So you’ve decided you really need to find out more about this whole blog phenomenon to try and decide if your business really needs a blog or not. (Hint: It does.) But you say learning all that new blogging stuff is a bit overwhelming?
How can you make informed decisions when you don’t even understand what those bloggers are talking about?
Well today is a good day for you because we’re here to help at SuccessCREEations. Welcome to Business Blogging 101 where we’ll try to explain some of the basics about blogging so that you can feel more comfortable entering the conversation.
This series is not meant to be the final word on anything, but like those 101 level courses in college we’ll just be introducing the various topics and point you to some additional resources so you can bring yourself up to speed as quickly and painlessly as possible.
So lets get started with today’s lesson!
I Don’t Have Time to Blog!
Today we are going to address one of the first things I hear when I talk to businesses about blogging. The perception that it takes too much time.
Let’s face it. You have a business to run. Your schedule is probably already at the bursting point. How much time are you realistically going to be able to devote to blogging?
That’s a question you really need to sit down and address honestly. Because the truth is there is a time commitment required to integrate blogging successfully into your overall business strategy.
The good news is that it’s probably a whole lot less than you think because there are some ways you can streamline the process. And the beauty of blogging is that it is custom tailored to fit into the nooks and crannies of those little blocks of time throughout your day (or even from the house after you get home at night.)
There are two big factors to think about when looking at the time issue: post length and post frequency. Let’s take them one by one.
How long should your posts be? Well the good news here is that the answer depends.
What are you trying to accomplish with your blog? What is the “feel” of it? What personality does it have?
Don’t feel like you have to write posts as long as mine every day!
I tend to write long posts. My wife will tell you that I’m overflowing with verbosity. I get a rise out of explaining stuff so that other folks really understand what I’m sharing. She tells me, “Chris, when someone asks you for the time of day, you tell them how to build a watch!”
The good news is you probably shouldn’t be writing posts as long as mine. In fact some blogging experts would probably tell me that I shouldn’t either! I mean my post in this series about RSS and Feeds is over 2300 words long! That’s crazy long!
There are some who would tell me that it would be better to break it up into posts about 500 words long or so to make it easier on the reader and to build more traffic. (You know, leave them hanging so they keep coming back for multiple posts on the same subject.)
But that doesn’t fit in with my main objective of this series which is to make a convenient resource for folks looking at business blogging and trying to get their minds around what it takes to do this thing called blogging successfully. Because I want this to be an easy reference I have chosen to use big long posts to get the information out there. Then I can consolidate a few good links into my Business Blogging 101 page so that I can refer prospective clients over there for a crash course.
A larger number of shorter posts wouldn’t achieve that as well.
So your post length should be determined by your blogging objective.
Shorter posts work very well for most blogs. For an example of a blog at the other extreme that uses really short posts very successfully, check out Dave Barry’s Blog. Some of his posts are just one word links in the title! (Talk about a short post, eh?) His blog is an example of one where much of the best action takes place in the comments.
As contrast example of another successful blog check out Scott Adams’ blog. You probably know Scott as the cartoonist who draws the Dilbert cartoons. Adams writes fewer posts, and they tend to be on the longer end of the post length spectrum. (As an aside, did you know you can subscribe to the Dilbert Cartoon Feed and get today’s cartoon right in your feed reader?)
So how long is the “best length”?
Well as a general rule of thumb, and this is just my opinion, you would probably do well somewhere between 150 and 500 words on average. A 250 word target length would probably do nicely.
To give you a feel what that looks like, the intro header to this series is 157 words. And here’s a post I wrote on my personal blog over a year ago that just happens to be exactly 250 words on Changing Opinions.
But the bottom line real answer to the “how long” question is just make them as long as they need to be to say what you want to say.
The beauty of blogging is that there is no hard and fast formula for success. Let your own unique personality show through and you will do just fine.
The next part of the equation is post frequency. This is an area where pretty much more is better. Up to a point.
You probably don’t want folks who check their feeds once or twice a day to continuely see dozens of new posts each time they check their reader. They may feel overwhelmed and unsubscribe. (Remember, Click. Click. They have the power.)
A good goal for your business blogging would be to put up one post each day. Since you are writing about your business, which is something you spend the bulk of your waking hours doing, you’ll likely fine it pretty easy to come up with a paragraph or two each work day.
If you only post once a week or less you might want to rethink your business blogging efforts because you may not be seeing the best return on your efforts.
For SuccessCREEations I consider one post a day to be my minimum goal. And in my case that means 7 days a week. Ultimately my intention is to have one longer meaty post each day with one or two shorter lighter posts.
For now though, with everything I have going on, my bigger goal isn’t happening yet.
And it is interesting that when I sat down to write a post addressing the issue of not having time to blog, a whole bunch of things converged in my life, squeezed out my writing time and kept this post from being finished by my self imposed deadline.
But not to worry. A blog is much more personal than your typical corporate communication. I just posted a little note about how cold it is in my house and went on about my day. The blog was still here. This post was still half written and waiting for me when my schedule got back to normal the next day.
Oh, and don’t be surprised if you find one of those posts you just threw together in a few minutes ends up getting more traffic than the ones you spend a little time crafting. I know I haven’t yet been able to figure out when a post will be popular when I click the publish button and which one will get glossed over.
Time Saving Ideas
Post length and frequency are the two key variables to consider when starting out. Fortunately there are some things you can do to help maintain your blog when you have limited time available. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Pre-Post – Most blogging software will have a feature that allows you to pre-post to your blog. This means that you write your post, click on the publish button and it doesn’t show up on your blog until some time in the future when you told it to.
How can this feature help you? Well if you don’t have much time each day, but you can block out one chunk of time during the week, you can get your posts written all at once. Then you set them to automatically show up on your blog throughout the week when your schedule is already full.
Or you can pre-post some so that you don’t have to worry about a changing schedule and then if your schedule allows, add in posts that may be more time sensitive.
The pre-post feature also allows you to experiment and determine if there is a specific time of day when you can post that will pull in more traffic than others.
It really opens up a tremendous amount of flexibility which can be a huge help in seeing your business blog become successful.
Delegate – It might seem silly to point this out. But you may not be the best person at your business to maintain your blog.
If you start asking around you may find you have an employee who is already blogging as a hobby. They may be just the person to drive the blogging bus for your business. And they may be thrilled to have their responsibilities adjusted to include a little blogging at work.
Imagine an employee that feels like some of the things they are getting paid to do are fun! That’s got to be good for your business.
I would say it is a good idea for you to post under your name from time to time, but let the best person for the job do the work.
Set Up a Blogging Team – Another alternative for busy business folks is to set up a blogging team.
Most blogging software will allow you to set up multiple author accounts. And typically you can set different levels of access for each account. So you may have some users who can edit what other’s have written, some who can only change their own posts, and one or two who can change everything about the blog.
You can have one person who drives the blogging bus and coordinates exactly when the posts get published, and a few others who contribute regularly.
That way no one person gets overwhelmed with a time commitment for the blog.
The bottom line here is that blogs are remarkably flexible platforms. The limit to their use is really only restricted to your own creativity.
And there are a whole bunch of ways that you can work blogging into your busy schedule and make it successful for your business.