The blog has been with us for over 20 years and during that time it has become very popular.
In fact, there are those that would say the saturation of blogs is so high as to make them ineffective.
I got a newsletter the morning I started writing this article which stated this in black and white. Ironically, you can find a post where this idea is written in more detail living on a blog.
There are many companies and individuals who have chosen to have a blog. There are also many who choose not to have a blog.
I wish I could answer the title of this article with a simple yes or no. But, if I could I wouldn’t have written this post.
The answer to the question is, it depends.
This probably isn’t the answer that you were looking for but I’m guessing you knew that this wasn’t going to be a quick, easy answer.
The truth is, although it can be helpful, I don’t believe that every business should have a blog.
There are many pros and cons and what I list as a pro you might list as a con. The opposite is also true.
Also, there are other avenues to blogging that you can pursue. Some of them may be better suited to you but they also may be more costly and time-consuming.
I’ll talk about these options as well so buckle in and let’s get the show on the road.
What are the Pros of Having a Blog?
If you don’t already have a blog on your company website you may be wondering many things but at the top of the list is likely the question: Is it worth it?
Another way of stating this is: will a blog help the bottom line?
I’m not going to lie to you. A blog is an investment.
For many of you, it may not be the right investment.
A blog can drive traffic and be a driver in making people interested in exploring your site to see what your business has to offer.
It’s part of a journey one can take to become a customer.
While a blog can add value to your current and potential future customers, it isn’t directly tied to your company making more money.
In other words, an article on your blog isn’t likely to drive revenue. At least not directly.
I just lost some people. That’s ok because a blog isn’t a shortcut to making revenue.
I see you stayed so let’s continue.
One of the best-known public relations (PR) tactics is earned media. It’s exactly how it sounds. Media coverage has to be earned. This means that a PR person is making a pitch to reporters or producers to get coverage on your behalf.
A media outlet wants to make sure that the stories they are covering are those that their audience is the most interested in.
With a blog, you don’t have to go through a gatekeeper. You can talk directly to people about what you want to talk about.
Be aware this isn’t a blank check. You still need to talk about things that will be of interest to your audience.
Part of the reason for having a blog is to reach people and talking about things that aren’t of interest won’t lead to much traffic.
You can take one of two paths with your blog. You can try and make it about you and how awesome you are or you can make it about helping people.
Just a quick tip, making it all about you get some won’t make for an interesting blog.
Sharing your experiences can be enlightening to others but it needs to be in a context that is a help to your audience.
And this is the second and suggested path. Write about things that will of help to people.
It could be how-to articles. It can be sharing your knowledge, experiences, and viewpoint.
When I graduated from college I quickly found that I had some big gaps to fill. Reading industry blogs did much not only to help me identify the gaps but how to fill them.
They introduced me to new people, ideas, tactics, and ways to be more effective as well as efficient.
It can be a detailed dive into a specific topic or addressing a current one that impacts people but it needs to be within your field of expertise.
How odd would it be if I started writing about fixing cars? It may be helpful but not what people expect from a marketing and communication agency. I wouldn’t get much traffic and rightly so.
Everybody wants to know the people they are doing business know what they are talking about. This is especially true if you are selling services.
Imagine you are a mechanic. You could blog in which you gave people information about the most common issues you see and tell people how they can fix these problems themselves.
You’re helping people help themselves. This builds trust because people realize you’re not trying to sell something to them. Your providing information to help them solve their problems.
This also works to build affinity. If you’ve read this blog before you know I value affinity over brand loyalty because affinity leads to loyalty.
This isn’t the only way to build affinity but it’s certainly good if people trust you and they feel like you’re more interested in helping them than selling them.
Talking about different topics in your industry can also help with search engine optimization (SEO) which influences search engine results.
This can lead people to find you organically when doing a search on Googe or another search engine.
This means a blog can help drive traffic to your website and who doesn’t want that?
What are the Cons of Having a Blog?
The first potential con is you have to like to write.
This seems obvious but not everybody likes to write and if this is you, it’s a darn good reason not to have a blog.
Believe it or not, I have talked to people who have a blog and didn’t enjoy writing it.
You’re probably thinking the same thing I was. Why are you blogging if you don’t enjoy it?
The answer is that somebody told them it would benefit them.
If you don’t like to write, it’s more likely than not that the blog won’t be very good in which case it won’t anybody including you.
When you don’t like something, it’s a chore which isn’t very fun.
If you’re like me, you’ll do your chores but you do them because you have to which means you’re putting in the minimal effort that is required.
If your doing the laundry this isn’t necessarily a big deal but if you are wanting to connect with people to build trust and affinity, doing the minimum isn’t good enough.
The next potential con is the cost.
For me the cost is time. I’ll talk more about time in a minute but if you have a blog and don’t write it, somebody else is.
It could be somebody on your team.
Is this part of their primary job duties?
If it’s not, it may mean they are spending time writing a blog instead of doing what you hired them to do.
This is potentially a big deal. If your salesperson is writing the blog weekly, then it’s time they aren’t selling.
Bigger companies may not find this to be an issue but this is a challenge for smaller companies.
You might have people wearing multiple hats which means they are doing multiple things.
I get it. I wear multiple hats and there are times when I have to sit down and write an article for my blog when I feel like I need to be working on something else. It can be frustrating.
If there is nobody on staff that is able to write the blog, you will need to hire somebody.
This means you have to work it into your budget to bring somebody on internally. Depending on how much writing you need them to do, this may not be a good option.
Another option is to look externally meaning you’re paying a freelancer.
I’ve seen companies who advertise for freelance writers at absurdly low rates.
All this tells me is they don’t place much value on the blog.
The people they are getting are likely churning out as much work as possible which means they aren’t overly concerned about the quality because they rely on volume to make a decent wage.
If this is the case, you’re going to have a mediocre blog with generic posts people can find anywhere.
A good freelance writer is going to come with a cost. If your budget is tight, the cost may be prohibitive.
Another con is time. A blog post takes time to write. According to the most recent blogger survey done by Orbit Media, the average time to write a blog post is a little over four hours.
I can tell you that on average, this is where I fall.
There are several factors that fall into this but there are times that I have to go deeper into a topic that requires more words.
I consider editing, creating the headline, and finding the right graphic part of the creation of a blog post. There could be an argument that could be made that promoting is part of this process as well.
Part of the time consideration should be how often you plan to publish.
There was a time that I published once a week but as I noticed the time to create a post was going up I changed my publishing schedule to bi-weekly.
I simply didn’t like devoting half a day or more every week to writing a blog post when there were other things I needed to do as well.
It comes back to the time is a cost idea. Creating the blog weekly was becoming too costly.
I talked about SEO earlier in this piece as a pro but depending on your viewpoint, it could also be seen as a con as well,
SEO can be kind of scary.
I get it. Until I put in the time to learn some basic SEO it scared me too.
SEO is a nebulous thing that gets talked about that most don’t get. To make the issue worse, not all SEOs agree on what practicing good SEO looks like and it is always changing.
Google does an update and what you need to do for SEO might be different than what you did yesterday and Google does many updates during the course of the year.
Beyond this, doing research on what keywords or phrases you need to use is time-consuming and it’s become harder and harder to rank over the years..
SEO also isn’t a one-time thing that you do. It’s a continuous thing which means you always have to be mindful of it and always be working to improve the SEO of your site.
If somebody on your team doesn’t have the expertise, you will either need to invest in training or hire somebody externally.
The last potential con that I want to mention is promotion.
Now, this shouldn’t really be a con in my opinion. Companies spend time promoting products and services all the time.
It’s part of what marketing and communication does.
So, why would it be a con?
If you haven’t bought into the idea that having a blog can benefit your business, promoting it is likely seen as another time suck getting in the way of other things.
I used to work in Human Resources for a large tech company and I was surprised to find out we were viewed as overhead.
We spent money but didn’t add revenue to the bottom line.
Does a blog add to the bottom line?
Nope. Not directly.
So why spend the time to promote it?
It all comes down to where you fall on the value of a blog.
If you see it as a cost instead of an investment a blog probably isn’t a good idea.
Alternatives To Blogging
There are other, possibly better options for you than blogging but keep in mind they come with their own potential issues.
Podcasting is extremely popular. If you threw a stone in a room it wouldn’t be hard to hit somebody who had a podcast.
In some ways, a podcast is like an audio blog and it can provide the same benefits.
You don’t have to necessarily hire a professional to help you either.
However, you will need to learn the tools of the trade and you will need to promote as you would with a blog.
A couple of years ago I was considering a podcast but decided against it.
I found it took me more time to produce it than a blog post. If I have a typo while I’m writing I can correct it quickly. With a podcast, you have to do another take. I also found that editing a podcast took me more time than editing a blog post.
I literally spent the entire day producing a piece of audio that was less than ten minutes.
If you have the budget, you can always hire a professional to handle the production for you.
Another option is video. I’ve explored this idea as a supplement to my blog but it could also easily replace a blog.
And, people really like to see who you are as well as hear your voice.
Rand Fishkin, CEO of SparkToro, told a story that when he was CEO of Moz he started doing video as a way to stop blogging every day.
It took some time for it to get traction but when it did he said they found it really helped grow affinity for Moz.
I can attest to this. Rand is a very personable guy and the affinity I have for him and Moz wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the videos they produce.
Video is a powerful medium.
And it doesn’t only have to be on a YouTube channel or your website. You can use video on social media as well.
On the flip side, you will need to learn the basics of production. It’s not as easy as turning on the camera and talking.
You need to worry about lighting and sound. I’ve also found if you are really serious, there needs to be a script.
This means somebody needs to write it and you need to rehearse.
You might be able to get away with a less rehearsed show if you have a co-host or do interviews but I wouldn’t recommend it.
There is also the time it takes to edit the video.
As with creating a podcast, if you or nobody who works for you has the expertise, you will need to find a professional to help you which will have a bigger price tag than you would find with hiring a freelance writer.
Finally, there is social media.
Having a strong social presence can create some of the same benefits as if you had a blog. The key is you have to show up consistently.
But social does have limitations. For example, Twitter only allows 240 characters which people get around by creating threads.
You don’t see a lot of text on social posts. In fact, it can be prohibitive.
While Facebook or Instagram might allow you to write a thousand words, is anybody really going to read it? People don’t expect social posts to be really long.
If you have a lot to say on a topic, social probably isn’t the place for it.
A blog, podcast, or video posted to your website or YouTube is probably a better option.
So there you have it. Some pros and cons to having a blog as well as some potential alternatives.
I hope you found this helpful and don’t be afraid to join the conversation on Twitter.