I’ve been writing for more than 20 years now, and my finished products have run the gamut from breaking news and feature stories in newspapers, to business profiles in trade magazines and blog posts for marketing agency clients. By far, the toughest medium has been blog post writing for clients.
For many small- to medium-sized businesses, the idea of blogging is a foreign concept. You mean, I can have a conversation with my customers? Yes, you can and you should. Blog posts shouldn’t be all about you, after all. It’s about how your business can benefit the customer.
Which brings me to the reasons businesses shy away from blogging: they all come down to fear. Fear of criticism. Fear of lack of engagement. Fear of appearing less than professional. The list goes on and on.
The good news? You don’t have to be afraid. Really. It’s possible to have a blog, connect with your customers and still be professional—all without making anyone angry in the process.
Fear of Criticism
This is a valid concern—no one wants to be in the middle of a PR nightmare. But in an age of social media, Yelp and online customer reviews, not everyone is going to be happy with you or agree with everything you say.
For instance, perhaps you present a viewpoint in one of your blog posts that elicits more of a negative comment from a reader. This is a great opportunity to jump in and explain your viewpoint, essentially move the conversation forward. Who knows? It may also spark more comments than you normally would have garnered on the post.
A great example of this from a general marketing perspective is the “Failure Is an Option” ad spot from Domino’s. I haven’t had a pizza from Domino’s in years, but I just might after having watched this commercial showcasing the company’s “human” side.
Ultimately, if you use spam filtering on your blog, you control which comments are published and which ones aren’t. Just don’t be afraid to publish a contrary viewpoint every once in a while.
Fear of Lack of Engagement
Write it and they will come. This doesn’t really apply on the internet. It’s big, there’s a lot of content, and you have to earn those readers by supplying them with valuable information they can use.
For example, you’ve recently (and by recently, I mean in the past 6 months) started publishing posts on a corporate blog. You’ve received a couple of comments, but not as much engagement as you would have liked.
First of all, it takes time for search engines to start indexing your content. (And I’m making the assumption here that your content is well-written and free of spelling and grammar errors—trust me, it counts.) That quality content will benefit you in the long run, just not overnight. Patience, grasshopper.
Once your posts start appearing in search, more people will see them. Of course, adding in social media promotion will also help tremendously and shouldn’t be overlooked. Determine which social media channels your ideal customers are on and start engaging sooner rather than later.
Fear of Appearing Less than Professional
Blog post writing really is an art. While it should convey a consistent voice, that voice needn’t be so buttoned up (throw caution to the wind and use contractions! And more “you” not “we”). Sounding too formal can also lead to your blog posts sounding more like a sales pitch, which is exactly what you don’t want. Your blog is a way to connect with and educate your customers and potential customers. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like a pushy salesperson—and I certainly wouldn’t read their blog.
By way of example, I recently went out to lunch with my husband to a quaint, little restaurant in my area. Good food, coffeehouse drinks and an inviting atmosphere. The only downside? The constant attempts at selling. Here are our specials—only $9.99! Don’t forget our take-and-bake pizzas. Here’s a sample of our featured hot drink—do you want one? Oh, and have you thought about a take-and-bake pizza? Can we get that started for you while you eat?
Ahhh! For heaven’s sake, let me eat the food in front of me before I even think about dinner tonight! The same goes for your blog.The product pages on your site are for selling; your blog needs to provide something more: education, entertainment, how-to.
So the next time you sit down to write a blog post, push aside those fears and write for the customer, promote your finished product and engage with the people commenting. Write it, and they will come.