Do you have a blog that’s dying a slow death and wondering whether it’s worthwhile to keep trying? Here’s why it’s so important for creative-business owners to keep (and maintain) their blogs.
With the dozens of social media outlets out there, it can be tempting to abandon blogging altogether, because you think you’re reaching your audience just fine. But in my opinion, most creative-business owners need a comprehensive marketing strategy, and part of that marketing strategy should include blogging.
Reason 1: It’s where you establish your expertise.
There’s something that you are good at, and there’s a reason why. It’s not necessarily that you came out of the womb knowing how to do something; it’s that you’ve been honing your craft over a number of months or years. Take people on that journey with you. Teach them what you know, and you’ll become known as someone who is good at X. People will seek out your advice.
An example from my own life: I bought a die cutter years ago. There wasn’t much information on it, so I started blogging about it. Eventually that work led to a book, a DVD, a magazine columnist, and I’m now known as the die-cutting expert.
What can you establish as your specialty? What do you have to share that others could be learning from?
What makes a blog so different from posting on other social media platforms is that you can organize it and have it serve as a reference library. Unlike Facebook where you blink and you miss it, or a newsletter where that information gets buried among the other flotsam and jetsam being shared.
Reason 2: It’s one of the few platforms you have full ownership of.
For a while, Facebook was the fastest and best way to get a message out to an audience, until they decided that they had enough data and users to be able to monetize access to those audiences. Because of that, Facebook gets to decide who sees your messages, how often, when, and at what position in the newsfeed. The more you pay, the more likely you are to be seen by your fans and followers.
All these platforms dictate not only how you reach your current and potential customers, but they also get to control what your message looks like when it gets there. Have something to say on Twitter? You’d better say it in 140 characters or less. Have something to say on Instagram? You’d better have a square image and a mobile phone. Have something to say on Facebook? You might want to advertise with us if you want anyone to see your regular posts.
Your blog gives you the freedom to say what you want to say, present it how you want it presented, and make it available to anyone and everyone who wants it. Combine a blog with an email list, and you still have one of the most powerful internet marketing tools available.
The assumption here is that you actually host your blog on your own website and aren’t sending people off somewhere else like Typepad or Blogger.
Vine: A Cautionary Tale About Non-Owned Media Platforms
Have you heard of Vine or did you ever use it? If you didn’t, it lasted for about 5 years, so it seemed to be a pretty stable platform so people flocked to it. It was going to be the next big thing in social media. There were social media influencers that got famous (and temporarily wealthy) using the Vine platform. Then Twitter acquired it. And then Twitter shut it down.
Where are those Vine-famous people now? Were they able to maintain a viable relationship with their fans and sponsors afterward? Were they able to reach all of those fans in time to let them know where to follow them to? And did those fans follow up? We may never know.
The point is, if your blog is on Blogger, Google may get the idea one day that it’s no longer a viable platform to maintain, and shut it down – so if you aren’t hosting your own blog, you should consider the impact to your business if your blog went away.
Reason 3: It pulls people along the Know > Like > Trust path.
I want to draw an important distinction between websites and blogs, in terms of how they function for marketing.
(Separate the technology here for a second – because a lot of people, including me, use blog technology to run their websites.)
Websites are considered static content, while blogs are more dynamic. We use websites to present more lasting information such as, why we started a business, who’s running it, how to get in touch with us, or what products & services we offer.
Blogs tend to have information that changes more frequently and are more timely to the subject at hand. Think of a blog as a place where you can share information about how a product came into being, or why you made a particular choice when designing a piece of artwork. Giving insights into a process, or into who you are as a person (or group of people) let’s people feel more of a connection to you, your business, and the products and services that you offer.
If you were to frame this as the types of questions that get answered between the two, the website is more “who” “what” “where” and a blog is more “how” and “why” and “when”.
And it’s that “how” and “why” that develops trust. It’s not enough these days to just tell people, “I’m Jane Stickle and I am a quilt maker.” People want to know why you make quilts, how you made a particular quilt. They want to see pictures as you work. They want to know your process, and how you came to be the person you are. You can’t sell art or experiences to people who don’t trust you.
Reason 4: It’s a way of selling without SELLING.
At the end of the day, I think people realize deep down that blogs are a way for businesses to market to them – just not in as overtly a way as with a direct ad or link to a product. I think people are more open to ideas if they are not subject to a high pressure sale.
It’s part of that know-like-trust path; you’re not trying to “sell” directly; instead, you’re sharing information and leaving it up to the individual to make a decision about doing further business with you.
If I just walked up to you and said, “You should sign up for my blogging class!”, how would you feel? Probably a little off-put by such an aggressive approach and not inclined at all to buy anything from me, let alone sign up for a class, even if it’s something you think you need.
However, if we had a conversation, and you asked me specifically what my opinion is about blogging, and I gave you a bunch of information, and then casually mentioned, “Hey, if you’re interested in getting more help, I have a class that might be perfect for you,” you still may not be inclined to sign up… but you’re more likely to visit my website if I approach you that way, and more likely to read more about my class and make a decision from there. Case in point:
Do you feel like your blog is stuck in a rut? Do you need an easy-to-follow plan for your blog? This 30-day class sets you on a path to success by helping you plan & develop content, set goals, reach the right audience, and improve your search engine results for better traffic. Learn more about Blog Revival…
Of course, it seems a little self-serving now, because I told you it was coming, but before you even got to the point of seeing this “casual mention” I got you to read this far. And that’s more attention than I would have gotten from you had I just given you a link to my class without sharing any relevant information with you.
(And guess what? You’re probably going to keep reading, because I still have 3 more tips to share. I don’t mind if you keep reading without signing up for my class, and I suspect you don’t feel guilty for continuing to read without taking the class.)
The point is, I got to tell you about my class, because it’s relevant to this topic, rather than leading with my class and trying to convince you that you need it. That’s the difference between selling and SELLING.
Reason 5: It’s a way to attract & engage with a new audience.
Blogs are better than newsletters in the sense that, getting someone to sign up for a newsletter assumes they know who you are and are already interested in what you have to offer.
Your blog gives you a path to the people you never would have crossed paths with otherwise.
Search engine are the roads that direct the traffic of new people to you. Can people search within and for your newsletter? Do you have a way to organize your newsletters so you can easily refer back to what each one contains?
The thing is… newsletter archives (from services like MailChimp & Constant Contact) and social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. are generally not included in search engine results pages. So without a blog, you are relying on the strength of your website pages to bring people to you. And you know who’s ranking higher than you in the search results?
The people who have relevant & recent content, that’s who! And a lot of that content is coming from blogs or something like it.
There are millions of people looking for what you have to offer… and they aren’t going to find you on Facebook (unless you pay Facebook for the privilege of exposure.)
This is also where the technology comes into play a bit – because if you look at the URL for this page, it says nothing about it being on my blog or when I published it – it just looks like it’s sitting on a page on my website. But the search engines know that this is recent & relevant content. This goes back to having a platform that I can own and present to people how I want them to see it!
Reason 6: It can help set you apart from your competitors.
What do you do differently that your competitors do not do? What’s your advantage? Blogging is an easy way to get a leg up on your competition. It’s one way for you to show that you are out there, you are keeping up to date, you are taking the time to really dig in and provide more than a cursory post that took you 25 seconds to create.
Anyone can post a photo on Instagram, but fewer people take the time to really craft and hone their brand story via those images. Anyone can create a blog, but fewer people understand how powerful it is as a marketing engine.
That said, if you’re still only talking about how your cat jumped up on your cutting table for the 250th time this decade, it’s probably time for you to rethink that strategy. Sure, that can set you apart from your competitors too, but unless your cat’s name is Grumpy or Lil’ Bub, it might not be a good way to distinguish yourself.
Reason 7: It can be a way to generate opportunities and revenue.
You really never know what blogging can lead to, but I can tell you that it’s been a great vehicle for my business. I mentioned at the beginning that it helped me to establish my expertise, and that has opened innumerable doors for me in the creative industry. I haven’t monetized my blog in the way that people traditionally think (such as through ad banners or sponsored posts) but I don’t think I’d have had the same career trajectory or have been able to establish my expertise as well as I have without it.
You may get to a point where you can use your blog to directly generate revenue (such as through serving ads or other sponsored content) or indirectly (through creating opportunities or exposing people to your products & services.)
You never know what connections are waiting to happen out there, if you’re willing to put forth a little effort to make yourself and your content more visible.
Do you think a blog still has a place in your marketing strategy? Sound off in the comments.