Wait, are blogs still a thing?
This is probably a question that you have heard before.
The question may have come from the upper-level manager of the company you work for or a friend who responds when you tell them you are interested in starting an affiliate marketing site to generate some extra income.
Luckily for you, it’s not a tough question to answer, and today we are going to talk about the kind of growth and opportunity that is possible in the field of content marketing.
Fortunately, the answer is simple:
Blogging is absolutely still a thing, maybe even more than ever before!
Let’s dive into why this is true, starting from how the definition of a “blog” has changed over time.
Personal blogs as we know them were the foundation that the internet was built on. People went online to talk about their hobbies and interests with others, and this was often done as a method of sharing information – not just to make money.
This may come as a surprise to many, but WordPress was launched in 2003. The following decade was a busy time, with the rise of political blogging, microblogging, and YouTube.
Many bloggers found innovative ways to earn money by running ads on their site or selling products. As Google rose in popularity, bloggers realized that there were ways to play with Google’s (and other search engines’) algorithms to make their site rank higher (which allowed them to make even more money).
Just like that, SEO was born, which allowed blogs to grow in popularity around the world and create content at a rate never seen before.
The past decade saw the rise of new types of power-bloggers. “Mom” blogs, fashion blogs, cooking blogs, and everything else under the sun.
This is true today, but these personal blogs are increasingly under pressure from the rise of “content marketing.”
This means that there are more blogs being created exclusively for a business interest – not just because someone is interested in a topic.
However, as successful as these blogs are at utilizing keyword research to show up for valuable search queries, readers usually prefer to read about personal experiences and something that they can relate to.
Personal blogging is irreplaceable for this reason, although it definitely looks different than it did five years ago.
Personal blogs often utilize social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and email to build and sustain an audience and deal with competitors, imitators, and of course, brands.
There are countless examples of people being successful and making money by blogging. This industry is not dead, and it will continue to evolve.
However, we are interested in investigating whether blogging is currently relevant for starting (or growing) a business. Let’s dive deeper into this topic!
Blogging for business became a big deal thanks to some savvy online marketers who realized that companies could use blogs as an effective method to attract inbound traffic and sell their products.
This was a far cry from the “corporate news” sections of the past. Companies were no longer using their websites to share recaps of their corporate picnics or talk about obscure industry awards that they had won.
Instead, they could use them strategically with SEO research to target keywords that captured users who were looking for information about products, or even better: those who were ready to buy.
Companies could also use SEO link building campaigns to make their websites look more favorable to search engines. With the proper investment, this allowed for much faster growth organically.
However, even as these blogs became more and more sales-focused, the ones that perform the very best still have one thing in common: they put the customer first.
Today’s customer has a limited amount of time and is picky about where they spend it. If companies give the customer informative and helpful answers, it’s a win-win, because good content leads to more traffic, more inbound links, higher domain authority, and greater sales down the road.
The benefits of good blogging by businesses is also the concept of making residual earnings on blog posts.
Advertising digitally can be seen as a worthy alternative to blogs for many marketing managers. Whether through Facebook Ads, Google Pay Per Click, or Programmatic Display, the desire to drive clicks fast often wins out.
However, the drawback of advertising is that it is a flash in a pan. As an example, I can bring in a click for my online beach shoe business at a cost of $5 using Google Pay Per Click ads. After 10 clicks to my site, one of my customers spends $20 on a pair of flip-flops.
Although I am ecstatic that they made a purchase (and might make more if they like the product), the money I earn from my marketing dollars doesn’t compare to the possibilities that a blog post can create.
Let’s say instead of spending that $50 on Google Ads, I spend it on getting a blog post written about the best beach accessories for the summer in my geographic area (I live in the Pacific Northwest).
If I write a good article for SEO, this blog post has the potential to rank in the top 10 on Google. This post can now bring any number of people to my site – without any additional cost.
Google has been kind to my post, and now every month, I get at least one $20 purchase on my site from users who visited through the Google organic listing.
Over time, the return on investment rises, without me having to spend another dime. This is the concept of residual income.
Brady from BrandBuilders talks about this a lot on the BrandBuilders YouTube channel, especially in this video about the “myth” of passive income.
Is blogging still a growing method of traffic for your website and business in 2020? This can be a tough question to answer.
If you Google it, you will see plenty of bloggers blogging about how blogging is still a thing. They offer you advice about how to blog better and visit their blog more, which will inevitably make more money for their blog.
I promise I am not stuffing keywords in the passage above (or am I?). I am simply trying to make a point that researching blogs can get you trapped in a vortex of people giving you advice, but not necessarily giving a yes or no answer about whether it is the right option for you.
So to cut through the noise, here’s an answer that is much more clear.
At BrandBuilders, we believe that using blogs is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website or business.
It is scalable, can have massive SEO benefits, and helps to build a voice and community for your brand.
It can be done in any industry (even those that are too regulated to use other forms of online advertising) and starting off does not require a huge budget.
We are unapologetically pro-blog. But before we get too carried away, let’s back up why we love them with some stats.
If you use the internet to solve your problems, then you can probably tell that there seems to be more blog content than ever before. Posts are written about every conceivable topic and are optimized to carve out a cozy spot at the top of the search results.
But how much are blogs growing in the marketing space?
Here are some fast facts.
By some metrics, content marketing is one of the most valuable digital marketing strategies out there. But does this actually mean that marketers are able to utilize them properly?
This is another encouraging stat. Only 12% in the same survey found that blogs were less effective than before, while 20% thought that they were about the same. But one big objection still needs to be answered: if there are so many people doing blogs, how hard is it to find success? And how much money does it cost?
This is a tough question to answer, but this statistic should provide some clarity.
Most marketers make a positive return on the investment that they put into content strategy and blog content.
Increased rankings for important search queries are part of what makes blogs so beneficial in the long term, and blogs are seen as the main way to boost rankings in an effective way.
So now that we have thrown some stats at you, hopefully, you feel more confident that blogs are still effective in 2020 (and beyond).
Even with these promising statistics in mind, you may be wondering if blogging is right for your business.
You may have concerns about the cost, or whether it will ever create enough income to justify the money being spent on it.
These objections are common, and we won’t go into any further detail about why blogging is a “must-have” marketing strategy or how it will “guarantee” sales down the road. Because that isn’t the true nature of blogging.
Creating a blog is about creating a story around your business, and providing information to your current (and future) customers. There are plenty of industries where this isn’t necessary.
If you are thinking about starting a blog, but are worried about the potential costs or time that it will take, keep the following points in mind.
Getting interested in starting your blog? Here are some first steps that you can take.
If you are wondering how to start blogging, it’s easy to get lost in the incredible amount of information that can be found on the internet.
You will likely find the same things repeated over and over again:
Blog about something that you are passionate about!
Follow blogging best practices!
However, although this advice is positive and well-meaning, it is unspecific and fundamentally unhelpful for a beginner. Blogging is inherently DIY, so you need more than this to work with!
We are going to take a page out of the book of Spencer Haws from Niche Pursuits to share some more actionable tips for starting from scratch:
Once you have created your blog (or if you are blogging from an existing website for your company), you can take the next few steps to plan out the first few steps of your blog marketing strategy.
These three steps are not overly complicated. If you have difficulty writing, then you can source your articles from a site like Upwork for as low as $50 an article, then edit them to ensure that they match your brand.
The BrandBuilders blog has created a few posts that go into depth about these steps and more, like How to Become an Affiliate Marketer. This post covers our favorite tools for getting started with affiliate marketing, which is relevant even if you aren’t looking to use affiliate links on your website.
We also recommend that you follow websites like Niche Pursuits and Authority Website Income, as these blogs provide detailed case studies and actionable advice to help you on your blogging journey. There is a lot of noise on the internet in the world of blogging and affiliate marketing, and finding the right information sources can save you plenty of time and money.
Maybe even after everything that we have discussed today, you still think that blogs are not right for your business.
Maybe you are a small operation with a limited budget – and you know that you do not want to spend your time hunched over the keyboard creating blog posts yourself.
We don’t want to avoid the fact that paying to have blogs written for you can be difficult. It is hard to find the right freelance writer for the job at times, and a writer for a specialized industry will charge a much higher rate than most.
Plus, blog writing can be just the tip of the iceberg for success with blogging. There are plenty of other parts of content strategy to worry about, including keyword research, working with WordPress, and technical SEO skills.
If writing blogs to promote your business doesn’t feel right to you, you can always pursue other strategies, like the ones listed below:
You can use social media platforms to share similar informative information that you would on a blog. You don’t get any SEO benefits from this, but if you do a good job of it, you can build a community and drive traffic to your site.
However, keep in mind that even organic social media is becoming a pay-to-play arena. Facebook and Instagram make businesses pay to “boost” their organic posts, or else they will be seen by fewer than 5% of your followers.
Another useful social media platform is LinkedIn. Longer-form posts are common on this platform, especially in certain niches where people are looking for insights and information that can help their business.
LinkedIn can be thought of as a hybrid social media/blogging option that helps drive targeted traffic to your website.
Using YouTube is a great blogging alternative. In fact, it is considered one of the most valuable facets of content marketing.
It can be difficult to start YouTube from scratch, so we recommend trying it if you have previous video production experience, or if you are a fast learner who is motivated to create interesting videos.
YouTube also doesn’t have SEO benefits for your site, but strong-performing videos will appear in Google’s search rankings. Visitors can still find your content organically in several ways, and you will not need to pay to get seen.
If you are familiar with this platform, you might be thinking, “Wait for a second, Medium is blogging, isn’t it?” The answer to this question is yes, but with a few important caveats.
For those who are unfamiliar, Medium is an external platform that many businesses and writers use as a place to put their content. Medium users earn money from posts that receive a lot of views.
In fact, 9% of writers on Medium make more than $100 USD monthly from their content. It is a source of additional income for many members, and a smaller number are even able to make upwards of $1,000 per month.
The main benefit of Medium is that if you want to start creating content right away, the platform will show it to users who have read similar content. You can also link any articles you create to drive traffic to your business’s website, which brings benefits even if you aren’t blogging on your own site.
There are plenty of other ways to accomplish the same goals that you can with blogs. However, many of these are reliant on being in a specific niche or industry.
Quora can be an extremely effective tool for building a community by answering people’s questions about a specific topic. This can include asking your own questions, or answering questions from other members and offering your posts in the comments section to help solve problems.
If you have an existing email list, email marketing consistently ranks as one of the most effective marketing methods for converting leads.
We go into these concepts in more detail in a recent article about how to make money without a website.
Even if you are set on creating a blog to promote your business, improve your SEO, or provide information to current customers, it is still important to think about how you will adjust your multimedia strategy to better support and utilize your blog.
This means promoting your blog in at least one way that isn’t organic search.
To be clear: you should be using keyword research and SEO best practices to plan what your blogs should about. This is important because you need to identify keywords that aren’t too competitive for your blog post to ever rank on Google.
But experimenting with different promotion strategies is also important. This is true for affiliate marketing, blogging for a business, and even for personal blogging.
For example, if I start a blog for my boutique men’s fashion store, I can consider several other options for promoting my content.
After I release a blog post that talks about the history and design of one of the brands that I carry, I can promote them as part of my monthly email newsletter. I will also share the blog post through my shop’s Instagram and Facebook accounts.
These might seem like obvious things to do, but it is very important to get in the habit of effective multi-channel promotion for blog posts. Organic rankings for blog posts are the end goal, but achieving strong results on Google can take time – and don’t underestimate how helpful it can be to already have some traffic on the posts you want to rank.
We hope that this blog post has given you more confidence on how to start a blog, and inspired you to find more tools to take your first steps.
Looking ahead, you should expect to see more headlines that talk about the demise of blogs. These will usually talk about the same concepts that we mentioned earlier in this article.
The market is oversaturated.
There is too much competition.
You can’t earn that much money by blogging anymore.
There is some truth to these statements. People have increasingly lower attention spans, and mediums like video, graphics, and social media are taking advantage of this shift.
But the bottom line is, blogs are still here to stay. They are one of the top ways that people look for information and get to know your brand. Typically, time spent on a blog plays a huge part in purchasing decisions.
If you find the right resources and stay disciplined with your blogging, it is likely that you will see growth and make back the money you spent on it in the first place.
At the very least, you will see your website ranking for search results where it didn’t before. It all starts with quality website content!
To find out how to make the most out of your blog, stay tuned for more from the BrandBuilders blog!
Also, be sure to enter our contest to win an authority site and bonuses worth over $10,000. Just follow these directions to enter!