The Problem with B2B Blogs

Man Hitting BaseballI’ve gotten out of the blogging habit for a few months now. It started out innocently enough. I went on vacation for a couple of weeks. Then when I got back, guess what? I was swamped with client work that had been waiting for me. In a blink, a month had passed. Then two. Then…well…you get the picture.

As I’ve been struggling to get back on track, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I had a great start. Things were going well. Momentum was beginning to build. And then things fell apart. What went wrong? I’ve come to a single conclusion. And it affects not just me, but anyone with a B2B blog.

The problem with B2B blogs is they’re free.

I know what you’re saying. It’s great they’re free. That’s part of the magic. Free can’t be the problem. But I’m here to tell you it is not just part of the problem. It’s all of it. And here’s why.

We Equate Free with Easy.

We don’t mean to. Intellectually we know even though some things are promoted as free, nothing really is. But emotionally….that’s a different story. People love the idea of free. They want to be the ones who say, “Look at what I have. And guess what? It was FREE!”

Unfortunately, we often equate free with easy. And sometimes free things are easy. But most of the time, free things require at least a minimal amount of effort. Call now to double your order for the same price. Cut out this coupon and bring it in for your free gift.

A B2B blog that works may be free, but it will require some effort. A great one will require lots of effort. The fact that B2B blogs require minimal time and zero dollars to set up doesn’t change that. It does, however, set us up to fall into a rather predictable pattern that goes like this:

  • I have a blog. Cool! I’m so excited!
  • Blogging once a week is fun. I have so many ideas!

10-15 blog posts later

  • Yikes, this is taking more time than I thought.
  • I’ve gone through all my best ideas and now I feel like I have nothing to say.

And the blog stalls.

In my case, vacation correlated with a time when I was very busy with client work and starting to stall out on ideas anyway. And here’s the kicker.

It was completely preventable.

Yes, preventable. I knew what I should have been doing to keep this from happening, but I didn’t. Perhaps because I was so full of momentum I thought the blog would keep a life of its own. But I think the more likely culprit is the blog was free, and so I expected it to be easy. I expected the soft costs to be as low as the hard ones. And guess what? I was dead wrong. Turns out I was part of the rule, not the exception. Ugh. Strike one.

The Soft Costs Will Get You Every Time

I’ve worked long enough to know I’m not alone on this one. Many companies underestimate (or ignore) the soft costs of any initiative. Blogs are no exception. B2B marketers under budget pressure (and let’s face it, that’s most of them) turn to blogs and social media because the hard costs are low. The dilemma with both is the soft costs. And to do either one well, the soft costs may be significant.

Let me give you the bad news now. It takes longer than 15 minutes to concept, write, edit and publish a well-written blog post. Blog posts are not like writing e-mails to friends, nor are they stream-of-consciousness thrown down on the page despite their casual tone.  Even average blog posts require some time. If you assign someone to the task of writing the company blog and don’t free up any of their time…well…the blog is doomed to fail.

In my case, I write for a living. I love doing it. I’m efficient at it. And it still took me longer than I thought it would. Since time is my most valuable asset (and yours is too), this was a big mistake. When I was fully loaded with client work, I hadn’t allowed enough time for the work the blog needed from me. Ugh. Strike two.

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

There’s smugness in this expression I’ve never liked, but I have to admit it’s true. I didn’t create an editorial schedule when I started. Even though I’ve read scads of advice from great bloggers who say you should.

Why?

Creating an editorial schedule requires a good bit of time and thought. I’m not opposed to that, but in the beginning I was excited and I just wanted to get going. I had enough ideas to get me through those first few months, and I thought they’d just keep on coming. Besides, I didn’t have to coordinate multiple authors. It was just me. I could do it without a schedule, right?

Uhm. Wrong.

When I was super-busy, the ideas didn’t just keep flowing. I wanted to generate some ideas, but didn’t have time. No schedule meant I had no plan to fall back on when I was tired and overwhelmed. The time I most needed an editorial schedule was the time I was least able to build one. Ugh. Strike three. You’re out.

Now I’m back in the game with some hard lessons learned. I’d love to hear from all of you. What do you think is the biggest problem with B2B blogs? What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your time blogging?

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