This is probably not the first time such a title has caught your eye.
Yet again, your hopes are up. You’re pouring over this article eagerly, waiting to catch a marketing gem (“create killer content”, “have a personal voice”), that will finally, finally (sigh) transform the fate of your blog.
However, I do not have any tips, ideas or full-blown strategies to take you to overnight success. All that I have to offer are three critical but often-hushed truths that helped me get my company’s blog on track, and could help you too.
You need to hit a sweet spot, and it’s going to take a long while
“Be consistent so that your readers know what to expect from you, and keep coming back for more! ”
“Spice things up with variety, and cater to the tastes of all kinds of readers. ”
Paradoxes are a common plague in the world of blogging, and they can be mind-boggling.
For the sake of thought-leadership, your blog needs to be thorough and value-filled – and for the sake of mass readership, it should still remain simple and interesting. Post regularly, but do not annoy a visitor with too much buzz. Create content around SEO keywords that have already been done to death, but be fresh and original with what you write.
Finding the right ‘balance’ that clicks can be incredibly daunting, and it will not happen in one go. You’ll need to :-
What is the silver lining in the dark cloud of an unpopular blog? You have full freedom to experiment, and no reader expectations to keep up to! So play around with your design, content, distribution and CTAs on a periodic basis.
And don’t just go back and forth between the tried and the tested strategies – be original with your experiments, as well.
Sure, a long-form ‘How-to’ post is what all your competitors do – but could a comic strip on the same subject work better?
Does a minimalistic design decrease your bounce rate? Does posting snippets from the blog on social media drive more engagement than merely linking to the actual post?
Don’t rely on intuition or ‘surface’ numbers. Change one aspect of your blog every week (or whatever period you find suitable), and study how that affected all the critical metrics.
Don’t be lazy about scrapping the ideas that did not work, and aggressively implement the ones that did.
Your problem is too complex for a few clicks to solve
No article or e-book will ever have ‘all that you need to know’. No expert will ever know your business as much as you do – in all of its history, glories and failures. Nobody will ever hand you for free an idea so refreshing, so new and so captivating – that it instantly makes your blog a success.
The lack of readers for your blog is a problem too broad, too personal, too demanding for anyone but yourself to solve. It needs absolute originality – in the kind of content you create, in the ways you market it – and nobody is going to give that to you for free.
Therefore, do not treat advice on the internet as rules, do not simply replicate success stories from the past, and do not depend solely on the free expertise on the internet. Use your favorite online resources as education – on the basis of which you will need to experiment with your strategies.
You do not always need a blog
It is ridiculously difficult to consider the idea of blog-killing.
You might have already invested too much in building it, or you might believe that a blog, like a website, is an unquestionable necessity and not just another marketing initiative.
What you need to realize is that blogging is a costly affair. Unlike a website, it is not a one-time expense and it does not serve a common, defined purpose. Put aside the marketing pulse of the moment and think for your ownself :-
1) What goals do you want to achieve through your business blog?
These could be search engine optimization, driving higher traffic to your website, engaging with your community, building a brand/thought-leadership, etc.
2) What alternatives to blogging can you use to achieve these goals?
For example –
- If you’re a local restaurant – sponsoring in-city physical events will lead to more targeted, relevant brand awareness than a blog would.
- Similarly, if you’re a small-scale manufacturer of fertilizer, or cement – chances are that many of your customers aren’t online themselves, in which case it would make no sense for you to have a blog.
- If you’re a big FMCG brand with a massive following on social channels, and high rankings on search engines – why do you need a blog for long-form content, when the readership for that is already on the decline?
3) How much would those alternatives cost you? How would that cost compare to the cost of maintaining your blog?
There’s a very fine line between working relentlessly to make something a success, and being blindly stubborn about moving on from something that just isn’t working out.
Take a severely practical decision, and make sure you remain on the right side!
There, you have it, the three things that helped improve my approach to business blogging. Stop bothering Google with searches like ‘how to increase my blog traffic’, and think these three points through. In time, you’ll have your answers!
This post was first published in The Hindu Business Line.