Why should you write a blog? Why should you start writing a blog, and why should you continue writing a blog? Here are my top reasons why. I’m really looking at business blogging here, but the first one applies to everyone!
1. Because you want to
This reason covers both personal bloggers and business bloggers. You should start writing, and continue writing, a blog, because you want to. Forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do is no fun, and you should enjoy the time you spend designing and honing your blog and writing those entries. Whether you want to share holiday pictures or reviews of restaurants or share your professional expertise, do it because you want to.
2. You’ve got something interesting to talk about
There are so many interesting things to talk about. I often meet people running businesses where I have no idea of the nitty gritty of their everyday lives. How does a carpenter learn his trade? What does a freelance solicitor do, day to day? How many projects does a crafter have on the go at any one time, and how does a mobile hairdresser help their clients to choose a new hairstyle?
I have found that my posts on building my business struck a chord and interested many people. A series of posts that I started really for myself about Word hints and tips has turned into a popular series. If you run a business, think about some of the behind the scenes things, some of the aspects of your knowledge that people might be interested to know about (don’t worry about giving away your secrets – I might publish articles on Word headings and tables of contents, but I still get asked to do them by my clients!).
Of course, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t share personal details about your clients. But I think it’s fine to talk about them if they’re heavily disguised – or ask if they’d like to have a case study published with links back to their website!
3. It will set you up as an expert in your field
This is invaluable when you’re building your reputation and your business. Don’t see it as giving away information for free, think of it as sharing your expertise with the world. Once you start appearing in people’s Google searches when they’re trying to resolve a problem, they’ll be more likely to come to you for help when they need your services. If you can offer a back catalogue of useful, targeted advice on your blog when you’re negotiating with a new prospect, they will see that you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
This may not lead to direct sales – but I’ve often seen my blog posts shared among other people and organisations in my field. Keep your name in front of them as well as prospects, and you never know where the next recommendation and job might come from!
4. It will attract people to your site
This links in to the above point. The more content you have on your website which is packed full of keywords and language to do with your business, the more findable it is in the search engines. The more people find information that is useful to them and engages with them, the more time they will spend on your website. The more time people spend on your website, or the more repeat visits they make, or the fact that they’ve signed up for your RSS feed and get regular updates into the RSS* reader or email inbox, the more likely they are to remember your name and your products or services when they or a contact need them.
More website visitors does not directly lead to more sales in a quantifiable relationship. But as long as you do show genuine expertise and a willingness to engage with your audience, you will build your exposure, get more visitors to your site, and this will help you to become better known and gain more sales.
5. It will build your platform
Your platform is the group of people who are engaged with you in whatever way – through personal connections, social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, through your email newsletter, through your blog – and who can then be “leveraged” (horrible word) when you want to get the word out about something new that you’re offering.
For example, if you’re self-publishing a book, it’s vital to have built a circle of connections before it comes out, so you have a guaranteed audience of at least a few people. If you start offering a new service, for example when I added transcription services to my proofreading and editing offering, it’s useful to have people who you can tell, and who will then hopefully spread the word.
Having a blog builds your platform because it engages people’s interest. It brings them to your website, it gets them reading your content regularly, and it encourages them to sign up for your RSS feed or to receive your posts by email as they’re published. Once you have subscribers, you can get information out to that guaranteed audience when you need to. That’s much harder if you only have a static website for them to visit.
6. Regularly updated content will boost your position in search engine search results
It’s fairly common knowledge that the search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) like content that is regularly updated. This means that their complex and little-known (and ever-changing) algorithms will promote websites that are frequently updated above those that are static. Updating your blog once a week or more gives all of the content on your website a better change of being found by potential contacts and clients, because it gives it a better chance of appearing in a higher position in the search results.
7. So will information crammed full of the keywords that are important in your industry
Keywords are vital for search engines, too. If you just write a set of keywords over and over again, the chances are the the search engines will pick up that it’s not real content, and will not show it to searchers. But if you are writing well-crafted copy which includes a good sprinkling of keywords among the text, you will find yourself doing better in the search engine results.
I write natural text in my blog posts that is (hopefully) interesting and gives something to the reader – but I am also careful to include relevant keywords at a regular rate in the blog posts I write, which does improve my search engine optimisation no end (it’s also good to get them into sub-headings and the blog title itself). SEO is a fairly dark art, but the more keywords you can sensibly insert into your content, the more the search engines will be happy to find and display your content to their users.
8. You want to engage with your readers / prospects / clients
Blogs are not a one-way conversation. Once your audience has built a bit, you will get comments, shares, etc. on your blog posts, and on the places where you promote them (I will get almost as many comments on my Facebook post advertising a new blog post as I will on the post itself).
One of the golden rules of blogging is that you need to respond to your comments. Some bloggers are very good at this, some are not. I’m sure everyone’s commented excitedly on a blog post, only to find their comment is effectively “ignored”, with no reply from the writer. I think that’s quite rude, and I am likely to engage a lot less – or stop engaging – with bloggers who have a habit of not replying. Obviously, we all get times when we’re away or too busy to reply that moment, but most blogging platforms alert users to replies, and you want to keep that feature switched on and engage with your audience, otherwise they will stop coming back.
And those commenters might just be your friend Ali or your ex-colleague Steph, but every person who engages with your blog is a potential client or recommender.
9. You want to engage with other bloggers
There’s nothing like blogging for building communities of like-minded people. Once you’re blogging in a niche area, whether it be fiction writing, editing, ironing services or Sage, people who are interested in the same sorts of areas will start to follow your blog, comment on your posts and share what you’re saying.
This is useful for a couple of reasons: firstly, it’s always good to have colleagues. I’ve written elsewhere about how I treat other people in the same line of business as me as colleagues rather than competitors. It’s always good to have people to recommend prospects on too if you’re fully booked and can’t take them on, and to have people to send you referrals. Sometimes you need to have a moan or a chat or ask advice, and you might want to do this privately rather than publicly, which is where your network of colleagues can come in very handy. You can also read what they’re saying, get new ideas, keep up to date, and slot into networks that offer mutually useful posts, services and applications.
Secondly, this may give you the opportunity to guest post on other people’s blogs, and vice versa. We’ll talk about sharing your content in other places next. But just to give you some examples, if I hadn’t started blogging, I wouldn’t have got to know many of the editors I now know who link to my blog articles, share them on social media, and act as a sounding-board when I need to talk things through. That’s worth every hour of effort I put into my blog, to be honest!
10. You want to share your content in other places on the web
The good thing about your URLs and name appearing in places on the web that are not connected directly with you, your website and social media is, you guessed it: it boosts your position in search engine results. The more times your URL appears on a website that’s on a solid standing itself and has followers and people talking about it, the more the search engines will consider your website to be appropriate to present in their search results listings.
These links to your content on other people’s pages are called backlinks. You can secure these in a number of ways:
- Comment on someone else’s blog post, including your URL
- Contribute when someone asks for examples, experiences or feedback, again making sure that your URL is included
- Write a guest blog post for someone – ensuring that the biography at the end includes all of your links
Now, you’ll know if you’ve ever allowed comments on a website or blog that a lot of companies do this seemingly randomly, just to get their URL into other people’s comments, and now you know why they do it. So do make sure that the content and comments you share are appropriate to the topic of the post on which you’re commenting! But this is a great way to increase traffic to your website and blog.
So, there are 10 top reasons for writing a blog. Do you have any others? Why did you start yours? Do also read … 10 top reasons NOT to write a blog!
*What’s this RSS stuff I keep talking about? RSS feeds are file formats that allow your regularly updated content to be collected and sent on to readers, usually involving them reading all of the blogs etc that interest them using an RSS reader that accumulates them all in one place. This Wikipedia article explains it all and examples of RSS readers include Feedly. RSS feeds can be found on blogs around the symbol at the beginning of this explanation.