October 16, 2013

I've encountered a couple situations lately where people have complained that blogging doesn't work. Of course, you can imagine my reaction - Huh? What? Really? But I kept those reactions quietly to myself and instead asked some questions. Mainly, "what makes you say that?" And, in general, the response is that they have heard all the wonders that blogging does for businesses and seen others achieve blogging success but they aren't seeing any of these benefits.

They aren't getting increased traffic to their websites. They aren't getting any more exposure online. They aren't getting any comments or engagement from their fans. They aren't showing any results from search engine traffic. They aren't getting any increased revenue.

So I decided to dig a little deeper, and with one person specifically. This person has a blog for their business and has been posting for over a year. The content of each blog is fairly interesting and informative and entertaining to read. Their average article gets less than 10 social shares and additional traffic to their website is minimal at best.

So what are they doing wrong?

The first thing I noticed immediately is a lack of consistency in blog postings. They would post twice a month for a few months, then not at all for a few months, then one a month for a couple months, then not at all for a couple months. The second thing I noticed was their blog post titles. They were really boring. And some used terms that an "average" reader wouldn't recognize.

Sorry to be blunt, but no wonder blogging isn't working for them!

This situation got me wondering about other businesses and I thought I'd put together a list of things you should be doing, beyond just writing a blog post. Writing is great - but it's only half the battle.

Consistency

Consistency, consistency, consistency. I can't say it enough! You have to pick a blogging schedule and stick to it! Blogging success is directly correlated to consistent posting. Even if you can only commit to one blog post a month, you need to commit to the schedule.

People love consistency. We are creatures of habit and if you can incorporate yourself into your audience's habits, you become a part of their routine. But, people also like to know that you are reliable. And reliability is equated with consistency. Consistently posting blogs on a regular schedule shows your audience that you are committed to your job and to them, as customers.

Quality Content

If your content sucks, it's not going to help you. In fact, it will hurt you. Don't publish content for the sake of publishing. And if you suck at writing, get someone else to ghostwrite or transcribe for you.

Your content needs to be timely, relevant, informative, entertaining, and well written. Depending on your niche, you might have to put more emphasis on entertaining or focus more on educational posts. Whatever is necessary, quality content is paramount to seeing results from blogging.

Stop Selling

If every single blog post is touting your latest product or newest feature or excellent customer service, people won't bother to read your posts. Your blog is not to sell your company.

Your blog should be focusing on ways to help your customers. Provide tips, advice, information, resources, and other quality content. To do this, you need to determine what your audience needs and incorporate that into your content. Providing this service to your audience, puts you in a position of trust with your customers and encourages them to turn to you and your company when they need products and services in the future.

Good Title

If your title is boring or confusing, no one is going to click on the link to read the article. Your title should be related to your content. But it should also be captivating - I know, that's vague. But think about the titles that get you to click on a link. Would you rather read "Good Leadership Tips" or "10 Tips to Be the Best Manager Ever"? The same message conveyed in different ways can generate a drastic difference in the amount of people who read your posts.

People love to read "How To..." articles. Lists also make great posts and titles - "12 Tools to..." work well. Incorporating statistical data into the title, like "75% of Women...." will often encourage people to read your post. Try different titles and configurations to see what works best with your audience.

SEO

I'm not an SEO expert in any sense of the word, nor do I ever plan to call myself one. However, you need to know how to capitalize on SEO if you want to get more exposure. It's important to pick relevant keywords and incorporate them into your post, title, and meta tag.

It's also important to pick keywords that help you. If you're using hugely popular keywords like "leadership" or "social media" or "fitness", your small little blog doesn't have much chance of ranking, no matter how well you use SEO tactics. Instead, try using phrases or a combination of keywords that reduce the field of search. For example "fitness techniques for women" or other more specific phrases.

If you run a WordPress blog, I highly recommend you install the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. This tool is a great means to help you monitor and improve your SEO in your posts.

Respond to Comments

Whether comments directly on your blog or on your social media page shares, if you're not responding to your audience, they won't stick around much longer. Even a simple "thank you for your comments" goes a long way in developing trust and communication within your audience. But if people ask questions or open up the dialogue along more avenues, keep the conversation going. Some people may even disagree with your perspective but that's ok! Don't ignore them or berate them. Thank them, appreciate their perspective and determine if you can keep the conversation going politely.

Social media (and blogging) should be a conversation. Keep your audience talking and interacting and you'll notice your blogging success increase!

Promote

Promote, share, promote, share some more. Even if you do all the things above really well, if you don't promote and share your own content, it will go nowhere. And merely sharing it to a social media site does not qualify as "promoting" unless you have a well developed audience.

You need to be sharing your blog posts to all of your social media sites, repeatedly! Sharing the same post to Twitter 2-3 times a day is not too much. Sharing the same post once a month to Facebook and LinkedIn is a good way to keep your older content generating new attention too. If you have a lot of blog posts (I'd say over a 100) you can also install the Tweet Old Post plugin to your WordPress blog. This will randomly retweet all of your old posts at any interval of time you choose.

When you share your posts to your social media sites, include descriptions of the content, snippets of the content, or highlight key points from the post. Make it sound interesting and give people a reason to read it.

The reality is that for blogging to be successful, the job of promoting blog posts never ends.

It starts from the beginning with quality content and good SEO practices but none of this will matter if you're not promoting your blog posts over and over and over. So, if you feel like blogging isn't working for you, take a good look at your strategy. Implementing the practices above will almost certainly ensure you see more blogging success.

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Coming up with catchy compelling titles is the hardest part for me. I have literally gone through and re-titled my posts because I didn’t even remember what they were about just from reading the title. At the time I write, my creative energy has gone into making sure the content is good. I feel like chef. I have cooked up something great but oh wait I need to plate it…ugh! LOL

    1. Julia, I LOVE that analogy! The title is like that extra step in presenting your culinary creation. And it really can make or break the whole meal.

      Titles aren’t easy. They aren’t easy for me either. And I’ve changed titles on posts numerous times before final scheduling. Once again, you’ve gifted me with another good blog post topic! Rather than going into detail here, stay tuned for a post next week to help guide you on this process.

  2. Great post Jenn! Yes, promotion is so important and I need to check out that Twitter plugin to tweet my older posts. Thanks for the heads up!

    Yes, I see poor, BORING headlines a lot ad I think a unicorn dies every time one is published. I also see attorneys copy & paste the local accident reports from the news websites onto their own. Basically curating content, but it’s not valuable content what so ever.

    The beauty of a blog post is it works 24/7/365, never calls in sick and can generate a lead this week, next month of for years to come. I don’t think cold calling can do that.

    1. Thanks Adam! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. And you are absolutely correct, blogs work longer and harder than a cold-call can.

  3. Great points, Jenn! I think it’s important for new bloggers to know that they have to do all of those things to be successful. They should also know that doing all of that is not as daunting as it sounds initially. It gets easier with time and increased skill, and if I can figure it out, anyone can.

    I think blogging is just like any other social media outlet. You need to engage, respond, share, and be part of a community online. It’s the same with Facebook, Twitter, etc. If you don’t engage, you won’t have much of an audience to speak of, even for business blogs.

    1. Thanks Brian! And, absolutely, it really does get easier. The more we do these things and develop a routine, the easier they become.
      And, you bring up a great point that blogging is a lot like social media. They involve the same commitment to “helping” others and engaging with your audience while developing a community. If you’re not doing these things on social media AND blogging, you’re missing the mark.

  4. As usual, you hit the nail on the head. Simply writing the best post you can is not enough. I really need to take your suggestions to re-post older blog articles to heart. I will be sharing this for sure!

    1. Thanks Kim! I’m so glad you found some value in this post. Taking advantage of recycling older posts is a great way to engage newer fans.

  5. Hi Jenn,

    I agree with you, blogging does work. However, it is going to take some hard work. Most people who set up a blog tend to give up after they realize how much work it’s going to take.

    Writing a blog post is easy. But as you said promoting the post is where all the hard work comes in. I used to post everyday. Now I just post once per week and spend most of my time promoting my site.

    Very valuable post and will definitely help people understand what it’s going to require if they want to set up a blog. Have a great day.

    1. Thanks Susan. And, yes, blogging really is a big commitment. But you also get what you put into it! The more time and energy you give it, the more work it will do for you.
      I completely understand you going down to one post a week. I’m currently posting 3 a week and many weeks it’s a challenge to maintain. Has your traffic increased since you slowed your blogging schedule to promote it more?

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