Without a doubt, the most common refrain I hear from businesses trying to adopt an inbound approach to their marketing is that they just can't blog.
"I don't know how. Blogging's for young people. I'm not a good writer. I wouldn't even know how to begin. It's too hard."
Wow. How self-defeating, right? Well the truth is, I know any one of you -- yes, even you -- can be an amazing business blogger. You have all the tools you need to do the job, you just have to recognize that you have them. That's why I want to point them out to you. But I'll warn you ... once you read this post, you're not going to have those excuses left. You'll actually have to (gasp!) blog!
Are you ready for that? Alright, let me explain why you -- and anyone else in your organization (seriously, the time for excuses is over) -- has the capacity to not only blog, but to also blog like a rock star.
1) You are a subject matter expert.
You didn't get where you are because of that pretty face of yours. You have your job because you know how to do your job. That means if your job is to provide customer support for an SEO software company, you have the subject matter expertise to write a blog post like, "3 Advanced Hacks for Finding New Keywords for Your SEO Strategy." Or if your job was to sell that SEO software, you'd have the knowledge to write a post like, "How to Use Search Trends to Identify New Potential Markets." Or, if your job was to market that SEO software, you'd have the knowledge to write a post like, "How Long-Tail Search Helps You Get Found Faster in Competitive Markets."
See what I mean? Whatever it is you do for a living, you are good at it -- better at it than a lot of other people out there. The world wants your expertise! Put it down on paper (or a computer, rather) so the rest of the world can benefit. You probably don't think it's that groundbreaking because the information is second nature to you, but if you have leads and customers asking you these questions day in and day out, there are hundreds -- if not thousands -- of people to whom your knowledge is groundbreaking. Do us a favor and blog it, won't you?
2) You're a good researcher.
Sometimes when you sit down to write a blog post -- even if it's about something you know a lot about -- a tangential question might pop up in your mind. One that you don't know the answer to. Some people see these questions as indicators they should stop blogging, because they must not be qualified enough to write on that topic. That couldn't be further from the truth.
It's also why Google was invented.
Okay, not exactly, but you know what? Most business bloggers can very rarely sit down to write a blog post without conducting some research along the way. I just scrolled back through the last five blog posts I wrote for this very blog, and guess what? I had to conduct research for each and every single one of them. In fact, there are some blog posts that I sit down to write specifically because they're a challenge, forcing me to talk to subject matter experts in other departments within my organization.
Just because you don't know the answer to everything doesn't mean you shouldn't be blogging -- it means you're like every other person in the world, and certainly every blogger on the internet. The difference between a good blogger and a bad blogger is, the good blogger recognizes an information deficiency, and researches the correct answer to fill in the knowledge gap. That's also what makes their content the go-to in their industry!
3) You don't actually have to write that much.
People often get extremely hung up on word count. Great blog content does not have to be long. In fact, it's usually better that it's brief -- people don't like to read, and are often just scanning your content, anyway. Give the people what they want! And, likely, what you want ... namely, to be doing anything other than writing a blog post.
Now, this isn't to say you can write 100-word blog posts. Your content still needs to be helpful, otherwise your readers (and Google's crawlers) will stop showing you any love. Aim to keep most of your blog content at a 500-600 word minimum so you have enough space to develop some helpful advice. Of course, there will be occasional exceptions to this rule. That's alright, as long as you keep up your reputation as a provider of valuable content, regardless of length.
4) Sometimes, you don't even have to write at all.
Well, you need to have SOME words. But blogs are home to all sorts of content other than the written word! For example, you might make your blog posts more design focused if that's your forte -- one of our in-house designers contributes his blog content to us in the form of content visualizations, for instance.
Similarly, we have a fantastic "video guy" that, instead of writing blog content, creates helpful marketing videos. Perhaps you'd rather shoot a short video for your blog content, and then simply transcribe it so you can get some of that nice SEO juice and cater to people who prefer text, too?
But wait, there's more. Let's say you're more of a math geek. Why not write content that focuses around the "mathy" (you might have figured out that I am not one of those math people by now) side of your business? For instance, our marketing operations folks use their super powers with numbers to create blog content about how to perform marketing calculations -- you know, the kind of content that would take other people on the team twice as long to whip up. Take a look at Alison Savery's blog post about how to calculate and track a leads goal each month, for example.
This is all to say that blog content creation doesn't have to be all about writing, writing, writing. If you cringe at the thought of pounding out hundreds of words of blog content, remember that there are other forms of content with very minimal writing that you have the power to create -- and that your audience will love.
5) You probably already have a lot of the content.
Sales and marketing collateral is everywhere. Whether it's in various folders in your email, saved on your desktop, in printed brochures from that trade show you sponsored, in old whitepapers you haven't promoted in years, case studies you never quite put the final touches on -- for most businesses, the content's there. It's just up to you to either repurpose it, or if it's already looking pretty fly, to excerpt and re-promote that content on your blog.
Here's a perfect example of doing just that -- and I know you can do the same. Several years ago, a HubSpotter created a calculator in Excel that helped people figure out what their monthly traffic and leads goals should be. We promoted it once upon a time, but then it kind of just ... fell off our radar. Well, one day, for some reason, we uncovered it. And we decided to brush it off, give it a little makeover, and re-launch the offer. And of course, we promoted it on the blog, too! Now, we couldn't excerpt a section of the content like we would with an ebook, so what did we write about in the blog post? We wrote about how to use the Excel template! Take a look at a snippet from the post:
It was a piece of cake to write -- you might notice it doesn't have a boat load of text, all you writing-averse out there -- and it provided helpful content. And it was all based off an Excel file from several years ago!
6) It doesn't have to be Shakespeare.
In fact, it's better if it's not. Many marketers get caught up in the idea of being a writer, but blogging doesn't have to be a creative exercise; it can simply be a documentation of information. Instead of trying to flower up your language, just focus on writing like you'd speak. You'll find that content is not only easier to write that way -- most people don't have much trouble talking, after all -- but it sounds more natural, too. That means your readers will enjoy reading it, because it isn't some high falutin' content that tries to sound all smart and fancy. It's just straight-forward, easy-to-get-through blog content that answers their questions ... and maybe converts them into a lead, while you're at it ;-)
7) There are proofreaders and editors in the world.
Remember, you're a subject matter expert -- that's the biggest value you bring to the role of business blogger. So if you're worried that you can't blog because you're not good at figuring out where in the sentence a comma goes, don't let that deter you; simply recruit a grammar-savvy friend or coworker to look over your content for you before it's published. A quick proof of a blog post takes no more than 10-15 minutes! You might also even download our handy Internet Marketing Written Style Guide for some helpful reference.
If you're less concerned with grammar and punctuation, and have more difficulty getting into "story-telling" mode, an editor might be for you. Again, you have the subject-matter expertise to write the blog post, you just might not have a knack for figuring out in what order your information should be presented. If your blog posts have a ton of juicy information, but they read a bit more like a brain dump, find a colleague -- or even a freelance editor -- to help you sort out your thoughts. You may also find that writing an outline before you start blogging helps you establish a good order. In fact, most HubSpot bloggers start with an outline before they begin writing (it's usually the big, bold subheadings you see in the published blog post) to figure out what points should be hit in the post, and in what order. Then when it comes to writing, they just fill in the blanks!
8) There are freelance writers in the world, too.
If you're really quite writing averse, your blog doesn't need to go hungry. There are plenty of skilled freelance writers in the world who make their living wordsmithing! I recommend a content marketplace called Zerys -- many HubSpot customers (and non-customers, for that matter) -- have used them to keep their blog afloat. In fact, whether you're a HubSpot customer or not, we have quite a few vendors listed in HubSpot's Services Marketplace that can help you outsource quality content. Often, the best approach has been to seek out a writer with familiarity in the subject matter you want to write about on your blog, and combining that with an edit from you. Not for grammar, punctuation, or editorial guidance, but for your (say it again now) subject matter expertise.
For instance, if we were to commission a blog post for our blog about how email spam traps work from a freelance writer, I'd select a writer with familiarity in email marketing, sending them a specific blog post working title, like "How Email Spam Traps Work: A Guide for Marketers." I'd also recommend a word count -- say 600-700 words -- and if I had any documentation that would be good to pull research from, I'd send that along, too. This all simply helps set the writer up for success, providing direction and context. Then when the blog post returned, I'd have one of the people at my company who knows the most about how email spam traps work review the content for accuracy, making any final tweaks or additions before publishing.
This kind of collaborative blogging approach typically yields the best content, anyway, and it's an approach that's appropriate for both small and enterprise level companies. There's no one that can know everything about, well, everything. Write about what you know, and when you don't know it, ask the person who does for their take on the subject. There should be a point-person, sure, or you'll suffer from the 'Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen' syndrome, but if you stop blogging in a silo, I think you'll find the whole endeavor is much more manageable, and your content is far more valuable, too.
Do you believe you can be a business blogger, even if it isn't second nature to you yet? Have you conquered your writer's block to become an awesome business blogger?
Image credit: Abhi Shinde
Originally published Oct 25, 2012 12:30:00 PM, updated July 28 2017