Jewel Marketing
Taiwan Content Marketing

So Your Brand Wants To Launch A Blog

By Jason Patterson

Founder of Jewel Content Marketing Agency
Blogs are the bread & butter of orthodox content marketing. Not every B2B business needs one, but if you don't have one, you'd better have strong brand awareness, or some other difference-making advantage. But a blog is basically a farm, and farms can take years to really be productive and profitable. Before committing to a hat and overalls, there are some things you need to know and consider.

Launch Your Blog For The Right Reasons

The reasons why you launch your blog will affect the way you write the blog, the topics you choose to write about, and the goals you set for it. All very much matter to a blog's ultimate success.

There are three good reasons for your business to launch a blog. One, you think educating the market is vital to making a sale. Two, you want to build your brand into an authority in your industry, or an industry you serve. And three, for the SEO.

These reasons have some overlap, and while the latter reason is certainly valid, it shouldn't be the only reason. If you do a blog strictly for the SEO, your articles will end up being formulaic and mechanical, and you'll probably be disappointed by how ineffective they are.

And I'm sorry to report that "everyone else is doing it" is a bad reason to launch a blog, since there's a good chance it'll die out as soon as someone important to your blog's production leaves your company, and your own interest may waver when your blog doesn't deliver a clear payoff immediately (they rarely do).

Another bad reason to launch a blog is consideration or lead-gen, because a focus on these will make your blog too salesy (people only want to be sold to when they're looking to buy). There's nothing wrong with the occasional lead-gen blog, but I wouldn't do it more frequently than once out of every four articles on a particular topic, as this risks undermining the subscribership and/or followership you hope to gain from your blog.

Use Multiple Sources Of Inspiration

Don't rely strictly on search queries/traffic to determine what to blog about. While you can certainly use them to determine a certain number of your article topics, leave room for other sources. Quora and sites like it are very good places to look for ideas.

Also look at your competitors. Sometimes they'll do a blog on a certain topic and you'll think, "Ugh, that article is lame and/or out of date. We can do it better." However, only cover the same topics they do if you can, in fact, do it better. Don't cover them just because they did.

You'll also need to watch whatever news your industry follows. And be sure to allow inspiration to strike with completely original ideas (even if you don't see any search or earned media justification for this beforehand) as relatively original topics are how you get ahead of the curve, and publishing something truly unique is still the best way to make your brand stand out (always a great need) through content.

Launch Your Blog Big & Loud

When a TV show launches, its first episode often receives a bit more thought, care, and resources than the ones that follow, because the showrunners want that episode to hook you so you'll keep watching. Treat the first article you publish for a particular subject area in the same way. Put more oomph into it, and put some paid behind it to get more people to see it, and subscribe after reading.

Get Pre-Loaded Articles Out Swiftly

You probably know you should have multiple articles for each major topic category ready to go at the launch. And while you don't have to publish them all immediately, you also shouldn't dilly-dally, even if it means publishing at a faster rate than you intend to publish later. Why? Because a lot of blog content is not truly evergreen. Information gets out of date quickly, and so do references. So don't be molasses.

What If Someone Quits?

You need to be thinking about now what happens if someone important to the blog leaves suddenly. You might consider this overthinking, but getting a blog back up to speed after a departure can take a long time. I see a lot of branded blogs out there with a six-month gap between articles.

If you lose an internal subject matter expert who also happens to be blogging for you, you're screwed for a while. You can't expect their internal replacement to also be a blogger, which means you'll have to hire an external SME writer (and you'll need budget for that). So, it's a good idea to do a little research in advance in terms of names and prices so you won't have to spend unneeded time on this later.

If it's an internal content writer who leaves, consider freelancing with them, at least for a while, because it'll take at least a month or more to hire another internal writer and get them up to speed. If it's your head of digital who quits, content quality may slip for a while, and the bigger issue will be whether their replacement wants to even keep doing the blog at all.

Have Some Wiggle Room In The Blog Calendar

While it's a good idea to have a calendar with pre-arranged topics, you'll also want to have some flexibility and the occasional open date so your authors can blog about topics of their choosing, as these articles can often generate a LOT of traffic (since they're often reacting to some hot topic or event in the industry).

And remember, a blog doesn't need to be hard-core information, education, and SEO all the time. Don't be afraid to break from the program occasionally with something witty or emotional or personal. Humans want to know they're dealing with other humans, but make sure these oddball articles don't contradict anything your brand or marketing wishes to convey.

Paid Social Can Enhance SEO

Don't be strictly organic with your blog. It's a good idea to have a little discretionary social budget to amplify blogs that are already proving popular organically, as this can really boost the SEO and other benefits your blog generates. However, you might need to adjust the post copy if you're dealing with an audience that doesn't already know you, so keep that in mind.

Regular Blog Publishing Is Best Practice, But....

Best practice says that you should publish regularly because it trains search engines to look for new content on your site at a certain time or at a certain frequency. In other words, publishing regularly decreases the amount of time your new blogs will sit on your website unnoticed by the search bots.

But if your website is already updated fairly often with new webpages, press releases, case studies, whatever, regular blog publishing probably won't matter as much, because the search bots are probably visiting your site fairly regularly anyway.

And if you're wondering whether you should stagger your publishing, or publish in monthly batches, my answer is, "think about your audience." SEO orthodoxy will tell you to stagger, and I think staggering is fine if you publish a large number of shorter blogs to a highly engaged audience that spends a lot of time on your site (i.e., your brand is an industry news source).

But if you're not really a leader brand, and your audience isn't that engaged, batches are fine, especially if you're depending heavily on a monthly email/newsletter (I wouldn't send one out more often than that) for traffic. Staggering can create time pressures if you're a non-leader brand, leading to poor quality articles going out.

However, if you do plan to publish in a monthly batch, don't have more than two articles on any particular topic per batch, because you can't reasonably expect someone to read more than two of your blogs at one monthly sitting.

How Long Should Your Blogs Be?

There's no ideal length for a blog article. And in my experience, people will read a blog of basically any length if it's on a topic that interests them, and if they know the author. However, people are a little more reluctant to commit to a long article from a brand instead of a person, because not all blogs are read solely for interest, and any article longer than seven minutes starts to look "a little long" to people.

Therefore, if a blog has an explicit buyer's journey purpose (i.e., "How The Model XYZ Solves Oil Industry Problems"), I wouldn't let it be any longer than seven minutes, because you don't want your sales pitch to look like homework.

And if you're doing a paid promo of a blog (i.e., sending it out to people who don't know your brand), I'd also be reluctant to send out anything longer than seven minutes, with the exception being something with a title that already implies length (i.e., "The Ultimate Guide To Blah, Blah, Blah").

Two Heads Are Better Than One

It's not impossible to keep a blog well populated using a single writer (I'm currently doing it). However, it is risky. Individual writers go through dry patches. Other projects take up their time. Sometimes a blog article that was meant to take two weeks ends up taking a month. And if they quit, you may be looking at one of those six-month gaps I mentioned earlier.

Therefore, best practice calls for at least two writers. This way you'll have a better variety of ideas, more diverse points of view, and they can edit each other's work. For example, if you've got an in-house copywriter, that person can write some of your articles, including any lead-gen or buyer's journey or executive ghostwriting articles you want done, while an outsourced writer can supply articles that are more neutral and less branded.

But, if you can't get two writers, consider using an AI. While I don't consider AIs ready to write good quality blog content, they can help a solo blogger work faster and better by functioning as a writer's assistant that can supply, review, and improve ideas and do some of the grunt work.

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