I find that many people have heard that they ‘should’ have a blog, but worry that they are just not the blogging type, or don’t think they will have anything to say.
Is there still hope without a blog?
I would say ‘yes’. After all, a blog only works if you actually post to it and actively promote it. It’s no silver bullet and it does take time and commitment, and honestly, it’s not for everybody.
One of the main benefits to having a blog is that with well-written and targeted content it can attract search engine traffic quite easily. This is the main benefit you will miss out on by not having a typical, text-based blog. But search engines are not the only source of traffic. So while there are many benefits to having a blog, let’s consider some alternatives.
1) Re-think what a ‘blog’ means
The typical idea of a blog is a text-based site that you update at least once per week and ideally more frequently, with posts of several hundred words. But here are some variations on what a blog can be:
- Video Blogs – If writing is not your thing, perhaps you would be more comfortable on camera posting short clips on topics related to your business or art? iJustine is perhaps one of the better-known examples of popular video bloggers. Video is great for those with something to say, but who don’t enjoy writing.
- Podcasts– Not everyone likes to be in front of the camera, but an audio-only format can be more comfortable. Podcasts can be short or long-form, could feature only you, or discussions with a ‘guest’, and are very easy to produce with minimal equipment required.
- Photo Blogs – Or more generally, image-based blogs. Obviously this lends itself to those creative types who would rather let their work speak for them. A beautiful photo, illustration or design concept with a short comment could be a blog post. This is a great way to showcase your work, get feedback on developing concepts and maintain an easy-to-update web presence.
- Short-form blogs – A blog doesn’t have to be filled with lengthy articles to demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership – that works very well for some people and industries, but not everyone. You could post brief thoughts, insights, and remarks on your passion or industry. Matt Mullenweg from WordPress regularly posts short quotes and thoughts on his blog
While these forms of blogging will not get you as much search engine traffic as a traditional blog, they are still a way for you to have a personal, regularly updated, low maintenance online presence, and a place where others can see what you are about and connect with you.
OK, so after considering these options, if you still don’t want to have any sort of blog, what are the other alternatives?
2) There are still other ways to drive traffic to your site
You will still need some kind of web presence – a website with clear information about your business/product/service and the ability to collect email addresses – at the minimum. But even without a blog attached to it you still can generate traffic and create interest in your business. Here’s just a few ways you can go about it:
- Social media – Twitter, Facebook and other niche social networks for your industry can give you a platform to connect with people by focusing on what you are passionate and knowledgeable about. Short, casual updates are the norm so it’s low maintenance. Your profile will contain information and a link to your website, so the more you get involved, the more people will see and click on your website link.
- PPC (Pay Per Click) – If you have a budget, even a small one, you can buy sponsored ads on search engine results pages to drive traffic to your site. A PPC campaign should not be entered into without a little research, otherwise you’ll waste your money, but it can be a cost-effective solution. You can set a daily spending limit to make the cost more manageable.
- Email marketing – It takes some work to develop an opt-in email list, but writing one piece of content per month may sound much more manageable than multiple blog posts per week. Email is a very effective way to promote yourself and connect with your audience. More direct sales pitches are also tolerated and expected more with email marketing than on social media, for example. By providing useful content and a well-crafted call-to-action, you can generate sales directly through email marketing.
- Blog commenting – Just because you don’t blog, doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from those who do. Leaving thoughtful, insightful and positive comments on blogs that are relevant to your audience is a great way to drive traffic to your site. Most blogs allow you to include your url, usually linked with your name, so that if you leave valuable comments, people will be encouraged to find out more about you and click on your link.
Blog or no blog, there is no answer to generating traffic that doesn’t involve some work – that’s the bottom line. Whichever method(s) you use, blogging included, there is no short cut to developing an interested audience. But the internet offers a plethora of ways to express yourself, so find the medium that suits you the best and start there. With consistent efforts you will see results.
*image header courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/busyprinting/4227080733/