notaunicornHoping your next post is the content-equivalent of a unicorn? Content marketing may be the most efficient way to bring traffic to your site and to potentially convert visitors into customers, but…

The first problem with content marketing – specifically, blogging – is that quality content takes time. It takes me a few hours to write a blog post and I continue editing even after it’s published. It’s a massive time suck.

The next problem is that the Internet is drowning in content, so when you publish a post, it’s usually met with crickets chirping. You’re competing with professionals at places like HuffingtonPost, where they publish at least 1,200 posts a day.

I blog here and at Power 20, and I’ve learned that like all things, you get out of it what you put in, and also like every other aspect of life, you learn to expect the unexpected.

It's typical for me (and most bloggers) to experience one popular post amidst a sea of nonstarters.

It’s typical for me (and most bloggers) to experience one popular post amidst a sea of nonstarters.

Here are some inconvenient truths about blogging (especially when you first start).

  • Each post will give you a tiny bump on the day it’s published, a smaller bump the next day, and will have no discernible effect after that.
  • Some posts are awesome forever. The vast majority of your traffic will come from just 2 or 3 posts.
  • You have no idea which of your posts will ultimately be long-term unicorns.
  • You can blog for months, even years, before creating a unicorn.
  • Your blog will therefore be useless to your business for at least a year.
  • All of the above is untrue if you consistently create awesome, unique, informative, timely and important content. That’s hard.

For example, I blog all day and night about healthy eating and exercise at Power 20, and this stupid post drives all the traffic.

Blogging is dangerous because it feels productive but is usually not.

As an entrepreneur you can’t always control the pace of things; investors might be putting you off, developers or contractors might be moving slowly, or customers aren’t keeping you busy, so you fill your time by “creating content.” Big mistake.

Don’t waste time blogging before you have a product.

If you’re an early-stage company, you’re in a rush to get customers, find investors, finish your product, or all of the above. Blogging, with it’s unpredictable results and super slow returns, is not a good use of your time.

What works for people doesn’t work for businesses. Blogging as an individual (like I’m doing here) is fine for building your credibility and expertise. But as a business, you’ll lose credibility by blogging before you have a product or service to sell.

Focus instead on honing your message until everyone who visits your site understands what you’re offering and wants to sign up for your service. Make helpful videos. Practice your pitch in front of mock investors. Experiment with Adwords… do anything but blog.

Some posts spread far on Facebook, others on LinkedIn, and others still on Twitter.

When I write about my personal experiences with diet or exercise, those get lots of shares on Facebook. When I write about business, I get shares on LinkedIn. I get lots of shares on Twitter when I say something disparaging about Instagram.

This will be true for your business blog posts as well. Different content will get traction on different mediums, so be sure to offer a range of options. On WordPress, I use the NextGen Facebook (NGFB) Plugin to show different share buttons.

The value of blogging builds with time.

I prefer blogging to Instagram partially because I suck at Instagram, but also because blog posts are evergreen. As time passes, posts rise in search and, strangely, posts that are over a year-and-a-half old tend to drive the most traffic.

Recognizing this is why I’m rarely concerned by posts that get no love from readers.

You get out of it what you put into it, and then some.

The more thought, energy, and consistency you put into your blogging, the better it will do. It’s ok to blog just once a week, but be sure your content is genuinely helpful to readers. Do this by:

  • Having great images.
  • Having an intriguing title.
  • Using infographics.
  • Going deep. Geek out on a topic by exploring multiple angles.
  • Sharing something people don’t already know. Charts are helpful for this.

Or, as this cheery infographic says, you can generate 126% more leads (source):

Infographic-Why-blogging-is-good-for-your-business

Over time you can reach hundreds of thousands of people to the honeypot that is your company website. Now get out there and start blogging (unless you’re super early-stage, in which case, stop blogging and start doing some real work!).

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