You may not know this yet, but you are a business owner. Whether you’re selling products, trying to get your newly finished book published, or aiming for a new job, you are a business.
And as a business you want to grow, right? Of course you do. You want that book deal, you want that residual income, you want that new job.
But, somewhere along the way to achieving that goal, you got it in your head that starting a blog is the answer. Well, I’m here to save you from yourself and help you take a breather before you make the biggest mistake of your life.
Ok, I’m being a little dramatic. Obviously blogs aren’t that bad. I mean, you’re reading one right now.
But before you start your own, take a second to answer these questions.
Why Do You Need A Blog?
Let’s start with an easy one. Complete the sentence below.
I need a blog because ___________.
Ok, if you filled in that blank with anything resembling “it’s what you do” or “everyone else has one” then congratulations because this post is for you.
Let’s forget all about these delusions of blog posts and email newsletters and help each other get back to what really matters.
What Do You Really Want To Accomplish?
Somewhere deep inside your need to start a blog is a goal. I mean a real target that you’re shooting for. Maybe you lost sight of it recently. It’s probably clouded by clutter about email marketing, social media, newsletters and such.
Let’s scrape away those dirty words and get back to the meat and potatoes of your business.
One way to get there is the Five Why’s. Let’s try it. I’ll be me and…well, I’ll be you too. Just for now.
Me: So, you want to start a blog. Why?
You: Well, everyone has a blog. It’s what you do.
You: Um, to get people to notice you I guess. I want people to notice me.
You: Well, uh. I want them to find my store where I sell my stuff.
You: Duh, so that I can sell more stuff.
You: To make MONEY!!!
Ok, you can return to being you.
You see what happened there? It’s nothing groundbreaking. You knew this was about money on some level, right?
Maybe it’s not really about money. Maybe for you it’s about that real connection with a customer or maybe you’re just really passionate about your craft and you’d love to make it your full time job. That’s fine, but that’s business, and business requires transactions from real people with real money to spend.
Blogs are a big endeavor and the only thing worse than starting a failing blog is starting and not keeping it going. Deserted blogs are about the saddest sight and they stink of failure and non-commitment and they don’t make anyone want to buy stuff.
By now you’ve had some time to think about this whole blog thing. If you’re still saying, “Scott, I still really want a blog,” then I implore you to hang on for the next question because it’s the one you really need to walk away with.
What Are Your Goals?
Ok, class. Today we’re going to be writing S.M.A.R.T. goals. It might seem silly, but until you have a concrete goal written down in front you, you’ll keep aimlessly wandering, hoping to run face-first into success.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
Specific – what’s the who, what, when, where, why of your goal
Measurable – can you track it? (E.g. how do you measure brand awareness?)
Attainable – is this goal possible to achieve?
Relevant – is this goal important for your business and will it help you achieve success?
Timely – time is money. When do you want to complete this goal?
I suggest shooting for a simple sentence for your goal. If you can’t boil it down to 15 to 20 words then you’re not focused enough on what matters.
Examples of S.M.A.R.T. goals
I want to increase traffic to my site by 20%.
It’s okay, but is it specific enough?
I want to increase transactions from organic search on my site by 20% in the next 3 months.
This could be more detailed.
I want to increase monthly revenue generated from organic search by 20% in the next 3 months.
Pretty darn good.
I want you to try writing out your goals. Instead of heading over to Themeforest to pick out your blog theme, take a couple hours to really look at your business or your hobby and think about what success looks like to you.
How Many Extra Hours Do You Have Per Week?
So how many hours do you work a week on your business? Maybe it’s just a hobby at this point. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s difficult some weeks to devote more than a few hours to focusing on your craft.
I’ve only talked to a few, but Etsy sellers say, in a good week, they spend 15 hours on their business. That could include making product, filling orders, updating listings or some version of marketing.
Now, you’re telling me you want to add managing a blog on top of those hopeful 15 hours each week?
I spend an average of four hours per week on OG Content and it’s nowhere near the level I’d like it to be and I’ve been at it for over a year.
You’ll hear a lot of successful bloggers say that it takes about two years to really get traction on a new blog. Do you really want to pour about 1,000 hours into a blog over the course of two years so that you can sell more product?
No, no, no this is not the way. Those are valuable hours that could be spent improving your product, interviewing customers, researching your market, finding new business opportunities, etc.
There are about a hundred things more worthy of your time than starting a blog.
Do You Know How To Write?
You probably know this already, but blogging requires at least some writing ability. Now I know you know how to write. You can write emails, you can write thank you notes. But can you write artfully?
Can you craft an 800 word blog post that entertains and compels people to take action? Can you drive people to purchase with the power of your words?
I’m not saying I can, but I study blogging pretty regularly. I try to learn from the greats and learn the essence of good copywriting. It’s not an easy task and it has much more to do with marketing than it does with writing.
What I’m getting at is, sure anyone can start a blog. It’s cheap, it’s easy and it can be done in about half an hour. But once you have the platform, do you also have the skills to make it successful? You have business savvy, you have internet savvy – that’s great! But those things don’t make you a great writer.
If a blog is absolutely right for your business, but you can’t write your way out of a paper bag, you might consider consulting a professional copywriter. It’s not a bad way to go.
What Does Your Audience Care About?
So, we’ve established that you’re a business right?
And as a business, you need to find your target audience and learn what they care about.
Ask yourself: would your customers care about your blog? Why do they buy from you? Why do they buy you. Is it because of your unique view of the crochet industry? Is it because you know how Etsy works and you want to share it with the world?
Or, is it because you have excellent products that are exactly what they’re looking for? Chances are, your customers are not going to get any benefit out of a blog. And any new users you attract with a blog will be very difficult to convert into customers because you reeled them in with a blog post, not a product.
A blog is a long-term game. There are other avenues to explore before you jump head-first into a blog. Paid advertising, social media, video, podcasts, interviews, forums, communities, meet-ups, events, conferences and more.
I would suggest you explore channels like those to get to know your customers on a more personal and direct level. Overtime, in fact, you’ll learn what kind of content resonates with them so when you finally break down and start that blog (because it’s really what you’ve always wanted) you’ll know exactly what your audience wants and how to give it to them.
But I Thought Content Marketing Was A Good Thing?
You might be a little lost now and it’s okay. That’s the normal feeling of recovering from “Must-Start-Blogging” syndrome, or MSBS. Remember, you are running a business, and as a business owner, you need to invest in channels that will make you successful. You weren’t put here to run a blog. You have a talent and a passion – go do that!
Blogging vs. Content
You probably wanted to start a blog in the first place because you want to put out content that gets shared and linked to to get more traffic to your site and store.
That’s fair, but you don’t have to go all out and start blogging to achieve increases in traffic. If an article is what makes sense for your audience, go ahead and publish an article or two. If it’s an infographic, go for it! There are plenty of examples of companies creating amazing content without blogs because it makes sense for their audience.
I’ll be the first to tell you how important content can be for your business, but let’s not confuse creating content and blogging. Blogging almost has to be a full time gig to be successful and you don’t have time for that. You’ve got a business to run.
So get back out there, write your S.M.A.R.T. goals, research your audience, improve your products and get back to growing your business!
‘Audience’ image from Marc Cornelis