Blogging for Growth

The benefits of blogging for your business are awesome – don’t take my word for it, try it and see for yourself. However, you have to get it right or you’ll just be wasting your time.

I’ll explain why blogging benefits your business…

  1. Self improvement. Writing about projects, your work and your business’s changes over time help you to think over the work you do, reconsider it and have the opportunity to improve in similar situations next time. Mindfulness like this is a key part of many people’s transformation from Business Owner to Entrepreneur – ask any great Business Coach or mentor.
  2. Natural organic searches. You’ll naturally use the words associated with the work you do, you don’t even have to try to be SEO friendly. A natural usage of words ensures that the keywords in your blog post and the meaning they convey are in line with the type of keywords you ought to rank for in Google. I wrote “in line with”, you really don’t have to use exactly the same words you want to rank for (any more).
  3. Powerful content. Sharing real stories, examples, your thoughts and your feelings about the work you do, helps potential customers understand your products and services. It also gives them an understanding of your point of view and they will appreciate the opportunity to learn and interact with someone who is probably saying, well writing, what they’re thinking.

The third of these benefits is clearly the most powerful.

When a visitor is able to connect emotionally to what you’ve written because they care about the topic and they can tell that you care about it too, you’re improving your chances of some sort of interaction. If you put enough of yourself into the blog post you may even inspire them to make a statement. Something powerful like this means you may strike gold with these interactions.

gold

When your reader is going beyond just reading your article, they are more likely to actually pass it on. Any of these actions are considered gold….

  •  click the “like” button, shows Facebook friends that your post was enjoyable (gold)
  • share it on Facebook, shows very strongly to all their friends in Facebook that your post was worth reading and here it is – in your face (Gold)
  • leave a comment. A response on your blog is totally under-rated (GOLD)
  • or even write their own post of their own and link to you (GOLDEN-SUPER-GOLD)

All of these outcomes have value for your blog, your website and you but without this magical third element, i.e. you and your emotions, whatever you write will be unremarkable, quite literally, not worth any sort of remark – not even a “like”. It simply won’t get any attention.

Be afraid, be very afraid

If you’re a business owner like me this third element is probably the most scary too. Business owners, bosses and entrepreneurs that I talk to have ideas, they invariably have passion for their business, their staff, their clients and their products. This passion is (of course) all great stuff to share in a blog… but then readers will also know their problems, their flaws. Business owners have very real frustrations and fears that they’re afraid will leak out.

Worse still, there’s always the golden excuse…

Business StrugglingBusiness Going Well
ExcusesI’ve got to get some leads in, get the work done – I’m too busy!I need to make hay while the sun shines – I’m too busy!
ResponseIs there anyone else that can help you? How much do you want to avoid struggling for new business? Enough to give blogging a serious try?Do you fear the quiet times?
Would it make sense to share the success stories so they appeal to new potential customers and keep on coming?

Farming – One of Ben’s Bonkers Analogies?

Farming the ultimate growth field. Pun intended.

A farmer ploughs his field. It is a big field. After a full day of driving back and forth, back and forth he has a beautiful brown and furrowed piece of land. Job done, check.

Really? Job done?

farmer_plouging_field

Why was it ploughed? In this instance what is the purpose of the field?

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t ploughed to look nice, though it does. The goal is almost certainly to grow something, just like the growth you’re looking for in your business by blogging. The farmer needs to do more much more than just plough the field, and you need to do more than just go through the motions. Write something powerful, don’t just write information or facts.

I read at least a handful of blog posts every day, few really stand out but the ones that do have some personality. They’re easy to pick from blog posts cranked out like a mechanical process.

What is better: one or ten blog posts?

Fields & Farming: Which is better? 10 fields ploughed beautifully or one field ploughed, sown and harvested? Remembering that the objective of the field is to grow food to eat, the answer is pretty obvious.

Do you want one blog post or ten? The answer is invariably ten. But why do people think about blog posts as if they are to be produced in quantity, not quality?

Back in the bad-old-days of SEO with link building automation, link schemes and shared blogs, 10 blog posts certainly would have been grist for the mill…. but they were rubbish. No one would ever interact with them or link to them without being part of the scheme. None of the articles were worth reading and the process was piling junk onto the internet just for the sake of gaming the algorithm. This tactic has unfortunately become synonymous with the term SEO, to the point that it makes my blood boil.

The objective of any blog post is to generate interaction. Build relationships, earn the attention of people who care about the same stuff you do.

Does it take quantity or quality to do that?

I hope it’s obvious.

Content is King

Yes, yes – “Content is King” – the same old platitude, thanks Ben, now leave me alone while I have my breakfast. Did you know that this has been said so many times by the people in the know. I compared the searches for “content marketing” vs “content is king” – it understandable to see why the search volume would be different, i.e. service vs definition or explanation but these charts from Google Trends….

bfg-graphs

A. “Content is King” Vs “Content Marketing”

Show a very clear difference in Trend. Whilst the growth in demand for Content Marketing has been amazing the amount of people considering or thinking about “Content is King” has barely changed.

Go a step further and compare “Content Marketing” with “SEO” and you find a deeper

B. “Content is King” Vs “Content Marketing” Vs “SEO”

Go a step
“Content Marketing” is now outstripping “Content is King” by fifteen to one and when you compare it with SEO you find that content is just a blip.

If I were Matt Cutts I’d probably be a bit cynical about this.

But what makes Content “Kingly”?

Appeal. Pure and simple.

What is appealing about facts and figures? Not as much as how the facts and figure impact on people, like you and me. This impact results in feelings… communicate that and you’re on the right path.

Know what not to do – and avoid it

Sometimes my clients like to know what to avoid so I often explain things in these terms too. Knowing what not to do seems obvious, so to labour the point: I get emails day-in and day-out offering to write “SEO Content” or “SEO Copywriting” – I feel like yelling: You don’t get it, go AWAY!

But at the same time business owners, clients, friends and (less so these days) my team write content that is so pure in fact, that they’re devoid of any humanity.

Example: We did this project, here are some pictures… and it was good.

robots

You know what I mean, the kind of blog post that gives you absolutely no depth, or feeling that the author even cares about the subject. I sometimes suspect that the author isn’t human too, it is actually a robot built to drown us all in lame content.

Just for fun I imagine these articles being read in a monotone-computer-voice.

The bad news: This type of sterile information transfer is more common that you might think, look out for it, you’ll spot it and read it in-a-monotone-computer-voice now I’ve put this thought into your head.

The good news: Good stuff happens to people who write good things.

Instead of a sterile factual blog, produce something that shows you’ve got empathy, are able to learn or grow and care… you might write something amazing.

Some stuff worth reading

Here are some blogs and blog posts that you should read and consider how this “sow and grow” idea is just naturally part of these people’s writing…

  • Rand Fishkin’s Blog – I particularly remember two posts that were perfect for me and affected my decisions about a number of issues
    • Never have the What would it take to keep you here conversation: This helped me handle a pay raise that I’d been unsure about giving and completely changed my entire approach to salaries.
    • Revisiting this blog post about who to keep or hire based on Culture versus Skills (see the diagram 2/3 of the way down) was refreshingly helpful, in a difficult situation, again for that very specific situation it was an awesome thing to have read and digested Rand’s brain (so to speak)
  • Brad Feld – I read the future of transportation one morning over breakfast and spent the whole day like a little boy just thinking wow!

By contrast there are many blogs that are factually very strong, but they just have less personality than a doorknob. Sadly, I feel this way about some of our own old blog posts but I believe we’ve now put that right.

Are you inspired?

Give it a try, let me know how you get on.