Should You Blog?
Posted by Charlie Recksieck
Go Ahead, Show Us You're An Expert!
Let's get into it with me countering your blog issues with our blog issues here at Plannedscape.
What Do You Want?
Of course, for 99% of you, the main goal of blogging (and the goal of your business) is to make money. So, obviously, you want new customers. But within that, what are the measuring sticks for how well you are generating interest in your company (or your band, your side-hustle, your self-published novel, etc.)? Do you want to increase your page views? Do you want to see your priority search terms have you ranked higher in Google? Do you just want a forum in which you can be heard? No matter what you might answer to these questions, having a blog really can't hurt and most likely it would help.
Our Plannedscape Reasons: First of all, you're reading this article right now. So we have pretty much achieved our goal. We primarily want to raise visibility for our company and get more projects. And we are definitely keeping our eyes on our web traffic stats.
Who Are You Writing For?
There are a lot of blogs out there where people just want to get their thoughts down "on paper." Basically, some blogs are basically a diary but facing outward to their close friends and family. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Entire social media platforms have been created for this purpose.
But if you're selling something or running a business, you should know your target audience. Keep that in mind when you're dreaming up topics, or writing your blog, and when you design it. If you're a seamstress, your blog should not be focused on trying to impress other seamstresses, it should have content that appeals to somebody who might need you to sew their clothes.
Our Plannedscape Reasons: In all honestly, we want to reach people who might need us, that's our intended audience. It's fun sometimes to show the minutiae and arcana that go into coding decisions. But it's better for us to illuminate software decisions that a company has to make and see if that helps. We don't mind "giving away the store" with good, free advice sometimes. The idea is that if people see us going 3-for-3 on advice, then that 4th time when something is out of their depth, they already trust that we know what we're doing and might hire us.
What we mean by "Why You?" is really 1) Can you tell me something I need to know, and 2) Are you an expert in the field. Informative pages really do draw somebody in. Case in point: We're starting on a project with a diamond trader (terrific guy, by the way). Though we aren't tackling too much about his website content right now, the goal and idea is that they can educate people on the web with great instructional and informative pages about diamonds, the key being that you would still need them to find your diamonds. The content on the site makes their customers more knowledgeable but does not actually replace the need for their services, it actually enhances the need for their services. (Not to mention the SEO benefits.)
Our Plannedscape Reasons: We've been in this business for over 20 years and institutional knowledge really does count for something (despite what we said about us Googling solutions. Additionally in our initial consults with project inquiries, we sometimes come a little close to "giving away the store" with our initial recommendations. But over time, we've found that once we establish reliability and credibility, that usually translates to getting the project.
No matter what your schedule, regularity is the key. Even if it's just once a month, stick with a regular posting schedule. As we said in our initial blog post here, the key thing that Marc Maron attributes the success of his WTF Podcast to is that he never missed posting a show. That's huge. You should always stockpile some future posts so you're never right up to your own deadline.
We had an immigration law firm client whom we set up with their original website, and we had the bright idea to have a news section of their site. It made total sense. Some basic information would not only educate interested potential clients who came to their site, but the good SEO practices on the site let the content and keywords they were using very organically drive traffic to their site. One day I looked at their site and saw the most recent news post was from 4 years ago.
That's the only danger of blogging. When your most recent post is from a few months ago, your site looks abandoned. Earlier when I said blogging can't hurt, I need to amend that statement. If it makes your site look stale, then it can definitely hurt.
Our Plannedscape Reasons: We find 1 post per week here to be quite manageable. We post every Thursday - by the way, don't announce your posts or send email blasts on Mondays at 9am or Fridays at 4pm, make sure to hit the meatier part of the week. I spend about an hour a week on posts, and another hour per week on social media posts. Both are scheduled in advance, so once a week (or even two weeks) I just stockpile and pre-schedule everything.
Who? Where? How?
Make sure you have one person who has "ownership" of your blog, meaning it's their responsibility. It really helps if that person has some clout at your company and when he/she gives somebody an assignment to write some content, he/she actually gets results.
We can't recommend WordPress enough. They do a great job, whether your whole blog/site will be a WordPress site, or you'll just blog there and include a blog plugin on your site.
Since drawing new traffic to your site is a big reason why you do it, then make sure your SEO practices are tight. Make sure you have proper meta tags (plenty of good advice out there, Google it) and make sure you include your intended search keywords in the content of your article; but in a natural way, the days of faking out search engines with tricks is rapidly disappearing.
Again, our best advice: Stockpile those blog posts in advance. Take a half day and bang out 3 or 4 of them!
Our Plannedscape Reasons: We are in a different situation. We are a software development firm, so we didn't have to jump at WordPress to write a blog. We built our own ground up solution to best serve our purposes. Again, we are the exception. For your site, we don't recommend reinventing the wheel.
Long story short, give it a shot. Start by posting every 2 weeks. You can always accelerate the schedule. And also, you don't have to write a master's thesis in every post. This article you're reading from me is over 1200 words as of this paragraph. You don't need to do that. If you have one simple, good revelation for people, some of the best blog posts are one paragraph long. Believe me, I'd love to try that one of these weeks!