For start ups, entrepreneurs, corporate escapees and business owners (of all sizes), the question is no longer ‘should I be blogging’, but ‘how do I or we do it and do it well, or how do I or we do it better for better results?
Let’s make a quick distinction here between your website and your blog. There isn’t one. But that doesn’t mean that you might not end up with two. See MISTAKE 4.
Too little time and money, not enough research and resolve
MISTAKE 1. Rushing it
What is it about us that once we’ve made a decision, it has to have happened yesterday. Restless souls, we humans.
Your knowledge isn’t going away any time soon. You’re not going to have a repository of ideal customer-seeking posts overnight. As a client said recently, refreshingly, ‘I only have time for one shot at this and I want to get it right.’ He was spot on, so relax. You’re building an asset. It warrants the time to get it right, or to plan a rebuild or consolidate on what you have.
Starting from scratch, allow for a minimum of six months. The first two to three months to fully scope it out, so you’re super clear on why you’re doing it and what you’re positioning. During this time do the research (see MISTAKE 5). Who is looking for you, how many, where are they and how are they searching for you?
This preparatory work will also help inform a proper design and website build brief. Essential for success.
The following three months are the design and build phase. Don’t be surprised if this blows out. During this time, you can start to collate a folder of purposeful, directed content ready to post with constancy once your site goes live.
MISTAKE 2. Procrastinating
The opposite of MISTAKE 1, but just as costly. You’re thinking of blogging or of changing your existing blog, or going in a new direction, but you’re fence-sitting. Apart from the obvious discomfort, the longer you leave it, the harder it becomes. Cliched, but true.
You may think that having no discretionary cash to pay for it right now is a legitimate reason for putting it off. Not really.
There is so much you could be doing cost-free, to get it going. Short list here.
1. Brainstorm your value
2. Work out your framework or process. What are your 3, 5, 7 steps for making whatever you do happen.
3. Get clear on what you’re positioning; you as the expert, your business, your industry niche or your offer
4. Do the research (see MISTAKE 5)
5. Write your positioning thought pieces. The ones that explain to your visitors what your blog is about and what’s unique about what you do
6. Start collating content, great articles to be curated, experts to be interviewed, those pieces that position you or your business as thought leaders
7. Make the videos that match your 3, 5, 7 steps.
MISTAKE 3. Not budgeting for it. Time or money.
You want it yesterday or you’re fence sitting. Either way, it’s a business investment, so you have to budget money and time.
Time investment for cash poor entrepreneurs
If you have the time to invest, there’re a million and more resources online for you to learn how to blog brilliantly and build the supporting platform from which to do it. You can start here by downloading The Seven Steps To Brilliant Blogging. Allow at least six months, see MISTAKE 1.
Budget the money and time to invest in the resources to help you do it. You’ll need a coach, designer, copywriter and a web builder. Or source a reputable marketing consultant who will co-ordinate the whole shooting match for you. How ever you do it, allow for said six months.
What to budget
You want to know what to budget? If you were doing it for yourself, learning from scratch, in time? Doing it the right way – allow for at least 100 or more hours then double it. Treble it if you are a technophobe. I base this on two aspects of business experience, *(see below). Not on the ‘bolt a blog onto my website’ (MISTAKE 4) and pay an outsourcer in Asia $200 to do it, and discounts the dozens of hours you or your staff take trying to make it all happen for a less than satisfactory result.
Quoting cheese for cheese
If you were paying others or a marketing consultant? Well, there are as many different offers out there as there are cheeses. Some just as smelly. It’s often difficult to get a cheese for cheese quote or you might be able to do some of the work, like writing the pillar articles, but not the research, design or coding. Whichever way you look at it, doing it well is a time consuming exercise so expect to pay well for it and get the best people to work with. Certainly no one who uses jargon. Use this trust monitor to evaluate them. It’ll help.
Avoid the Jack of all Trades
If they know what they are doing, they’ll take you through an intense process to establish your purpose, best client and positioning. They’ll either help you to do the research or do it themselves, they’ll work with you on a great design brief and they’ll structure the website so your framework matches your categories. They’ll have a coterie of great suppliers to assist you in areas they don’t have expertise in. Be wary of one-stop shops. Jack of all trades rarely deliver great quality across the board.
MISTAKE 4. Bolting a blog onto the back of your website
(ie Johnsmithhandassociates.com/blog) Please don’t do this. At least, until you have had a good think about the long term outcomes. This is a difficult one to articulate in a short post. You can read the chapter on Clarity in my book, Clans. Supercharge Your Business (form at the top of the site), which takes you through the four business scenario outcomes of Sally Johns, a nutritionist and the domains she might choose for each scenario. There is also a brief outline in The Seven Steps to Brilliant Blogging.
You’re creating a resource-rich asset which will either position you as the expert; your business as the go-to business for whatever product or service you are offering; your industry niche and you as the expert with in it; or a business offer or product.
Regardless of which is appropriate for you, if you’re building a saleable business you should ask the question, ‘does the blog go with the business when it sells?’ If it is the repository of all your knowledge, value and IP, then maybe not. Or maybe it adds significant value as a stand alone site and can be part of the sale conversation. Maybe you just want to keep it. You just need to think about this before hand.
There are also times when holding an opinion at arm’s length looks less like you are promoting your business than being a thought leader in the space. That can be handy when you are making a controversial claim.
MISTAKE 5. Not doing the research
We enjoy the era of the Internet. A resource made all the more remarkable by the rise of the search engine, Google in particular. Google has made available, with some bad grace in its latest iteration, the aggregated findings of all the different searches made by anyone since the history of search in a myriad of different ways. In 2012, there were 1,873,910,000,000 searches. That is quite some data they’re organising for your researching pleasure.
You can find out how many results for any particular search, what is trending and what websites Google rates and ranks as a result of it’s complex algorithms. You can discover how many people use search terms that could find what you offer, who is offering something similar to you and how well they’re doing it. Google assists you with their insights into what else your potential visitor is interested in.
You can discover what keywords you should employ in the structure of your site that will set the stage for your potential visitors. No one ranks for the use and merits of a keyword alone anymore. But if you don’t use them appropriately, your chances of successfully employing the activities that would help you be found by your most wanted visitor are reduced.
Research also informs your best content. If a potential visitor searches for information on ‘great bedroom reading lights’ and they find your article headlined, ‘ Ten great bedroom reading lights,’ you’ve started the relationship on a exceptionally good foot, equivalent to a gourmet dinner with bubbles.
MISTAKE 6. Having a fling
It’s true that if you’ve made an irreconcilable choice in the first place, that might be a good reason to break up and move on.
However, when things aren’t buzzing as you think they should, turning to another blog can be a serious error. Having a fling might temporarily bring back the heady feelings of early romance, but it stands to do some serious damage along the way; dissipating your energy, creating confusion in your market and having a foot in two camps which will serve neither well.
This is no dalliance. When you put that much effort and energy into it, it deserves to be a long-term, serious relationship with the same rewards.
As in life, trifling with it, paying scant attention, throwing a token bunch of flowers at it every so often, won’t work. But if you’re clear on your purpose, you’ll have intent and focus and you’ll soon fall in love with your business blog.
MISTAKE 7. Giving in to the Lizard
Business blogging has been around for well over a decade now. Most business owners, even of larger organisations, will say they know they should blog. For many it remains a frightening prospect. Putting yourself out there. Having views. Worse, sharing those views. Sharing IP. ‘ What if someone steals our ideas?’ That’s the Lizard. Past master at running every negative thought and horrid scenario through your head at the prospect of blogging.
Every organisation, large, small and nano, every not for profit, school and association should be blogging. Every one of them has a mountain of good stuff to share, relationships to nurture, people to educate or inform, communities to build. In every organisation, there is a person or people, who properly tasked would do a grand job of blogging. Most organisations give in to their communal Lizard. It’s too risky, too much responsibility in the hands of just a few. Safer to send out a bland newsletter no one will read.
So for the most part, it’s left to the more nimble and creative entrepreneur to blog. And a grand job many of them make of it. But for some, the Lizard remains too strong. It warns them off the time and cost commitment in the beginning. Then if they get through that hurdle, it issues dire warnings that no one will read their words, no one will care, people will think their contributions boring, inane or off target. When they don’t seem to be being heard, it tells them, ‘you see, it was just a waste of your time.’
Why you must blog
It takes resilience, determination and a rock hard belief in why you’re do what you are to keep on blogging and shut the Lizard up. When you do, it pays. Not always in ways you could imagine. It’s impossible to document the myriad ways in which blogging opens doors. But it does. Lots.
Perhaps documenting what you know, sharing what you learn, reflecting on the written word just causes new neural pathways to develop in the brain. Or perhaps it’s being clear on your purpose that does it, or the two go hand in glove.
Either way when you embrace blogging for your business, push through the mistakes and the fear, fall in love with it, your life and the lives of others will change.
It matters not whether that’s because your reader is caused to think differently, or read a book, or take on board your advice, or that you breathe life into a community like Knit-a-square which has contributed to tens of thousands of knitters and the children they warm.
What matters is that blogging is a conduit to all that you, your business and your offer are and can be. To the business you can build and the difference you can make. It insists that you stand up and be counted.
If you want a hand-holding step by step process to take you through this truly awesome business and community building journey, contact me here. I would be greatly privileged to be your blogging guide.
*Firstly, when I was building websites/blogs it took on average 30 hours of coaching, consultation and co-ordination. The copywriter took on average 2.5 to 3 hours per page for a well researched positioning article. The designer took on average 15 plus hours and much more if they were also designing a brand. The coder took somewhere between 10 and 20 hours depending on the functionality. See how quickly 100 hours disappears? And from people who are experts at what they do. Imagine first learning, then doing that all yourself? Go for it if you can, but expect it to take time.
Secondly, wearing my coaching hat. My clients and I meet every fortnight for two hours between 12 and 40 weeks. There is on average three to four hours of homework every fortnight. We talk and email in-between that. That equals plus/minus 150 man hours if it is the full program. Admittedly, we are doing a lot more than building a website, working on business models, positioning, business development, content marketing, brand and community building as well, but it’s fair to say that this work requires a sizeable investment in time and money. Just the way it is if you want to do it brilliantly and reap the long term and substantial rewards.
This is a cup of tea/glass of wine post and the last in the 2013 Word Carnival series. This month, “A Hundred Ways to Screw Up When Buying Or Building A Website”.