How long does it take to write a blog?
18th July 2016 | Posted in Blogging
Or, more importantly, how long does it take to write a good business blog?
I believe a good business blog goes beyond analytics. Finding the topics and the keywords that attract potential customers is great. But that content then has to be valuable in some way to build your business credibility. So it needs to offer fresh insights, give great advice, or sometimes just entertain.
Quality is really important if you want your audience to believe in you, and that’s why I fret about the low-end, rattle-them-off style of blog writing. I’ve received enough of these as an editor to know that just re-treading what’s already out there at speed for a low price is not a great way to build a company’s brand. Anyone who proposes a blog late one afternoon and delivers it the next morning worries me.
So I’m talking about the job that a freelance copywriter would do. Someone who can combine journalistic skills to hunt out new information and copywriting skills to create a blog that’s intelligent, readable, and reflects the way that the organisation itself does business.
So what’s involved in writing a good business blog and how long should it take?
- Getting the brief
A phone call with marketing or the company content manager to set the scene around
- The nature of the target audience
- An understanding of your business and your USPs
- The topic for the blog
- Any SEO that needs to be worked in
- Branding guidelines
30 mins – 1hr
- Collecting the information
My favourite way to get expert information is to talk to the experts. If your company runs training courses, your business is already full of people who can provide advice for tips articles. If you have people building relationships with customers, then their understanding of what customers want, need and experience can turn theory into really practical articles. If you have a development department, you’ll have staff who can share ideas about what the future holds. The blog writer can’t realistically be expected to know this stuff in depth themselves, but a good interviewer can hold a conversation with an expert and encourage a great flow of material in a short time.
Either set up and conduct interview 1 hr
If experts really aren’t available (really?) then it’s got to be research. At this time using a writer who understands your industry is invaluable. They already know the issues. I’ve been a B2B tech writer for decades, but I also know about retail and healthcare, and a huge amount about the retirement years and care for older people. A knowledgeable writer can more easily sift ideas and statements to decide what’s new, what’s real and what’s important. They can help you shape your content.
Or research 2 hrs
The length of the blog isn’t really the issue here. What takes the time is creating a piece that holds attention, shares great ideas simply and builds in the SEO invisibly. And if it’s a guest blog, is also written to the guidelines of that site.
Writing 2 hrs +
Experienced copywriters know that the review and approval round for copy to be used in marketing collateral can be lengthy. When I’m writing brochures or websites, I quote for one draft, a second draft to build in feedback from the client, and then final amendments for completed copy. Blogs may not need that sort of approval process. If an expert has been involved then it’s courteous and sensible to ask them to fact-check the piece. (This is not the time to start changing your mind about the blog’s content or you’ll be wasting valuable time and money. There’s always the next blog for your next brilliant idea.)
Feedback and amends 1-2 hrs
The bottom line
Altogether that adds up to anything 3.5 to 7+hrs. So that’s half a day at the very least.
Some may baulk at those sorts of figures. But breaking it down shows you how much work’s involved in writing even the simplest blog if you want it to be valuable.
The more help you give your writer the less time they’ll need. I’ll bet your organisation is full of papers and notes that people have written around important topics. Gather what you can, as well as corporate stuff like:
- Mission statement (if it actually helps)
- Branding guidelines
- Corporate and other brochures
- White papers
- Details of any other social media accounts
- Anything useful on the intranet
Be selective though or your blogger will spend more time sorting out what’s relevant than reading.
Is it worth it?
Working on both sides of the fence, I would say definitely.
As a content manager I’ve seen some dire pieces of work come my way from agencies who are going for quantity rather than quality. And I’ve refused to publish them because poor blogs reflect badly on our brand. The really good articles are those where the experts have clearly contributed to the knowledge and the writer has turned that into something eminently readable that talks to our audience and suits our style.
And as a seasoned copywriter I’m convinced that every piece of communication from a business should be credible, worthwhile and of a quality that adds to the brand’s brilliance rather than takes away.
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