In the not so distant past, blogging was the be-all, end-all of online marketing. While there is truth to the idea that demonstrating expertise and adding value is a great way to gain new clients, advising every business and freelancer to blog is prescriptive and can be downright harmful.
Blogging like a madman (a lunatic, not a Don Draper-type) has had its day, but that day is over.
So when should you blog?
You should blog when you have something of value to share with your customers or potential clients. This doesn’t mean you should only write how-to’s and give industry-related advice; it does mean that each blog article should have a purpose beyond simply existing. For example, if you run a light-hearted funeral home and want to write a blog series called “Tales from the Crypt” in which you share entertaining stories about the funeral industry, knock ‘em dead.
But if you frequently post articles that say the same basic thing, don’t really say anything at all, or rely on sensational titles to draw readers, it might be time to reconsider your blogging strategy.
When shouldn’t you blog? And why?
If you’re blogging for the sake of creating content and not for providing valuable or interesting information, you’re likely doing more harm than good.
First and foremost, the motivation to provide content for content’s sake is a bit dubious, even if it is well-intentioned, and can come across as such. For example, there’s a whole entrepreneurship sub-culture consisting of start-up bros who constantly blog about how to be a successful entrepreneur while not seemingly being one. Some of these blogs provide relevant and helpful information for entrepreneurs and new business owners. Most do not. Most masquerade as added value without offering any. This strategy can only be successful for so long.
Not only will this content clutter quickly reach the point of diminishing returns, it often reveals its own driving motive, which is almost never concern or care for the client but for the writer.
Secondly, unless you have a really talented, knowledgeable, and patient copywriter on your team, this type of content is difficult to maintain. Remember trying to crank out boring essay after boring essay in college? Yeah, it’s kind of like that.
Finally, the whole blogging and content creation frenzy happened, at least in part, as a way for websites to improve their search engine ratings. Cue a million SEO services and ebook guides about why and how you should blog, complete with strict word counts, keyword counts, etc. While this type of SEO strategy may have been useful at some point, it’s no longer relevant.
Search engines, especially Google, look first and foremost for authenticity. That’s why websites are now penalized for keyword jamming and similar bad faith strategies. One of the best ways to improve your search engine rankings is to provide authentic, quality content consistently. If you do this right, it’s actually easier than relying on quick-fix SEO gimmicks.
A Quick Recap:
If your motivation is to help, educate, or engage your clients, create as much content as you like. But if your motivation is to improve your search engine rankings, to create content for the sake of having something to show on your website, or simply because some marketing guy told you that you should, take a step back and reassess your blogging strategy.
Here are some questions to help you out in that process:
Just remember, it’s better to blog once a month with relevant and helpful information than to blog once a week with content clutter. Quality before quantity, always.