Get Your Company Blogging

I don’t care if you have 5 employees or 500 employees, if your company isn’t blogging, you’re missing a HUGE opportunity to:

  • Build awareness for what you do and what you sell
  • Attract an audience that actually cares what you have to say
  • Increase traffic to your website

I’m still amazed by the number of companies that don’t have an active blog. In study after study, companies that blog generate more return on marketing investment than companies that don’t. For example, HubSpot conducted a study last summer comparing website performance of companies that blog to those that don’t. The study found that companies that blogged enjoyed:

  • 55% more website visitors
  • 97% more inbound links (a key factor in SEO)
  • 434% more indexed pages

I know, I know, you’ve heard this song and dance before. You know all about the benefits of blogging. Well, what are you waiting for?

Easier Said Than Done

There is only one thing that keeps most organizations from blogging…FEAR. The most common fears include:

  • Fear of People: your company is scared of people. If you write stuff on your blog, people will hold you to it (or hold the info against you). Worse, maybe competitors will get the upperhand – since information might leak out through the blog? And of course, people will say bad things about you in the comments. More good than bad will happen, trust me. Get over your fear and try a few posts – you won’t look back.
  • It’s Too Technical: HTML, CSS, RSS and PHP? Sounds like a bad game of Scrabble, right? A lot of organizations get hung up on the technical side of things. It’s too much work or will cost too much money to get a blog up and running. Honestly, it’s cheaper than almost any other type of marketing (and a lot easier to get a return). If you can type an email, you can probably figure out how to set up a basic blog. Custom programming and design costs more (but not as much as you think). And it will be well worth the investment.
  • Who’s Going to Write the Stuff? This is the biggest challenge in my opinion. It’s a lot of work to produce high-quality content on a regular basis. And if you succeed, you’ll also need to interact with your community (a topic for another post).

How to Make It Work

The last thing you want is to launch a blog and then have no content there. Your blog becomes a ghost town, and nobody comes to visit. You don’t have to crank out 100 posts a month to be successful. If you focus on quality over quantity, you can easily get away with four posts per month in the beginning (the minimum number I recommend).

Here are some other suggestions that may help you turn a company blog into your most valuable marketing resource:

  • Hire a Journalist: if you can hire a journalist (preferably with experience in your industry), do not pass Go – just do it. A journalist is used to writing quality content, on deadline, on a daily basis (in most cases). There are a lot of great out-of-work journalists out there, and probably a dozen or so in your area that know how to write for the Web too.
  • Build the Editorial Team: if you can’t shell out the cash for a journalist, gather a team in your organization that you want to participate in the blog. Evaluate each member of the team based on their expertise, past writing experience, other responsibilities and so on. Reach an agreement with each person on the team about how many posts they will do per month (provide coaching on the right word length, tone, etc.).
  • Build an Editorial Calendar: set a recurring appointment with your blog team (even if it’s just two of you) and set an editorial calendar (ideally for the year, but make adjustments each month).Review topic assignments and previous month accomplishments. As readers suggest topics or other ideas come up, add them to the calendar. A Google Doc or Google Calendar is ideal for managing this information across your team.
  • Share Success. Be Competitive. More often than not, I’ve seen this approach fail at the last bullet point. Brainstorming topics is easy. Sitting down to crank out a 500 word post is another. Use the monthly meeting to share success. Show the total number of blog contributions per team member, highlight the posts that generated the most traffic (or got retweeted the most). If you have the ability to track website traffic through to the sale, give credit to any blog-related opportunities.
  • You Can’t Make a Fish Juggle. Some people aren’t cut out for writing. If there’s nobody in your organization capable of writing great blog content all the time, and you can’t pick up the slack, you have one of two choices: don’t do it or outsource it. While most people frown on outsourcing writing for blogs and social media, it’s done all the time.

Just Start, You’ll Figure It Out

A lot of companies get stuck in planning, or design, or writing stuff in advance. Just stop – or start for that matter. Ask all the ‘smart’ people in your organization to write just one post this month – expect only a handful to follow through. Some posts is better than none posts.

This is the smartest area you can spend your marketing energy today. Your blog will attract people most interested in the topics you write about. If you write about stuff relevant to the business you’re in, that’s qualified traffic. From there, it’s up to you how you engage and interact to build long term relationships.

Good luck. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it. Let me know if this post somehow pushes your organization over the edge.

Have you recently launched a company blog? Is it helping your organization? Have you had success getting people in your organization writing for the blog? Please share your suggestions or other ideas below. Thanks!

(Image Credit: All Aboard by tao_zhyn)

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.

18 Comments

  1. A lot of our customers are really looking forward to our blog. It’s such a great way to connect with them and market the business, but it’s usually push back internally that slows the roll.

  2. Starting a blog has been the single most powerful lead generation tactic I’ve put in place in three years. I am thankful to those people in my community who kept nagging at me to finally get my blog launched.

    There is a lot to be said about timing and readiness to get started. In my case, several people that I like, trust, and respect told me one arm of my success was tied behind my back because I didn’t have a blog. The first time, I ignored it. The second time, I paused to consider this more carefully. The third time, I was at a place where action was the only answer.

    The first day my blog went “live” on September 1, 2007, I got invited to speak at a worldwide media telesummit. That brought my expertise and my blog to a much wider level of awareness. Then, when I started following Darren Rowse’s advice from http://www.problogger.net to learn specifically about how to build a better blog, traffic started to grow in a meaningful way. Even in today’s tough economy, business is good over here. Blogging to be of service to my readers has something to do with that.

    I often tell people that if you can type, you can blog. Don’t let the technology stand in your way. WordPress is easy to use. When your message resonates with the right people, you’ll invite plenty of new opportunities, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.

    Nancy

      • Susan,

        I started with WordPress but there are other blogging tools out there if you want to do some research online. The important thing is to set aside some time to write every week. The advice from Jeremy above is dead on. Sit down and decide what you want to write for a month out, that way you won’t find yourself staring at a blank screen wondering what to write only to give up in frustration. Another piece of advice, don’t write long posts very often as it’s very laborious and time-consuming; you may get burned out on writing and your readers may get bored!

        Good Luck!

  3. I write a blog for my software VAR and technology customers. I do it on a weekly basis but am thinking of changing to twice per week to boost my website traffic. Recently, I’ve noticed it pick up because I’ve been regularly blogging for several months now. Interestingly enough, I just wrote a blog about, well, blogs– just like yours! In it, I describe what makes some blogs good and others great. The one key ingredient I focused on is the authenticity of the writer’s voice. I realize now I should have included yours in the list as well!

  4. Visit http://www.problogger.net to learn much of what you need to know to launch and sustain an influential and profitable blog. His 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook is worth its weight in gold, and I think it costs just $19.95 to buy it. Darren’s authority on this subject is well known, and his advice delivers results. You can likely source the lessons within the workbook on the blog without making the purchase. The workbook just makes it super convenient. Good luck.

  5. This is a terrific blog, and the pointers by Nancy, Dave and Avi are all very insightful. Just three further thoughts:

    1) NEVER SELL. It’s critical to avoid self-promotion or to use a blog to sell products and services. All too many companies see social media strictly as a marketing vehicle. When that happens it’s the furthest thing from Dave’s “authentic voice,” and drives traffic AWAY from a site.

    2) PROVIDE “NEWS YOU CAN USE.” Offer practical advice or information people can put to work, and the world will beat a path to your site.

    3) GIMME A LIST. Put your pointers in lists, as Jeremy does in his blog and I’m doing here. Readers love action items.

  6. I’m very interested in starting a blog. One hold up is the question: Do you only write a blog to sell? Whether its ad space, services or products? I have always enjoyed writing and recently completed my Masters in Journalism/Mass Communication. I’m interested in an outlet to hone my writing skills. Is this the right avenue?

  7. I do a weekly blog for Mansfield University. I bill it as “unofficial” which frees me up to write about a lot of different subjects and to maintain my own voice which is informal and breezy. I limit the blog (most weeks) to 300 words so the reader can get through it in a few minutes. But I also include a lot of links to, say, news stories, our Youtube videos, podcasts, photos, etc. this gives the reader the choice to either skim through the blog or visit the various info opportunities. I have three generations of readers, from college students to a few folks in their 80’s. To write well — punchy and succinct –is not easy. You have to love it, which I do.

  8. I work for a PR agency and we help one of our clients, Maxell Professional with their blog. They are involved in the professional media space (Blank CDs, DVDs and numerous other storage formats for videographers and post professionals).

    Like the article says, just get out and do it — try it out. The more you blog, the better you theoretically become, assuming you follow a few simple rules about blogging.

    The last thing you want to do in a blog or Facebook page for that matter, is always say, “me, me, me,” where every post is about the company. It very quickly turns people off from reading your “advertisement.” It IS ok to do that once in a while to keep your customers abreast of what is happening with your company or new products but save those posts for special occasions. Instead, use the posts to portray your company as industry experts. Make observations about things that are going on in your industry, pose questions to your readers, highlight news or trends from related companies, etc (though you may want to stay away from talking smack about competitors).

    When I took over the blogging duties, I listened to a webinar that was very helpful to me and you can still find the audio and slides online at http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-webinars/b2b-business-blogging-archive/

    Pay special attention to when the host describes the different types of posts.

    Feel free to check out our blog at http://www.maxellpromediablog.com

  9. Great piece! One thing that would be helpful. I am a list guy. When you say 4 things. . .
    List 4 things. Thanks for the info.

  10. I totally agree with this post. I think that a blog can give to the company new oppotunities in its market and in a cheaper way than other types of marketing like you say. It is true that maybe, it could be scary because you can not control the feedback, but you have the possibility of answer and explain the company´s point of view in a personal way and other tools do not allow you.

    On the other side, I think that there are three problems: when a blog is used only to write propaganda about the company, because you lose your credibility; when it never changes the topics and the reader become bored of reading always the same, for that reason I agree that a editorial calendar is a good idea; or when the blog is only the task of the people who is doing his work experience, because I think that this job should be done for proffessional journalists like you say.

  11. My company took the “hire a journalist” approach with me. I spent 9 years as a newspaper reporter before joining the hospital as a PR guy. Our blog was launched shortly before I got here, and we’ve had huge success so far. Employees, local media and the public are watching, and we’ve tried some pretty crazy stuff. When the daily paper had a factual error that led to a story on the front page, we wrote a blog post calling out the error, http://thefutureofhealthcare.com/no-means-no/. We’ve also posted dowloads of our public records (we’re a city-owned hospital subject to open records law).

    A bonus to the blog. In our case, it’s served as a “workaround” to our IS department. Changing the Web site requires an Act of Congress, but our blog has allowed us to be nimble, respond to breaking news, etc.

    And although I’m a journalist, I agree with other commenters that there are very fine writers who are not “professionals.” My advice: Jump in, make good content, and engage your readers.

  12. I totally and utterly agree with this. Company’s that are not blogging are losing out big time.

    Everyone is moving to the web for information and blogs provide that, as well as allowing connecting with customers. This builds brand awareness, and brand loyalty = sales, and repeat business.

    Then there is the targeted as aspect of blogging for businesses – people who read blogs do so because they are interested in what they write about and thie means they can become customers, as well as helping spread the word.

    Blogs are invaluable tools for business. However, they do need to be written well – and not everyone can write that well.

    As print publications start to lose income and thus cut back on staff, I can see more an more journalists becoming professional bloggers. Indeed, it is possible that the demand for good writing skills is likely to increase enormously and wise journalists can tap into the growing business blogging market – perhaps before they are laid off by their papers and magazines.

    Exciting times!

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