For professional service firms, billable time is key to keeping the business profitable.  I hear the trepidation from some business owners who are wary of keeping their staff from 1.) taking valuable staff off billable time to write and 2.) unleashing knowledge to the world that competitors can freely read.

To tackle problem #1, I cannot say enough to reinforce that it is especially important for professional service firms to impart thought leadership, ideas, and education to clients, colleagues, partners and prospective clients.  Remember, your sales platform heavily weighs on building trust.  Offering knowledge (without a sales pitch) to potential buyers builds credibility.  Having prospects visit your Web site to find out industry information is a huge win.  To this end, blogging is a crucial component to any inbound marketing plan.  A single blog post, depending on the subject matter (and subsequent research) should take no more than 1-2 hours to complete, and it’s a snap to publish.

Regarding problem #2, in most cases (beyond truly confidential information) I wouldn’t worry so much.  These days, there is so much movement in and out of companies, there are so many opportunities for information to be inadvertently shared and yet businesses are still thriving, especially those sharing content.  And let’s face it…most industries are not dealing with rocket science level information.  The bottom line is that people want to deal with firms they like and trust.  Blogging is a way to build an engaging relationship that facilitates both.

Some ways to get the most bang for your non-billable buck involve repurposing ideas sprung from your blog posts. Here are 5 ways to repurpose your original blog posts:

  1. Blog bigger. Submit to a syndication site for wider coverage by a whole new audience.  Think both inside and outside your industry.  For instance, I can submit a blog post to a syndicated marketing blog site, but I can also submit a post related to the construction industry to a construction industry blog site.
  2. Springboard for an article.  There are some big differences between blog posts and articles.  The one advantage to a blog post is that because lead time is very little, you can incorporate the latest news items before they become stale.  However, there are some posts that have a longer shelf life.  Because blog posts tend to be on the short side, they are usually pretty focused. What a perfect springboard to an article abstract.  With probably just a few tweaks you can repurpose your post into a short abstract to pitch to an online or print industry publication.  Once accepted, you can expand on your idea, order reprints, and mail them to clients and prospects.
  3. Think series.  Have an idea that’s bigger than your average 400-600 word blog post?  Split it up into a series and tackle one idea at a time.
  4. Speaking engagement.  When you do have a serial blog post, collect those ideas into material for a presentation.  For instance, we have developed beginner, intermediate, and advanced training modules on using LinkedIn as a business development tool.   This all started from a series of blog posts.  For a time we posted a blog post per week focusing on a single tip.   After writing a good number of these posts, we were able to incorporate the information into presentations that we have given successfully over the past two years, and continue to add to.
  5. Package into a newsletter.  If you blog on a regular basis (think 2x per week) you will have built a robust array of posts from which you can choose the “best of the best” to package up in a quarterly newsletter.  Even if you promote each blog post, most of your contacts may not be reading each one as they come out.  Giving yourself some distance, allows you to touch on a variety of topics in one simple, smartly crafted print or electronic newsletter.

Blogging is a great way to build your content arsenal and extend your reach to a wider audience.  It’s also a great way to feel out the popularity of a topic before going full speed ahead with a more lengthy (and costly) tactic, like say a seminar.  By starting off with a blog post, you put a couple hours of effort into it, then measure the feedback. It’s a great way to gauge whether your topic might be ripe for building into something bigger.