Blogging gets a great rep across the Internet - it's a proven way to increase traffic, gain leads, brand your business, and build your niche authority. Social Media Examiner conducted a survey that revealed that 68% of small businesses and self-employed entrepeneurs employ blogs as an integral social media marketing strategy for their business growth.
If you haven't jumped on the blog bandwagon yet, and you are still considering the idea, there are five things you should know before setting up your blog, in order to ensure that you are able to maximize your time investment.
1. Personal Blogs Won't Bring You Leads
A lot of small businesses blog about ... well, themselves. In their blog posts, they talk about what things were like in the office for the past week and share a few quirky pictures of their team. Or, if it's a one-man business, they talk about what's going on in their life and what their lifestyle looks like.
Personal blogs don't bring businesses leads, revenue, or even any sizeable amount of traffic. In short, they are worthless.
Most of the people who surf the Internet are looking for something of value. They are busy people -- they don't have time to listen to the personal ramblings and rants of someone they will never meet. It sounds a little harsh, but we just don't care about what is happening in your life.
Instead, Blog About Niche-Specific Topics
On the other hand, if you blog about niche specific topics, then that's how the blog will get you a return on your investment. Your organic traffic will increase, because people will actually search the keywords you write about. More importantly, though, it will bring you targeted traffic that actually needs the product or service you are marketing.
If you are a WordPress developer and/or theme designer, blogging WordPress tutorials will bring people who need help with WordPress to your site. Those visitors will convert into revenue for your business.
Blogging about your cat's kittens won't get you web dev clients.
2. Blogs Take An Incredible Amount of Time To Keep Up
Blogs are a huge drain on your time and your overall productivity. On average, each blog post will take anywhere from two to five hours to complete, more if your niche is somewhat obscure and difficult to tackle.
Even if you blog once per week (which really isn't very often), then that's an extra twelve hours per month. Those twelve hours could have gone into another business task -- marketing, PR, customer service, etc.
That's not to say that a blog won't give you an return on your time investment (provided that you do it the right way).
Outsourcing Is An (Expensive) Option
If you still want the benefits of the blog, minus the productivity decrease drawback, then you can consider outsourcing blog post creation.
However, be aware that freelance bloggers usually charge a premium. Those extra twelve hours a month could easily tack on $500 to your business expenses. In other words, if you are just starting out and have very little venture capital to work with, outsourcing is a virtually unaffordable option.
3. Blogging Is No Picnic In A Park
No matter what anyone else has told you, blogging is not fun. It's plain, hard work -- just like any of the other marketing tactics you use to promote your business like ad campaigns, SEO, and social media marketing.
Initially, you might find the first few posts interesting to create, simply because it's something new that you haven't fully explored yet. Fast forward a few weeks, and the excitement would have worn off. Just the thought of the next post is likely to make you grimace.
But then again, nothing worth doing is ever easy.
4. Every Blog Should Have A Purpose
Every blog needs to have a purpose, whether that is to increase your search engine traffic, attract leads & affiliates, or anything else. Right from blog post #1, there should be a clear purpose and goal to work towards.
"Increase traffic" is not a goal -- increase traffic by 200% over the course of four weeks is a goal.
Set specific, measureable goals for your blog your business will benefit from that you can work towards. Allocate a time frame and budget for each.
The Internet entrepreneurs who set goals earn 900% of those who don't (on average). Unfortunately, only 1% of online marketers actually set and regularly review their goals. Interestingly, 1% of America owns 37.1% of its wealth.
Coincidence? I think not.
Track Your Progress
After you set your goals, you need to track your progress as you get closer to achieving them.
Even if that just means a simple Excel sheet and a weekly report on your traffic & conversion rates, do it. That way, you'll know whether your blog is actually benefiting your business, or if it's just a waste of productivity and money.
If you aren't seeing positive results within the first few months of blogging, cut your losses and move on to another marketing tactic that does produce returns for your business.
5. Blogs (Usually) Produce Fantastic Results
If you still aren't on board with blogging, here's a few statistics that are sure to make you feel a bit giddy when you consider what could happen if they worked for your business.
1/3 of U.S.-based businesses use blogs for marketing purposes, and nearly 90% of them see positive increases in conversions as a result. They also see 155% of the web traffic of businesses that don't blog.
One fourth of marketers worldwide believe that their blog is a critical part of their business. Two thirds credit blogging with their lead generation successes. B2C companies that blog get 188% of the leads of those that don't.
Those are some impressive stats and there's plenty more where that came from.
Weigh It Out Carefully
Get out the list of goals for your business (you have written down your goals, right?). Analyze each one of them carefully and think about whether or not blogging would help you reach that goal faster.
Then, list your monthly budget (in terms of both time and money) for a blog if you were to start one. Compare it to the potential benefits. Are the benefits worth the expenses?
No? Don't blog.
Just between you and me, I'd be surprised if you didn't say yes.