Check the date on your business’s most recent blog publication. Does it end in “4”? If it does, you’re hardly unique. The Internet is littered with abandoned business blogs.
Spurred on by promises of pumped-up page views and can’t-miss leads attracted through content marketing—and maybe looking to justify hefty HubSpot subscription fees—countless businesses over the past few years have launched blogging efforts with enthusiasm and good faith only to see them peter out over the course of a few months, weeks, or even days.
Publishing regular, self-produced blog content on your business website is neither impossible nor is it pointless. Content marketing works, but it does take a bit of work to gain momentum and it is fairly easy to derail, especially in the early days.
If your business’s blog is frozen in 2014 (or earlier), it’s probably because of one of these five reasons:
(click on the links to jump ahead)
- You Set the Wrong Goal
- Writing is Hard
- Too Much Ambition
- An Unwieldy Approval Process
- You Ran Out of Ideas
Why did you start content marketing? More page views, more contacts, more leads, more sales, more money. But if you’re just starting blogging, all of these are a long way off. A key ingredient for successful content marketing is patience. Before you can realize all the benefits of content marketing, before you can start optimizing and tweaking and hacking, before you can claim success or failure, you need one thing: consistent content.
When bloggers in the early days are distracted by how many views their posts are getting, how much business they’re generating, or how they’re ranked on Google, they tend to get discouraged and give up. None of these metrics will be any good right away. Give it six months, at least. Give it a year.
If your business just started blogging, here is your one and only goal: a regular, sustainable blogging habit. Once that gets going, everything else will come easier.
How to get back on track: If you’re overseeing your business’s blogging project, don’t share any metrics with your writers for the first six months. Don’t hound them to optimize their posts for SEO or certain keywords. Just do whatever it takes to get them writing and writing regularly.
For most people that went to school before the rise of content marketing (and probably even after it, I would guess), writing well wasn’t emphasized. As a result, thousands of people in the business world are now facing the awkward reality of having to create a high quality work product for which they’ve had no training.
With no confidence in your skills with grammar, style, form, or voice, the blank page can be extremely intimidating. Comparing your work with the professionally produced content you read on news sites and entertainment outlets on a regular basis can be downright discouraging—discouraging enough to stop blogging altogether.
How to get back on track: If you and your team have stopped blogging because writing well is too hard, I have three pieces of advice for you:
- Over time, and with practice, you will get better at it. I promise. You just have to stick with it.
- Get help. Either invest in an editor/writing coach, or crowdsource it, passing drafts around your office. Maybe you don’t have a brilliant writer on your team, but maybe with your combined strengths and weaknesses, you can build one.
- Don’t worry so much about it. Remember, those professional quality news blogs and entertainment sites your read aren’t really your competition. Your competition is other businesses in your industry targeting the same customers as you. Odds are, they are in the same boat as you when it comes to writing ability. The goal here isn’t to win a Pulitzer, but to build a sustainable blogging habit.
When is ambition a bad thing in business? When it leads to burnout.
Let’s take another look at that last blog post of yours, the one published in 2014. Is it a 2,500-word opus with a title that begins, “Everything you Need to Know About…,” or “The Complete Guide to…,” or “50 Things You Need to…”? Is it weighed down by charts, screenshots, and numbers upon numbers? Is it meticulously researched?
There is, without a doubt, a place for in-depth, data-driven, research-based content like this—especially for SEO purposes. But it’s just so exhausting to create! No wonder your blogging project hit the wall. When it takes an entire workday or workdays to create a single blog post, that’s not sustainable. Your team members won’t want to sacrifice their other work or (especially) nights and weekends to crank out a Dostoyevskian masterpiece week after week.
How to get back on track: Encourage your team to write short pieces, each focused on a single, well-defined problem experienced by your customers. If that doesn’t work, set a limit of 500 or 600 words. Assure them that there is absolutely nothing wrong with 300- or 400-word posts. There will be plenty of opportunities to go more in depth as they gain experience and comfort with writing.
I see this frequently. For some reason, businesses will allow their employees to function with a certain degree of independence in everything else that they do, yet when it comes to what appears on their website, everyone has to have a say.
I think it’s great your CEO takes such an active interest in your business’s content, but the reality is he or she will never have the time to read and comment on two blog posts a week on a regular basis. Neither will your VP of whatever. Neither will every single member of your sales team.
Again, the goal here is a sustainable blogging habit, and letting drafts pile up in management’s inboxes isn’t sustainable.
How to get back on track: Your business does not have to speak with one voice. Eliminate your unwieldy approval process and allow your team members’ individual personalities and opinions to shine through—including your CEO’s, if he or she can make time for it.
I know for a fact there are things I’ve written in this article some of my agency colleagues would disagree with. That’s why I proudly put my name at the top of it, not anyone else’s—or even the name of the agency. Readers respond well to individuality, not corporate groupspeak.
(That said, to catch writing errors, it is a good idea to run everything through an editorial round before publishing. Designate someone as the team editor or rotate the job amongst yourselves.)
This is the worst excuse to stop blogging there is, because that’s exactly what it is: an excuse. No matter what industry you’re in, there are always things to blog about.
If you’ve gone a day without solving a problem for a customer or, at least, encountering a problem experienced by a customer, what exactly have you done? This is all blogging fodder.
How to get back on track: Keep a running tally of ideas for blogging—the common and not-so-common problems experienced by your customers—and make it available to your team members when they come to you whining about running out of ideas. If worse comes to worse, repeat a topic. Repetition helps people learn.
Ideally, your blog topics will be planned well in advance as part of your overall content marketing strategy. Our Content Marketer’s Blueprint, for example, provides targeted blog titles for a campaign of three months or more. To learn more, or even get a Content Marketer’s Blueprint for your business, click below.