Outsource your blog
Blogs are hungry animals. Unless they’re fed high quality content consistently, they wither and die. Customers and visitors to your website won’t stick around if there’s no new content for weeks or even months on end, and after a while they will stop returning to your website altogether. A neglected blog also reflects poorly on you and your business—if the blog can’t be maintained, what else is being overlooked?
An unattended blog is also a resource wasted, as your blog should represent a valuable portion of your company’s marketing and PR campaign. It should be hoisting your brand’s ranking up on Google and other search engines, attracting new customers, and keeping traffic to your website brisk.
I know you meant well. You launched your blog convinced that you and other in-house staff could keep up the pace—maybe you did for a few months. But running a business is a lot of work, and if you’re prioritizing other work duties let’s face it, you’re probably not going to be able to give it the attention it needs. Maybe it’s time to consider outsourcing the responsibility to a freelance writer who can keep it content rich and search engine optimized to draw traffic, all of which can translate to sales.
Canned content: just, no
If you subscribe to one of those all-in-one website design-content-hosting warehouses, do yourself a favor and waive the price of their content. Not only is the content similar, if not identical to a million other websites in your industry, more often than not the canned content they dump into your blog site weekly or monthly is not only marginally readable, it often has no relevance to your industry! I have taken over the blogging responsibilities for several professional organizations, mainly in the financial industry, only to discover the canned blog content piling up on their site is about anything but financial advisory services. I’ve found real estate content, health and beauty aid content, and even medical content posted on these websites! Content that is part of a bundled services package is the worst—traffic to your website may be directed there for the wrong reasons, which is skewing any SEO you may be tracking. What really surprises me is that no one at the website’s firms are checking the blogs for content, and the problem goes undetected for months or longer!
Canned content is the worst, reflects badly on your organization, and costs you money you should not be spending. No blog content is better than canned content.
Hiring a freelancer to take over your blog does not necessarily have to be a hefty investment, and in fact it’s money well spent if you hire a great writer who knows what they’re doing. He or she will need to keep a flow of content going in, stay on top of WordPress updates, make sure the hosting account is maintained, moderate and respond to reader comments—it’s a big responsibility. It’s no wonder you had trouble keeping up with it in house—this is why professional bloggers exist. Most business owners and their staff members simply don’t have the time nor the expertise to properly maintain a successful blog.
Outsourcing your blog is often the best option for putting it to work for your business. When people are interested in the content and the content is good, they come back for more. Return traffic often translates into sales for your business especially as the blog grows.
The most important consideration when it comes to feeding and maintaining a quality blog is who will be writing the content. You may have a flair with words, and maybe even a few of your staff members would like to contribute. Tread carefully here. Blog writing is serious business. Not only are bloggers professional writers, they have expertise in evaluating content for reader enjoyment, branding potential and to achieve marketing goals. In addition, professional bloggers have expertise in SEO, which is critical to a blog’s success. The person contributing content to your blog must know how to write professional content that attracts and holds reader interest, and search engine optimization so web browsers can find it and make it visible to consumers who are looking for what you’re selling.
If you’re still on the fence over whether or not to outsource your blog, ask yourself the following questions to help you weigh the pros and cons:
What is your relationship with your blog’s readers?
Bloggers need to build trust with their readers. It’s a relationship that actually strengthens bonds. If your blog content is enjoyable, informative and plentiful, you’ll have a loyal audience that can’t wait to read the next post. Readers grow to know and like the person or people responsible for the blogs, which is why outsourcing the job may make even more sense. The point is to brand your business, and often times a business owner who handles the blogging becomes a large part of the reader experience. This is where a blogger who will ghostwrite your blogs can be especially beneficial.
Not all bloggers are keen on ghostwriting, which means your name is on the byline and you take credit for the content. I have no problem with ghost writing blogs for my clients who want their name on them. In fact, it gives the blogs an added air of authority that readers like, and there are never any worries if a blogger leaves your employ – a new “ghost” blogger can step in seamlessly. Readers grow attached to the person whose byline is on each blog post, so a ghost blogger is a way of avoiding the whole disappointing readers thing, which can happen if they think you’re no longer the voice behind they content they’ve come to enjoy.
Yeah, blogs are personal. They often become their own little community, and readers want to keep that connection. If you have a blog that you’ve grown and established, you may have a tough time passing the baton to someone else. But it can be done, if you plan the transition well and your new blogger (or bloggers) are excellent at their craft.
But of course, this only matters if you already have an established audience. If you’re just getting started with your blog, hiring a professional writer from the get go to provide awesome content offers a lot more freedom. As I mentioned before, if your first blogger moves on, another qualified writer can easily take over and continue to provide the quality content your readers have come to expect. Content is still king, and that should be your primary concern. It will never matter where the content comes from, as long as it’s great content that keeps your readers happy and coming back for more.
Quality is never an accident
Hiring just anyone who can turn a phrase is not practical. The writer you hire needs to have an understanding of your business, its brand, and your company mission in order to provide the level of knowledge your blog needs to provide. I have a rule for every blog I write, and I blog for a variety of businesses and industries. Each blog I post must have three important qualities—it must be well researched and fact-checked, it must tell the readers something they didn’t already know, and it must be a good read. A seasoned writer with a solid blogging background can accomplish all of these things, while wrapping it all around your brand in order to meet your goals and get results. A blogger who just writes well but can’t give it all it needs to make your blog awesome isn’t going to cut it.
First, recognize that outsourcing your blog comes down to basically trusting someone with your business reputation. You’re not just delegating a task, you’re giving someone permission to represent you and your business. This means that person needs to be able to maintain your credibility (or enhance it), please your readers and get people talking.
How Much does a blogger cost?
Good bloggers don’t work for free, but when you weigh the cost of paying a blogger against the ROI you’ll glean from the right one, a freelancer is probably a bargain. Too many times I’ve seen business owners hire the cheapest bidder to write their blog, and then give up when the results are disappointing. Finding an effective blogger is going to take some effort on your part, and it may cost you more than you thought you wanted to spend, but the alternative is just time and money wasted. Poor grammar, sloppy sentence structure, misspells and typos—not to mention uninspired content that isn’t going to influence readers in a good way—this kind of output can cause your business more harm than good.
The blogger you hire should provide examples of their work, client references, and an excellent track record. These bloggers are not going to be the cheapest bidders, but if you factor the time and work involved in writing winning content on a regular basis, a higher-priced blogger is probably worth their weight in gold.
Blogs require research, well-crafted content that keeps readers’ attention, an instinct for industry trends and search engine optimization that doesn’t make the content read like marketing copy. Writing high quality blogs on a continuous basis is hard work, and a professional isn’t going to undercut their own value in the bidding process.
Still, everything’s negotiable, and many bloggers will negotiate with potential clients for the right price. If they can bring it all to the table, figure out what you’re prepared to spend in return for what the blogger brings to you.
The more you give, the more you get.
A valuable blogger is one who will do everything for you, including editing, polishing, providing photos, and promoting it to generate traffic. You’ll pay more, but you’ll be getting a lot more for the money, too.
If you do decide to outsource your blog, begin by doing a little homework. Find a few blogs in your industry that you’d like your blog to emulate, and look for a writer who you feel can deliver what you want. Decide if you want the blogger to post directly to your blog site (I recommend this) or if they will pass their complete copy to an administrator who posts it (I do not recommend this). The blogger should post the content to make sure it’s formatted correctly, and that any hyperlinks and graphics are placed properly. More often than not, administrative personnel have a full plate, and won’t post content as quickly as the blogger will, and may have their own formatting ideas. Let your blogger do the posting.
Over time, you’ll develop a relationship with your blogger, and he or she will be able to know exactly what you want, something like a mind reader. They should pitch story ideas to you routinely unless you trust them to decide on content. They should be open to working with your story ideas, and have back-up content ideas always available. Blogs must be consistent to be effective. I recommend two or three per week ideally, but at least one per week combined with a solid social media campaign.
Some industries, such as financial advisory services, have tough compliance regulations to heed and many compliance departments frown on social media for their advisors. A seasoned financial blogger understands compliance demands and will work with your compliance department to make sure that all regulatory expectations are met with every post.
Ultimately, if you decide to outsource a pro blogger, you’ll quickly learn to enjoy that feeling of pure joy that washes over you when your blog is serving up killer content consistently. The sounds that you hear are the benefits your reputation is reaping, and new business knocking at your door.