Corporate blogging best practices for CEOs who are sick of throwing money at the wall
Magazine editors hate me.
To be more specific, online magazine editors.
At least they do when they first meet me, because our first meeting typically involves me breaking the news that they’re now marketers. And if they’re not up for the task of optimizing for search and promoting their own post in social media, their boss is going to trade them in for a newer model.
Thankfully, the ones who have gone on to listen and adapt, not only keep their jobs, but they end up promoted. And they like writing content that’s optimized for the web. They like getting nerdy about keyword research. They like testing social media formulas. The challenge and the new world of content creation and content marketing sparks a fire in them.
Your right and left brain can co-exist.
Their bosses love them, and their CEOs love them. When I see them a year later, they don’t hate me anymore and they say “you were right” and “this is fun” and “I like figuring out what people want to read and then actually seeing the eyeballs increase when I write about it.”
My favorite story involves an editor for an Archaeology magazine who, after his SEO training was pretty much flat out with an “absolutely not.” He basically cringed about everything that came out of my mouth. I felt like I was singing hymns to an athiest. Compromising editorial content with marketing keyword? Eeeeeew!
Just kidding, he didn’t say it all weird and lame like that, but he wasn’t happy about his new job. After the workshop was over, we discussed SEO (and the epic digs he’s been on!) over drinks. He wasn’t sold, but he was a new editor at the company, ego-free, and up for the challenge.
Flash forward. In the first year his company’s traffic blew the pants off their old traffic numbers. They even won an award for their 111% growth in website traffic, and boosted Facebook fans from 15,000 to 80,000 soon after. Increased revenues as the result? HUGE.
When I saw him next, he was happy to recall our previous conversations and laugh over his initial rebellion like an old man recalls his first time getting drunk. His new tune was that SEO is the logical extension of content. So is social media. Logical. Yes. Exactly.
Business is built partly on emotion (all good marketing requires it) but it also relies on numbers. And the two can co-mingle and make emotional numbery babies. It’s beautiful.
Because you don’t write content not to get traffic. And you don’t pay for the content while giving it away for free so that you can not gain new customers from it.
[Tweet “It’s not free to create content. So why do you give it away without a call-to-action?”]
The bottom line on corporate blogging best practices for business
If you are paying writers to create content that’s supposed to make you money, and they don’t understand or think they are “compromising their editorial integrity” by supporting the goals of your business model, you should hire new writers.
If you’re blogging to fill up a page, or to look cool, here’s where you went wrong:
You’re probably brand blogging. You’re producing great content (hopefully) that pleases the pants off of people who already know you.
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They’re happy, you feel cool. Everybody sings kumbaya.
Also a super waste of money.
And I hope you didn’t pay much money for it, for your sake.
Gary Vaynerchuk recently wrote about whether or not you should pay to promote something with no ROI. His answer was yes … if you are rolling in the dough. If you’re not rolling in the dough, throwing it up in the air and burning it in your fireplace on the weekends … then don’t.
I have the same views on content – if you have limited resources, write content that counts.
Every piece of content you write can be an advertorial. It carries your message from title to call-to-action. And it can still be good. Frick, it should be great.
But great content, especially great content, needs a call to action, or at the very least a soft sell.
If you pay writers to write about whatever pleases them, and baby them when they cringe at a dollar sign, you’re going to fail at content marketing. You’ll be paying for fun-to-have content and throwing large sums at PPC ads for the rest of your life, or until you go out of business.
And if at any point you are publishing content by freelance writers that don’t understand your business model—better explained by Jay Rosen in my new favorite article—then you’re throwing money down the drain. No, you’re throwing gasoline on a pile of money and dancing around it naked, laughing maniacally.
The only content that you pay money for has dollar signs attached to it. It’s basic ROI.
[Tweet “The only content that you pay money for has dollar signs attached to it. It’s basic ROI.”]
To be clear one more time: great content can still be an advertorial, and if your writer doesn’t think so, then he’s not a great writer.
That is how a blog supports your business model. It needs to sell somehow. Every content you publish needs a purpose, otherwise why are you publishing it?
These are the very fundamentals of corporate blogging best practices:
- Your posts have data behind them. You know what your readers want and you’re writing about it. It’s not up to you, it’s up to them.
- Your posts are freaking great. Your posts have just as talented of a writer behind it as those fluffy pieces you were publishing before – except this content actually has a purpose and a call to action. Switch from generic content and tell the story of your own business growth (like Groove did to gain 5,000 email subscribers). Offer how-tos like Wistia does. But don’t for a second kid yourself that this isn’t all for business development.
- Your posts are written with structure in mind. They’re written using flexible formulas that are proven to have maximum readability on the web. Writers hate listcicles, but gosh darnit, readers love them.
- Your posts are measured. Be ready to shock the crap out of your current freelance writer or PR Agency when you ask them to be accountable for their content. Yeah, right. At BuzzFarmers every Managing Editor is responsible for their SEO in addition to writing 12 unique tweets and scheduling them for 12 months. And at the end of the month, they’re accountable for how much traffic each of their articles generates through search and social.
So if you have all the money in the world, your investors don’t care if you ever make them money, and you throw money-burning bonfires on the weekend, then keep blogging for branding.
If you want your content to work for you, hire a content marketer. Hire us.
In fact, I’m right there with you. I run a business too. I know what it’s like to spend money on marketing expenses that don’t take you out to dinner first and certainly don’t call you the next day. Content isn’t a one night stand. Hire us and find out why.