So, this week being my birthday week, I like to spend it reflecting on my successes and challenges. It can be harrowing and humbling, but I do find it valuable.
Of our successes, the growth of our business has been joyous and exciting. The support from our clients and our network has been nothing short of amazing.
But I have one “challenge” that needs work, and I am setting the record straight, up front, for all to see.
The truth is, I haven’t been working hard enough on my blog, and it shows.
It’s not as if I don’t have enough to say. It’s not like I don’t already post blog content and social media messages for our clients. In fact, we have more blog content subscribers than ever. We find ourselves pushing 3-4 posts a day, which might seem a challenge, were it not for having a good editorial calendar to work from.
But this inconsistency on our blog has done some damage. Our traffic has dropped noticeably. The page views, the number of phone calls and email contact forms are not what they once were—even from a few weeks ago. Though we are still working hard on the more “personal” sales, we haven’t concentrated on the one thing on our website that moves people through our sales process—that magical point where they say to themselves, “We want Red Paper Clip!”
Last week, I had a conversation with a new client about their challenges with starting and running their blog. They have suffered similar consistency issues, but those were moreso focused on them not knowing what their audience wants to read.
It’s especially important for busy businesspeople to get results from every activity they perform, and blogging, when done effectively, is one of the best means of converting visitors to buyers and buyers to ambassadors.
So here is my gift to you. The seven snags that can stagnate a new or established blog. These quotes were taken from clients of ours (and our own team), so enjoy!
1. “My Writing Sucks.”
Few of us are James Joyce or Anne Rice, and frankly, the web doesn’t need them. Your posts don’t need to be perfect. They need to be relevant. They need to be clear, and they need to sound like a person is on the other end of them.
Getting some help from a professional is a definite possibility (in fact we encourage it), but technology can help if budgets or timelines are tight. Consider recording your posts using a speech to text app like Dragon Dictation. You can clean up the writing after the fact, but talking into your smartphone for 3 minutes would yield an ample sized blog post, and the art of blogging, whether spoken or written, improves with practice. More is better!
2. “I have nothing to offer an audience,” AKA: “This stuff wouldn’t interest people”.
We understand that sometimes people work in highly specialized fields. Engineering, architecture, parts manufacturing, software development…. Clients coming from these endeavours often complain that no one wants to learn the inner workings of their industry. Sadly, they couldn’t be more wrong. People are generally curious, and any opportunity to explore how things work tantalizes that curiosity. Share those human-interest insights in your business, and reveal how things come together. Just be sure that it remains focused on what your buyers want to know.
Also, building and maintaining an editorial calendar will help you to narrow the topics that matter, and keep you on top of deadlines.
3. “I’m writing regularly, but it’s not getting me results.”
Blogs are one of the easiest ways for people to find out quick information and move ahead with whatever they were doing before they clicked. This is why tips-and-tricks blogs are so bloody effective.
That said, we need to know what people are seeking to do when they come to visit, and at that point, you can set goals for how many of those people you want doing things. Set measurable goals that you can track and make them timely goals (consider page ranking in search, conversions, audience interaction or social media sharing). It gets easier to attract more page views and conversions if you’re setting goals, analyzing the results and making changes.
4. “I know it’s inconsistent, but I don’t always have time for it.”
Investing in your blog can be highly profitable if you do adequate research, track and measure movement and post content regularly. This last item is what we’ve struggled with recently, and frankly, it will be the last time we do so. Seeing the irregular dates and blog posts makes a website look unkempt, like having a shabby storefront. Those lovely souls who made the trek to come see our blog are suddenly unwelcomed by the sloppy site of it.
One post a week is enough to keep it looking fresh, and it is the minimum for maintaining a solid business blog, in my opinion. And yes, it’s a commitment that we’re making to our blog.
5. “I don’t know who’s reading it…”
One of the most important measurables to study when looking at your blog data is your actual readership. Google analytics is helpful in determining where they are and where they click, and your comments section is a great way to learn about the sites they represent, as most comment threads require readers to list their websites before they comment. Thank them for participating, check them out and add them on Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn (if possible). Comments are open invitations for introduction; embrace them.
6. “People are reading our blog, but our sales/calls/inquiries aren’t really growing.”
This is a consistent problem that we see with established blogs. They have great content, and they have a following, but the inquiries are just not coming in.
At this point, it’s important to learn what people are coming to your pages to do. Are they researching possible providers of your product/service? Are they looking for tips, tricks and ways to solve their problem immediately? Are they friends or clients just popping by to support you?
More importantly, do your buyers know what you want them to do once they get to your website?
Calls to action play an important role here, and offering easy ways for people to go where they want to comes into play as well. But meeting your readers’ expectations comes first. How are you asking them to move forward? Have you enquired about what people want to see (or see more of)? Surveys, polls and other interactive touch points are useful for learning this, but be careful not to overdo it.
7. “I need to get my posts to stay out there for longer. They die the day I post them.”
I hate the thought of my posts being published only to fade into oblivion hours later. This is where social media sharing can minimize that possibility. I use Buffer to load up my future tweets (you can use hootsuite or tweetdeck as well), and this guarantees that my posts (as well as our clients’ posts) get in front of people without annoying anyone. I also use SocialBro [link] to determine the best times to post, marking which days in the week would get the best exposure.
We also like to post comments on LinkedIn groups, on other blogs, and on popular Facebook pages. This is a great way to expose your blog to new audiences. Remember that your comments need to have perspective and not just be you shouting about your stuff on high; otherwise, you run the risk of looking like a spammer, and your credibility goes out the window. Also, for those souls with the time and chutzpa, guest blogging on relevant (and more famous) websites can bring even more eager eyes to your blog. It’s a greater investment, but guest posts immediately boost your credibility with new audiences, simplifying the equation for those ready to read your work or buy from you.
So there is my confession. At the end of my birthday week, I pledge to do more for our blog, and arrest the neglect that has plagued it these many weeks. When I consider what it’s done for us, it makes sense that I ask you to join me on this journey, and consider what things you can do to make your blog work better for you.
Oh, and remember, you can ask us anything. Just leave a comment below with your question or send us an email and we’ll get back to you.
Here’s to your blogging success!