This is the first time in five days that I’ve blogged. On one hand, I feel like I deserve the break. On the other, I kind of feel like I’ve been slacking – like something’s a little off.
You see, I spent the month of January glued to my computer. At least it felt that way. I accepted Hubspot’s challenge to blog from January 2-31 without missing a day.
To set the stage . . . I am a solopreneur. I don’t have a staff to whom I can delegate tasks such as blogging. My “staff” consists of colleagues who are also solopreneurs I select and hire for the tasks at hand.
I preach blogging, social media and all-things-inbound-marketing to my clients, however, so I really need to practice what I preach. I need for my marketing business to be its own case study. With so many demands on my time, it is difficult to treat my own business as another client, which is necessary to use it as a case study.
Typically, I blog anywhere from once to three times weekly — in a good week. I usually let my work load determine how often I post — not an optimum strategy. When Hubspot issued its 30-day challenge, I knew that I needed to see what difference blogging for 30 days in a row – no exceptions – would have on my business. What would it do for my traffic? My lead generation? I had to see.
It wasn’t easy. January is a busy month in my business, and this was no exception. After a typically slow holiday season, my clients got cranked back up in early January, and I had projects to manage and new deadlines to meet.
My schedule would have been full without tending to my blog. But every evening, just when I would have loved turning off the computer and falling into bed, there was the blog. Oh. Yeah. I saw the clock hands turn 2 a.m. more nights than I would have liked because I needed to clean up the article I had posted just under the wire at 11:55 p.m.
The first night I came up with an idea for a post that lead to an 11-part series on fundamental marketing documents that businesses need. Not having to come up with a new idea every night for nearly two weeks was a godsend. In fact, the series angle worked so well, that I incorporated two shorter series into my 30-day blogging marathon.
Note to self – write more series! Not only do series mean that you don’t have to continually come up with new topics to write about, it allows you to write deeper about topics. Another benefit is that, with a little work, you can repurpose that content later into an ebook.
Lessons learned from Hubspot’s 30-day blogging challenge
So what did I get out of my little experiment?
I learned it is possible to write a blog post in an hour. Most of the time it took me two or three hours — or more — but several times I set a goal to write a post in an hour, and with careful pre-planning, was able to do it.
I got a nice little plug from Hubspot when they linked to my post in their post, How to Write a Post in an Hour: A Round-Up of Advice, in which I said, “Write your blog post directly into the blog software rather that into a word-processing software program. This will save you the extra step of having to transfer it into the blog.”
I also learned that typing your post right into the blog software causes you to get some funny code at the bottom of your post, and if you delete extra carriage returns, you can screw up the spacing in your whole post, and you have no alternative but to do the whole thing over. Did that twice. Not fun at 1 a.m.
But on to more important things . . .
The increase in traffic was astounding. I expected traffic to increase, but I was amazed. In just one month, traffic increased 65 percent. What was surprising to me was that while organic traffic did increase – by 38 percent – direct traffic, defined by Hubspot as manually entered URLs, increased even more – by a stunning 56 percent. I don’t know how to account for this increase, other than perhaps some people read my blog post or saw it on various social media where I posted it and then manually entered my website’s URL as result of that. That doesn’t make sense, but it’s the only explanation I have.
So what was the bottom line? Did this increase in traffic result in more leads? Absolutely! I received 13 leads in January, which represented more than a 300% increase over November’s two leads.
And the trend continues. Just because I’ve slacked off for a few days doesn’t mean that my stats have fallen off. The halo effect of all that content generation has meant that my traffic is continuing to grow. In fact, my average visits over the past four days, if extrapolated for the next 30 days, would show my traffic as being 32 percent higher than last month! And I’ve already gotten four leads – while doing nothing!
What this means for you
All of this is nice, you say. What does it mean for you? Simple. Content marketing works. It’s hard work. You’ve got to do a lot of it, and it has to be high quality content – not junk. But it definitely works.
You’ve got to put the infrastructure in place to capture leads. That means landing pages with premium content that people are willing to exchange their email addresses to get. It’s got to be good stuff.
You’ve got to build trust and show that you are a thought leader before you can expect to attract business today. I read today that by the time people call you for information, they have completed 60 percent of the sales process.
Clients are not the same as they were in the past. They aren’t coming to you as novices. They’ve done their homework before you hear from them. If you want to be considered as a partner in business, you’ve got to be their partner in educating them.
A good content strategy is the way to do that. After blogging for 30 days in a row, I’m more convinced than ever that if you are in business, your blog must be the center of your content strategy.