It’s a good question with a less than satisfying answer – maybe.
This is hard for me to say because I want you to blog. I believe that the benefits far outweigh the cost in time and capital. Blogging has literally changed my outlook on the world and business.
But blogging isn’t easy.
Blogging requires a good amount of planning and a realistic assessment of your time and ability. Before you start, take the time answer five questions –
#1: Does Your Business Really Need a Blog?
Blogging is a marketing tactic. It is one way to educate your prospects and entice them to consider your product.
Look at all of your marketing tactics and decide if a blog will give you more space to tell your story. Think about the benefits of talking with your customers through comments. Would you like your audience to spread your story with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+?
If these benefits make sense for your business then a blog is definitely the tactic you should use. However, I have one caveat. A blog is not free. You or your team will need to invest time in creating blog posts and promoting them. This is time you can’t invest elsewhere. So think about the time in comparison to other marketing efforts and decide from there.
By the way, some businesses don’t need a blog. They have chosen to educate and engage with their customers in a different way. For example, Apple doesn’t have a blog (yet). But Apple does an amazing job of using PR, videos, television commercials, and its retail stores to educate its customers.
Other businesses produce items that are so basic and commoditized that a blog would be a distraction. However, I’m constantly surprised by how blogs are being used by so-called “boring” businesses. Don’t write off this tactic until you’ve worked through the next question…
#2 What is Your Story?
Consumers buy more than physical products. Now, more than ever they buy stories.
I just bought the New iPad. Although I can justify my purchase with facts, I really bought the thing to look cool and feel smart. I watched the Apple videos and imagined myself as the hero of the Apple story. They sucked me in.
Your customers are looking for the same thing. They want to hear how your business revolves around solving their needs. They want to know the story behind the ingredients, manufacturing process, employees, and your vision.
Every business has a story. All you need to do is step back from the day-to-day work and remember why the business exists and why it’s important.
Here’s the deal. Don’t start blogging until you’ve written down your story. It doesn’t have to be the next Great American Novel. It just have to be honest, real, and from the heart. I promise you that blogging gets much easier once you a story.
#3: Do You or Your Team Have Time to Blog?
For now, think about doing one post a week. When I started blogging, it took about 2 hours to create a post. This included outlining, researching, writing, proofreading (not really), and publishing the post with WordPress. I spent 30 minutes promoting each post. For the week, I spent about 2 ⅓ hours creating content.
I spent another 2 hours a week on blog mechanics, like adding plugins, building email optin forms, reviewing metrics and such. Most people spend far less than that, so consider this to be the worst case (or geek case) scenario.
In total, I spent 4 ½ hours per week blogging.
Can you set aside this time every week? Can you delegate some of the writing, editing, proofreading or publishing to a team member?
It’s important to get the time issue nailed down because your blog will take 6 months to a year to catch on. Like with most things, consistency and persistence is the key to success. Make sure you understand the investment up front.
#4: Can You Create Enough Content to Keep Your Audience Engaged?
What is content anyway?
I define content as “information that educates your customers about the problem your product solves.”
So if I’m selling drills, then I want content that talks about the problem with getting the right kind of hole. If I’m selling flowers to guys then I want content that talks about gifts that makes wives happy. If I’m selling jacuzzis then I want content that talks about the benefits of relaxing at home.
A small business blog needs to create a lot of this content. How much? More than 1 post a week and less than 30. There isn’t a great answer other than – blog traffic increases along with the quantity and quality of blog posts. You need to find your own sweet spot.
If you are just starting then focus on creating four high-quality blog posts every month. Consider adding more posts as you get more comfortable with writing, editing, and publishing.
#5: What Does Success Look Like for Your Blog?
Small business blogs must have a goal. If you are spending any amount of time blogging then you should understand the return you are getting from your effort.
Some smart blog goals include:
- Building awareness of your business
- Pre-selling your services so clients contact you “ready to buy”
- Selling more product
- Getting more leads
- Improving your ranking on Google
- Preempting customer service issues with FAQ, List, and How-to posts
Decide on the goal that works for your business and plan your blog accordingly. Just understand that it will take time for your blog to attract an audience.
What were your answers to these questions? Will you start (or continue) blogging? What answer surprised you?