For start-ups, entrepreneurs, corporate escapees, and business owners of all sizes, the question is no longer “should I blog?” but “how do I or we do it well, or how do I or we do it better to get better results?”
Let’s quickly say what makes your website different from your blog. It doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get more than one. See MISTAKE #4.
Too little money and time, not enough research and decision-making
MISTAKE #1. Being in a hurry
What is it about us that when we make a decision, we want it to happen right away? We humans are like restless souls.
Your knowledge won’t go away any time soon. You won’t have a collection of posts that attract your ideal customers overnight. A client recently said something refreshing: “I only have one chance to do this right, and I want to do it right.” He was right, so don’t worry. You’re making something valuable. It’s worth taking the time to do it right, plan a rebuild, or make the most of what you already have.
Plan on at least six months to start from scratch. The first two to three months are for figuring out all the details, so you know exactly why you’re doing it and how you’re going to position it. During this time, look into things (see MISTAKE 5). Who is looking for you, how many people are looking for you, where they are, and how they are looking for you?
The work you do to get ready will also help you make a good design and website-building brief. Essential for success.
The next three months will be used to plan and build. Don’t be shocked if this gets out of hand. During this time, you can start putting together a folder of well-thought-out content that you can post regularly once your site is up and running.
MISTAKE #2: Putting things off
This is the opposite of MISTAKE #1, but it costs just as much. You’re on the fence about whether to start a blog, change the one you already have, or go in a new direction. Not only is it uncomfortable, but the longer you wait, the harder it gets. It’s a cliché, but true.
You might think that putting it off is okay because you don’t have the money to pay for it right now. Actually, no.
To get it going, you could do a lot of things for free. Here’s a short list.
Step 1. Brainstorm your value
Step 2. Figure out your plan or method. How do you do whatever you do? What are your 3, 5, or 7 steps?
Step 3. Figure out what you’re trying to position: yourself as an expert, your business, a niche in your industry, or an offer.
Step 4. Find out more (see MISTAKE #5)
Step 5. Write down your ideas about where you want to be. The ones that tell people what your blog is about and what makes what you do special.
Step 6. Start collecting content, such as great articles to be curated, experts to be interviewed, and pieces that position you or your business as thought leaders.
Step 7. Make videos for your 3, 5, and 7 steps.
MISTAKE #3. Not putting money aside for it. Money or time.
You want it right away or you’re on the fence. Either way, it’s an investment in your business, so you need to set aside money and time for it.
Entrepreneurs with little money have to spend their time.
If you have the time, there are a million and more resources online to help you learn how to blog well and build a platform to do it from. Here is a good place to start: download The Seven Steps To Brilliant Blogging. Wait at least six months, see MISTAKE 1.
Plan ahead to make sure you have the money and time to buy the tools you’ll need. You’ll need a coach, a designer, a copywriter, and someone who can make websites. Or, find a good marketing consultant who will organize the whole thing for you. No matter what you do, give yourself six months.
How much to spend
You want to know how to spend your money? If you were learning on your own, from scratch, in time? To do it right, give yourself at least 100 hours and then double that number. If you are afraid of technology, triple it. I say this based on two things I’ve learned in business (see below). Not on the “bolt a blog onto my website” (MISTAKE 4) and pay an outsourcer in Asia $200 to do it, and discount the dozens of hours you or your staff spend trying to make it all happen for a less-than-satisfactory result.
Using cheese to talk about cheese
If you were paying someone else or an expert in marketing? Well, there are as many different offers as there are cheeses. Some smell just as bad. You might be able to do some of the work, like write the pillar articles, but not the research, design, or coding. No matter how you look at it, doing it well takes time, so you should expect to get paid well and work with the best people. No one who talks in jargon, for sure. Use this gauge of trust to judge them. It’ll be good.
Don’t hire a “Jack of all Trades”
If they know what they’re doing, they’ll put you through a tough process to figure out your purpose, best client, and positioning. They will either help you do the research or do it themselves. They will work with you to make a great design brief, and they will set up the website so that the framework matches your categories. They will know a group of great suppliers who can help you in areas they don’t know much about. Be wary of places that offer everything you need in one place. Most of the time, a “jack of all trades” can’t do everything well.
MISTAKE #4. Attaching a blog to the back of your website (for example, JohnSmithandAssociates.com/blog). Don’t do this, please. At least until you have thought a lot about what will happen in the long run. This one is hard to explain in a short blog post. In my book, Clans, there is a chapter about Clarity. Supercharge Your Business is a form at the top of the site that walks you through the four possible business outcomes for nutritionist Sally Johns and the domains she might choose for each outcome. The Seven Steps to Brilliant Blogging also has a short summary.
You’re making a resource-rich asset that will either position you as the expert, your business as the go-to business for whatever product or service you’re selling, your industry niche and you as the expert in it, or a business offer or product.
No matter which is best for you, if you’re building a business that can be sold, you should ask, “Does the blog stay with the business when it’s sold?” If it’s where you keep all of your knowledge, value, and intellectual property, then maybe not. Or maybe it adds a lot of value to the site on its own and can be talked about as part of the sale. You might just want to hold on to it. Just think about this before you do it.
There are also times when expressing an opinion without promoting your business makes you look more like a thought leader in the field. That can help if you want to say something controversial.
MISTAKE #5. Not doing enough research
We like living in the Internet age. The rise of search engines, especially Google, has made this resource even more interesting. In its latest version, Google has, with some bad grace, made available the results of all the searches that have ever been done by anyone in a wide variety of ways. There were 1,873,910,000,000 searches in 2012. They are putting together a lot of information for you to use in your research.
You can find out how many results there are for any given search, what is popular, and how Google ranks and rates websites by looking at its complex algorithms. You can find out how many people use search terms that could lead them to what you offer, who else is doing something similar, and how well they are doing it. Google can tell you what else your potential visitors might be interested in.
You can find out what keywords you should use in the structure of your site to get people interested in it. No one ranks based only on how well they use and deserve a keyword anymore. But if you don’t use them right, you’re less likely to be able to use the activities that would help your most wanted visitor find you.
Your best content is also based on research. If a potential visitor searches for “great bedroom reading lights” and finds your article with the title “Ten great bedroom reading lights,” you’ve gotten off to a great start, like a gourmet dinner with bubbles.
MISTAKE #6. Having a one-night stand
Yes, if you’ve already made a choice that can’t be changed, that could be a good reason to break up and move on.
But going to another blog when things aren’t as busy as you think they should be can be a big mistake. Having a fling might make you feel like you’re in love again for a little while, but it could hurt you in the long run. It could drain your energy, confuse your market, and put your foot in two camps, which is bad for both.
This is not a plaything. When you put that much time and energy into something, it should be a serious, long-term relationship that gives you the same rewards.
As in life, it won’t work to treat it like a joke, pay it little attention, or throw a bunch of flowers at it every once in a while. But if you know what you want from your business blog, you’ll have intent and focus, and you’ll soon fall in love with it.
MISTAKE #7. Giving in to the lizard
Business blogs have been around for more than ten years. Even if their business is big, most business owners will say they know they should blog. For many people, it’s still a scary thought. Making yourself known. Having views. Worse, they agree with those ideas. Sharing IP. “What if our ideas are stolen?” The Lizard is that. When you think about starting a blog, you’re a pro at coming up with all the worst things that could happen.
Blogs should be used by every organization, no matter how big or small, every non-profit, school, and group. Every one of them has a lot of good things to share, relationships to build, people to teach or inform, and communities to build. There are people in every organization who, if given the right tasks, would do a great job of blogging. Most groups give in to what they call their “Community Lizard.” It’s too dangerous and puts too much power in the hands of too few people. Sending out a boring newsletter that no one will read is safer.
So, most entrepreneurs who are quick and creative are the ones who blog. And many of them do a great job of it. But the Lizard is still too strong for some. It warns them about the time and money they will have to spend at the start. Then, if they get past that, it gives them dire warnings that no one will read what they write, no one will care, and people will think what they say is boring, stupid, or off-topic. When it seems like they aren’t being heard, it tells them, “See, you wasted your time.”
Why you need a blog
To keep blogging and stop the Lizard from talking, you have to be strong, determined, and have a rock-solid belief in why you do what you do. When you do, it pays. Not always in the ways you might expect. There are so many ways that blogging opens doors that it would be impossible to list them all. But it does. Lots.
Maybe writing down what you know, sharing what you learn, and thinking about what you have written just makes new neural pathways in the brain. Or maybe it’s being clear about what you want, or maybe the two go together.
In either case, your life and the lives of others will change when you start blogging for your business, push through the mistakes and the fear, and fall in love with it.
It doesn’t matter if your reader starts to think differently, reads a book, follows your advice, or joins a community like Knit-a-square, which has helped tens of thousands of knitters and the children they keep warm.
What matters is that blogging is a way to show everything that you, your business, and what you have to offer can be and are. How you can build a business and make a difference. It forces you to stand up and be heard.
*First of all, when I was building websites and blogs, it took me an average of 30 hours of coaching, consulting, and coordinating. For a well-researched positioning article, it took the copywriter an average of 2.5 to 3 hours per page. On average, it took the designer more than 15 hours, and if they were also making a brand, it took a lot longer. It took the coder between 10 and 20 hours, depending on how it worked. Look how quickly 100 hours go by! And from people who know what they are doing. Imagine learning how to do all of that and then doing it yourself. If you can, go for it, but know that it will take time.
Second, when I put on my coach’s hat. Between 12 and 40 weeks, I meet with my clients every two weeks for two hours. Every two weeks, there is about three to four hours of homework. In between, we talk and send emails. If it is the whole program, that is about 150 hours of work. We’re doing a lot more than just building a website. We’re also working on business models, positioning, business development, content marketing, building a brand, and building a community. It’s safe to say that all of this work takes a lot of time and money. Just the way it is if you want to do it well and get a lot out of it in the long run.