Guy, you made the point about it taking some months to build up an audience and it’s absolutely true, because the key is consistency. One of the things having a regular blog does of course is make your website far more visible and buoyant in searches. It’s well known that people usually deliberately avoid the ads in the top three search results that Google shows and they’ll go for the top organic result because that has more credibility to it. One of the ways that you can achieve that is through having regular, unique, high-quality content that relates to the things that people are searching for. And the way that you do that isn’t to rewrite your homepage every week but, of course, it’s to be publishing a blog, at least weekly. Although to be honest once a fortnight is definitely better than not at all. So it does take a bit of coordination in terms of making sure that regular content goes out and that’s why there are ways to simplify that and there’s support available for that.
In terms of website traffic, let’s say the blog is going out there weekly. As you know www.writebusinessresults.com got up to just over 15,000 hits 12 weeks of starting a weekly blog, your blog at your software company did incredibly well from your weekly bulletin. Can you talk a bit more about that?
Yeah, sure. I mean, one of the ways you can measure the impact your blogs are having is clearly through the stats that Google provided on your blog or WordPress or whoever it is that you’re hosting the blog with. Every week, we used to see how the blog was doing because we’re investing time, effort and money into this. So, it was important that we saw results, and you know we rose from around 2000 hits per week to 60,000 plus, after two or three years of blogging. In the end, during the acquisition process we actually had to look at the blog, because obviously that was part of the handover. Over a five year period, we actually ended up doing 700 blogs. That is a huge testament to the team, but ultimately that is one of the biggest reasons we went through five years of high growth. I can totally attribute a lot of that to our decision to build personal brands.
That’s why I’m so passionate about it. This applies to, I would say, most companies. I was speaking to an electrician who is beginning to specialise not just in doing standard electrical, rewiring and all that kind of stuff but is looking at home entertainment and the AV stuff around houses because that’s becoming a thing. I was telling him he needs to do a weekly blog on this stuff because it’s super interesting. There are loads of people out there that would be interested in reading about the ideas that you have around this. You’re good at this, tell people about it and push it out there. And if you do that over time, it will really help your company. So, there’s a huge variety of people and there are not many companies that wouldn’t benefit from doing this type of thing.
As a company, we had a philosophy of trying new stuff that came along and it caught our eye as a company you know we were, our mantra was always to be ahead of the technology curve. So, we weren’t afraid to move with the times. Back in 2010-2011, using technology within our business was another major contributor to our high growth. With the blogs, we were blogging about our experiences. It built up a cult following to begin with and then it built up a serious following, as it became more commercially viable and companies were beginning to take notes. We had a mantra about the technologies that we specialised in and we sold our services on, and so we ran technology throughout the company as well in terms of the tools that we used.
We used Google Apps when it was really not a massive thing and Gmail, the commercial version. In fact, we got rid of pretty much all our internal servers. Again, back in early 2010, around that time. And we started to use all of our services over the internet and software as a service. So you know, project management systems and code repositories. All our communication tools when messaging became the thing, like Slack, and before that we had flow doc. We adopted all these things and the blog was no different.
In addition to writing books, we wanted to do something more regular, briefer, and blogs fitted the bill. You’re right, we adopted blogs, before there were as many people doing it as there are at the moment. That said, for all the reasons I’ve discussed before, you absolutely still should be looking at blogs because it’s still a relatively new thing in the scheme of things, and it’s still way more effective, in my opinion, than things like email marketing. It has a part in the way that you market your blog so you use email marketing as one of the tools to deliver the stuff you’re writing, along with social media platforms.
I completely agree that the blog serves a different function to email marketing and social media. The blog is a step closer to you as an individual or the culture of the company and getting to know the company. And, you know, at the moment, people are so busy all of the time, and we don’t pick up the phone to withhold numbers or to people we don’t know. You know, it’s annoying when you get a cold call; that sort of thing went out of fashion some time ago and providing content has replaced that because it empowers the other person. They’ll get to know you and they’ll decide on their terms when they engage.
It still amazes me that lots of companies out there are probably not as forward thinking as they should be. Companies really consider holding onto their expertise as the way forward because they’re scared to give it away for free.
Those days are gone, and what people are looking for are companies who are prepared to share certain amounts of expertise. I guess some companies don’t realise that by offering snippets, you’re demonstrating expertise, and you’re allowing people to begin to look at the ideas that you’re putting out there. So you should not be scared of putting snippets of information and expertise out there because people rarely can use that to do the job on their own.
Quite frankly if they try to do that, they’re probably not the customers for you anyway. They haven’t got the correct mindset or maybe the finance available to hire you and your company. So, it almost acts as a filter, and that kind of brings me on to another point. Another strategic byproduct from this whole process of building your personal brand and putting expert content out there in a variety of different ways including blogs and podcasts: it acts as a filter.
So, when you’re contacted by companies because they’ve read your blog, because they’ve read the book, because they’ve listened to a podcast or they’ve been to a conference you’ve taught at or they’ve been to a user group that you’re involved with. they’ve already bought into your expertise. When you go to have a sales meeting then, either remotely as we are doing at the moment or in person, as we hope to do in the not too distant future, that part of the conversation is done.
What you’re doing at that point really is just agreeing that you guys can work together. You’re talking more about your company process and your company ethos and the commercial terms then, rather than the actual having to sell to people. That’s why you really don’t need a sales team. And actually, you don’t need as many account managers in this whole process, because of the blogs.
Even though it takes an upfront investment, building your profile up over months and maybe a couple of years, pays that investment back in spades because you really don’t have to employ certain people like you would do if you didn’t do this kind of thing.
If you want to reach me to chat about any of the things raised in this series of blogs or The Startup Factory, my personal email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
For help with building your personal brand by publishing incredible content, you can contact me at email@example.com or 020 3752 7057.