I have a confession to make.
I am bad at math. Like, really bad.
Some people can do fast calculations in their heads and they almost always get it right. I’m the fool who has to dig out his calculator app or write out the equation on paper to keep from messing it up. I used to be embarrassed by this. Not anymore. I have a few gifts I was born with, and math isn’t one of them.
Based on my skills, no business would ever want someone like me managing their books, so why do so many of them insist on using bad bloggers?
We all know blogging is important for increasing traffic and generating leads. We also have tremendous pride in our people, so we ask them to write about the great work they do.
“It doesn’t have to Pulitzer Prize winning material,” they say, “just get something up on the blog. Just get it DONE.”
Writing is a skill, and an important one. Not all of your employees are good at it, and you may be doing your company and customers a disservice by forcing them to blog.
If you want buyers to be interested in what your company has to say, you have to prove your content is worth reading. You’re not going to do that with weak writing, not unless you’ve got an excellent editor and a ready supply of caffeine.
Here are just a few of the deadly blogging sins we see on a daily basis:
Self-Promotion and Company News – Customers want to solve their challenges, not hear about what your company is doing. Keep your content focused on them. Otherwise, what is the point?
Short Articles – You need to reward visitors with substance. Consistently publishing 200-500 word articles is a clear sign you have little to offer.
Spelling & Grammar Mistakes – We are all guilty of making gaffs now and again, but when your content is full of errors it makes you look sloppy and unprofessional.
Volumes of Text With No Images or Graphics – Engaging the reader depends on more than great writing. Presentation is critical.
I could go on, but these are the biggest issues we see on a regular basis. If you see them on your company blog, you have a few choices: You can spend time and money editing poor content and making it passable; you can train people to become better writers; or you can find a new approach to creating great content.
I'd like to propose an option that encourages employee participation without sacrificing quality.
Let’s say you are the head of a Managed IT Services company with 50 employees. Out of those 50, you might have three excellent bloggers and eight fair ones. The rest have made it clear writing is not their thing.
Every employee has valuable knowledge and insights that could make a powerful impression on your buyers. Sometimes it’s better to just sit down with them and ask good questions, then assign someone else to mold the answers into an awesome post.
When I was a freelance writer churning out articles for agencies, I was shocked by how lax they were about source material. I would get detailed instructions on which websites to use and which were off limits (cough, cough, Wikipedia). Not once did they give me a chance to speak with an expert within the client’s ranks.
It was the safer play for them. They couldn’t have freelancers talking with a client, so they paid me to scape information from other blogs and rewrite it. I wasn’t adding perspective or teaching people anything new. I was simply adding white noise to an already crowded space.
When I started my own business, I decided I was done with this approach. Yes, we use other articles for research – mostly for ideas and statistics – but the bulk of our content comes from interviews with experts. This offers numerous benefits:
Using internal sources will keep the information aligned with your mission and solutions. Is anything more embarrassing than getting a question about one of your articles and finding out it delivered inaccurate information?
Reinforcing a particular point with a mini-case study (unearthed during the interview) adds credibility and authority to your content.
Most people love to talk about a subject they know a lot about, even if they find writing about it difficult. By asking the right questions and getting people to open up, you will get their very best stuff to hand off to your star writers.
Even though you are adding a few steps to the creation process, interviews can actually save you time. It’s a lot easier to translate an interview into an excellent post than rewrite an incoherent mess of jumbled ideas. A good interview will write the article for you.
I’m not making a case for discouraging people to blog. If you have colleagues that want to contribute – l would encourage them.
With a little editing, you can turn average work into a decent post, but you can't "tweak" a bad article and make it good. People who really struggle with writing usually don't enjoy it much either. Their contributions will shine far brighter in a professional interview.
Leave the writing to people who are good at it, and I will continue to outsource my bookkeeping. Is it a deal?
This post has been updated in 2019.
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