To pay or not to pay? It’s the question every startup asks when it’s time to market itself. Paid traffic is a solution many use to gain visibility and generate sales instantaneously.
Sure, it can produce fast results. But it also burns through your money just as quickly. Not a good start to a (hopefully) profitable journey. And definitely not a long-term solution.
If there’s one thing startup owners understand, it’s the importance of investing in the future. Heck, you convinced investors to fund your business idea for potential returns. It’s the same with a blog—it’s a long-term investment that produces organic traffic (and sales) for years, without marketing spend snowballing out of control.
So does a startup need a blog in 2022? No doubt. Let’s review why.
Why does a startup need a blog in 2022?
Blogs are and will remain a priority for companies as long as people are searching on Google. It’s the top most visited website with nearly 90 billion visits in 2021.
People use it to search for everything from what to eat for dinner:
To finding a solution to workplace issues:
(Looks like project management software is the space to be in today 👀. )
Folks want answers and solutions and that’s what your business offers (if not, then get out while you still can).
Take, for example, searches for project management tools:
The top-ranking posts are company blogs that do what? Sell project management software.
So all those people searching for PM tools will click their blogs and potentially sign up for a trial. That’s not even the best part—you pay for content once, publish it, update it over time, and it continues working for you long-term.
Can’t say the same about PPC ads—they’re with you for as long as you pay them to stick around. Once you’re out of budget, they’re out of your life (along with all the traffic it used to generate).
What can a blog do for my startup (that I’m not already doing)?
You’re the owner of a startup. And if you fit the stereotype, then you’re all about agility and experimentation. This is what makes PPC ads appealing to most. And while it can drive traffic faster than SEO (hours vs. 6+ months), it doesn’t offer the same benefits.
Sure, it meets your end goal of boosting traffic and sales, but it’s not sustainable long-term. PPC prices are ever-growing. If you rely on social media and search engine ads for visibility, you’ll struggle to maintain it without crushing your finances.
Plus, ad campaigns aren’t as forgiving—use the wrong keywords, ad copy, and landing pages and you lose your traffic/conversions (and budget) immediately.
With a blog, you’re not at the mercy of paid platforms. You’re can improve outcomes by tweaking titles, copy, and imagery. There’s no money lost when things go awry. Simply log into your content management system (CMS), make adjustments, monitor results, then tweak again. It’s a test-learn-apply model that makes content marketing worth every penny.
If that’s not convincing enough, here are other ways a blog benefits startups.
Bring more eyes (and $$$) to your business
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a method businesses use to rank on search engines. By creating content your prospective buyers need (based on customer research), you can draw their attention and potentially convert them.
You do this by going in-depth on topics, answering their questions, providing actionable tips, making it skimmable, and offering next steps (e.g. book a demo, sign up for a free trial, etc.).
Cater to the reader AND the search engine. When you get your SEO blogging right, it increases your position on Google, improving your traffic quality.
What’s a million visitors’ worth if only one person converts? So the goal is to select search terms your target customers use. Then create content that relates to where they are in the buyer’s journey (beginning, middle, or end).
A great example of this is Luisa Zhou, who built a multi-million dollar business using SEO—no ads.
We’ve focused on growing our blog organically, so through search engine optimization efforts. We haven’t done any ads and little other promotion. That’s why we didn’t see that much traction in the first 3 months. At 6 months, our blog had already paid itself back in terms of conversions and after 12+ months, it’s one of our top lead/sales sources.— Luisa Zhou, Founder of LuisaZhou.com
She posts content once or twice monthly and consistently drives in leads and sales. In 2021, she grew her sales by 55% from the previous year.
Over time, it’s easier to rank higher because your domain becomes credible to Google. Here’s one of her latest posts ranking #1 in less than a month.
Prove you know your ish
Consumers today are savvy: They detect BS within seconds, leaving crappy blogs with high bounce rates. And rightfully so—if you’re not publishing content that’s relevant and useful, then there’s no reason for its existence.
As a startup, you’re the new kid on the block. It’s up to you to prove you’re worthy of your customers’ dollar. With a blog, you can establish your expertise and grow your name as an authority.
You gain readers’ trust and possibly even that of reputable sites that link to your content (link juice is the Red Bull of the web—it gives your SEO wings).
But like wine, blogs age with time. Take, for example, the Mio blog, headed by Dominic Kent. They brought him on after realizing industry expertise was just as critical (if not more) than writing skills.
It’s key to crafting content that’s in-depth and actionable—the missing pieces in most competitor content on the first page of Google. And although they didn’t start with a bang, they ended with explosive results.
The first three to six months were disheartening. We got the content strategy completely wrong but documented our failings and learned from them. By month 12, we started to rank first for our key queries. Our BOFU content took off and we built out the entire content program to kick on from this success.– Dominic Kent, Content Director at Mio
Today, the blog focuses on two things:
- Answering queries and driving people to try their product
- Building awareness and credibility of the business
Over the past 14 months, their blog generated over 600k page views. Guess where 90% of that traffic came from…Google.
And to top it off:
Almost all our customers (past and present) have parted with money after finding and reading one or several blog posts.– Dominic Kent
brand community of loyal fans
Is having a brand reputation overrated? Some will say yes. Others will even take it further, saying brands are out and people are in. Consumers in both B2B and B2C have one thing in common—they’re people.
And they want to do business with other people, not corporations. This is why you hear so much about authenticity and transparency being top motivators for buying from a company.
A blog that delivers expert insights, actionable tips, interviews with industry pros, and shares insider secrets will always reign supreme. If you can answer questions and outline steps to take, even better.
This gave John Bonini, the Director of Marketing at Databox, the following he has today. He focused on content that’s informative, data-backed, and riddled with expert insights. And he does it all as himself, not a brand.
Recently, he started a community on Patreon called Some Good Content, which now has hundreds of paying followers.
You know you’re doing something right with your content when your audience is willing to pay for it.
Sell less to sell more
Sounds confusing and maybe even counterintuitive, but think about it. People hate being sold to so much that they use ad blockers and pay for apps to remove promotional content.
But! This doesn’t mean you can’t promote your product. Instead, you can use what’s called product-led content to show prospects and customers how they can resolve a problem, then insert your product as a solution within each step.
It’s a genius strategy that makes your content feel genuinely helpful. It’s a method Dr. Fio Dossetto used at Hotjar when she was their content strategist.
It’s an excellent way to acquire customers by showing them how they can use your product or service to eliminate stress. Plus, it retains customers.
Fio wrote a piece on how to create a buyer persona using Hotjar. A perfect topic, given that Hotjar is a screen capture tool for websites. Some of their customers already used it to learn how visitors navigate their site, giving insights to guide buyer persona creation.
So it’s a clever move—it’s relevant to their audience and actionable. Even after two years, it was still high-performing.
Not only did it snag a key position on the search engine results page (SERP):
But it also delivered monetary results:
This piece was consistently one of the top-ten drivers of signups and marketing qualified leads (MQLs). And because it was directly connected to a typical customer pain point, I am confident it was useful for retention and upsells as well.– Fio, Editor of Content Folks
Of course, this is only one strategy (another reason content marketing is so awesome). Illuminate Labs increased its traffic from 2,500 to 50,000 within the first three months. Then to over 95,000 by month six.
How’d they do it?
By publishing 30 pieces of informative content. No fluff. Not even a product mention. And yet product sales increased anyway.
Get ongoing results
SEO isn’t a “set it and forget it” marketing method. It requires ongoing nurturing (regular publishing) and pruning (content refreshing) to keep it alive and well.
Do that and your SEO will thrive, creating a stream of traffic for your business for years. But don’t take my word for it:
Cashfloat started its blog in 2015, posting three articles weekly. Then moved down to two and then one per week.
This decreased output didn’t taint SEO’s love. Here’s a look at the results:
- Jan 2015: 454 visitors per month
- July 2015: 29,994 visitors per month
- Jan 2016: 59, 253 visitors per month
- May 2020: 536,968 visitor per month.
Oh, and that’s without ads 🙌.
The website is our main source of leads and the engine of our online loan business. With over 95% of organic leads, we grew the business to over £1 million in revenue in a relatively short amount of time for our niche.– Esther Lizmi, SEO Expert at Western Circle
Start and scale (then sell?)
You didn’t launch a business to sell it—or maybe you did. Either way, it’s possible an opportunity will come along someday to acquire your business.
When your blog starts to gain traction, it can capture the attention of investors. High, steady traffic growth is a gold mine for investors and could lead to a 7-figure deal.
It’s the upside of marrying your business—you can plan a profitable
divorce exit strategy.
Acquisitions of blogs with high-quality traffic are common. In fact, just recently, we saw Semrush acquire Backlinko, adding 500k to its monthly traffic. Smart move.
You could be next. But first, you need to “engage” your audience.
A proposal you shouldn’t refuse
You took the giant leap into launching a startup. How will you build it? Here’s a proposal:
Invest in building an asset that generates awareness, traffic, authority, trust, and sales. Nothing does this like content marketing.
So does a startup need a blog? You betcha.
But keep in mind: Owning a blog is like owning a car. You take care of it, and it’ll take care of you. So if you start one, prepare to invest time, effort, and money into it to get long-lasting SEO love.