3 Problems Business Bloggers Face

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.

11 thoughts on “3 Problems Business Bloggers Face

  1. @Oldude59: Very nice comment! A really me-too comment. You describe my main reason to be part of p.com 🙂

    And you describe the main problem when communicating with potential clients. They don’t do it (blogging) so they don’t get it.

  2. I hope that you bloggers are paying attention to what Oldude59 is saying (thanks). So one opportunity, once you have some skills, is to write e-books aimed at business owners, and why they need to blog, what they get out of it short-term and long-term, and what they stand to lose if they don’t. Someone said it on one of the other “exchange” category posts: companies lose control of the online conversation of their products if they are not participating.

  3. Rai Dash,

    The easy part is just paying someone – the hard part is that the writing informs me about what I’m actually doing or more importantly Being. Because of blogging I have had to think through some stuff that if I had simply asked someone to write for marketing purposes, I would never have saw the direct effects in how I needed to proceed with the business. In some sense – blogging is like coaching or counseling. I’m not sure how to figure that into my rol. I think that bloggers in a business environment should take serious the consultation effects they could have.

    Getting in touch with a business owner – like myself – you get close to his or her ambitions for being in business. Money is sometimes not the main goal – great measure to use but not the point.

    So with that said – my comments related to technical capacity – learning the tricks and paths a good bloggers should take – that’s where I think someone in my position needs help. In that sense – from my years working for Xerox and other large firms. Executives – C-level people need help “thinking” not promotional outlets. Well that’s my two cents.

  4. Great post Ahmed (feels like good summation of the entire corporate blogging conversation so far with added goodies), and I wholeheartedly agree that blogging is just now appearing on the radar of most marketing departments and ad/PR agencies.

    That’s both a curse and a blessing.

    It’s a curse because we’re playing an educator’s role, which means it typically costs more/takes longer to close the deal. Competition for marketing dollars is already intense, so any value proposition better be strong. Fortunately, blogging’s ROI is that strong, but requires some creative pitching.

    The blessing is that most “traditional” marketing vendors (primarily ad/PR agencies) haven’t yet embraced blogging. When they do (they’ll struggle to fit it into their bloated pricing structures), “turnkey bloggers” will find themselves competing against vendors with established relationships

    Still, the market is currently wide open for the handsome, dashing types found here – and will likely remain so, especially in the medium/small business sectors.

  5. @anyone: The Exchange blog has seen loads of very informative discussion going on. Glad to see it. I’m hoping more bloggers will join in.

    @Ahmed: This post was so packed with information that I had to spend parts of two days reading it. Methinks you should be writing one of those free ebooks soon. You certainly are pretty knowledgeable.

    @Oldude59: I am so glad to see your response. It’s nice to hear a business owner’s perspective. So let me ask you, since you point out that you do not have the resources to pay someone, how would someone go about persuading you to loook at the long-term ROI, to let go of at least some of your hard-earned cash?

  6. I’m don’t think of myself as a blogger – so much as – a business developer. The audiences that you point out are most relevant to small business owners like myself . The problem is the learning curve and roi (short term) that prevents us from taking on this additional task.

    The only reason I’ve taken this task on is my strangest and having the time because of low capital resources to pay someone to do it for me. There is also that by doing all the writing and developing myself – I have a stronger grasp of how to talk about my business model.

    I think technically savvy people are losing out on a market opportunity by not packaging blogging/business development services to offer people like me.

  7. Most businesses are recognizing the benefit of increased traffic to their web sites. I think that is going a long way toward them seeing blogging as a benefit to their bottom line.

    Usually, when we show them the analytics at the end of the first month, they are blown away and hooked from then on. They can tell what posts are popular, what ads get the most “attention”, what posts are a waste of time, etc. In addition, they get instant feedback from readers in the comments, which opens dialog and establishes them and their blog as THE source of information. What “traditional means of advertising” can offer that kind of data? How many recipients read the postcard mailer you sent out? How many viewed your newspaper ad? Traditional marketing does not provide that data.

    However, getting a business to commit to a blog is the hard part. It is generally a good idea to present case studies to a potential blog client. Businesses want to see the bottom line.

  8. Ahmed, you’ve nicely summed it up. I was over commenting on what Chris said before I read your post, so here’s a relevant snippet of what I said:

    The tangible benefits of effective blogging are traffic, links, seo, prospect engagement and education, better conversions and more sales. Basically more traffic and more money, right?

    That sounds like an easy sale to me, because that’s what all businesses need to be successful online. If people don’t want to hear about “blogging” then find another way to say it.

    That’s what writers do, right?

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