In a perfect world, someone would say, “I just read your blog and now I’d like to hire you.” And that does happen. Occasionally.
This kind of response may be the easiest way to find out if a blog “worked,” but you can’t evaluate a blog in the same way that you evaluate a newspaper ad.
Blogs can lead to revenue if you do it right (more on that later), but it doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not always easy to track – two realities that prevent many shortsighted business owners from blogging.
There’s a clear business case for blogging. Instead of reciting best practices for blogging and content marketing, I think the best way to make my case is by sharing my own personal experiences about how blogging has helped my business. It’s working for me, and there’s no reason why it can’t work for you.
People started finding me on Google when I really got serious about my blog.
I started blogging regularly by contributing to what is now WebSearchSocial, an online magazine for marketing professionals and business owners. I’ll keep doing this until they kick me to the curb because I can write about just about anything I want, it provides me with phenomenal distribution, and the publishers are genuinely good people.
However, I quickly realized that if I wanted to grow my own business, build my own following and appease the SEO gods, I would need my own blog with content that couldn’t be found anywhere else.
So I launched what is now the McBlog.
Within a few months, my blog posts were ranking higher than my website’s home page for certain keywords because the content was being updated and shared more often.
Great content is now the driving force behind SEO. Google demands quality, relevance and freshness, and my blog was feeding the monster.
One client said he was searching for a quote I had used in a blog that that was six months old at the time (Why That Whole “People Don’t Want a Drill, They Want a Hole” Thing Doesn’t Go Far Enough) and my blog came up in his search results. He liked what he saw and emailed me, we spoke by phone, and he hired me.
One client said he was looking for a content writer on Google and a recent blog post of mine came up first. He figured I must know what I’m doing as far as SEO goes, so he hired me.
Every blog post has a permanent home in the online universe. Whether someone is searching for your product or service, or they stumble across you by accident, each blog post represents another opportunity to win someone’s business.
Blogs help me educate and qualify my prospects.
The most common question I get about content writing is the same one that everyone gets: “How much does it cost?”
So I wrote a blog about it.
I explained how a content writer does more than type, and how most of the heavy lifting is done before any actual writing happens. I also pointed out that I’m not someone who writes blogs for $25 a pop.
This blog alone helps me accomplish a few things:
- It conveys the value of what I do, which helps justify my cost and the client’s investment.
- It speeds up the sales process.
- It weeds out bottom feeders looking for dirt cheap rates.
- It gives them a sense of my approach, writing style and personality.
- It guides people to my blog when they search for the cost of content writing.
Every one of my clients needs some level of education about content, whether we’re talking about website content, blogs, press releases, brochures or feature articles. Readers of my blog get part of that education in advance because I can address complex questions more thoroughly in a blog post than I can on my website.
Then, the conversation becomes less about how much content writing costs, and more about what kind of content will resonate with the client’s audience. That’s a big leap.
Every blog post expands my network and reaches more potential clients.
I only have a handful of subscribers, so I create my own distribution through social media. Instead of relying solely on followers, connections and fans, I share my blog posts on group pages where I think members will find the content valuable.
Every time I post and share a blog, I pick up a couple Twitter followers. I get a request or two to connect on Linkedin, and a few people view my profile. I get likes, comments and shares from people I’ve never heard of.
I occasionally get an email from a former co-worker or colleague who I haven’t been in contact with for a long time. Sometimes a link to my blog will be posted on another site in a “best of”-type column – another major SEO boost.
Do all of these people become clients? Of course not. But now, I’m on their radar, and I’m casting a wider net than I was the day before.
Thanks to my blog, I now have the opportunity to earn the trust of an expanded audience and establish my expertise and credibility. I have more people paying attention to what I have to say, which equals more business opportunities.
Disclaimer: Blogging won’t work if you don’t do it right.
An overt sales pitch in a blog is like mustard in your morning coffee. Instead of thinking about how you can sell your product, think of ways you can help your audience. People share blogs that help and unsubscribe to those that sell.
Topics must be focused on the needs of your target audience and what matters to them. Eventually, as you establish trust and credibility, your business will matter to them, too.
Stylistically, you need strong headlines and your posts must be well-written with a tone that reflects the image and personality of your business. Your blog doesn’t have to be a work of art, but it should be visually appealing. Clarity in design and messaging is key.
If you don’t have time to write, you don’t like to write, or you’re not exactly Shakespeare, you shouldn’t be writing your own blog. You’ll find that the cost of hiring a professional content writer is much less than the price you pay for having an unprofessional blog.
The Bottom Line
My small business is just one small yet very real example of how blogging can drive revenue. Instead of only relying on clients that I went out and found, clients started finding me. Most of my work is still in New Jersey, but my client base has extended to places like Kansas, North Carolina and Texas.
The business case for blogging has never been as strong as it is right now. The only question is, will you choose to take advantage of it before your competitors do – or after?
Don Lafferty says
Great piece, Scott. The data you’re looking for to establish the link between blogging and customer acquisition is in HubSpot’s free white paper, The State of Inbound Marketing 2012. HubSpot has done the homework and shows in no uncertain terms, the more you blog, the more leads you’ll get.
It’s a little more complicated than just that, as you alluded to, but quality content in the form of a blog is the linchpin of an effective inbound marketing strategy.
Thanks, Don, and thanks for sharing that resource. Like you said, the formula is rather simple. It’s just a matter of choosing to take advantage of it.
Alice Cassidy says
Excellent article Scott!
Thanks, Alice! Glad you found it helpful.