The first-ever web-log (blog) was nothing like the blogs we see today. Experts inform us that Links.net was the first blog created in 1994 by a student Justin Hall. His blog featured his thoughts and ideas in the form of brief posts, links of his own work (possibly projects) and links to the websites he admired.
Now - 27 years later, so many internet trends have come and gone, but blogging has stood firm.
Therefore, 2021 may not be so late to launch a company blog. Arguably, blogging is the most consistent way of creating content to communicate with the target demographic. Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website. In fact, blogs produce an average of 67% more leads monthly for companies that blog than companies that don't.
Those businesses that can drive a readership through educational, inspirational or entertaining content can benefit from blogging in some form or another. Growth matters to most businesses in the end, and blogging is a legitimate way to drive that growth.
But realistically speaking, are those good enough reasons for any business to consider launching a blog in 2021? Let us examine some reasons closely.
1. A good blog reaches a broader readership: Some of the biggest and most respected brands across industry verticals have one thing in common. They have a website listing their products and services, and they invest extensively in content marketing.
A blog can open a window of new opportunities for a business, as it did for Tim Urban, one of the internet’s most popular writers. With his unique writing style and wry figurative illustrations, his blog, Wait But Why, has garnered millions of unique views and thousands of patrons. Elon Musk is his biggest admirer on record. Urban, now a co-founder of several other ventures, turned his blog into a business.
2. A blog brings a stable presence to the brand: Though most brands are moving their online content to social media platforms, having a blog is crucial. Social media platforms do not give businesses full control owing to their ever-changing policies. As a result, such platforms become unreliable in the long run. One minute a brand may have thousands of followers, and the next minute its account is banned for violation of community guidelines. However, this is never the case with a blog.
TikTok boasts about 0.5 billion users around the world, out of which over 119 million were Indians until the middle of 2020. Tiktok was launched outside China in September of 2017. It became the most downloaded app in India surpassing Facebook and Instagram by contributing to 44% of worldwide downloads by October 2019. For several security concerns and content issues, it was banned in India in June 2020. Apart from the approximate $6 billion loss that the company incurred, India’s top 100 influencers have collectively lost the equivalent of over $15 million since the ban. Many of these influencers were brand evangelists for several companies.
3. A blog helps generate income online: Businesses may sell their products and services online or promote affiliate products on their blog in exchange for a commission. Displaying ads on the blog is also a widely used tool for generating income online. The reason why 95% of bloggers fail is not inconsistency or inaccurate SEO practices. It is, in fact, due to the burnout from the inability of deriving any profit.
4. A blog keeps readers updated about the company’s business: Nowadays, having a website is not sufficient to reach the target demographic. A blog offers a medium to connect with the end customers at a more individual level through sharing updates, talking about products and services in depth, commenting on pertinent industry trends and reflecting what the business truly stands for. Readers are often keen on hearing what their favourite brands have to say. Therefore, a blog acts as a platform for readers to know more about the company’s work, business, ethics, policies and the like.
Adobe’s blog is centred around the life and perspective of its team members. Do read this story about how a young associate is creating value for customers. Adobe’s team members also contribute blog posts via 'A Day in the Adobe Life' .
5. Blogs yield traffic: Blogging also helps convert leads and increase traffic through useful and relevant articles that include long-tail keywords, images and videos.
This is precisely what M.M.LaFleur, dealing in women’s professional apparel, does with its blog. Their blog promotes female empowerment. It inspires other businesswomen and educates women professionals on workplace tips. The brand enjoys a loyal fan base that often turns into its customers.
6. Blogs can help businesses build brand authority in the industry: Through blogs, companies may develop a knowledge bank and teach customers about the differentiation their products and services are offering. The more in-depth the articles and insights, the more likely a company is to earn its readers' trust who may eventually share those articles.
One such inspiring brand is Investopedia. With its clever content architecture, its blog attracts over 33 million visitors per month. They aim to simplify financial investment using real-world examples and brief content pieces written in understandable English. They have a detailed dictionary on every finance-related subject to choose from.
Let us now see how to start a blog in 2021, the right way
1. Choosing an appropriate niche: The very first step is to select an appropriate niche for the blog. This will require some research on the market. Here are a few rules while selecting a niche –
a. It is imperative to choose a niche that will get the target readers interested.
b. The blog must be useful for the target readers/customers in some way. This utility may be about entertainment with information or simply providing answers or solutions to the problems generally faced by readers.
c. The blog must display an expert level of knowledge about the niche. It helps if blog writers or contributors are passionate about the topics. Passion evokes a deeper level of writing and problem-solving.
2. Selecting a blog name related to the niche: There are many successful businesses that were once just blogs. They eventually developed services and products around the content they were promoting. In such a case, it becomes decisive to choose a unique and straightforward blog name. It is equally imperative to include relevant keywords in the blog name. The blog name must describe the business so that it may draw relevant traffic; when a blog name is focussed on the readership, there's a higher chance for the blog to get on top of the search results.
This is exactly what blogger Brian Clark did. After starting Copy Blogger in 2006, he and his crew consistently created blog posts for four years. He then created another platform called Copyblogger Media. Today, Copyblogger Media is the parent company of business ventures including StudioPress, Scribe, Premise, Synthesis, Authority Rules and Teaching Sells. But here’s a vital lesson: despite having a million monthly visitors on Copyblogger, Clark did not make a single dime. However, his blog earned him the credibility for winning his future (now existing) partners.
3. Selecting the most appropriate blogging platform: Any business that is launching its blog from scratch must choose a platform with a low learning curve and one that is easy to set up and doesn’t need coding expertise. This platform must be flexible and scalable, so when the blog grows in the future, it can be easily modified as per the changing needs.
Social media design and scheduling platform Buffer makes a good case for the above point. The company used its new blog design to make the search feature more convenient. They added a “discovery” block on the homepage of the blog titled “What do you want to learn about today?” apart from introducing a feature called “Various page templates” for its content. To tell their stories more effectively and make their content adaptable, they now use two different article formats - toolbox articles (equipped to maintain tip articles) and magazine articles (full-width background photo is used for editorial-lead posts). The company consistently serves useful content on its blog while changing its design or look because it owns a reliable blogging platform.
The most recommended blogging platforms for beginners today are WordPress, Tumblr and Medium. Thirty-five per cent of bloggers use WordPress because it offers 1,000 themes and plug-ins, allowing bloggers to customise their blog as per their needs. WordPress is also a search engine-friendly platform; hence it drives considerable traffic organically. The next most preferred platforms are Tumblr with more than 440 million blogs and Medium that offers an easy-to-use third party blogging tool. Both of them offer free sign-up before publishing blogs. Moreover, Medium offers a paid Partner Program for bloggers that gives the bloggers access to niche content and distribution to a niche readership.
4. Focussing on building a content strategy: Building a systematic strategy before creating the content is crucial. Here are some principles:
a. It is wiser to create a calendar instead of posting on random days. This can be done by deciding on the number of times the content will be published in a week.
b. The first post must be published with much forethought. First-time bloggers or companies must ensure that their content asserts dominance in the chosen niche.
c. Businesses publishing blogs for the first time must keep the current trends in mind. The content of the blog must solve real-life problems and provide true value to the target readers.
d. The content must be validated with relevant statistics or data and links to their respective sources for commanding authority.
e. Each blog post must have considerable visual content in the form of images, videos, infographics etc. This will direct traffic from Google image search results because visual content generally attracts more attention.
f. Businesses must learn to not rely solely on social media platforms. Platforms like Facebook or Instagram have algorithms and community guidelines controlled by the owners of these platforms. It is wiser to have a dedicated blog where the content is safe, and the controls are in the hands of the company or business to which it belongs. However, social media platforms can be further used to bring traffic to the blog by sharing blog links. More traffic on the blog will generate revenue consistently.
A company that really knows how to use blogs for content marketing is HubSpot. HubSpot has a vast content funnel where they use blogs and articles for comprehensive topics to move prospects down the funnel. For entry-level prospects, they have guides and tools available on their resource page. At the end of their post, they include a CTA which encourages prospects to try their free software. Even if a certain prospect chooses not to buy any product after using the free software service, HubSpot is still able to collect emails and re-market the products to the visitors.
5. Being consistent. Success comes to those who persevere: There may be many competitive blogs on the same niche, but there’s no need to get intimidated. The key is to keep maintaining the quality of the content on every post and providing value to the prospects. It is also imperative to give the blog a legitimate period of time to grow; many blogs or blog posts may not receive the desired traffic in the first few months. Yet, it is important to apply traffic-generating SEO tactics in the content.
Internet surveys say companies that post their content 16 or more times a month are experiencing a 3.5 times increase in the traffic than those who post 0-4 times a month. Tools such as BuzzSumo assist in monitoring weekly performance indicators that help measure the success of blog posts. Such analysis leads to a deeper understanding of the type of content that is receiving an enormous response in the respective niche.
6. Setting a suitable voice for the blog: People often like to read stories they can relate to. Therefore, businesses must decide from an early stage on the kind of perception they want to build in the readers' minds. They need to consider if they wish to sound friendly and approachable or formal and sophisticated.
A formidable example of an informal blog is Tea Source that sells speciality teas. Their informal blog design and language bestow a human touch to their brand, giving readers a glimpse of the company’s camaraderie through snippets of their work environment.
7. Promoting the blog on social media: Unlike business websites, companies don’t need to promote their blogs through paid ads. Social media handles can be used to promote business blogs, albeit cleverly. Here are some points to remember –
a. It is essential to maintain a consistent frequency of sharing content using scheduling tools like Hootsuite and SproutSocial.
b. In case of a WordPress blog, the “Publicize” plug-in feature automates the process of sharing new blog posts on social media.
c. A factor that plays a crucial role in the success of blog posts is knowing optimal timings for sharing the content on different platforms.
e. While sharing a new blog on social platforms, businesses must select relevant hashtags. The best place to find these hashtags is competitors’ social handles.
f. Joining social groups of the respective niche on Facebook and LinkedIn is always advisable. Apart from providing the opportunity of sharing links to blog posts, these groups serve as a good platform for addressing the questions of other members individually - a factor that goes a long way in building trust.
The software development company MobiDev found that promoting their technical articles on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Quora brought success to their blog. Their articles, reports and guides explain the specifics of their work and distinctions that even an experienced product owner might not know. They do not use any paid advertisements; instead, they grow their audience organically through solving problems on these platforms.
8. Boosting traffic on the blog by pitching guest posts: Guest blogging is a way of taking one’s content to a broader and more relevant readership. It establishes credibility and authority of the guest blogger on a reputable website. Once a business is able to establish its expertise through a guest post, readers will start visiting the contributor company’s blog for more knowledge or insights. It may also help the company earn backlinks and boost its SEO ranking. On the other hand, the company now has an article on a highly ranked website boosting its post ranks on search engine results.
Best-selling author Jeff Goins, known for The Art of Work and Real Artists Don’t Starve, has a personal blog where he shares his thoughts on writing, life and creative work. Through guest blogging, he managed to get 10,000 subscribers in 18 months. However, like most fruitful things, guest blogging too requires patience because results start to show on search engines in no less than 3-6 months.
Here are some final thoughts about launching a business blog in 2021:
1. Trying to find the absolute bigger picture stops the best of us from getting started. One must not be afraid to start small. It is prudent to figure out an appropriate style and be unapologetic about being oneself.
2. A blog may yield results in terms of traffic, money or reach either overnight or over the years. It’s essential to be patient and consistent. We have never personally come across a single business that gave its best effort to its blog yet stayed stagnant.
3. It is innate to admire some blogs and look up to their content and style. It is also quite human to learn and derive inspiration from others. However, it is never wise to imitate them. One will go farther by just being oneself.
At BUZZVALVE, we are here to help any business or company regardless of the vertical, with questions about starting a new blog in 2021. Do share your blog with us because our team loves to indulge in a good read. Or feel free to reach out to us, we are always listening.