Not everyone considers themselves a writer. Some people actively dislike writing. Others want to write, but find it just takes too much time (that they could be spending on clients or business development instead).
Regardless of what kind of camp you fall into, you probably have a good reason for not wanting to spend your time writing — but you may also feel like you don’t have a choice.
After all, if you buy into the idea of content marketing, don’t you kinda have to have a blog? Don’t you need to blog to bring in new business online?
Here’s the short answer: no, you don’t have to blog to market your business.
Inbound Marketing Doesn’t Just Mean Blogging
Inbound marketing is about a lot more than blogging. It includes having a compelling, well-written website that clearly presents your main purpose so prospects can quickly understand what you’re all about.
It includes creating a connection by communicating in a variety of formats, from social media to emails. Inbound marketing is all about offering value over and over and over again to build trust and develop relationships with your audience.
And you can do that in a variety of ways beyond blogging.
That being said, you need to keep two major things in mind if you’re wondering if you have to blog to market your business in today’s online world:
- There are big-time benefits to blogging for your business that you probably don’t want to miss out on.
- You still need to create some sort of content to bolster your online marketing efforts.
Before you hang up your blogger hat for good, let’s look at the reasons why you should consider making a blog part of your marketing strategy.
We’ll also talk through some ideas on how to do that in a manageable way (especially if you came here hoping for permission to avoid blogging altogether).
And once that’s out of the way, we’ll look at alternatives to blogging that you can explore to find a better fit for your interests and talents.
The Benefits of Blogging for Business
Blogging is a powerful way to build trust and relationships with potential clients. When you include a blog on your business site, you:
- Demonstrate your expertise and help show your legitimacy.
- Provide value for your audience, which puts you in a stronger position to request something from them eventually (in other words, you can give and give and give and then request your audience take an action for you — like scheduling a call with you to discuss becoming a client — and that ask will be much more compelling, because you provided something for them first).
- Create a strong presence online that helps communicate your business “personality.” It’s a way to showcase not just your expertise, but also your mission, your values, and your philosophy. That, in turn, can create a strong connection between you and the ideal audience member you want to reach.
I believe the primary benefits of blogging revolve around making connections with other people. Your audience feels like they know you when they can read your blog and understand how you think, what you believe, and everything you know as an authority in your field.
But there are less touchy-feely benefits, too. A blog helps your business and overall marketing efforts by:
- Boosting your SEO. You can rank for keywords, phrases, and terms by adding content to your website. Rather than having a disorganized, bloated site full of random pages full of information, channel that into a blog that you can write once a month.
- Keeping you relevant. People want to see evidence of active, thriving, living sites when they visit locations on the web. If your site is static — meaning it never changes and there’s a question as to how up-to-date the information is — you’ll turn off prospects. A blog signals that you’re alive and kicking as an active business that’s engaged with the world.
- Giving others something to share. Others, both in your industry and without, who are active online want to find great, valuable content to share with their audiences. They can’t share anything about you if you don’t give them that content. A blog makes it easy for high authority sites to link to you (which drives traffic back to your business and helps with SEO) and for influencers and brands with big audiences to share your business with their audiences.
I know a lot of business owners still aren’t sold on the value of blogging, because they don’t see a direct link between writing and publishing a blog post and getting a paying client.
This is where things get tricky. It’s notoriously difficult to measure the ROI of a single, individual action across a variety of inbound marketing initiatives, because inbound marketing is inherently not transactional.
It’s more about building an entire environment of your content that a prospective client can journey through to better understand and get to know you. A blog is part of that environment, but it’s much more effective when it’s combined with other activities.
And remember, there’s a handoff somewhere in your business between marketing and sales. You can’t necessarily say, “blogging doesn’t work for me,” if people find you or become aware of you thanks to your blog content, schedule a call with you — but fail to become clients.
Your prospect calls are more of a sales activity, and you’re most likely your lead salesperson. It doesn’t make much sense to throw up your hands at your blog if you’re not closing prospects into clients on your calls.
Make Blogging a Manageable Part of Your Inbound Marketing Strategy
We’ve established you don’t have to blog to market your business.. but I hope we’ve also made it clear that it’s a smart idea to give some time and attention to the matter, and find a way to include a business blog on your site.
If you hate writing, don’t have time to blog, or just have better things to do with your time, stick with me. I can still give you an out.
Here are a few ways to make blogging manageable, so you can still include it as part of your marketing without driving yourself nuts:
Post something once per month. “Blogging” doesn’t mean “write a small novel every week.” Keep it simple.
Everyone has time to write one blog post per month, and it gives you most of the benefits writing weekly would give you:
- Your site looks active
- You add content that can give you an SEO boost
- Others can link to your posts and send traffic back to you
- You create content you can leverage and use elsewhere (like social media and emails)
Feeling a little more ambitious but still don’t have much time? Try twice per month.
Either way, batch your blog writing. Schedule a day or two each month to sit down and bang out a few posts. If you give yourself 4 or 5 hours to write, you may be able to churn out 3 or more blog posts.
You can then schedule those to send frequently through the month — or schedule them out, one per month for the next several months. You could knock out all the blogging you need to do in an entire quarter with just one day dedicated to writing.
Be an MVP. Or make one, anyway. MVP stands for “minimal viable product,” and it’s something that’s just good enough to get by (but by no means perfect or the best thing you could possibly create).
It’s okay to go with what’s minimally acceptable. If you don’t really want to blog but also don’t want to miss out on the benefits, think “good enough for government work”:
- Write at least 600 words
- Break up your text with subheaders to make it easier to read
- Link to 1 high authority site (like the Wall Street Journal or another reputable publication) and 1 internal page on your own website
- Include a call to action at the very end (perhaps to sign up for your newsletter or to schedule a call with you)
..and call it a day. And if you still don’t want to blog? You don’t have to.
Outsource your blogging instead and get a complete content marketing solution.
This is the ideal solution if you don’t have the time or interest to create, manage, and publish your own blog (or social media) content.
You Don’t Have to Blog to Market Your Business: Other Ways to Expand Your Reach
I get it: blogging. is. not. for. you.
Don’t force it and make yourself miserable and grumpy. Explore other strategies instead. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Have fun with social media. Facebook is a good place to start simply because almost every kind of target market exists here. Instead of just doing the run of the mill Page, you could create a Group that you lead, encouraging engagement, interaction, and exchange of resources.
But you can also get creative with other platforms like Instagram, SnapChat, and YouTube (as long as your audience is using these platforms), especially if others in your industry haven’t taken advantage of growing a presence there yet.
Go straight to the inbox. You can focus on getting email addresses so you can communicate immediately and directly with the people you want to reach.
This might also allow you to have more real, authentic conversations with serious prospects that feel intimate and much more personal than blog posts.
Use great landing pages. Instead of focusing on constantly churning out blog posts, put your energy into developing a few select landing pages that are extremely well written and laid out to encourage conversions.
A compelling landing page can be more convincing and effective than a series of blog posts (although I’d still argue each of these are best when used together!). Define Financial has a great example of a landing page that successfully compels visitors to book a call with the firm.
Try videos or podcasts. Just because you hate writing doesn’t mean you can use content marketing. Just go with visual or audio content instead of something written!
You could even leverage something like a podcast to create written content, the way Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income show does. For each episode, he publishes show notes and gives the option to download an entire transcript.
Focus on interviews. It’s always best to produce content that you earn and control — but having a smart media or PR strategy can give you a lot of traction, too. Serve as a source for major publications and outlets. Reach out to other podcast hosts to secure interviews as a featured expert. Contribute to other blog posts with tips or ideas that they can feature (alongside a link back to your own site, too, of course).
There are a lot of alternatives to blogging, so don’t feel stuck with that medium if it’s not your cup of tea.
Just remember, a great inbound marketing strategy makes good use of multiple channels and content forms. A blog still has a place in your marketing plan, but that doesn’t mean it needs to take center stage.
Delegate it to a support role and get by with what’s minimally viable, and turn the bulk of your attention to another type of content marketing that you enjoy more.