Everybody’s blogging lately, have you noticed?! But, where is this insane trend coming from and why has all it of a sudden become usual to have a business blog? Stay tuned to learn why companies, starting from huge corporations all the way down to your neighbourhood convenience store, are selling you big fat lies with their business blogs!
What are blogs?
Blogs came into life long time ago, and have at first been online journals. Back in the days, blogs were written by people who enjoyed journaling, but they found it more appealing to start publishing online and share their writing with the entire world – to receive feedback, comments and interaction.
The very name comes from the combination of words web and log, giving us the famous blog.
As time went by, the everyday online journaling evolved, as the Internet itself.
If you look around yourself (and the Internet), it seems like today everyone’s a blogger! You could have blogged 10 years ago (as have I), at the time when the most famous bloggers of today were not even born! There are still personal blogs, fashion blogs, cooking blogs, lifestyle blogs, adventure blogs, education blogs, and many, many others. Business blogs are gaining popularity lately and are the focus of my attention today, as their importance is driving everyone crazy.
What are business blogs?
Before we continue, it is important to learn what business blogs actually are.
Business blogs are blogs written by companies, so as to provide them with wider outreach and the opportunity to interact with their customers. From WhatsApp blog to Oh my Disney, and numerous other websites, those are all blogs.
In fact, blogs are the only way to attract more traffic to your website and, thus, demonstrate to Google you provide your audience with quality reading – so as to achieve better ranking position in search engine results page (SERP).
Let’s imagine you are an owner of luxury real estate in the construction phase and want to sell those properties before they are even finished. To be visible to your target audience, you need to rank on the first page of Google. You have a website, you have profiles on social networks, you are doing everything you can, but something is not working. To reach out to your target audience, you need to offer them material to attract them to the website and to your profiles on those social networks, but something is still not working. You hire a digital agency to do some SEO for you, and they advise you to start a blog! You give in, but since you know nothing about blogging, you need somebody to do it for you. So, once again, you turn to professionals. Who is better than them at providing you with high-quality content obeying SEO rules, thus feeding both Google and your target audience with what they yearn? Digital agencies are specialised in producing high-quality content to their clients in almost no time, and they know how to do give you a run for your money.
That is why companies, in the lack of knowledge and time and various other resources, are now more prone to outsourcing their blogs writing to companies who specialise in copywriting, content writing, digital marketing, social community management, social media marketing, etc.
But, there is a catch 44 in outsourcing blogging, and here is my experience.
What makes business blogs a deception?
Working in the corporate content creation sector for quite some time now, the following reasons are my interpretation of our worst client’s dissatisfaction scenario. I honestly hope my company is among the very few experiencing such hard time with clients – please, correct me if I am mistaken!
One of the first reasons for my claim business blogs are a lie we are pushed into believing is outsourcing – business blogs are not written even within the company’s offices! They are written by who knows who, from who knows where, in who knows what kind of computer, and paid who knows how little. For all we know, they could be written by some poor Indian teacher striving to make two ends meet at the end of the month.
2: Writing style
When hiring somebody to write something for you, no matter the type of writing they are expected to produce, it is highly likely their writing style will never be exactly what big companies want, i.e. it will take a lot of time and energy to come up with a style which will meet the expectations of the contractor.
That is why some ghost writers are facing such hard times, having to write what they would personally never write. If it only wasn’t for that contract obliging them to produce that meaningless content day after day after day…
3: Knowledge limitations
Let’s go back to the real estate sales story from above. If the company is in France Côte d’Azur, and the ghost writer residing in Canada, never even having travelled outside of North America, how can you even hire him to do content writing for you and expect him or her to produce valuable, high-quality content for you? Is it possible, in such a situation, is it reasonable, to blame the writer for not meeting your expectations?
The different continents illustration is here to emphasize the diverging points of view, but can also be interpreted through the lens of any knowledge limitation.
L: Knowledge limitation is a particular hassle with clients who are not talkative. Thus, they will not reveal much about themselves or their company, but those are the key information an author need to be able to produce high-quality content on a regular basis. The better they know the client, the better will they meet his expectations, and the more they know about the project they are working on, the easier will it be for them to produce authentic material. But, alas…
4: Content creation strategy
Since you know nothing about blogging and netiquette, somebody should fill you in and guide you on the way. Depending on the case, in business blogging it is usually the case to come up with various topics for blog posts and, after they are approved, research and write the articles.
It is not uncommon for the author and the client to misunderstand. While the author, cooperating with SEO experts, is likely to suggest hot topics that are highly likely to attract audience and provide the audience with quality reading material, and additionally the topics that he or she may find appealing to their personal writing style and interest, the client may completely dislike the suggestions and demand for something completely different, something that he himself finds interesting.
What do you do in such cases? It actually depends on your boss, but it is very, very, VERY likely the author will end up doing what the client wants, no matter how wrong or useless it is. Oh, what a joy to produce those articles, yaaay…
Whatever you write, over time you will probably try coming up with new ideas and new styles; you may want to try out various blog designs; adjust articles layout; or experiment with writing style in accordance with your personal preferences.
The client may not like it. And whose responsibility is it, in fact?
Ah, one of my favourite ones: orthography and language issues! Whatever language you are writing in, there are so many possible problems that could popup along the way.
Most content writers and copywriters today are in fact language majors, thus perfectly familiar with grammar and punctuation rules, syntax, semantics and pragmatics, morphology, phonology, functional styles, and style guides, but are not allowed to boast with it. Especially when writing in a foreign language, such linguistic issues are very likely to cause numerous problems, as many clients have high opinion of their foreign language knowledge and will try teaching blog authors how to do their job.
Additionally, almost no client will take into consideration the language of their target audience and will keep pushing their own language beliefs, thus strongly influencing the standard language and further diminishing the language quality on their business blog.
This issue is even more present with inflectional languages, such as Slavic languages, or, even worse, Cyrillic script languages. Say, you are the Fiat car manufacturer, originally from Italy, but working in Serbian town of Kragujevac, where there is a Fiat factory. You want to run a business blog on your website, and you want it to be in Cyrillic, as it is the official script in Serbia. You also want to keep your corporate identity and further promote your brand by keeping its name original spelling, in Latin script. Hence, you do not allow any changes to happen with the name: no inflections (although Serbian has cases, i.e. inflections!), no transliteration (i.e. switching from Latin script to Cyrillic script), so your blog ends up being a concoction of all language rules broken. Such cases not only look ridiculous but also cause mockery among native speakers of both languages.
N.B. I do not know if Fiat car manufacturer even has a corporate blog. I used them only for the purpose of illustrating my point. I have no interest in promoting them.
Digital agencies work on the principle of content length: the longer the content, the more expensive it is. At the same time, the longer the content, the better ranking of the website, as Google appreciates long content and ranks it better, as long as it also offers quality to the readers.
The desired content length for business blogs is – the longer, the better, once again! If you analyse business blogs, you may come to realise the articles on the blog are quite lengthy, not below 1000 or 1500 words, often even above 2000 words. And they also tend to be – boring! Because, who wants to ramble that much on some business topic they do not even care about? If the author was bored to write it, the reader will get even more bored, thus rarely came back for more.
You, as an author, cannot always produce the same amount of words, within the allotted time, and with the same amount of quality. However, your client will expect you to do so – as will each and every person who does not work with words and thus does not know the burden of author’s block or the lack of internal motivation to write a piece.
One of the last issues that is driving me crazy about business blogs is terminology. While I write for myself, I will talk about my blog posts, articles, and never refer to any piece of my writing as – content. While working on my piece of writing, I will say I am blogging, never call it copywriting or content writing. It simply makes a distance between me and what I want to say, and that is not a good practice.
If it is easier for you, if you are married, are you more likely to call your partner your husband / wife or your spouse in front of people? Are you referring to your kids as yours son and daughter or your descendants? It is the same with content – you make it distant from you by referring to it as content.
But that is the rule! If you are a ghost writer, you always copywrite. If you are writing, you are creating content.
One other crucial point to keep in mind is – how much are your clients familiar with the internet and technology terminology in general. Will they say blog if they refer to a blog article, will they tell you to equalise the number of internal links instead of bold text? Will they review your articles and ask you to change something you cannot see on your screen to only turn out they are reviewing the article in their phone’s limited text editor? These are real-life possibilities, and you would not believe how often they actually happen.
One way to satisfy your client and his blogging hunger is to be as passionate about his project as he is. But, it happens only and only if you believe in his project as much as he does. If you do not, it is immensely hard instilling any value into your content, and it will be highly evident to anyone who comes in contact with your writing.
Unfortunately, not many business blog authors are even allowed the freedom of choosing the companies whose blogs they are going to write. If you are employed by a digital agency, it is your manager who will assign you the job, and the only questions you are expected to ask are the ones concerning technical issues. If, on the other hand, you work as a freelancer, you will most often grab any opportunity you come across, as you have to pay the bills at the end of the month, and keep convincing your client you are just the person for the job.
But passion is obvious! Who is your target customer? Can a ghost writer visualise such customer? There is no “fake it till you make it” in copywriting – sooner or later you will get sick of it and wind it all up!
Blogs have become an excellent marketing tool to direct traffic to your website and convert your visitors into your customers by selling them your products.
Business blogging is a modern age skill too, and is possible to learn. If you have any preferences towards technology, it is not hard to learn. On the other hand, if you are a complete tabula rasa when it comes to websites, traffic, conversion rate, SEO, and copywriting, either start learning as soon as possible or give both yourself and your prospective ghost writers a break and do not even start a blog – unless you know how to run it yourself!
Or, my final tip, even if you have to, let your ghost writers do their job. After all, it is a job you hired them to do. Since they know how to do it, do not mess with it.
To cut the long story short, what is the point of running a business blog if you are not willing to learn it yourself but to keep selling the story you do know how to do it and hire somebody else to do it for you???
It is once again I have gone over 2400 words, although it feels as if I have just started writing this text about an hour ago!