May 22, 2014
rosemary published this at 6:09 am
By Tracy Vides
“Have a blog and you’ll start getting inbound leads.”
“Blogging helps you gain traction and develop a community.”
“Companies that have blogs make more sales than those that don’t have one.”
If you did hear one (or all) of those statements but are often wondering why nothing seems to be happening, you aren’t alone. There are millions of blogs that do nothing but exist.
Corporate or business blogging is even more difficult as it’s like asking businesses to set aside resources to make it happen (compared to individual bloggers who are intrinsically motivated). Nothing happens without a reason and there are plenty of reasons why your blogging efforts aren’t doing anything to meet your goals yet. Here are some of them:
No plans, no gains
Remember those days when everyone used to carry around business cards? You’d get yourself a set of cards too. Then, everyone and their neighbor got themselves a website and a bunch of social accounts and followed suit. Blogging, more or less, seems to have been bitten by the same bug. You blog because blogging apparently is the “baby steps” of inbound marketing.
Starting to do something is good, and I won’t bite you for that. Not having a plan in the sense of not knowing why you blog for your business in the first place is a sore wound.
Do you blog purely to drive sales? Or do you blog to become a thought leader? Do you blog to proliferate your brand name or do you engage in all-out blogging efforts? (Hope you end up getting inspired by How Jon Morrow Writes, as narrated by Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger.)
Figure out why you think you have to blog in the first place. What’s all this trouble for? Write it down and think about it over a cup of coffee.
You pay attention to worthless stuff
Driven by the incredible amount of information available on digital marketing (most of it is farce, unjustifiable, or maybe just hype), your mind starts to nibble at things that don’t matter at all: all the drive for “SEO domination” lets you believe that keywords should guide your content creation.
The truth is that keywords won’t matter because the bots don’t buy; people do. All that time spent on social media takes your time away from creating awesome posts. Your blogs are way too short or perhaps way too long. Instead of thinking about your readers, you worry about Meta information, alt text, and backlinks.
There are many of those little gears that have to click in place to make your inbound marketing strategy work, starting with your blog.
Are you doing it right?
It’s not about words, links, or technobabble; it’s about people.
Bloggers often forget that they are writing for people. Companies are even quicker when it comes to forgetting that blogging is an effort to promote brands, establish credibility, engage with potential and current customers.
David Silverman, author of Typo, and professor of business writing at Harvard, gives this test to his students:
Can you rewrite this bunch of babble into a word or two?
“It is the opinion of the group assembled for the purpose of determining a probability of the likelihood of the meteorological-related results and outcome for the period encompassing the next working day that the odds of precipitation in the near-term are positive and reasonably expected.”
Businesses just worry about tools used, platforms that blogs should be based on, and the kind of voice, words, or personality that they expect blog posts to express. Of course, all this counts; individuality does matter, and these are what make blogs different from academic articles. Yet, you shouldn’t forget that you are writing for people. Relationships still matter. You’ll need to get off the screen and meet actual people. You should be able to sell at a flea market before you can sell online.
Self-centered content strategy
First, your content strategy is self-centered. All that you blog about is how great that vacation has been, how life changing your moving to paradise was, how Venture Capitalists are now trying to break down the doors just so that they can invest, and how you grew your blog from 0 to 67,987 subscribers in 3 months.
What are some of the best examples of narcissistic and self-centered blogs, you ask? Go pick any of those nomadic vagabonds who try to sell you location independence and travel while working. It’s not to say that there’s no value from such blogs. But more often than not, there’s the “me syndrome” creeping in with “Where I Was Last Week” and “Exotic Destinations I’ve Been To.”
Stand back for a moment. No one cares about you. Your customers – you know, the ones reading your blog – wouldn’t care if you just signed up a million dollar deal, bought another company, merged with a bigger one, or if you now float on $4 billion of excess cash balance in the bank.
All that your customers care about is what you can do for them. How many of your blog posts talk about your customers really? Can you actually count the number of blog posts that share something that doesn’t have anything to do with you, your business, the brand, the products or services?
Your content qualifies as crappy if there’s no value given to your readers by the end of the post. There’s nothing it for them to ruminate, chew dry bread on, or ponder about. Your blog posts have nothing new to say.
I will repeat that. Your content is dry, sounds like a term paper, and makes readers scroll faster than ever. They won’t read most of it – they’ll just scroll through and escape. And you’ll never see them again!
Stop wasting time with blogs that don’t make an impact. Stop hiding behind words. Show up with some guts and talk to your customers like they were your best friends. Be afraid to own up, accept your mistakes, speak your heart, and get bolder.
Great companies go to the extent of admitting their faux pas. Online marketing firm SEER Interactive admitted screwing up in their link building methods. AirBnB’s Brian Chesky wrote up a self-deprecating post to own up the apparent horror that a customer had to face.
Doing this takes guts. Can you do it too?
Blogging needs you to post awesomeness regularly. It requires you to show up and be real. It demands that you use the fact that you are human to get other humans to buy from you, believe you, or accept your point of view. It requires you to multi-task. Blogging requires your belief to be brought to fruition by your determination and will.
As long as you produce blog posts because you should, your customers or readers will make it a point to leave because they can.