Chances are, you’re reading this post because you’re looking for an excuse.
You’re looking for a way to weasel out of business blogging.
It’s okay. This is a safe space. You can admit it.
You’ve probably heard by now that content marketing is the best way to market your business.
In fact, there are several giants of the business/marketing world out there who go so far as to say that content marketing is the ONLY way to market your business.
But… you don’t wanna.
Blogging is time consuming. Writing is hard. ROI is so hard to track that it might as well be in the Bermuda Triangle.
And you’re a business owner, for Christ’s sake! Not one of those namby-pamby creatives. It’s all well and good for these guru-types to flounce around giving their talks about how blogging will save the world, but how exactly are you supposed to find time to do it?
You’re already kind of busy, you know, running a business over here.
I understand your pain. I really do.
Sadly, however, this might be the point where our camaraderie ends.
If you’re looking for someone to tell you that your business doesn’t need to blog, you’re going to have to keep searching.
Because that person isn’t me.
You HAVE to find the time for business blogging.
Whether it’s you doing it, your team doing it, or (preferably) a mix of both.
And, if you can’t find time, you’re going to have to find the money to pay someone else to do it.
I know it seemed like I was on your side there for a minute.
In many ways, I still am.
I still understand the pitfalls that stop businesses from embracing content marketing.
All I’m saying is that you have to accept those pitfalls and do it anyway.
I’m not saying it will be easy.
Since when was growing your business easy?
Content marketing will increase traffic to your website, encourage engagement from your audience, and show your customers how much you really know what you’re talking about.
You can’t sell to people nowadays. At least not directly. You can’t just tell them why your product is the best and why they absolutely NEED to buy it.
They’ve heard it all before.
You need to start a conversation with your customers. You need to answer their questions and banish their fears.
Business blogging will take care of that.
Below are the four main excuses we hear from clients when we suggest they up their content marketing game, and they don’t wanna.
You may recognise them. They’re probably cycling round your head right now.
All of them are legitimate reasons not to blog. I’m not saying they aren’t.
What I am saying, however, is that you’ve got to accept them as reasons, then find a way around them.
Let me help:
Excuse not to blog no.1: business blogging takes too much time.
This is the most common reason business owners shoot down the idea of content marketing before it’s more than a mere speck on the horizon.
And it’s a decent excuse.
Creating top-quality content for your business takes a ton of time.
But it’s worth it.
How do you find time to blog?
It depends on the size of your business.
If you've got a team:
Everyone should get on board with creating awesome content. It benefits all of you, and different team members will be able to bring fresh ideas and value to the table.
All you’ve got to do is convince them of that.
The key is not to stress them out, so don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Gather your team and decide on a realistic schedule for creating new content. Content can be blog posts, infographics, podcasts, or videos (to name a few).
What’s ‘realistic’ will be different for every business. Possibly for every team member.
Don’t get crazy and start demanding that everyone fires out a blog post a day. That’s a sure way to make everyone hate you, and (worse), to ensure your business falls off the content marketing wagon before it’s really got going.
Even if you’ve got four team members each spending a couple of hours creating one new piece of content per month, that’s still one a week.
It quickly ramps up.
If it’s just little old you:
Congratulations: you’ve just been awarded the super new role of content manager.
This is to be done on top of your many other roles, including M.D, Sales Manager, and Chief Coffee-Runner.
There’s no extra pay.
There’s no denying that business blogging is going to be harder if you’re currently running your business as a one (wo)man band.
But you’ve still got to do it.
As a business owner, there may be days when you don’t really have time to eat.
But you still do.
At least most of the time.
That’s because you have to eat to survive.
You simply have to find the time.
The same can be said of content marketing.
Here are some tips for efficient business blogging:
- Make videos. Once you get used to being on camera, they’re way quicker to make than writing blog posts.
- Work on your general productivity. Take stock of your work week and figure out your biggest timesucks. Try to structure your week so that you’re always focused on one thing at a time. Try this book if you’re stuck on where to start.
- Make a sweet editorial calendar, then stick to it. Try to work out what you’ll be posting and when at least one month in advance. Make a simple Google Doc, or try a platform like CoSchedule if you can afford the bells and whistles.
- When writing, keep it simple. Most people try to sound clever in their blog posts. They use a lot of jargon and big fancy words. The result is a yawn-fest of a post that took ages to write, and that approximately zero people will read past the first sentence of. Check out plainenglish.co.uk if you’re guilty of over-complicating your writing.
Finding the time to commit to blogging is the biggest hurdle. Overcome that, and you’re a good part of the way there.
But then we hit hurdle number two:
Set yourself a goal, maybe one piece of content per week. About two hours. Where can you find those hours? How do you write your content as efficiently as possible?
Excuse not to blog no.2: I don’t know what to write about.
There’s a book by Marcus Sheridan called ‘They Ask, You Answer’. It’s based on his content marketing process of the same name.
You should read it.
When I read this book, I felt like how I imagine Neo felt when he swallowed that red pill. Or how babies feel when they taste cheese for the first time.
You know that feeling?
When reality shifts into a new perspective and you realise that the world as you previously knew it was a lie?
It was like that.
Sheridan’s book is absolute gold for explaining how and why businesses need to do content marketing. It will do a much better job of convincing you than this blog post will.
It’s packed with advice on all areas of content marketing, so you absolutely have to read it, but for now I just want to share this insight with you:
Marcus Sheridan says you do know what to write about.
If you’ve got customers, and they ask questions, then those are the titles of your blog posts.
“Brainstorm every question you’ve ever been asked by a prospect or customer. Focus on his or her fears, issues, concerns and worries. State them on paper exactly as the customer would ask (or search) them… once you’ve completed this list, you have the foundation for your entire digital marketing editorial calendar…” - Marcus Sheridan, They Ask, You Answer
So make that list. Ask your sales team, if you have one. They’re the ones who get asked the questions day in, day out.
If you’re your own salesperson, even better. You already know what those questions are.
Once you’ve got a big old list, start putting the questions in order of importance. Work out which will be best suited as blog posts, and which might work as videos.
Once that’s done, all you’ve got to do is answer those questions.
Be transparent. Be thorough. Answer the questions better than your competition does. Make your website the first place people come to when they want advice from your industry.
That’s what Marcus Sheridan did. His book is full of case studies, but his own story is the original. Check out how he used They Ask, You Answer to turn his pool business around in the middle of the recession.
Excuse not to blog no.3: I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work.
The first thing to say about this excuse is that it’s fundamentally untrue.
Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m probably already in your bad books by telling you you have to blog.
It’s not that I don’t believe it when you tell me that you’ve already tried business blogging.
It’s not even that I don’t believe you when you tell me it didn’t work.
It’s that I don’t believe you’ve tried it for long enough.
You can’t just write one blog post and expect the sales to come rolling in.
You can’t just write five or ten blog posts and expect to be able to sit back and watch your business take off like a magnificent golden eagle.
You need to create a relationship with your customers, and that won’t happen overnight.
Even if you’re posting new content regularly, it will take months before you really start to notice a difference. It might even take a year or more.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it.
Content marketing is a slow burner.
But it’s worth it.
If you really decide to go all in and dedicate yourself to content marketing, then one day it will start to pay off.
Slowly but surely, you’ll notice a shift.
More traffic, more leads, more conversions. Your customers will be scarily well-informed about your product before they even speak to a salesperson.
Your site will start listing higher in search rankings. This is because Google will have recognised that people think your page is valuable.
Google knows this because your site is updated regularly, and because lots of people are viewing your content, sharing it, and then maybe coming back to view it again.
Of course, you’ll need to keep the ball rolling by continuing to engage with your readers when they comment on your posts or social media.
It won’t come like a tidal wave. Instead, it will creep up slowly, the way a dripping tap fills a bathtub.
The first drop is your first blog post.
So write it now.
Once you’ve done so, you’ll probably start worrying about how you’ll track its success.
When that happens, come back and read excuse number four.
Excuse not to blog no.4: It’s too hard to measure results.
Things are still pretty shaky in the business world. Not many of us have money sloshing around so readily that we don’t feel the need to justify our costs.
The same can be said for time. Time is precious, and the last thing anyone wants to do is waste it.
The problem with content marketing is that it takes a while to deliver solid results.
Michael Weiss wrote the following for the CMI:
“Content marketing is totally measurable, but it takes time to get real data. I tell all of my clients that unless they are willing to launch a program for at least 6 months, there is no reason to do anything. We need time to gather data!”
The key is to understand that content marketing is supposed to take time. You need that time to develop a strong and trusting relationship with your customers.
Your aim is to increase engagement and loyalty to your brand. That’s a long term strategy, and you need to be clear on that right from the start.
Once you’ve put in some solid time and effort, however, it is possible to measure your results. You just need to know what it is that you’re measuring, and why.
To do that, you need the right tools.
Hubspot is the world’s biggest inbound marketing and sales platform. It’s pricey if you want full-features, but it has free options so you can upgrade as you go. They’re also one of the best examples of practising what you preach - their own content marketing is astounding. Check out their blog.
ActiveCampaign is a cheaper alternative that will let you track customers at every stage of the buyer journey; from cold traffic to final purchase.
That means you’ll be able to see when someone has stumbled upon your business by finding one of your blog posts. You’ll also be able to track when that same customer goes on to make a purchase from you.
This is how we track ROI on content marketing.
You won’t be able to do it right away, but stick with it a while, and the results will come.
In some ways, the fact that content marketing takes so much time to measure is its biggest downfall.
That can, however, also be its greatest advantage.
At least as far as your business is concerned.
There’s little doubt between marketers that content creation is an essential part of building a successful and sustainable business.
Still, hardly anyone is bothering to actually do it.
This is where you come in.
Be the thought-leader in your industry. Be the business who’s willing to answer your customers' questions. Even the awkward ones about price and potential pitfalls.
Get in there first, before your competition catches on.
By the time they’re where you are now, you’ll be out there ruling your industry.