blogging for inbound

Years ago the ability to share your thoughts, opinions and knowledge with the world was limited to a very small fraction of the population. Well, the internet changed that forever. Blogs have transformed the way companies now share industry news, insights, and informative content with their audiences. With the rise of inbound marketing, more and more businesses are jumping onto the content marketing bandwagon. While many start off well, few stay committed for the long haul. Those who do put in the effort reap the benefits. According to a post of the HubSpot marketing blog, B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not. So, are you committed to blogging for your companies?

Before you answer that last question, let’s go into a few more reasons you should be blogging in the first place. When getting started with content marketing it’s easy to tell yourself that “nobody will read what I have to say” or “everyone else is blogging, I’m just too late to the game.” But the truth is, you do have something to say. Your business is unique for one main reason, it’s yours. Your customers choose you because of what your business, company, firm or agency has to offer. Your blog is a place to authentically share your vision, knowledge and experience in your field. If that pep talk didn’t get you pumped, maybe a few more stats will.

  • Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information
  • The average company that blogs generates 55% more website visitors, 97% more inbound links, and 434% more indexed pages.
  • HubSpot’s 2011 ROI Study shows that 69% of businesses attribute their lead generation success to blogging.
  • 57% of businesses have acquired a customer through their company blog.
  • The Nielsen Company shows that US internet users spend 3X more time on blogs and social networks than in email.
  • Inbound marketing, of which blogging is a crucial part, costs 62% less per lead than outbound marketing.

Still not convinced… Ok, here’s some more.

  • B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0 – 1 times per month.
  • Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5X more leads than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.
  • B2C companies that blogged 11+ times per month got more than 4X as many leads than those that blog only 4 – 5 times per month.
  • 100% of respondents who blog multiple times a day have generated a customer from their blog compared to 90% of respondents who blog daily and 69% of respondents who blog two or three times a week.

Ok, so hopefully now you are convinced that blogging is probably a good idea for your business. But getting started with blogging is not the hard part. The hard part is staying committed to it. I can’t even tell you the number of sites I have been on that have a blog page but haven’t posted anything in over a year. There are a 3 reasons why I believe businesses give up on their blog. They think it’s too time consuming. They lose the passion and they quit before they got the results they were after. Let me address this reason and share some advice on how we stay committed to our content strategy and blog.

I Just Don’t Have the Time

Unlike many other marketing techniques, blogging is basically free. The only thing it costs you and your team is time. Sadly, time management is not something that most of us have mastered. Don’t believe me, check out these humbling stats.

  • 9 out of 10 people daydream in meetings.
  • 60% of meeting attendees take notes to appear as if they are listening.
  • 80% of “Crisis Management” events are preventable.
  • The average person gets 1 interruption every 8 minutes, or approximately 7 an hour, or 50-60 per day. The average interruption takes 5 minutes, totaling about 4 hours or 50% of the average workday. 80% of those interruptions are typically rated as “little value” or “no value” creating approximately 3 hours of wasted time per day.

More stats can be found at balance

One of the biggest reasons I hear from businesses and other agencies is that there is just not enough time to devote to creating content. Really? With the amount of time we waste trolling people on social media, sitting in meetings that could have been handled by an email and finding things to do to look busy, I’m sure we can squeeze 30 minutes a day to write. It all comes down to what we value as important. Do you believe promoting your business is important? Do you believe in educating your prospects and customers? Do you want to drive more leads and sales? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then blogging must become a priority. You give time and effort to what you value most.

If you don’t make the time to invest into your blog, other things will fill that space. Since the beginning of last year I have published no less than 2 blogs a week on my own site. I also guest blog, have a column on Search Engine Land and even write from time to time for a local paper. Writing is not my full-time job. I also run an inbound agency where we create content for our clients as well. It wasn’t until March that I hired staff to help me with the day-to-day operations. So for over a year, it was just me. I don’t say this to brag, but to simply show that if a small agency like mine, with limited staff and a full slate of clients can create content week in and week out, then you can too.

Making Time

I write everyday. In a conversation between Seth Godin and Tom Peters, they stress the other benefits of blogging. It builds humility, helps you better explain yourself and the more you do it the better you get at it. When I started my blog, it sucked. But as I committed to writing each day I got better. Now people come to my site daily, read what my team and I have to say and connect with us. On my calendar I devote the first hour and a half of everyday to blogging. Why? Because I wanted to create a habit. Scheduling it once or twice a week makes it to easy to skip. Making it a daily part of what I do helps create the habit and instill in my mind that “blogging is valuable.” I also ask my team to write. This helps them become better communicators and gives them some ownership in what we do as an agency. If you don’t prioritize your time, you will quickly quit blogging.

Passion vs Purpose

Many new to blogging are excited and full of passion. Finally a platform where they can share with the world their knowledge and expertise. They start strong and stay committed to the schedule. But inevitably the passion fades as blogging begins to be just one more thing they do. The problem… passion. But wait, isn’t passion a virtue that drives us to do amazing things? Passion in and of itself isn’t bad, but it won’t get you through the down times. Just like any other emotionally basic drive, passion eventually runs out. What you need instead is a sense of purpose.

Why you have decided to blog is just as important as blogging itself. Just like your website, your blog is not just for you. It’s for you prospects and customers who are looking for information, answers, tips and industry updates that impact their lives. Connecting your blog to the purpose of serving those you want to do business with will give you the drive when you find yourself lacking passion. “Deliberateness and passion are almost always at odds with each other the more critical the situation becomes,” says Ryan Holiday in a post about the problem with passion. When schedules change and situations we don’t expect arise, passion gets drained and we often stop doing what we used to be passionate about. As Holiday closes his piece he gives us another great piece of advice, “Make it about what you feel you must do and say, not what you care about and wish to be.” This will not only help you stay committed to your blogging, but help you produce better, more user-centric content.

Tried That. Didn’t Work

We live in a world of instant gratification. We can ask our smart phones a question and in seconds have the answer. We expect to see results as soon as we implement new policy. We believe we deserve our pizza in 30 minutes or less! While technology has given us access to so much on demand, the reality is not much else in the world acts that way. Just think about it. How long does it take for a seed to become an oak tree? How long does it take to build a skyscraper? How long does it take for your company to implement new processes? Nothing is instant.

We see others experience “overnight success” but fail to see the years of work, time and dedication behind what they’ve achieved. As Monty Hall famously said, ” Actually, I’m an overnight success, but it took twenty years.” Many businesses start blogging with expectations of driving tons of new traffic, converts leads and closing new sales in a very short time. Blogging is one part of a long-term strategy for sustainable and consistent growth. Going “viral” has more in common with one hit wonders than it does with long-term growth.

When developing your content marketing strategy, having the right expectation is key. Depending on your industry it could take three, six or even twelve months to really start to reap the benefits of your labor. But the companies that stay committed to the process not only grow their traffic, but the brand equity and trustworthiness as well. Being in the inbound niche, it took time for my content to gain traction. There were many times I wondered if the work was worth it. I can say from first hand experience that it was.

No matter the size of your business or the industry you are in, your company’s blog is one of its most valuable marketing and sales tools. Success in sharing your company’s story online requires time commitment from leadership and buy in from the others on your team. There is no better way to showcase your company’s knowledge and experience than your blog. Every day your customers and prospects are searching the internet looking for answers to their pain points. So, will you find the time, focus on your purpose, and stay committed to creating content to serve them?