My business is based on blogs, so people ask me these kinds of questions all the time. My answer is always the same: “I sure hope not. My wife really wants a new couch.”
But then I give them the real answer, which is: “No way. Not any time soon.”
I don’t know what blogging will look like in a hundred years, or even 20 years. Who can imagine what inventions and developments will appear in the next two decades? (Just 20 years ago, nobody had even heard of blogging.)
However, I am confident that a year from now, blogging will be more important than ever for businesses. Why am I so sure of this? Consider what people want to read and what they search for online, and you’ll see that blogging is an ideal way to reach your audience.
First off, what do people read? Good stories, and useful information. That’s what people have been reading for centuries, and it’s what they will still be demanding for centuries to come. The way we share our stories and information has changed over time. Books are a great example. The publishing industry has gone through some tremendous changes, but people are still reading books. Why? Because they want stories and information. The format can change, as long as the content is valuable and entertaining.
At this point in history, the blogging format provides an incredible, cost-effective and instantaneous medium to share your stories and information. Blogging has certainly evolved over the past several years, but one thing remains constant: people want to read something that adds value to their lives. They want good stories. And they want helpful information. A blog happens to be the perfect place to share these with the world.
Sure, there are other places to share things online. But with, say, Facebook, you're going to have to pay if you want to reach your intended audience. Even your biggest fans might not see your posts. When you depend on someone else’s platform, you give up control over how your information gets out to the world. With a blog you are in full control. No one can suddenly tell you you’re going to have to pay more if you happen to want your fans to read what you’ve written.
It’s not that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all the others don’t have a role to play. Social media is excellent for sharing links and directing people to your blog. But once readers arrive at your blog, they can choose to come back. They can come directly to your site. If they really like what they see, they can subscribe.
Besides, social media is just one route for people to arrive at your blog. Every day, we use search engines to find information. Sometimes that information is good, but let’s face it--a lot of times it’s really bad. If you’re one of the good ones, people will appreciate that. And they’ll come back when they want more good information.
So a year from now, and I think well beyond that, blogging will be more important than ever. The question is how to take advantage of this golden opportunity. Here are six keys to making the most of your blog:
1) You Can’t Fool the Penguin
One of the biggest changes, and a very positive one for the general internet-searching public, is that Google is getting super smart. Used to be you could fool search engines into directing people your way by using lots of keywords and spammy links. The trouble is, nobody wants to read a blog post that is full of keywords and spammy links.
Now Google changes its search algorithm all the time. There are still a few little tricks for SEO optimization, but even these will likely become useless before long. What this means is that the best way to draw traffic to your blog is simply to write useful stuff that real people want to read.
2) If You Write it, They Will Come
You don’t just need to have a blog. You also need to update it--often. Nobody will visit your blog if you don’t post anything there. It sounds simple, but it’s not easy. That’s why it’s crucial to have a plan. Make a content calendar, get a list of ideas going, and if you need to, hire someone else to do your blogging for you. You can still have some input as well as the final say about what goes on your blog. But if you’re willing to delegate the writing to writers, you’ll have more time to do the things you do best.
3) The More the Merrier
So exactly how often should you post on your blog? More posts means more entry points for people to find your blog. The quality does matter more than the quantity, but if the quantity is too small, nobody will ever find you, so the quality won’t matter! Once a week is an absolute minimum.
If you want your readership to grow, you should be aiming for more than once a week. Once a day is fantastic, and if you’ve got enough important things to say, you can post more often than that. That kind of frequency will likely result in some serious growth, as long as the quality doesn’t suffer.
4) It’s Not a Novel
When people read online, they don’t have the patience they might have while lounging by the pool with a paperback. Keep your blog posts concise and to the point. Don’t try to do too much with one post. If it starts to get too long, maybe it can be two (or more) blog posts. Try breaking it up into a series. Your readers will appreciate your brevity, and it will be easier for you to post more frequently.
5) Give the People What They Want
People are busy. They aren’t going to take the time to read your blog if it doesn’t offer them something. So give them value. I’m not saying this has to be fine literature. People read The National Enquirer. They read People Magazine. Why? Because they want a good story, a laugh, maybe a harmless escape from reality. Remember the two reasons people read: Good stories and helpful information. Provide those on a regular basis and readers will find your blog.
6) Share and Share Alike
Your blog posts should be easy to share. Here’s where social media comes in. Give your blog post a great headline, maybe a pull-out quote that grabs a reader’s attention and makes it very shareable. Provide sharing buttons at the bottom of every post so a reader can quickly and effortlessly show it to all of their friends on Facebook. And be sure to share every post yourself, in as many places as possible.
The future of blogging is bright for those willing to invest the time and effort to do it well. Keep your business blog up-to-date with useful information, and you'll be amazed at the results.