What’s the right way to use blogging to market your business? In this crash course, we cover what to do (and not do) to blog your way to a better brand and more sales.
Hannah: … Your demand generation perform at an elite level. And that’s whether you’re already using the strategy or just getting started. I’m Hannah Mears, alongside Raj Jha. And today we’re talking about something that may resonate with a bunch of people we’re talking about blogging, but most importantly, how you can use it for marketing your business. So, Raj, my first question to you is when you hear blogging, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
Raj: The first thing that comes to my mind is so many people are wasting so much time doing it wrong. It’s one of it’s a time sink. I did it for a number of years, but it can be great or it can be the biggest waste of your time ever. And I think without going into eyes open, it can almost certainly be a waste of time.
Hannah: I think that’s the biggest thing I got too is when I wanted to talk about blogging with you today, my first initial thought was so many people try it just to try it and sure – that’s great, but why didn’t it work instead of just giving up on it, try to figure out why it wasn’t working and how can you make it really successful.
So really, let’s start there. I guess let’s talk about some of the misconceptions about blogging. Are there a couple things that people typically assume, but aren’t really true about the blogging world?
Raj: I think the two big ones – the first is “write it and they will come.” I mean, it’s kind of the “build it and he will come” kind of concept. And the other is writing for SEO, which is writing for computers instead of people. So I think those are the two, two biggies that I come off right off the top of my head.
Hannah: Yeah. I think that’s a good one because a lot of the time, I think instant gratification with something you do, especially in my generation is something that we need to understand a bit more. Everyone in my generation has really got on board with the vlogging trends that are going on. And everyone that posts a video instantly wants a thousand likes on it and all these views and all these subscribers, but that’s just not the case. And it’s the same thing with blogging and writing something. These things take time. So I think we need to take it one at a time here as well. The first one you’re talking about is “write it and they will come.” Can you elaborate a little bit more on that?
Raj: If you’re gonna blog, typically you kind of pour your effort and sometimes your heart, your soul into writing this piece and you think this is the best thing ever, and then you post it and nothing happens. And it’s the most demoralizing thing ever when you thought you have this perfect piece and you cranked out a thousand words and for some people writing is not their natural medium, it’s a really hard thing to do. And it takes hours and then nothing happens. And so, “okay, I’ll do it again.” And nothing happens. And it is really, they write it and they will come just because you’re writing doesn’t mean that anyone is going to see anything, right. You have to go one step beyond that. So the write it and they will come – is all about, it’s more than just writing. You have to take a step back and say, okay, why am I blogging? And then I can create this wonderful piece, but then how are you gonna make sure anyone sees it?
Hannah: So how are you gonna make sure anyone sees it? How do you gain readership through your blogs?
Raj: So, so it used to be, and I think blocking still has this reputation that you write it and you publish it and then Google will rank your stuff. And then people searching for it will find it. And, and that was legit 15, 20 years ago, because there wasn’t so much content, but now with the amount of content on the web it’s just not. So the odds of you being found, unless you have an already popular blog, are really, really small. So you have to think about frankly, marketing your blog piece in some ways. And the big ones are social media syndication. So publishing your article or links to your article on LinkedIn, on Facebook and on Twitter and wherever you happen to be you know being on your or media, wherever you have an audience posting it there.
There’s also multi-purposing. So you can take that blog piece and you can cut it up into little pieces and you can put that on social media, or you could record an audio version of it, or you could record a video version of it. So taking the same content and using it more than once, allows it to have more chances to seen.
And ideally you’ve link them all back to your blog. So it drives people back to learn more about you. And then of course, if you have an existing list of people, whether it’s an email list or some other kind of a customer list, something like that, sending it out so that people actually see it is another good way to make sure it gets seen. So, in other words, you have to do more than just write it. You have to write it and you have to promote about it.
Hannah: I think it’s really interesting. You talked about Google ranking, the website and the blog content and how that sort of can be a misconception, but to a lot of people listening, they probably think it’s a good idea. Like why not try to get ranked by Google and have people search for me and that be the easiest way to do it. But I guess you’re saying is really not that great of idea. So why isn’t it then?
Raj: So I think there’s a difference between the abstract concept of, “so I want to this to rank highly in Google” and that’s a perfectly legitimate, good idea where it goes wrong is very often it’s written for search engines.
In other words, in the old days of search engines before they got super smart, smarter than can ever imagine, right now, it used to be that you’d stuff certain words into your article, and it would sound very unnatural. And you might still come across these articles on, on the internet where it’s like the same word is repeated in every paragraph. And you’re like “nobody talks like this. Nobody wants to read like this.” And that was written for search engines. So that’s an SEO.
So search engine optimization of the old days was all about that. Nowadays the search engine have gotten so smart. They’re actually watching how long real people spend on these pages. Are they getting fed up with it? Their natural language processing is really strong. So the best thing you can do is write something that’s super valuable for humans because the search engines are watching those humans and judging your content based on their reactions. So don’t write for Google finding you, writing as if Google is the audience, instead of a person in the audience, that’s the, that’s the challenge that I think that the should not be doing.
Hannah: I think, I think that’s a really good point that you make, but I also think there’s a lot of people out there listening to this blogging conversation and saying a blog that should be a strategy. I don’t have time to sit down and write a blog. So how often do you actually need to blog to make it effective? Because I think people probably have a little bit more time then they think they do when it comes to this as a strategy.
Raj: Well, I think it all depends on your goals, right? So if your goals are to that you need an audience and there’s a whole bunch of things they need to know, and there’s a bunch of information you want to put out there then maybe your frequency is higher.
If what you do is a little more esoteric, only a smaller number of people care about it, or there’s not so much to write about. Maybe it’s less frequent. So it really depends on the strategy of what you’re writing and how you’re getting people to see it. And then that will determine the frequency.
But the important point is to do high quality stuff. If you are blogging for the sake of blogging and it’s like, oh, what are we gonna do today? How about the “10 reasons”, what they call listicles – articles that are just lists, that is so clearly just like junk that is being posted on the internet, the hopes that someone sees it, instead of something that’s really insightful and thoughtful and has its own perspective, that’s the difference. So as often as you can produce something like that would be the right frequency and that could be daily, it could be monthly, it could be quarterly. More frequent is always better because you get more kind of at bets to get seen. But do that as frequently as you can, that allows you to produce high quality content.
Hannah: I think it’s funny, you mentioned the Listal things because I actually find some of them pretty insightful if they do the opposite of what you’re saying. So Raj, isn’t saying “don’t ever do that. It’s a bad idea.” I think what he’s saying is make sure that every blog you’re not posting is just, well, let’s talk about the top, this or the top, that or the top. And then you’re never really getting into the nitty gritty if you’re gonna do something like that, make sure the points that you’re making are insightful. And then you’re adding something in depth to a point where I got something from it. You’re not just stating it to state it because I do find some of those articles, like you said, really like, come on, this is what we’re doing then other times I’m like, wow, that was a really sly way to, to tell me something. Do you agree with that a little bit then? Just to Clarify.
Raj: Yeah. I, a hundred percent agree with that. In fact, there’s some people on Twitter who do this really well. They’ll say the top thing, 10 thing I’ve learned investing in companies, a thread, and then they’ll have 1, 2, 3 down 10, and that is super valuable. Why I’m getting a perspective of a person’s experience. And it is a list of the top 10 things, but it’s not the top 10 ice creams that Canadians like on Thursday. Right? I mean, that’s just worthless. Who cares about that? Maybe, maybe if you’re in the ice cream industry, but if it is something that has to do with your experience or something where you want to share something that would be valuable to your audience, then yeah. List format is a great format because it’s very punchy, but don’t make it just be fluff.
Hannah: Yes. No fluff,
Raj: No fluff.
Hannah: We can see through it. Don’t fluff it <laugh> I guess, with the thing, when we’re talking about time management and making sure you’re putting out insightful content, I guess there has to be a hack or something. That’s when you look at this blogging as an experience, is there a way to put out more content in a way to make it easier and not just maybe put out a mistake of a Listal that’s like, Ugh, come on. Like, what’s the easier way to put out inside?
Raj: Well, the biggest hack that I’ve ever heard of or seen is simply this, you record video of you talking face to camera, or maybe even this video, essentially you’re creating and now you have video content and what can you do then? Well, you can take off the audio track and now you’ve got a podcast or an audio piece and you can have it transcribed. Now you’ve got a written piece. So the same thing now. And actually then you break that down and then you’ve got individual social media posts off of that. So now for one session of a recording, a video and you can, we can speak a lot quicker than we can type. So from one piece of content, you’ve now generated four different media. You’ve got the video, you’ve got the audio, you’ve got the written, you’ve got the social, all in that all in one. So that is a great way of leveraging your time. And for a lot of people, they can speak more or easily than they can write when they start typing. It’s the blank screen. It’s like, oh, I don’t know what to do, but if they have a topic and, and if you’re the expert on it, which you should be if you’re creating great content, then you can generate it much more easily in a video or audio format to start.
Hannah: And I think it’s really easy to just write a blog, to write a blog and stuff about what you’re talking about, personal experiences and for your personal brand. But I think something that when we’re in the business world, what we’re always is trying to do is attract business. So how do you know what to write to in order to adjust, attract business and not just have people read it and move on?
Raj: Yeah. So I think, again, I’ll give one, my biggest hack here. My biggest hack is to go and call your customer service people or your sales reps. Okay. And ask them, what are the questions that we always get? Because these are the things that your customers and prospects wanna know. So if people are asking certain questions about your product or about the industry or about things, these are people in the front lines, in your, in your sales department, in your marketing department, in your customer service department, they’re the ones who really know what those questions are. And that can give you a great list. And that’s a whole huge slug of content that you could create there. And another one would be to ask them, ask your customers, ask your prospects and go do some Q&A. That is a fantastic format because Q&A shows your expertise and it, their real questions that people are, are submitting. So, you know, I’ve done a bunch of Q&A over the years because it’s an easy way for me to generate content that actually will, I know will be meaningful. Because if one person has that question, a whole bunch of people have that question.
Hannah: And let’s say, you’re the CEO of a company, or you’re the head of marketing. And you’re trying to find innovative ways to help market your business. And you go with the route of having a blog and, and doing this and trying to attract people through this. Is this something that you can do in house? Or should you look elsewhere to find somebody to help you with this?
Raj: That’s a challenging question because you can absolutely use people outside of your organization. I have in the past, I’d hired him to help me with my company. We’re we’re still friends and we still actually collaborating on content today. And why did that work? And that’s because he really got my voice in what I was trying to accomplish. And if you have someone like that, yes, absolutely. But don’t just try to hire, there’s a bunch of writing services out there and they’ll, they just, I think they phrase it as like ‘copypasta’ or something like that. There’s just a bunch of words and it doesn’t capture who you are, what you’re trying to convey. So if you have somebody who might be outside of your company, really understand the strategy and where you’re going then. Yes, absolutely. And if you don’t then try doing it in house with someone who does really understand it, it can be time consuming, no doubt about it, but better that it’s, it’s high quality and it captures your voice. Then it is just putting something out there for the sake of putting it out there. Yeah.
Hannah: We don’t want someone to put the salt and pepper on the business. We want all the spices. We want it to be good. Give us the flavor. Right. <Laugh> but once you start, once you start this blog, per se, something we always talk about is know your numbers and that’s for any marketing strategy that we talk about. And a lot of these blog platforms, perhaps online have really innovative, insightful ways built into them. That show you, Hey, this is working. This is not, and this is why. So what are the type of things you should track to really make sure if it’s working or not?
Raj: There’s a few levels of this. First of all, on the blog post itself, usually measuring how many people are seeing it. And then if you have a good CRM system that’s managing all your prospects coming through. Very often those can track who saw which piece of content and who turned into a customer. And that’s super valuable to know, because if you know, oh, these are the kinds of things they’re coming to. Well, I can do more like that. I can promote that more. So that’s one kind thing. So the second layer would be, where are people coming from? So we already talked about promoting the blog posts on social media. If you’re finding out well, 80% of the people are coming from Twitter, time to double down on Twitter, or maybe even run some paid advertising on Twitter to get people, to see it instead of just them stumbling on it.
Raj: And then I think the last thing is on the production side, how much time and effort is it taking you to produce content? That’s getting good results. And that way you can look to get better with it. Maybe if you’re starting out just doing the writing, maybe you wanna experiment with the whole record, the video that we talked about and, and do that, or that way you can also measure, okay. If it’s this much to do it in house, I’m gonna hire someone to do it as a contractor or as an agency. How long does it take them to do it? How expensive is that? And I can compare the inputs versus the outputs. So I think it’s a little more fuzzy than some of the marketing that we do. When we talk about paid advertising, it can be much more cut and dry here. It’s a little more fuzzy. And very often the numbers are small, especially when you’re starting out, but don’t get discouraged, keep on tracking them.
So numbers may be fuzzy, but is there a clear starting point if you wanna start a blog or are there a few steps to maybe before you start, what should you be doing? Where, where is that starting point? That starting line is how do I get value and how do I create things that people actually want to read? So that’s why, again, I go back to the Q&A and asking your customer support team and asking your sales team, you’re really getting the right kind of content out there because you can’t be answering real questions that people have in the real world. And there’s some folks who start a blog and they talk about what they want to talk a about. And that can be interesting from an academic standpoint, but if you’re actually trying to sell stuff, then really you have to go where the customer’s head is and, and that’s what you need to do. So that’s why I always say, start with whether it’s a survey or, or customer questions from your support team or sales team. That’s always the way to start if you have that information
Hannah: And like all of our marketing as strategies, we talk of the out, just like the blogs right now. If you’re interested in learning to hear more about any of this, please head over to rajjha.com. Raj, thank you so much for all of your insight today about blogging. I know it’s a strategy that’s really, really trendy right now, I guess is a good word. So I think it’s important that if you wanna start it, go about it the right way, don’t give up on it and be consistent in how often you’re posting and when you’re posting, it’s something that can be really successful if you’ve used properly. And I think you’ve given us a really good overview of what to do and what not to do and why it can really work if it’s done correctly. So thank you for all of your insight.
Raj: All right. Thanks Hannah. See you next time.