Why Start a Company Blog?

If you associate the term “blog” with some ’90s era hacker, like Keanu Reeves’s character Neo in The Matrix, it might be time to reboot and reconsider. Blogging is no longer just for authority-questioning individuals—it’s become a legitimate form of communication for all types of people, and now for companies as well.

I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half on behalf of my current employer, AfterCollege (I manage the student-facing AfterCollege Blog and the university recruiting focused Employer Blog), and I’d like to share a few of the benefits I’ve observed so far.

Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is blogging?

To put it very simply, blogging is writing articles that are published online (rather than in a print publication). Blog posts are usually arranged in reverse chronological order, so the most recent content is at the top of the page and you scroll down or back to see posts that were written earlier.

Blogs cover everything you can imagine (and probably more). Nail art? Yep. Expat life in Paris, Paraguay, and everywhere in between? Absolutely. Hula hooping? You bet.

Some blogs are purely passion projects and don’t lead to any sort of money-making, while some are used by small business owners and “solopreneurs” to help get their message out to a wider audience.

And nowadays, most companies have realized that blogging is an excellent way to build brand recognition and a key component of their content marketing strategy. (For more on content marketing, check out my previous post.)

Do your eyes glaze over any time you hear someone use the phrase SEO (search engine optimization)? I won’t go into too many of the gory details here, but let’s suffice it to say that you want to be the answer to the questions people are asking when they use a search engine, and one of the best ways to make that happen is to create a regular stream of fresh, useful content.

HubSpot published the results of a ContentPlus report claiming that company sites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages than sites without them. Indexed pages lead to higher search engine rankings—and to more traffic to your site.

Google recently did away with the cute little photos they were publishing next to an author’s name when they showed up in search results, but Google still gives preference to people who have established Google authorship. If you regularly update your blog with high-quality, useful content by writers with Google authorship, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to coming out on top of search results.

But if all that sounds like a lot of mumbo jumbo, here are a few anecdotes to illustrate the power of starting a blog for your business.

  • Blogging helps you find quality applicants for open positions

AfterCollege helps students and recent grads discover entry-level jobs and internships through the Explore feature on our website (students tell us their school, major, and graduation date, and we generate a list of positions, companies, and industries that we think would be a good fit). We’re a pretty small company, but we do occasionally hire people to join our own team. When we were looking to hire interns this summer, we naturally posted openings on our own site.

Something interesting happened when I interviewed one candidate who had applied for the Editorial & Social Media Internship position. It turned out that this candidate, a recent graduate who had received a few offers but hesitated to accept any of them, had not found the position on our site initially. The candidate had done a quick Google search for “alternative things to do after college” and found the AfterCollege Blog (and the post advertising our open positions). The time the candidate had spent reading the AfterCollege Blog meant that this applicant was already familiar with our company, our mission, and our values, so it was easy to tell from our conversation that this person would be a good fit at our organization.

  • Blogging helps you establish yourself as a thought leader

Having a company blog also gives us the opportunity to share our knowledge and establish ourselves as thought leaders. This might seem like something that’s a little hard to prove (and it is), but occasionally it pays off in a major way. When our CEO was at a conference a few months ago, he met another thought leader in our industry, who knew all about us because of our blog and the content that we’ve been creating and sharing. I’ve also reached out to people to request interviews and been pleasantly surprised when they are already familiar with AfterCollege because they have read our blog.

  • Blogging puts you in direct contact with your customers/clients

One of my favorite features on the AfterCollege Blog is the “I Got a Job!” series. Any time a student gets a job through our service, we get in touch to ask them if they’d like to be interviewed about their experience. It’s so much fun to hear the success stories and see how our service really does help students and recent grads with the job search.

Some students and recent grads have stumbled upon our blog, left a comment that sparked a conversation, and ended up writing guest posts for us. It’s rewarding to see your content resonate with your audience and to open up a dialogue in that way.

It’s not all sunshine and roses—sometimes people leave us negative comments, explaining their frustrations with certain features or functions of our site. But those are helpful, too. We use criticism as an opportunity to evaluate if there are changes we can make to improve our users’ experience.

We can even take those questions and frustrations and turn them into content for the blog. So for example when one student complained about the functionality of our Explore feature, we realized that we could write a blog post that explained how to get the best possible results. Or on the employer side, many organizations struggle to write job listings, so we wrote a post that offered some tips and best practices.

These are just a handful of the benefits I’ve observed since launching the two AfterCollege blogs, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. How has blogging helped your organization? Let me know in the comments!

I originally published this post on LinkedIn. Find the original post here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140830150100-29684472-why-start-a-company-blog

 

How I Landed a Content Marketing Job (Without Knowing What it Meant)

Back when I was getting ready to go to college, finding a job was admittedly not a huge thought weighing on my mind.

But at some point I did sit down with my dad and ask for his opinion about whether it made sense to go to the small liberal arts college I had my mind set on, or whether I should attempt to do something more “marketable” (though I’m sure at that stage I had no idea what that word even meant).

In his infinite wisdom, my dad said, “Melissa, most of the jobs that will exist when you graduate haven’t even been invented yet. So forget about training for a specific job.”

Now, my first real job after college was teaching English in Japan, which was not exactly a new profession, but flash forward a few more years, and, like always, my father was right.

My current job title is “Content Marketing Manager,” which I get a big kick out of, since when I started I had never even heard of content marketing before.

So what exactly is content marketing? And how did I get a job doing something I didn’t know anything about?

Let’s start with the definition: The basic idea of content marketing is that you create blog posts, infographics, videos, and other types of “content” to help educate potential customers. You share information with them freely to establish yourself (or the organization you represent) as an authority figure, educate them about the problem they’re experiencing, and present your goods or services as a possible solution.

And how did I manage to get a job in this field I’d never even heard of?

Well, it just so happens that I actually already knew a lot about creating content from my years working as a writer and editor.

It turns out that all those blog posts, articles, podcasts, and other things I’d been doing in my previous jobs were examples of “content.” And the journalistic training I’d received in interviewing, fact-checking, and proofreading helped to ensure that the content I created lived up to a certain standard.

I was also really lucky that the person who created my position and hired me (Teresa Torres) already understood that, so even though the job title was “Content Marketing Specialist,” she spelled out very clearly that it was a full-time writing position and used writing samples as the main way she evaluated candidates.

This is not to say that I already knew everything about content marketing—far from it! There’s always more to learn about analytics, headline writing, SEO, social media, and tons of other related topics. And I’m grateful to companies like Copyblogger for leading the way—not only do they write about content marketing in an educational and entertaining manner, but their entire business is built on content marketing, so they provide an excellent example to aspire to.

There are a few takeaways from this post:

  • Don’t assume that you’re not suitable for a job just because you’ve never heard of it!
  • If you’re the one hiring someone, be open-minded about the hiring process. Think about which skills the person will already need to possess, and which ones they can learn on the job.
  • Father (or at least my father) really does know best.

Thanks for reading! Have you been hired for a job you’d never heard of? Want to talk to me about content marketing? Feel free to reach out!

I originally published this post on LinkedIn. You can find it here: “How I landed a content marketing job (without knowing what it meant).”