The value of a start-up blog

I work with clients all the time who struggle to appreciate the value of a blog, especially when they think about the time that goes into keeping it up to date and then getting people to read it.

We live in a world of instant gratification – microwaves, drive-through’s, mp3 downloads and movies on demand.  So the thought of putting deep thought into each and every blog post when we’re not sure anyone is listening does sound daunting.

But it will pay off in the end.  I promise.

So, I’ve  broken down what I see as the two most important reasons to start up a blog TODAY.

1.  Build up a bank of information. One of the many beautiful things about the internet is that once you post information, it never dies.  You might think your blog looks ridiculous with only a few posts coming out of the gate, but you have to start somewhere.  Make a commitment to post once or twice a week, and you’ll be surprised how quickly your posts will add up.  By the time you have circulated your blog and gained readership, you’ll have developed plenty of content. But, what good is an online bank of information going to do your business? The way I see it, there are four key benefits to turning your blog into an information hub for your readers:

a. Bring potential customers willingly to your site. Blog readers are, first and foremost, information seekers.  The information seekers most likely to come across your blog are people already interested in your industry – often times a potential customer.  By providing them valuable information on industry-related subjects, you are attracting members of your target market to your website.
b. Prove your expertise.  Serving as a thought leader in your industry via online communications gains the respect and trust of your customers.  When people have a question about your industry, they turn to you for answers.  When they are ready to do business in your industry, they’ll turn to you again because you have already proven your knowledge and proficiency.
c. Save your breath for people you actually want to talk to. Blogging isn’t like TV advertising where you have to talk to everyone who watches channel 10 in order to reach a handful of viewers who are in your target demo.  Blogging about your industry is often one of the best (not to mention most cost effective) ways to speak directly to your target markets and eliminate the need to “shout” at people not interested in you or what you have to say.
d. Use your posts as tools for current customers.Post your frequently asked questions to your blog as several different posts, and direct people to them when they ask you questions in the future.  Send your customers to these posts when they go online to search for answers about your product, company, service or industry

2.  SEO. So many people have written on the value of search engine optimization it’s become almost cliché.  While we hate to jump on the bandwagon, the fact of the matter is that in order to have a  truly valuable website, it’s something you have to work on, and it takes time, too.

Your site is competing against thousands of other websites in the indexes of search engines, and blogging is one fairly easy, effective way to improve your relationship with the almighty search engine crawlers as they function today.  The more often content is updated on a website, the more often the almighty crawlers come back to check for new material and the more likely they are to rank your page highly.

I don’t want to go too far into how search engines work in this post, but check out this video by Google or visit Googleguide.com to read some great articles on how search engines function if you want to learn more.

There is one caveat to all of this.  In order to achieve any of this with your blog, you must produce solid, valid, valuable content for your readers in tiny, bite-size pieces. Blog posts aren’t meant to be chapters of a book.  Each and every post should be easy to digest.  And remember that a blog that is solely promotional or gives nothing but company updates will do you no good and will certainly prove to be a giant waste of time and resources.  But, I’ll hop off my soap box and save my content spiel for another post.

Have any other positive results from start-up blogs to speak of?  Leave them in the comments!