We hear it all the time: "I know blogging is important, but..." "But I don't have any time." "But I can't write." But, but, but. Well luckily, every business blogging challenge we've heard has a solution that you can implement immediately if you truly want to keep that New Year's blogging resolution. Take a look at the most common objections we hear to starting or maintaining a regular blogging regiment, and learn how you can overcome those impediments to become a business blogging rock star.
First of all, make sure your blog resides on a subdomain or subdirectory of your website. For example, blog.hubspot.com or hubspot.com/blog. It would be a bad idea for us to publish our blog on a different domain, like hubspotblog.com, because our website would not reap any SEO credit.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about the layout of your blog. It doesn't have to be complicated! There are a few components you should include, though. First, you ought to have social follow and sharing buttons as part of every blog post. If you don't know the difference between the two types or how to include them on your blog, check out our guide to creating social sharing and follow buttons. You'll also want to include post previews, categorization by subject matter so readers can easily find more information about the subject matters that interest them, and calls-to-action so you can convert blog readers into leads. There are many other things you can include on your blog, but if you start with the basics we've mentioned here, you'll be off to a great start.
Not being able to find the time to blog is a very common problem. Lessen the burden by asking your CMO if you may require employees to contribute a certain number of posts per month. This is something HubSpot has implemented with great success; it also offers multiple perspectives in your content, letting different areas of expertise shine through and benefit your readers. You can also lighten the load by reaching out to guest contributors, which also gives you the opportunity to benefit from their reach and possibly get a valuable inbound link.
But to find time for you to blog (and ensure your employees keep up their end of the bargain) it's wise to work off of deadlines. Staring at a blank page can be intimidating and often results in wasted hours or, worse, no blog post at all. Set and enforce reasonable deadlines for blog submissions so both you and your employees stay accountable.
Finally, check out some of our tips on how to blog faster. If you're committed to business blogging, you will have to sacrifice some time in your day to make it happen; them's the breaks. But it can be a much less timely endeavor if you follow some of these suggestions for faster blogging.
When drafting this post, I reached out to my Twitter community to ask them their most common question. Kate Brodock responded immediately with a very common struggle -- lack of good topics -- and a great solution. Go to your RSS and read your industry's news. You might find a timely topic about which you should report -- for which Google and by extension your SEO manager will love you -- or you'll simply get inspiration by reading all of the things happening in your industry.
You can also take a trip to visit your sales team to ask them some of the common questions they are receiving from prospects. These can provide great fodder for blog posts because of the potential for creating evergreen content, not to mention that if everyone's having an issue, you certainly want to be the one to provide a valuable answer!
You'll probably find that some days you're teeming with great content ideas, and other days the well has run dry. On the days when your creativity spikes, document your topic ideas in an editorial calendar to which you can refer on those days when you're suffering writer's block. Or simply consult our list of 100 blog content ideas that can help get you out of a blogging rut.
Not everyone is a natural writer. But many of the things that typically trip up employees when they're asked to blog is not a writing inability; it's hang-ups that plague them from either the depths of their subconscious, or possibly high school English class. Make sure you and anyone else who is worried about being a "bad writer" knows that blogging has a totally different set of rules. To be a great blogger, all you have to do is write about what you know in a way that's natural to you. Don't get caught up in fancy language; frankly, it makes your blog less engaging, anyway. I always tell people to write like they speak, and not worry about length. When you've said what you want to say, you're done, and you can move on!
And don't forget that people love visual content. Consider shooting a quick how-to video, or if you're graphically inclined, doodle a humorous cartoon that comments on your industry. You can even curate a list or publish excerpts from some of the long-form content (e.g. ebooks, whitepapers) you've already written. If you're having trouble stringing sentences together, leverage your other talents and assets to keep your blog fed.
If you're really not up for the task of writing, there's always the option to hire a freelance writer. But if you've ever tried or talked to someone who has, you may be scared away from the experience because of unreliable or under-qualified writers. To ensure you're working with a great writer, treat them like another employee of your company. Talk to them on the phone, ask them about their expertise in your industry, ask for several writing samples that pertain to the topics you discuss on your blog. If you treat this relationship like one between an employee and employer, you'll find a more reliable freelance writer that understands your industry.
That also means, however, that you may have to pay a little bit more to get the quality you need. This is particularly true for those in a complex industry. Invest the money and time up front to train your freelance writer to ensure they understand your business model, industry, and blog objectives; once you are both on the same page, you'll be able to pull back and know that you've put your blog content into safe, reliable hands.
You're putting time and effort into creating remarkable blog content, consistently, and then nobody reads it. That's a huge bummer. If you're creating valuable, helpful content on a regular basis, there are a couple of things you can do to get your blog more visibility.
First, put a link to your blog on your homepage and in your navigation so it can be easily accessed from anywhere on your website. Follow this logic by also including it on each of your social media accounts, all of which provide the option to include at least one outbound link in your profile information. And speaking of social media, are you sharing your blog content on all of these social networks? If not, get started. Social media and blogging are inextricably tied. By tweeting and posting your blog content, you will grow your social reach, and by growing your social reach, you will get more visitors to your blog.
Finally, consider that one of the most common ways people find information is through organic search. Your blog posts should all be optimized for relevant keyword phrases, particularly the less competitive long-tail keyword phrases. As you create more and more keyword optimized content, you'll be found more frequently in search engines and receive a big boost in blog visitors from organic search traffic.
A lot of people have anecdotally accepted that business blogging is important for marketing success. But they don't believe it enough to start doing it. Is your boss one of those people? Are you one of those people? Consider these data points about companies who blog: they enjoy 55% more website visitors, 97% more inbound links, have a 62% cheaper cost per lead, and 57% of them have acquired a customer through their company blog.
Once you get started, showing the ROI from a consistently updated business blog will be cake. Generate monthly reports that show how much traffic your blog has driven, how many times your content is shared in social media and how much your social reach has grown, how many inbound links you've received, and how many leads you've received from calls-to-action on your blog posts. Presenting your boss with indisputable data that proves the ROI of your blog is the best way to ensure it sticks around as part of your inbound marketing strategy.
Are there any challenges on this list that keep you from blogging? Do you have any creative solutions to these common blogging problems that we didn't already mention?
Image credit: martin.canchola