Last week a client called me to say “I want you to build me a blog.” Hmmm. OK. Not an unusual request. My response was to ask “Why? What will a blog do for your business?” Silence. I could hear the clock ticking. Finally, after some throat-clearning, he came out with “Well, doesn’t every business need a blog?”
I don’t know how it came to be that every business owner thinks they need a blog. That, somehow, it will bring in more sales, increase word-of-mouth, or turn their business around.
Most owners aren’t even sure why they need a blog – but they still want one.
The simple truth is that in many cases, a blog is not the answer. If you can’t answer the simple question “Why?” then you’re not ready to invest in a blog. And make no mistake about it, a blog is an investment – of money, time, attention, technology…
You wouldn’t invest in a new piece of equipment without determining how it will help you be more efficient or effective, what the operating and maintenance costs will be, and whether or not your crew will need training before they can operate it.
Similarly, you shouldn’t invest in a blog unless you can answer the following ten questions:
- How will this help me be more efficient or effective (e.g., make more sales, reduce time spent sourcing)?
- What do my customers really want or need? Can I address that through a blog? Or is there a better/cheaper/easier way to provide the value or solutions that my customers want?
- Can I write about my chosen topic(s) with credibility? Do I know the topic(s) well enough, and do I have enough interest in it, to come up with great content each day/week/month?
- Can I write well? If not, who can I pay to write for me and how much will that cost? Will they be able to write in my “voice” so that it’s a good representation of my priorities and personality?
- How much time and attention do I have to devote to blogging (both writing posts and responding to comments)? Be realistic! Will time spent blogging take away from other, important things that I should be doing to run or grow my business?
- What is the purpose of my blog? What do I expect people to do when they read my blog? (e.g., visit my store, call me, set up an appointment, sign up for my newsletter, place an order)
- How many readers do I need, and how many of those have to take action, for it to be worthwhile? What kind of ROI do I expect or need
- How am I going to get people to visit or subscribe to my blog? (e.g., writing guest posts, placing ads, handing a card with the blog address on it to all of my customers) What will that cost me in time, energy, and dollars? For how many months will I continue those efforts? And what will I do if few people visit or subscribe?
- Will I set up my blog myself, or will I hire a designer? How much will it cost for design and development? How long will it take before I have a blog that looks good and works well?
- What about ongoing costs? (e.g., cost of my/employee’s time to write posts and respond to comments, design changes, hosting)
While these are all important questions to answer, there are probably other things to consider as well. What else would you want to know before launching your blog?