By Laura Haight
Originally published as The Digital Maven in Upstate Business Journal, July 24, 2015
In the last 60 seconds while you’ve been deciding whether or not to read this article, here's what's been going on.
- 347 new blog posts were published on Wordpress sites.
- 571 new websites were created.
- 684,478 pieces of content were posted on Facebook.
- 100,000 tweets were sent.
- 48 hours of new video were uploaded to YouTube.
- 3,600 new photos were posted on Instagram.
In that same 60 seconds, Google handled 2,000,000 search queries, according to DOMO, a business analysis enterprise.
Whew, that's a lot of activity for a minute. What's driving this explosion?
“Content Marketing" is the buzzword describing the business of creating and publishing relevant content to attract and engage a specific audience for your business. Although there are lots of ways to get your information into hands of an apparently insatiable Internet audience, one of the most accessible and potentially successful is to add a blog to your business website.
There are some good reasons to start a blog and some considerations that might make you think twice.
Improve search rankings: A blog is one of the best ways to boost search rankings. Static websites don’t get much love from Google. Blogs give you regularly changing content and, if you do it right, links and referrals from other websites. These elevate you in Google’s eyes, boosting your ranking in searches and getting you noticed.
You have something to say: Blogs have finally given experts a direct communication channel to an audience. No longer do you have to pitch your ideas to legacy media, sit around waiting for a reporter or local blogger to call for an interview, or send out your own press releases through a distribution service.
Own your content: There are three types of people populating the Internet: consumers who read content posted by others. Curators who gather content on specific topics and aggregate it for readers with similar interests, sometimes creating fairly robust digital magazines, websites and newsletters. And finally creators who develop unique content for a specific audience or on a particular topic. Owning your own content, rather than just promoting or curating others, is a great reason to blog.
Can you make it good? Do you care if it’s good? Unlike legacy organizations that vetted and published content such as newspapers, magazines, professional journals and trade publications, there is no quality or accuracy “badge” for the Internet. Your content is served up right along with your competitors and, worse, noisemakers who may have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s up to the reader to decide what’s accurate. And their opinions are often based on nothing more than how high up the content was in the search results. Few of us ever get to the second or third page of a search, right? Good and popular are not the same thing. Internet content lives forever. Think about that for a second every time you’re about to hit POST.
Can you keep it up? Writing isn’t easy. Writing regularly while also trying to run a business? Well, that can be onerous. There’s nothing sadder than a blog where the most recent post is months (or years) old. Blogging.org reports that 60 percent of business websites include a blog, but of those 65 percent haven’t been updated in a year or more. Writing is a disciplined task, so pick a frequency and stick to it. If you’ve got something to say but not the time to say it, consider hiring a freelancer to work with. There are many excellent writers available. And yes, there are a lot of online sites where you can hire work done for as little as $5. When you make a decision about who to work with, remember it’s your name and reputation you put out in the world with each post.
Can you sell it? It’s not Field of Dreams. If you write it, you’ve got to promote it. Find websites with commenting and blogs on similar topics as yours and write comments with links to your posts. Publicize your posts on social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter - or others where your specific audience congregates. And keep it up. A blog post can have a long shelf life, but you have to keep promoting it and yourself. A loyal audience takes time to develop.