It has been THE credo amongst marketers for the last couple of years: Content is king. This refers to a content marketing strategy or, in more understandable terms, the providing of free content like pictures, articles, videos, infographics or podcasts in order to convince customers and non-customers of your product or service.
One of the most common ways to establish a content marketing strategy is through a (corporate) blog. There are several businesses that have managed to get more and especially loyal clients through this. The organic supermarket chain Whole Foods, for example, has created a blog called Whole Story, that provides users with a lot of helpful content and is even responding to reader’s inquiries, creating a positive image of service-orientation and thereby gaining trusting and loyal customers. And the software company Adobe, responsible for design programmes like Photoshop and InDesign, is blogging about all things business, design and development on their simply named Adobe blog, thereby creating thought-leadership amongst their target group of creatives.
However, if you’re head over heels about the idea of your own blog now, you should take a step back and ask yourself, if a blog is the right path for you and if you are aware of the amount of work, time and effort that it takes to create a successful corporate blog. This is what you should know before starting your own blog.
1. (Successful) Blogging should be well-prepared
It only takes a couple minutes before you can start your own blog. Simply integrate a blog page on your website, write a post and you’re ready. But there is a bit more preparation necessary, if you want to have a blog that is successful in the long-run.
Before you even start thinking about writing an article, you should be sure about what you want to achieve with your blog. This calls for setting realistic, measurable and terminated goals in the most detailed way possible. This allows you to determine, whether or not you have achieved your goals in the set timeframe.
The good thing about a corporate blog is that you cannot only advertise your products, but you can create valuable content for search engines like Google at the same time. That means you can inform your readers about your services or goods, while ideally turning readers into clients as well as providing Google with more content for their search results and in turn potentially reaching more new readers and clients. A win-win situation, right? However, the groundwork for SEO, meaning the efforts to appear in more search results, is a proper keyword research. If you don’t think about the keywords at all, you’re risking choosing topics that bigger and more financially potent companies have also chosen for themselves. This gives you a big disadvantage and your new blog will probably have major difficulties, trying to outshine an already established bigger blog with more money behind it. A keyword analysis can help you avoid this. You can find additional or related keywords as well as information about the volume of searches and the competition for them by using free tools like the Google Keyword Planner (which I use) or other alternatives.
Additionally, you should think about the topics that you want to write about and ask yourself, if what you are planning on publishing adds a unique value to your business for your (potential) customers. If you only publish content, that has already been talked about a hundred times on other blogs, you don’t have a USP and your blog could potentially turn into a waste of time for both you and your readers. Furthermore, you should have a think about the potential of a topic to serve as blog: is there enough to talk about to continue blogging about it? If a topic is finished after 10 posts, you probably don’t need a separate blog to discuss it.
THE EDITORIAL CALENDAR
To keep an eye on all the topics and the timings for publishing your content, I advise you to work with an editorial calendar. This allows you to plan the dates for your new posts and give you a sense for how much time you will actually need to invest in your blog. There are a couple of paid editorial tools you can use, however, since you won’t make any money off your blog right away and there is more than enough bills to pay in general, you can also just use a simple Excel or word sheet or free tools like Trello (which I absolutely love and basically use for everything).
2. BLOGGING IS TIME-CONSUMING
Sure, you can quickly write a blog post and publish it, but this is exactly what often results in badly researched and written articles full of typos that will probably not be read – or have a positive impact on your business. That is why it will pay off to invest more time and thoroughness into every single article. Ideally, you have help from someone who can check and edit your texts before you publish them.
The readers want new content. Especially if you have given them great content in the past, they will want more. Keep in mind:
THE MORE THE BETTER, BUT ONLY IF YOU CAN KEEP UP THE QUALITY
You should be aware of the fact, that you cannot only publish something every other months and still get all the benefits from having a corporate blog. Rather, you should have a think about the frequency of your blog posts: how much is realistic and what could be a good rhythm for publishing new texts?
Finally, you should know that an employee that is taking care of the blog, will now have less time for other tasks. That’s why you should have a look at your finances and see if the return on investment works out for you. This is the same if you don’t have employees and/or take care of the blog yourself. Let’s take a look at an example: A hairdresser is working 40 hours a week cutting hair and thereby earning money for the salon. If he becomes responsible for the blog, he will now have a couple of hours a week less time to cut hair, because he has to manage the blog, write posts and so on. This results in him making less money for the salon. Of course, the idea behind a corporate blog is to invest in your own business and to get more clients, but this is long-term effort and will probably not earn money for you immediately. So do the maths and be sure about your investment.
3. BLOGGING IS NOT FOR EVERYONE
Before you start your own blog, you should be honest with yourself: Are you a good writer? This doesn’t mean that you have to create lyrical pieces that are very technical or artistic, but even the simple question, if writing is fun for and comes easy to you can shine a light on a big shortcoming in your plan. If it takes you hours and hours every time you want to create a new post and maybe you even dislike the process of creating and writing and you just can’t come up with good ways to describe something, you should do yourself and the readers a favour and second-guess your blogging abilities.
BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF CONCERNING YOUR SKILLS AND TALENTS.
If you have employees, it is worth thinking about asking your team for support. Who knows, maybe you have so undiscovered talents amongst your employees and one of your team members finds a lot of joy in helping to bring your corporate blog to life.
4. BLOGGING IS A LONG-TERM THING
And in this case, long-term doesn’t mean a few months. You should be aware of the fact, that a blog can only reach its full potential, if it can grow over time. This is also true for the SEO efforts that come along with the blog: SEO activities often only become apparent after six to twelve months.
That is why it is so important to have measurable goals and that you start chronicling the results of your blog from the first day on. If a certain topic didn’t work out, take a look at the numbers and keep them in mind for your future planning of content. This might have been an exception, of course, but it is important that you keep an eye on the topics that your readers like, that keep them on your website and that interest them.
Don’t shy away from changing your plan! You should use all the learnings that you will get from your continuous reportings and improve your blog, even if it means changing something and doing it quickly. If a certain topic has drawn in more readers than usual, try something similar again and see if the numbers were right. Maybe you will be able to determine a small trend after that. That gives you very important knowledge if your blog’s target group.
MORE TO READ
The third part dives into the question of how to choose the right content form for your content.
After you have set your individual content marketing goals, the next big step is to actually develop a content strategy as the basis for your success.
Why should companies invest in content marketing? Part one of the series: What is content marketing?