Writing a marketing blog takes a lot of time and can cost you thousands of dollars a year. So, why do I write one? That’s a question I get asked a lot from marketing professionals who are thinking of starting a blog. They want to know what the upside is.
So, here’s my answer along with some tips for producing a great blog for your marketing business.
Blogs generate regular leads, when used correctly
Most marketing professionals struggle to attract enough high quality business leads. This is why every breakfast networking group in the world has a marketing consultant in it.
Let’s be totally honest here: As a marketing professional it must be extremely embarrassing, to find yourself asking people for leads. It tells people that your own marketing isn’t generating enough high quality business. It very publicly places your marketing skills in an extremely negative light.
By writing a marketing blog and promoting it correctly, you can get yourself into a position where you never have to do that again. You can build an audience or reader community of great people, who will come back to your blog again and again for the useful information you provide.
As they get to know you and your work better, you become the obvious choice when they decide they want to hire a marketing professional. Jim’s Marketing Blog generates highly targeted leads from people, who already know all about me and my work before they speak with me. That’s the core benefit to me of blogging. It increases your profile and attracts targeted inquiries from super-hot prospects.
Did you know that there’s more than one kind of marketing blog? My blog is independent. Others are associated. Here’s what that means along with how to choose the right type for your business.
Associated marketing blogs
An associated marketing blog is associated to a number of other blogs. These are almost always loose associations, where there’s no formal agreement to cross promote — just a group of like-minded people with similar business objectives. A well known group of associated marketing blogs are: Copyblogger, problogger, chrisbrogan.com, Seth Godin and socialtriggers. These bloggers cross promote each other’s blogs to their readership. They recommend each other on their social networks and they cross promote each other’s services. They have very similar objectives, making this a good fit. It works very well for them.
Associated blogging is essential for those, like the marketing blogs I just mentioned, who sell either low price products (e-learning, affiliate products, books, software etc) or those on the speaking circuit — where you need huge numbers of readers to get enough conversions.
My favourite type of associated blogs, are those where it’s just friends recommending people they respect. The best example of this is Seth Godin’s blog. As a regular reader, you notice that Seth mentions some well known blogs in his posts, and those same bloggers write about Seth to their readers too. For instance, two of the marketing blogs I have just mentioned write about Seth and link to his work — and Seth has promoted them to his readers. He has also worked with them on projects, which they cross promote. It’s just like-minded people, who respect one another, with similar mindsets and business objectives. It’s also hugely effective.
Maybe the biggest drawback to the associated blogging model, is that your reputation can take a serious hit, if one of the bloggers you’re associated with does something stupid. This is why it pays to be extremely selective who you associate with, if you take this route.
Independent marketing blogs
An independent marketing blog is exactly that: Independent. You’re out on your own. The plus side is that you have the freedom to say whatever you like. That was enough of a reason for me to be an independent blogger. The independent model works perfectly for those, like me, who work direct with clients and do not need a huge, cross-pollinated readership.
Having worked in marketing since 1986, with my own successful marketing business since 1995, I place HUGE value on my reputation. I personally and professionally take extreme care regarding the people and brands I associate with. The idea of promoting another person’s work to my contacts, purely because that person promotes my work to their contacts is not an option.
I believe that if you want to build a successful, professional marketing business, where you primarily work direct with clients, I strongly recommend you go with the independent model. If you want to sell software, learning products, affiliate products, books or get a speaking career, go associated.
By the way, If you run with the independent blogging model for long enough, you end up with your own large readership and can then introduce other opportunities. After just 2 years of serious marketing blogging, I had more readers than I needed for my business model!
Your marketing blog can massively increase your reach and boost your profile
You know how amazing you are. So do your clients, because they experience your awesomeness first hand. That’s fine, but limited. A marketing blog can extend your reach massively. By regularly sharing useful, valuable information on your blog, your marketplace will be able to see how talented you are.
By showing up on your blog regularly, you also demonstrate to your marketplace that you are reliable. For instance, when someone visits this blog for the first time, they can see thousands of posts have been published, going way back to 2008. That body of work and commitment over the long haul, confirms to my readers that I can be relied upon to start something and stick with it. It shows that I can be relied upon to regularly share useful ideas.
Just think for a moment, how powerful that could be for you and your marketing business. Imagine being able to build a reputation for reliability within your marketplace, before someone even speaks to you.
There are a few things to take into consideration for this to work:
- It takes time. You will initially be blogging for a small readership and it can take years to reach thousands of people every day.
- It takes money. Marketing blogs HAVE to look polished and professional. It’s your prospective client’s first impression of you and it has to inspire confidence and trust. Get a professionally designed blog NOT a blog theme with your logo plastered onto it. If you pick a blog theme and run with it, your site will look very similar to thousands — maybe millions — of other blogs.
- It takes more money. Once your blog starts to attract lots of readers, you will need to invest in good quality hosting. Otherwise, the first time you get a mention from The BBC or ABC News, your blog will collapse under the traffic. Instead of gaining all those new readers, they will arrive at a page telling them your server is down!
- It takes commitment. You will need to write fresh blog posts regularly… even on weeks where you’re busy, unwell, on holiday etc. Regularly? At least 3 times a week — more often if you’re serious.
- It takes marketing. Yes, your blog will need to be marketed if you want people to find it and share it. These days, SEO plays a smaller role than it did when I started out. I recommend you do as I have done since 2008 and primarily market your blog via social networks. Yes, make sure your site is SEO friendly, but write it for humans. Give yourself permission to write brief posts. Don’t over-use keywords or key phrases.
There’s a lot of work there. I never said it was easy… I said it would be worth it.
Giving your valuable knowledge away for free
How do you feel about freely giving away enormously valuable marketing ideas? This is something a lot of marketing professionals really struggle with when they start blogging. However, you need to get it into perspective if you want your marketing blog to be a commercial success.
Think of it like this. There are 3 types of business owner who will read your valuable, free advice.
- The first group are the people who comb the Internet for free marketing ideas and then do the work themselves. We call them freebie hunters. These people were never going to hire you anyway, so you lose nothing.
- The second group are also looking for marketing ideas they can use, but if they can’t figure out how to do it, they will contact you. Previously, they never knew you existed. Now, they are inquiring about your services. Think about that for a moment.
- The third group are those who understand that marketing is a specialist area and won’t even try to handle their own marketing. They are reading your marketing blog just to see if your approach resonates with them and to check if you know your stuff. If they like what they see, these people will inquire about your services.
So, that first group were never going to hire anyone. The second and third group are people who will inquire about hiring you, because you gave so much away. You lose nothing. You gain regular inquiries from people who already know your work.
Blogs are professional development tools
One of the least known benefits of writing regular blog posts, is that it is a powerful professional development tool. The process of constantly putting your ideas into words, which non marketing professionals will understand, massively improves your communication skills.
You will also find yourself studying more than ever before, as you strive to find more useful information for your readers. An active marketing blogger is an informed marketing professional.
For marketing pros, blogging is a no-brainer
All in all, it makes a lot of sense for marketing professionals to start a blog. It gives you the chance to have all the benefits I have mentioned here and many, many more. It takes a lot of commitment, over a long time. That is why there are so few marketing blogs out there. The blogger started without knowing what I just shared. They expected too much too soon.
I’ve said many times that starting Jim’s Marketing Blog was the best business decision of my life. If you go into blogging with the right mindset, keep learning and persist, there’s no reason why you can’t build a massively valuable marketing blog too.