If you are business blogger (or a blogger chasing the dream of a high-paying business blogging gig), here are a few problems that you probably face (or will face) and some suggestions on dealing with them.
1. Despite our best efforts, traditional marketing circles still don’t take blogging seriously
The benefits of blogging – for organizations, businesses (big and small) and individuals – are evident to us bloggers, but not so clear to most other people. Especially when you talk about corporate blogging, there’s a knee-jerk tendency to dismiss blogging as being a waste of time and to concentrate instead on more traditional means of advertising and connecting with customers.
Chris Garrett hits it on the head when he says that “there needs to be a distinction between offering writing services and providing a blog service”. Bloggers are NOT merely $5/post writers – they have a lot more to offer and as Raj discusses here, it is best to offer your services as part of a package (including blogging, metrics analysis, research, knowledge of an industry, etc.) and it is a very effective way to demonstrate that blogging is a cost-effective and reasonable alternative to traditional advertising.
At the end of the day, corporate blogs are customer-relations management (CRM) tools, and should be promoted as such. I’ve talked about this more in point 3, but the main idea is that in order to “sell” blogging, you have to talk to organizations and businesses in their language and tell them how you will benefit them using metrics that they are familiar and comfortable with. This isn’t always possible with blogging and its intangible benefits but if there is anything that I’ve learned from direct marketing and copyblogging is that the results often speak for themselves.
Experience in blogging will be your biggest bargaining chip when you are up against the traditional media. So if you haven’t already, start a professional blog and work your butt off on it. For practice, you can always write on Performancing…
And remember, just because you write does not mean that you should undervalue your services. If you know how to write in order to achieve specific objectives (i.e. copy blogging) and if you can write with passion about your chosen topic, you have every reason to price yourself high (and thus cherry-pick the jobs available to you). It all goes back to ‘packaging’ – how you present yourself and what value you can effectively project. It’s important to show clients in ‘measurable’ terms what you will do for them and how they will benefit from hiring you.
2. Some bloggers are too full of themselves
You may not agree with me here but that’s fine. My point here is that while I’ve seen the wonderful benefits of blogging first-hand, some bloggers don’t have enough respect for the elements that made them such big names in the blogosphere in the first place. Also, owning a popular blog just means that you have a platform through which you can make yourself heard to a lot of people – it doesn’t make you right.
Being arrogant doesn’t work, especially when the cost of entry in the blogging field is so little and the knowledge to succeed is also present for free on websites such as ProBlogger and Performancing. The values and skills that allow a blogger to become popular are also the same ones that will allow him/her to keep on improving and not fall back down to the ground.
You might be a successful blogger, but that is worth jack if you are not able to sell your ideas effectively to a big business. It’s all about what you can do for the client, and in that case it doesn’t matter how popular a blogger you are – what matters is how popular a blog you can establish for your client.
3. Bloggers don’t know how to pitch themselves to companies
In the comments of my last article on Exchange, TCWriter and Brian Clark talked about pitching blogs to the companies you wish to write for and to choose your clients instead of having them choose you. While I totally agree with that approach, the problem here is that most aspiring bloggers have no idea (and little experience) in pitching their blogs.
- Pitch blogs to companies that need them
Instead of waiting for an opportunity to come knocking, be proactive and look around you for businesses big and small that would benefit from having corporate blogs. To an extent, this means that any company without a blog is fair game to be approached. But here you also have to consider whether you would be interested in writing about this topic, whether they are willing to pay enough, and whether this is a company that you would wish to be associated with (i.e. financially).
- Pitch to companies you wish to write for
Is there a topic that interests you so much that you would be willing to write about it for free? Is there something that you spend hours reading / chatting about every day? For me, that topic is football. For you, it could a hobby, a topic related to your work or even a subject you are interested in learning about. No matter what the topic is – if you can write passionately about it, you can probably make money blogging about it.
And if there is money to be made, you will invariably find companies to whom you can pitch your blog to.
The best part about writing on a topic you are passionate about is that your work will almost always be a higher quality than those of ‘hired guns’ and you can use your additional knowledge (plus other services) as leverage for a high-paying deal.
- Talk to companies in a language they will understand
Earlier I talked about how it was important to show clients in ‘measurable’ terms what you will do for them and how they will benefit from hiring you. If you want to sell the idea of a corporate blog to, let’s say, a major telecommunications network, you’ll need to highlight how blogging will help them retain their present customer base and will be a cost-effective alternative to traditional advertising in acquiring new customers. To make something like this work you need to do some concrete research on advertising spends in the industry and compare that with the costs of viral marketing, creating link bait, etc.
If you go in prepared, and can back your PR spin with hard, cold facts (making sure that the ‘selling’ of benefits takes precedence over presenting facts), it becomes hard for any company to say no (especially if they know that you could just as easily go to a rival and set up shop for them.
Needless to say the above advice can be adapted for any industry you choose to work in.
- Make yourself part of the pitch
Slightly contentious point, but I think that you might do too well a job of selling the idea and not too good a job of selling yourself. The only way you close the deal, get the check signed and have the money deposited in your account is when you are part and parcel of the blog pitch that you are making. It is your knowledge, your skills and your passion which will make the hypothetical success a reality.
I said this at the beginning, but it is worth repeating – blogging and its benefits are self-evident to us but not to those executives who have based their careers on traditional advertising and media. You have to sell blogging to them and for your own benefit, you need a valuable proposal that includes you as part of the package you are offering.
Just because the startup costs are low does not mean that it requires any less effort than selling any other type of product. The same principles of selling that apply to information products online or face-to-face salesmanship apply to getting hired as a business blogger as well.