How to have the right mindset for an effective blog
You’ve probably heard that you should start a blog. You might have even started a blog in the past but had it fizzle out after a few weeks or months. Writing an article is already a painful experience for many business owners, but when you don’t see specific returns on that time investment, it is easy to throw in the towel and go back to focus on your business.
When we recommend blogging to some of our clients we’ll often get the question “what exactly is a blog, anyway?” along with the follow-up, “and why do I need one?”
The first question is fairly easy to answer: a blog is basically an active feed of information on a website, usually written articles or journals. The phrase “active feed” might be confusing to some, but it refers to information that is being added to or updated over time, as opposed to static information that doesn’t change or is revised infrequently.
Think of the analogy of a river. The active feed is the stick or leaf floating down the river. Static content, on the other hand, is the rock or log that is permanently placed in the river around which the water flows.
The second question, “why do I need a blog?”, is what we’re going to tackle today.
There are a few misconceptions about how a blog can help (or hurt) your business. So, by the end of this article you’re not only going to understand the benefits of a blog, we’ll also provide you with some strategies for the best way to implement a blog for your business.
Common Mindset Problems
The word “blog” has a mixed perception, mainly because there is a mixed understanding of the purpose of a blog. Some see a blog as a marketing tool, some see it as a way to connect with their audience, and some think a blog is just an ego-boost and not relevant to their business.
Let’s look at five common statements that we often hear related to blogs, and share the truth behind them.
1. “Blogging is not an effective advertising or marketing tool”
The first thing to clear up is the idea that a blog is a tool to advertise or market a business and it’s products or services. A blog is not advertising. Well, it can be. But if you view it that way then you’re missing the whole point.
The least effective blog is the one that sells your products or services; the one that promotes your business. “Check out our latest widget!” or “Be sure to attend this upcoming event!” are great titles if you never want anyone to read your blog.
Because they have the core problem of being just about you and your business. A blog’s power comes when you use it to talk about your customers and their problems.
It is all about shifting from a “me” view to a “you” view.
Look at a blog as a way to help your customers and audience with their problems. To help them understand solutions and, more importantly, your unique perspective on how to implement those solutions.
By helping them understand your process and helping them solve some problems, you’re also building trust in you and your brand. You’re building an understanding of what you represent and how you work. And, eventually, that will generate new leads for your business.
It is a bit of irony that, if you view your blog as a lead generating tool where you throw marketing tactics at your audience, you’ll actually generate much less business than if you stopped focusing on generating leads and instead used your blog as a way to help people with their problems.
So, now let’s replace the original phrase:
“Blogging is not an effective advertising or marketing tool”
with the more accurate:
“Blogging is an effective way to provide solutions and understanding to your customers.”
2. “How long will it take for me to generate business from my blog?”
Again, one of the problems with this question is that it is focused on you instead of your customers.
Can a blog help you generate business? Absolutely. But this isn’t about making sales. Blogs are about helping people. Increased sales are just a natural result of that.
Instead of looking at this as an investment of time and effort for a financial return, ask yourself how long it will take you to provide true value to your potential customers.
Again, ironically, if you focus on getting sales, then you won’t get many. If you focus on your customers’ needs, then you’ll start selling. It seems counter-intuitive, especially from the perspective of the traditional business mindset, but it is the way things work in today’s online economies.
One great example is a pool business in the Mid-West. Several years ago there was a company that sold and serviced swimming pools. There was a period of time when they realized much of their time and energy was spent answering the same questions about pools over and over again. So, they decided to use their website and their blog as a way to answer these questions and provide solutions.
They put in a lot of work to answer every possible question anyone might ever have about swimming pools. They talked about maintenance, ownership pros and cons, pool options, installation and everything in between. They provided video tutorials on pool care and use. They posted handouts and worksheets to help their customers. In fact, they focused so completely on helping everyone understanding every facet of buying, owning and maintaining a swimming pool, that after just a year their sales increased dramatically and they ended up getting more business than they could handle.
Instead of focusing on selling, they focused on helping. They didn’t focus on trying to get a good ROI on their time, but by putting in the time and providing service, they ended up with a great deal of revenue.
Now, instead of asking the question:
“How long will it take for me to generate business from my blog?”
A better question would be:
“How long will it take for me to help my customers get their questions answered?”
3. “You shouldn’t give away all your information and methods for free”.
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but information is already free.
There is already more free information on how to do just about anything you could ever want to learn how to do than any human being could absorb. And it is all just a mouse click away. Anyone with a smartphone has instant access to learn anything they might desire.
One of the “old world” business mindsets is the idea that information and processes can be owned. That just isn’t the case any more.
The reality is, if you use your blog to provide relevant information, and you show the process by which this information can be used to solve problems, then you’re actually positioning yourself as someone who knows what they’re talking about. You’re building authority for yourself and your brand.
You might ask “If you give them the information and tell them how to use it, then what do you have to sell them?”
Again, that is an outdated mindset. Just because someone knows how to do something and has the information to do it, that doesn’t mean they actually want to do it themselves.
Take on-boarding automation as an example. We could provide you with all of the tools, resources, information and methods for creating an effective client on-boarding automation system, but that doesn’t mean you will actually want to take the time to do it.
Or, look at your car as another example. Having access to information on how to change your oil, doesn’t mean you want to do it yourself.
Because there is a trade off between expertise and time. The more you know how to do something well, the less time it will take. It might take you 3 hours to figure out how to change your oil, but for $20 wouldn’t you rather take it to someone who can do it in 20 minutes?
Use your blog to show your process, because when people actually want that process to be executed who do you think they’ll go to? They guy down the street who is tight lipped about what they do, or the person who shared all of their methods on their blog and has gained their trust?
There is a client we work with who has made this the foundation of their business. They provide a constant stream of valuable, helpful information on their niche to the world. Every week for years they’ve been producing content that informs and provides a service to their audience. The result? They went from no business to tens of thousands of dollars a month of revenue with no advertising and no marketing.
All they do is help people. And as a result, people buy their products in droves.
Instead of saying:
“You shouldn’t give away all your information and methods for free”
A better statement is:
“The more information you provide about what you do, the more likely people are to hire you to do it.”
4. “People will steal your process or product”
Back in the day people would try to hold on to information because that is where the power lay.
Then, during the “information age”, knowledge became ubiquitous and the power shifted, this time from information to processes.
But in recent years, the power has started to shift once again. Processes are now easy to find and learn, and something else has taken over.
A lot of people still have the mindset that teaching people how to fish means your seafood store will go out of business. And, as we mentioned before, that just isn’t the case.
First, because the process by which things are done is easy to find and learn by anyone.
Second, because your process is not what you are actually selling.
That’s right: your process is not the product.
What is? You and your brand. The service you perform is an extension of who you are and what you’re about.
Let me explain what I mean by that since it may seem strange at first glance.
Let’s say that you are a chef. You create an amazing recipe for a chicken dish, start to sell the chicken dish in your restaurant and people love it.
Eventually someone figures out your recipe (or maybe you shared it in your latest cookbook or YouTube video) and they try to make it at home. Should you be worried that you’re going to lose business because the customer can make the dish on their own?
Absolutely not! In fact, the recipe is not what people are buying when they come to your restaurant. They aren’t buying a chicken dish. In fact, that is the last thing they are buying.
What are they buying? Several things:
- The opportunity to not have to cook or clean for themselves.
- The chance to meet up with friends.
- The experience of dining at your fine establishment with its excellent service
- The understanding that the quality of your chicken dish will be consistent and delicious
- The ambiance of your restaurant
- And many more …
The chicken dish is just one thing that brought them there. But, as weird as it seems, that isn’t what you’re selling. You’re selling you, the chef, the restaurant, the brand and the experience of eating at your establishment.
Let’s look at this another way …
Christina Aguilera is a great singer. She has an amazing voice. But there are others out there who also have amazing voices. In fact, there are singers out there with better voices than she has. But just because Jane Doe can sing like Christina Aguilera doesn’t mean you would get tickets to Jane’s concert or buy her album. You aren’t buying the specific method by which the notes are sung, you’re buying the person singing them.
For your own business, what is the one thing that you truly do have power and control over? You! Your unique perspective. Your identity. Your character. Your personality. Your brand.
If someone steals your methodology?
Great! All the power to them. (If you’re really good at what you do, then it’s going to take them a while to do it as well as you anyway.) But the one thing no one can steal is who you are.
What does that have to do with blogging? Everything! Because “who you are” is one of the most powerful things you can express through your blog.
Instead of looking at your blog as a platform for advertising, marketing, selling, informing or instructing, look at it as a way to provide a look at your unique way of approaching the problem and helping people get to know you and your business.
Instead of thinking:
“People will steal your process or product”
Let’s shift that to:
“People will buy you and your brand.”
5. “Blogging is a waste of your time. You get little results for a lot of work.”
This is true, but with one specific addition:
Blogging for advertising is a waste of your time. But blogging to help people, provide solutions and share your perspective? That is a great return on your time investment.
If you use your blog effectively, it will actually save you a lot of time down the line. If you took a survey of where you currently spend all the time in your business most people would say that they spend a good chunk of it either answering questions from potential customers, or servicing existing customers.
Imagine if you didn’t have to do any of that anymore? Imagine if it was done for you and you could just focus on the work you love to do?
That is the power of a blog.
On the lead generating side of a business, it allows you to filter through leads that aren’t worth your time and energy. And on the customer on-boarding side of a business, it allows you to automate the distribution of information and answer common questions.
A hypothetical example:
Let’s say you sell and service high-end widgets.
You have a website and so everyone who is interested in widgets starts to go there. But not all the people going to the website want high-end widgets. Some just need a cheap alternative. By sharing information and methods for high-end widget maintenance you’re already filtering out those who are not interested in your specific widget types.
Then, you also have information that shares your widget process and how it solves problems. Now the people with those specific problems that you’re the best at solving are on board and you’ve filtered out those that are unrelated.
Next, you share your unique perspective and brand personality. Those who love how you work and want to work with you will contact you. Those that don’t are filtered out.
So now, your blog has filtered out 90% of the people who might have contacted just a “widget” person, and you would have had to sort through all of them yourself to find the 10% who are a good fit.
And that is just on the lead generation side of your business. It works on the customer on-boarding side too.
Another hypothetical example
One of our former clients used the example of a machine.
Let’s say you live in a village and make $10 / hour doing a specific service.
But you are pretty clever and design a machine that, if you build it, will be able to also do that $10 / hour service but only require one hour a week to run. However, it will take you 1,000 hours to build the machine, during which you can’t sell your service.
One person might look at that and say “I can’t afford to lose $10,000 to build the machine. I need to live!”
But another person might realize that by building the machine, although the investment of time, and loss of income, seems like it is draining their resources, they are actually creating a system that essentially prints them money. They just have to spend the time to build it.
That is what a blog is. You put in the time to build the machine. And after you do so, you are freed up to focus on those things that are more important. Like … making another machine for the next village over. 😉
So now when you hear:
“Blogging is a waste of time.”
You understand that actually:
“Blogging is an investment of time.”
And it will pay big dividends if you do it the right way.
How to use a blog for lead
The first thing to note is that the mindset of “generating leads” from a blog is not very helpful. You’re still focused on getting something out of the visitors to your website, not helping them.
Instead, we at Akamai Websites like to use the term “Lead Education”. This puts the focus back on the customer and how you can assist them.
There are a lot of creative ways to use a blog. As we said, if you view a blog as a way to help people, provide insights and share your brand, then an effective blog is one that does any or all of those three things.
Here are a few strategies you can use to make your blog more effective:
Use it to answer Questions
Take some time to identify the questions you are asked over and over again by potential customers. Rather than just type up an FAQ and stick it on your website (ineffective, at best), take the time to take each question and provide a detailed answer through your blog.
Provide your definitive answers to the most common questions so you’ll never have to explain them again. Now, when someone emails you with a question, instead of typing out another response you can invite them to check out the full answer on your blog. This not only answers their question, but builds trust in you, your expertise, and shares your personality, character and brand.
Use it to Educate
Identify the 10 biggest problems that your ideal customer has and think about your process for solving them. This is one level above an FAQ, which is just an answer to a question. In this type of blog post you’re going to provide a specific methodology to help someone solve their problems.
Provide information, case studies and processes so they are able to make informed decisions. After all, an informed customer is much easier to work with than one who doesn’t know anything about your product or service.
Just remember: teaching someone how to do something doesn’t mean they actually will want to do it. You’re really teaching them how you will do it for them, when they get around to hiring you. 🙂
Use it to Shine
Your business and brand is an extension of a specific culture and character that you have instilled in your company. When you blog or share information, be sure to always infuse the parts of you and you brand which are special and unique.
“Corporate speak” is dead, and websites that use it have been proven to be ineffective. Take some time to identify the unique characteristics of your brand and brainstorm ways to show it through your website and blog.
Are you slightly sarcastic? Happy? Do you “tell it like it is” or “focus on the positive”? Whatever your unique trait, make sure it comes across in your blog. That authentic vibe will create a connection that will resonate with your audience.
The blogging mindset
Here’s the reality: Having a blog is easy.
But using your blog the right way is a lot of work.
Let’s not sugar coat things: If you want to really take full advantage of the power of your blog, then you’ll have to do what others refuse.
Many take the easy road. They post up easy content and promote events or products. They try writing 150 – 300 word posts and give up after a month or two when it “doesn’t work”.
But now that you see the true value of what a blog can offer, you realize that it takes time and effort to create the right type of blog. A blog can save you time and increase revenue, but not if you are only focused on saving time and increasing revenue.
A blog is more than just a marketing tool. In fact, viewing it that way is detrimental to the potential positive impact it can have on your business.
A blog is most effective for your business when used to do one of three things:
- Help your audience
- Teach your process
- Share your brand
A blog can save you time and provide an invaluable resource for your customers. It is about sharing your process and what makes you unique in the marketplace. Be an agent of trust by sharing the truth with your audience, and they’ll reward that by supporting your business.
We’ve given you a lot of information to swallow. This is the sort of thing that will take time for you to implement so don’t rush it.
However, if you’re really serious about leveling up your blog, then be sure to download our quick reference guide that shares our exact method and editorial schedule for producing our own blogs. This is the exact system we use to write this and all of our blogs and it has been tested and vetted over many years of trial and error. Just enter your email below to get instant access! Free for you for making it all the way to the bottom of this blog post. 🙂
Of course, if you’re really serious, then contact us to learn how we can help you come up with a strategy for implementing everything you just read. It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.
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