Q: After growing my marketing department, I’m finally ready to start a blog for my MSP. I’m looking for a new way to connect with my customers, and I’m hoping the blog will help more potential customers find us online, too. I’ve never done anything like this before, though, so I’m a little apprehensive. How do I start a blog without it being a total dud?
Congratulations on taking this step to help market your business. As an MSP, you not only want to foster a relationship with your clients, but also educate them about the importance of IT. Developing a blog can pose some challenges, but once you get going you can see a great return on investment and develop stronger relationships with your customers. Plus, getting it right and creating a meaningful blog can distinguish your MSP from the competition.
To give you the best advice possible, we consulted our Senior Content Strategist, Anne Campbell, who curates and develops content for our blog. Here is Anne’s advice on how to create an effective blog.
How to build an effective blog
Before you publish your first blog post, there are a number of important questions you need to consider.
- What is the right platform? This depends on how comfortable you are with content management systems and how much you want to customize your blog. Two common platforms are Wordpress and Hubspot. Wordpress is a more affordable option, but it requires more hands-on work to set up. If you have the knowledge in house, this could be a great option. Hubspot has more preset options, with a few different templates that you can choose from and account managers to help you get started. Hubspot also has more built-in marketing capabilities, such as easy-to-build CTAs. Before deciding which platform to choose, make sure you figure out what integrates well with your current marketing automation and CRM tools.
- Who will be working on it? To be successful, your blog needs to be a coordinated effort with clearly defined responsibilities for who will be working on the blog and how. If everyone is responsible for working on it, no one is. If you're planning on tackling the blog yourself, set aside dedicated time to writing content each week. Put it on your calendar and honor the commitment.
- How often will you post? Consistency is important on a blog, especially when you’re starting out. Aim to post at least once a week. The more regularly you post, the better it will be for your SEO, and more importantly your readers will come back to look for new content. Stick to your schedule, and plan posts a few weeks at a time. Ideally, you should create an editorial calendar filled with specific topics you want to discuss each week. It will help keep you on task and relieve the uncertainty of the dreaded ‘what’s next’ question.
- What will your blog be about? Answering this question will establish your blog’s editorial mission. You need to have a clear vision of what you want your blog to accomplish. Why are you taking the time to write it? What are you looking to achieve? Maybe you want to improve your website SEO and make it easier to be found, or maybe you’re looking for a way to create valuable content to help fuel your email newsletter. As an MSP, you should use your blog to build relationships with customers by teaching them about new IT trends or cyber security. By providing customers with valuable information on your blog, they’ll begin to see you as a trusted resource.
- Why should people care? Many new bloggers fall into a trap because it’s so easy to write about your company and what services you offer. For readers, this sales pitch gets boring fast, and if this is your plan for your blog, you’ll be very disappointed with the results. Instead, write about topics that will help your customers. Think about what will make the blog valuable to them. Educate them on topics like cyber security or the importance of backup or transitioning to the cloud. Your blog should be about your customer and what they can learn from you, with a little bit about your company sprinkled in once and a while. Once you get started, allow people to subscribe to your blog and include CTAs to drive them back to your website for other valuable resources. This creates great engagement!
Common mistakes to avoid
There are a number of common pitfalls that many new bloggers fall into. Here are a few you should try to avoid.
The worst thing you can do is have a blog on your website that is never updated. If you only post once a month, it isn’t helpful. You won’t gain any momentum with your readers, and they'll quickly lose interest. Picture it this way, how often would you check a blog that’s never updated? Probably once or twice, and then you’d give up. Instead, keep your blog populated with fresh content, and don’t let your readers forget about you!
Although it might be difficult to come up with ideas when you’re first starting out with your blog, please don’t find someone else’s content and repost it. It can be tempting, but this hurts your SEO. Instead, if you find an article that inspires you, use the original piece as a jumping off point. Offer your own take on the subject and include a short quote and link back to the original piece.
Writing without an editor
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen bloggers make is publishing posts without having someone else read them first. Everyone needs an editor. Everyone. Save yourself from the embarrassment. Believe me; it’s noticeable when there are numerous mistakes and typos in your work, and it takes away from all the work you put into creating a new post on an interesting topic. Have someone proofread before you post! Whether you pay a freelance editor to look over our work or just have someone else on your team review it, it will certainly help your blog look more professional and worth reading.
Utilizing Anne’s tips will help you create an effective blog that will help you build a relationship with your customers and credibility for your MSP. Consistently create meaningful content, and soon you’ll see it pay off as new leads start to come in. Good luck!
Ask Intronis is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between. Submit your questions by emailing AskIntronis@intronis.com.