The main reason to start a blog should be having something interesting to say, on a regular basis; something that appeals to your market. A message that either converts into sales or (if a service) converts into an impression you know what you're talking about.
The SEO benefit isn't automatic. Just having more pages about something on your website doesn't turn into positive SERP. It only helps if people in your industry share it around, discuss it. And that not only depends on the quality of your message but also how "bloggy" your audience is.
I have clients whose market is furiously corporate and they insist on blogging. It's just such a dry topic, there's nothing but a "we're a real company" benefit, and even that isn't obvious.
And that leads to the biggest issue here. It's often not easy to see if you're wasting your time. It's easy to throw terms like "sunk cost fallacy" around but it really applies here. Plus there is auxiliary value from blogging, some people enjoy writing.
But if your time is finite and not worthless, focus on finding an audience that directly feeds into your bottom line.
A blog that sees little activity or insight does more harm than good. One that misjudges the customer would also do harm. A corporate client doesn't want to read about the results of the weekly office water pistol fight.
Of course your content has to be amazing and needs a few backlinks from industry leaders or authority sites. Also the most important part of your blog post is the bottom section where you have your call to action to convert the reader into a subscriber, so don't ever use a generic click here type CTA.
E.g. If your blog post is about 10 ways to lose weight, then add a resource box below which says "It's time to get started, download this FREE time-line pdf I prepared for you which helped me and 1000 members of this website lose over 10 lbs in 22 days" and bam.. there you have a new signup!
P.S. Goes without saying but you must give good advice. You have to win their trust, the article, the pdf must give them what they're searching for (give them 80% and remaining 20% after payment).
Blogs that look stale or infrequently updated have a negative buying effect for me.
But create a couple SEO pages like a How To guide, FAQs, etc. and it's a short term investment with long term benefits.
Obviously, though, the rewards in the former are far lower. But, it certainly means it's worth trying one article to see how big the rewards are. Basically just search like a user would, and see if the results are satisfying. If none are, then it should be straightforward to rank #1 or near the top.
You are right that one (or ten) success example(s) doesn't prove that this strategy works, but similarly neither does one (or many) failure(s). It depends on the quality of the articles, the audience, and many of other factors, just like paid advertising depends on various factors like where the ad is, what audience you target, cost, etc.
What I can say with certainty is that there are definitely markets where you can get to the front page of Google within a year by just writing a few quality articles every month. You don't have to pay money, use spammy backlink tactics, or anything like that. Whether OP's audience is one of those is unclear, but it seems that he knows his audience reasonably well if he is making $$ from them, so chances are he could get a positive ROI on a blog if he gave it the proper attention.
Good blogs basically serve the same role, they generate a lot of posts which could be effective standalone articles.
You can't treat your blog posts any less and try to be done with it in one evening and then forget about it (it won't show in Google or generate traffic or signups yet most people think of blogging that way only).
Sometimes you may have to spend days researching / writing an article, graphics and PDF while spending $500 on your graphics, editing, proof-reading, etc. It requires the same type of effort you would put in creating a product.
Then the outreach is the worst part where you have to convince other people in your niche to add your articles as a resource (Brian Dean has some great advice on this btw).
1. A blog that makes you a thought leader. People will like you, check out what you're doing, and perhaps start using your app. This is the typical way to go for b2b, or if you have a big ego :) Another pro is that if you change your app, you still (may) have your readership.
2. A blog that extends the content of your app. This fundamentally is a set of landing pages that improve your SEO. One common strategy is to talk about problems that people may have, and that your app solves. Whether you want or not to be too explicit about your app it's a matter of tastes.
People read it because the solution is interesting to them, but get exposed to your business as a consequence. CandyJapan's posts on dealing with credit card fraud were how I found out about their service, for instance: https://www.candyjapan.com/behind-the-scenes/how-i-got-credi...
"I'm doing ____. Recently I encountered an issue: ____. I've solved it by ____ and as a result ____."
I keep hearing that, but... Has anyone here actually seen it working?
Not nitpicking, just looking for actual examples to learn from.
Joel on Software, patio11, DHH, Seth Godin, Tim Ferris, countless SEO blogs, and so on in increasing order of cringiness.
It is the whole modern melting of personality/advice/authority/promotion .
Some are really sincere some are really good at faking it.
For these guys the blogging seems nearly a full-time job though. I wonder if it's realistic to get there with a small slice of time.
Another organization was going through their contracting process with me. One of their managers later told me that when they Googled for my name they were blown away by the size of my online footprint. Most of that was simply 10 years of blogging a few times each month about whatever topics I was finding interesting.
Also based on my blogging, I've had fairly well-known companies interview me for their blogs or webinars while using descriptions like "one of the worlds leading experts in X." This was all based on years of blogging on the topic.
Another great way to be viewed as a thought leader is to write a short book. Imagine you are looking at hiring two candidates that both look good, but when you search for their names you find that one has a book for sale at Amazon on a topic of interest to your company. It is a very strong way to market one's expertise.
I'm admittedly in a somewhat unusual position, though, because I contribute to a blog about grant writing (http://www.seliger.com/blog) and basically no one else has anything useful or interesting to say about the topic. I exaggerate, but only slightly.
I don't know how well blogging works for others, but I do feel like I've seen a lot of people and companies with really lame blogs and I have to think, "Is that really doing anything for you?" I'd be curious to see anyone with data on this subject, especially because I'm not even real sure what "data" would look like in this case.
Answer highly relevant, frequently asked questions in such a way that people will either find you through a search engine or impulsively share your content.
This is excellent advice for anyone starting an online business.
People new to running an online business too often neglect the approach you suggest. And yet, it is much better than trying to get lots of upvotes for a 'launch' on Product Hunt, Hacker News, and Reddit.
The problem is, producing good content doesn't give an immediate thrill. It takes time and persistence to see the payoff.
Instead of blog articles per se, I'd recommend creating high value resource articles on topics people who'd benefit from your app may search for. For example, if you offer a goal progress app, people with interest may search for resources on 'long-term strategies to boost productivity that you won't give up after a few days'.
High value = it should provide a comprehensive breakdown of the topic and cover points the top ranking articles on the same topic don't. This will boost your article's search rankings and help it attract more backlinks and social shares.
You can also offer a PDF download of the resource in exchange for an email address so you can nurture these leads.
Examples of these resource articles:
Don't think of it as a blog. See it as your own media platform. Whose only purpose is to broadcast information that drives sales.
It is also an always-ready salesperson who never sleeps and can be trained to overcome any objection to close sales.
A properly managed blog is definitely worth your time. However, the content must be clearly integrated with your marketing and advertising.
The best type of content? Anything that helps current users better use your product. Tutorials, guides, docs, videos, etc. The second best is content that shows how your product solves a specific problem.
You don't need to limit yourself to one blog either. A multi-outlet approach works really well and typically helps corner a market.
I used to blog all the time, but that was back when blogs were just a way for people to communicate things they were interested in, not primarily a means of marketing. Just do it - if you enjoy it, keep doing it, if you don't, stop.
Chances are if it's just for marketing purposes, and unless you care enough and are at least a decent enough writer to be engaging, then it's not going to get a lot of readers anyway, because you won't be writing anything worth reading.
So to me, the question you should be asking yourself isn't whether it would be a clever way to market the app, but whether or not you want to blog.
That being said, blogging is just a medium to show the world what you know and how good you are at teaching others as well. If you don't know anything and don't have anything valuable to share, then your blog will probably be a 'waste of time'.
The more expensive your service is, the more you'll probably need to offer proof that it's worth the price. If your service is going to cost me a one time purchase price of $1, I'm going to buy it regardless of what you say. If it's going to cost me $499/month, I'm going to research the heck out of it, which would probably include reading your blog and/or the best parts of your site to find the information I need.
The harder your product is to use, because somethings are just complicated no how simple you try to make them, you'll need an efficient way to educate your customers. One use for a blog is to have a place where you can tell stories about people using your product. "How Susie solved use getp0d.com to double her income" or "Using getp0d.com as a CRM for your motel's reservations". You can use a blog as a place to put any ol' random thought you have until there's a better place to put said thought. My company's old blog was mostly for making it sound like my services my be worth what the price I quoted you.
I use my blog to promote my skills and for last couple of years my site and blog helped me to earn some good contracts/gigs. Even my current job is due to my blog which someone read and contacted me.
I am not an SEO expert but these tools did help me in early days. I wrote how I used them:
I provide value to someone else, while also advertising my product. This gave me net 1 user last month. At lets say $10 / month, that's $120 / year. If I can get 12 people a year (1 per month) to register. Year one I'll have made $780 ($120 + $110 + $100 + ....).
I personally try to do at least one post a week, and some have a lot of success, some none. The value comes from then marketing that post and ever improving what people from your niche want to read. You can only convert people who read the post.
My example would be a failure (in my case), but it builds financially. As you advertise and get people coming to your stuff, more people typically come. They then tell their friends, share my posts, etc. You only need two or three big posts a year to get you tens to hundreds of users At once.
If you can include a series of user guides for various topics related to your app, or prove (preferably with visual examples) how your app provides a solution to some issue or whatnot, then your blog will have value. If you already have a wiki or a forum, you probably don't need a blog.
If you think you have something worth sharing that's important to others outside the specific niche your app fills but tangential to it, go for it; but you'd probably be better off on Facebook or Twitter.
I've been doing basic content marketing for my service (https://medium.com/revenuecat-blog) and it is my #1 source of new signups.
I have a lot of expertise in the subject. It is a wide domain with lots of adjacent problems I can write about. And, it is something that people search for and read about. All these together has made it worthwhile.
That said, it is very time consuming. I try to average one post a week but a good post that is worth publishing takes me probably 5-10 hours of work between research, drafting, proofing, and promoting. This is time taken away from product development, so you need to consider the ROI.
My main mode for following anything online is to add a news RSS feed or a commits RSS feed if applicable to my feedreader. IDK how many people do it like me though, I guess, depending on the product, often the bulk of the customers will be using the prominent social media instead. Nevertheless having it there for the important news and the occasional blog post should not be that big of a waste of time.
The benefit to me is I write reflectively on what I’ve learnt, the benefit to my audience is that it positions me as an expert (you only need to be one day ahead of someone to be an expert).
I do post daily though.
I also really enjoy writing, without that it would be a chore.
You can get some value out of it, but odds are you’ll be frustrated and hate doing it.
For example I decided to write once every 6 weeks to my mailing list this year (I hate more than that, so I'm not sending what I wouldn't accept to receive). Once I have a few built up, I will then add them to my site and not hesitate to rewrite the content if I have feedback to integrate.
I think you need an internal metric for regularity or your content writing will just slip away from you and won't happen.
I think I would prefer the one big article, every month or so, to the pressure to put out "something" every week...
As @superasn has mentioned, 1 huge win (again if done right) is you can keep getting recurring signups / new users if 1 or more of your blog posts ranks on top for keywords relating to your web app / product offering.
I've successfully grown a blog to over 100K monthly visitors in less than 6 months, all using organic SEO techniques. Too bad I didn't (still don't) have a product to market on that blog. It ranks on 1st page for several tech related keywords, incl. a couple related to apple and steve jobs.
What's your web app / domain? Without knowing much about it, I can't give you domain / topic specific advise. My email is in bio if you wanna chat more.
The only real way to know is to try it and see if it works.
I will note that you can pay for writing. You typically give someone a topic to write about and maybe a link to include or some key words. There are people who do this as freelancers and there are services that do this.
It doesn't completely get you off the hook, but it can reduce the workload involved. If it makes more money than it costs you, it can be well worth it.
Edit: You also might be interested in reading this:
If you don't care about acquiring users from search as you have other means then yes a blog may be a complete waste of time.
If your site already has some crawl-able content and your already receiving some traffic from google, rather than create a blog your time is probably better spent doing the following:
creating more content pages to help google understand your site
creating a sitemap
decreasing the load time of your site
spend money on google ads
get high quality back links
Examples: AWS in plain english, foragoodstrftime.com, everytimezone.com, the various 'awesome' lists, etc. I've personally thought about writing batch scripts for dumb little tasks. Books that lead into your business are also common.
Make it something your audience will value. Then the general idea then is you can share it to your mailing list (i.e. in amy hoy parlance an 'ebomb').
email marketing, social media posting, reddit posts / sub reddit comments
My last job I worked at a lending company and we would spend like $10,000 on a direct mail campaign and it would result in like 50 website sessions. We kinda shot down blogging and content SEO stuff as to vague with unpredictable results and the few blog posts we did had like 10 sessions. We focused on email marketing, cold calling, paid ads and direct mail. We would spend like $50 per session on paid ads.
But heres the kicker.
Before the company stopped operations we decided to give content SEO one last shot, we went after long tail keyword content pages, stuff like "what is a good apr" we saw our competitors doing this. All our previous blog posts were like "mini profile : meet joe blogs founder of joes coffee" which never really generated much traffic, it was way to specific and people just don't google that.
Its been a year and I still have access to GA. I looked at it and those long tail keywords pages that we went after are absolutely crushing it like one is generating 1000 new users every month (which I know is still not huge but for a small lending company (boring) its huge) and here is the double kicker, we got a text broker https://www.textbroker.com/ to write each post for like $50. So 1000 a month recurring for $50 or like 1 session for $50. Its just crazy.
I listened to https://www.indiehackers.com/podcast/038-dawson-whitfield-of....
>So our first like five months, our growth was 100% fueled, apart from Indie Hackers, by AdWords. We would spend $1.00 to acquire a customer and about four days later, we would get a $1.10
>Now-a-days about 55% of our new users come from organic SEO, we've really pushed hard on that
I feel like this has been my experience with so many companies and friends. But agree with the general sentiment that if you don't have a really clear strategy, keywords, topics etc it will be a "waste of time".
I have no idea how often people google specific keywords in other verticals, so ymmv.
Medium is good if you care only about having your articles read.
Your own website is good if you want to boost your website's Google rank.
for a product like a “food supplement”: yes, totally
the model is: right something useful which will get very relevant traffic via google, and be able to convert this traffic immediately to money