it attracted so many visitors that the National Park Service removed all traces of the booth to discourage people from visiting the site.
The Mojave phone booth’s remarkable story starts in 1997, when Godfrey Daniels became fascinated with a report that there was this random phone in the desert. He became obsessed with calling the booth several times a day, wondering if anyone would ever pick up.
After a month of daily dialing, a woman answered.
Because Daniels was an Internet entrepreneur, he created a website for the booth. And to his complete surprise, his obsession spread to people around the globe.
Although the phone booth is no longer there, the fame of the Mojave phone booth begs the question.
Why did it inspire such a devoted following?
The reason people were so attracted to the booth was that it was just so unexpected.
It wasn’t located in a city, like most phone booths. It wasn’t at the side of a major interstate, which might have been understandable.
It was 8 miles from the nearest paved road.
Remember 1997? Not only was the Internet not all that populated yet, but also the Nokia was the hottest thing happening in the world of cell phones.
As Daniels said, “When you were out in the desert in those days you were on your own. You couldn’t contact anybody. The idea there was this phone booth just sitting out in an uncontactable place, it was sort of like somebody was on the moon. You could contact somebody on the moon.”
Coming across a story about a phone booth in the middle of Los Angeles would have been unremarkable.
But a booth in the Mojave?
Yet many businesses and organizations model their content on the competition.
It’s natural to look around and see what’s out there. In fact, we generally start client projects this way!
But the goal of this landscape survey isn’t to build just another phone booth.
It’s to figure out what is unexpected about your brand.
This might sound obvious, but I’ve worked with product designers who leave out their company’s commitment to green practices, because they think, “No one cares,” and coaches who can’t articulate what their special sauce is to customers.
This is a big problem, because the way to set your content, and by extension your brand, apart is to drive home that difference.
Consider your audience. When they first find your website, they have a predetermined set of expectations and questions that are all driven by past experiences. You can probably predict exactly what they would ask if you got on the phone with them.
You absolutely should answer their questions (that’s being relevant and useful), but there’s incredible power in subverting expectations.
Her audience, as do all of us I expect, brings questions like, “What do people think of me? How can I feel more loved? How do I feel less alone?”
Instead of telling her audience that they shouldn’t worry about what people think, or giving them tips on finding a partner, Brown gives an unexpected answer.
“If you want to feel more connected to others, first you must allow yourself to be vulnerable.”
Standing out among the competition isn’t about being the loudest voice or the most controversial. It isn’t even about being the best at self-promotion.
It’s knowing your audience deeply, understanding what their questions, concerns, hopes and dreams are.
It’s taking the time to find out what else they’re being exposed to.
And consciously putting forward the products or ideas that offer an alternative point of view.
When you create your next piece of content, ask yourself:
- Who does my organization serve?
- What are they looking for?
- What do I represent that’s different than everything else they’re finding in the market?
Last week, Tara Gentile and I sat down and recording the kind of conversation (aided by some great questions from readers) we generally have over a couple glasses of wine.
She’s bringing me on board to teach the next two sessions of 10ThousandFeet, and this chat is an introduction of sorts, since her people don’t know me half as well as you do.
It’s geeky. It’s fun. And, yes, it’s really real. You can watch the video above, or download an audio-only version below. And scroll down to catch highlights from the conversation.
Download the audio-only version. (right-click then “save as”)
How does storytelling contribute to our bottom lines? (2:00)
“The stories we tell create the conditions our businesses are operating in.” — @brigittelyons http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
“Storytelling in business goes well beyond marketing.” — @taragentile http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
How do you launch a new product with energy & authenticity? (6:04)
“Allow yourself to nerd out about what makes you excited about your product.” — @brigittelyons http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
Wherein Tara gets vulnerable about telling stories about her clients (a total, and super sweet, surprise for me!) (7:16)
How do you build a relationship with people when ultimately you have an agenda to sell them something? (10:00)
“Everyone wants you to express an interest in the things that they are passionate about.” — @brigittelyonshttp://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
“Just because you have something to gain in a relationship doesn’t mean you have an agenda.” — @taragentile http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
“Trust yourself as a whole person to bring what is most valuable to every relationship.” — @taragentile http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
What are your criteria for who you bring on to your team, who will be your mentors, and who you will partner with? (19:05)
“Vibe is so important.” — @brigittelyons http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
What are the top 3 things you can do to promote a new offering? (23:29)
“Give people the opportunity to say ‘yes’ to you.” — @taragentile http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
“Your inclination is ‘how can I help this person?’ not ‘how can I get out of this?’” — @brigittelyons http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
“Don’t assume that because the sales opportunity is over, that all opportunities are over.” — @taragentile http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
“Always assume people are interested.” — @brigittelyons http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
What are our predictions for future online business trends? (32:31)
“Businesses are starting to reorganize themselves to create value instead of just making a splash on the online stage.” — @taragentile Tweet it.
“Online businesses are following the wider trend of being more intentional.” — @brigittelyons http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.