Technorati estimates in its recent State of the Blogosphere that it has indexed 133 million blogs since 2002. And yet there are thousands of new blogs born daily. Some of them last and some of them don’t. They don’t last because the blog publisher gives up before they even really get started. Or they die a fast death due to the blogger not doing what is needed to make sure their blog succeeds.
Many, if not most of the people I talk to about blogging ask the same question, “how can I compete with 133 million blogs and get traffic on mine?” First of all, you are not competing with 133 million. Yes, there may be 133 million blogs being indexed by Technorati. The question you need to consider, how many of those blogs are even active. Do they post any longer and did they ever post to them. I would venture the guess the answer is no. Yes, there are a lot of blogs out there. But there are ways to make sure your blog will be successful.
The first thing you need to do is to make sure your blog does not fail before it even gets started. And you need to be aware of why blogs fail.
Here are some of the reasons blogs fail
1. Not setting clearly defined goals
There are a number of reasons you might want to start a blog for your business. However, before you start, what are you wanting to accomplish with your blog. Is it to reach out and connect with your customers and/or clients. Carry on a conversation with them about your products or services. Give your customers and/or clients a way to give you feedback or input on your business. Do you want a blog so you can have a way to “advertise” your wares or services? Or are you wanting a way to market by using an educational based marketing tool where you provide information to your audience so they are better informed. Are you wanting to drive traffic to your business Web site, increase subscriptions to a newsletter or other company publication. Or are you wanting to get people to talk about you either in the press or on other blogs.
No matter what the goal of your blog might be, the key is to set some and make sure they are clearly defined. You want you and your team to know exactly what you are wanting to accomplish by investing your time and resources in this type of marketing tool. Having clearly defined goals is also a must, if you ever expect to be able to calculate your return on your investment in doing a blog.
Recently on Altitude Branding, Amber had a great post called, ROI Begins At The End. In the post she makes this statement:
You cannot calculate a return on anything unless you know whether or not your goals – and your definitions of both Return and Investment – are the right ones. As a marketer or a communicator, you may determine that you want to drive traffic to your site, increase subscriptions to your newsletter, get people to blog about you.
We’ve often measured success in marketing based on eyeballs. Awareness. These things are measurable. But sometimes they’re based in our own corporate egos. Is that what makes your customers do business with you? Do you know for sure that those 25 blog post mentions are moving them closer to you? Is it enough to increase their affinity to your brand, or is a sale the only metric that “really counts”? What about the journey toward that sale? Does that have value?
You have to have clearly defined goals if you ever expect to know if you are getting a return on your investment. So many, no make that too many bloggers are so hung up on the numbers, they are completely missing what is truly important when measuring ROI. Does what I am doing matter to the customer? The secret of good marketing is about one thing – your customers. Nothing else matters.
That quote comes from one of the best post I have read in a long time about content, Creating Relevant Content Is About One Thing. They go on to give four questions you should be asking yourself:
o What keeps your customer up at night?
o How do they keep themselves educated in order to do their jobs better?
o What channels (online, print, in-person, mobile, etc.) do they use to get their information?
o How do they engage with each channel? When you are considering the goals you have for your business blog, you have to ask yourself those 4 questions. And you need to ask whether your own goals match up with all four of them. If they don’t, your blog is going to fail before it even gets started.
2. Unrealistic demands and expectations for your blog.
I am not going to sugar coat it one bit. To have a successful blog which is meeting your goals and getting noticed takes work. You are going to have to make the time to post to it a lot. If you can’t do it daily, you should be setting as your goal to post to it at least 3 or 4 times a week. The frequency of how many times you post also depends on how long the post are.
If you are doing short post which don’t take a lot of time, you should be able to crank those out pretty easy. If they are long, like this one (maybe a bit too long) you are going to have to set aside some time to sit down, research and write. If you don’t post to your blog, it is going to fail. You are not going to get the “ROI” you feel you should be getting and you will let it rot on a vine. I am serious.
If you are not serious about making the time to post to your blog, don’t even start one. Go out and buy Yellow Page ads and put up a static Web site. Then when no calls come in, you can blame the Yellow Book and your web developer. But if you are serious about giving your customers and/or clients a way to get their hands on up to date, relevant content, do a blog. If you want to market and not just advertise, do a blog. If you want to develop a relationship with your visitors so they become readers and later customers and/or clients, do a blog.
A successful blog takes time and work. But it is well worth every bit of the effort and resources you allocated to it.
3. Not being prepared to doing research on what you should blog about and being consistent in your posting frequency.
Next to the claim that I don’t have time to blog, not knowing what to write about is the next reason I see business blogs fail. I have already talked about many ways you can keep on top of what to write about on your blog. Here are some ideas you can use to help you have things to write about.
o Read other blogs in your niche
o Blog about conferences you might go to
o Take client questions and make them a blog post
o Do some Keyword Research
o Invite guest bloggers or someone from inside your own organization to blog
o Do a book or product review
o Talk about new products or developments in your own business
o Do a reader poll and post about the results
o Tutorials on how to use your product
o FAQ’s you hear every single day in your business
These are just a few and I know you can think of more. You have to have a ready source of post ideas so your blog doesn’t fail for another reason and that is consistency in the frequency of your post. If you don’t post on a regular basis, you are not going to increase your readership and your blog will not last. You will loose interest in your blog almost as fast as your readers will.
4. Not having a way for your readers to communicate with you.
If you want to get my blood pressure up there are at least a couple of things you can do on your blog. One, not having comments and/or trackbacks at all. Two, making me login or register to leave a comment.
You have to give your readers some mechanism whereby they can give you feedback. You must give them a way to comment about a blog post or to give you feedback about you, your company and/or products. If you don’t, you are not blogging. In fact, I have always been of the position that a blog without commenting on it is not a blog at all. It is just an ego stroking tool for the blogger. It is a conversation, but only a one way conversation. That type of blog is not accomplishing as far as educating your audience in a way they feel they can participate in that education.
Most bloggers who don’t allow comments usually don’t out of fear. Fear that something may be said which they may not like or may harm them. I am not saying you should not moderate comments. What I am saying is you have to allow comments on your blog. Feedback or comments from your readers, good or bad creates a conversation and relationship between the reader and the business. Keep one thing in mind, the conversation and/or feedback is taking place somewhere, why not take the necessary steps so it takes place on your business’ blog?
5. Try to go at it on your own.
I would be the first one to admit, it is easy to setup a basic blog with such tools as TypePad, Blogger or WordPress. It is also easy to see how many of these DIY blogs are now dead and no longer serving any purpose but taking up good cyberspace.
The problem is that designing, launching and implementing a blog is not what you do for a living. You are in your particular business and you are good at it. You most likely don’t understand what potential complication there might be. You are not in a position to anticipate all of the contingencies or dependencies which might happen.
And are you in the position to know what you can do as far as taking the steps to increase your search engine placement? Do you want to spend four hours online trying to find the answer to a question which you could get answered by spending a half-hour or hour with a good blog coach?
If you are serious about your marketing and making sure you have a successful blog, I urge you to hire a blog consultant/coach and a design firm which makes this their business. Whether you hire me as your blog coach or my firm as your design firm, that is up to you. There are other great ones out there who do this type of work. The key is to hire one.
Finally, before you get too far in the process of setting up your blog, consider the above mentioned reasons why a business blog might fail. Consider in your own mind if you can set the necessary goals and stick to them or whether you may not be the right fit for a blog. Not every business should have a blog. However, if you are serious about using this type of marketing tool, and you use it right, I know you will have a successful blog. A blog which will get you results.