Encouraging clients to write often…or using a blogging service?

Black keyboard letters
I’ve been working with the WordPress platform for a little while now, and I’ve been a regular blogger since January (though I had been promoting blogging for years earlier, and had my first blog in 2000 [yes, I’m a bit insecure about my blogging creds]).  I’ve created many sites with blogging capabilities, some of them based on Blogger.com integration, and others WordPress.

I’ve explained the benefits of blogging many times to my clients, made nagging phone calls reminding them to blog — all to little avail.  I even wrote an article about the importance of blogging to help explain myself. But still, the blogs remain silent.

What I tell my clients about the benefits of blogging

If my clients already know what a blog is, then I can dive into why it’s so important (other than people KNOW that it’s important).  I tell them the following:

Blogging is a great way to reach people who may not be searching for what you want them to be searching for. Let’s say you have a service for “healing touch,” but it’s not “therapeutic touch.”  With a normal website, you would not be able to rank well for the other key phrase. If you write an article on the differences between therapeutic touch and healing touch, you then will be able to rank for both phrases, even if your business only focuses on one service.

The more you write about what you know, the larger your online sphere of influence grows. By writing consistenly about topics important to you, you’re able to rank better in Google and other search engines, build a community of people who follow what you write, and become an authority on your topic.

There’s no other marketing medium like blogging where all you need to invest is your time, and you’ll get direct benefits. Fliers, radio, tv, newspaper, business chambers — they all take money.  Blogging is free to set up, and free to use.  You will get out of it what you put into it.

That’s the jist of what I tell people about blogging.  They generally get very excited, get a blog, and post a few times. One month later, cobwebs form on their admin login form.

Maybe try a professional blogging service?

One thing I’ve considered is writing the articles myself.  I’m no copywriting expert (I’m a Denver web designer), but I do know my clients’ business well.  If they don’t have the time or commitment to write their own articles, they should find someone to do it for them. There are many professional blog writing services out there, maybe I should start recommending them?

Does anyone have any experience using a professional blog writing service?

A web design testimonial from Todd Colchin

Today at the Westside Business Builders meeting, Todd Colchin of Colchin Automotive & Diesel gave Katz Web Design a testimonial:

Our website is just barely up — and we’ve not done anything with it yet — and yesterday, we got two new customers who came into our shop who found us by our website! They were both 18-25 years old.

Having a website is vital, especially if you want to appeal to younger customer base.

Content is king…when can I get it?

King content and his pawns

As a web designer / developer, my job is pretty straight forward: I design a website, code it, and add the content. But that’s not all. I’ve also got to be a pest, hounding clients for content.

At the beginning of each project, it’s always a good idea to get a firm grasp on exactly what content is going to be on the website. Defining a site map is vital to developing a website. A simple list helps you figure out what is needed. Below is a sample:

  • About us
    • Employees
      • Bio paragraphs
      • Head shots
      • Contact information
    • History
      • Photo of founders, current owners
      • Chronology
      • Intro paragraph
        • Bridge history with present, link to various project

Once you’ve got a good understanding of what is needed, you must start asking for content immediately. Companies like to wait until the last minute, then wait days longer to deliver content. If you plan for late content and pester your clients from the get-go, you might be able to have everything you need when the website is complete.

There is a great book (Web ReDesign 2.0: Workflow that Works) that says you should create a timeline for content delivery. They have a pretty table with deliverables and a flow chart and all sorts of great stuff. In a perfect world where the website project is the client’s top priority, a content delivery timeline might work. Heck, you could even bill clients for overdue content! However, in the real world, there’s no such thing as a content delivery timeline. A web developer must take content into their own hands, or else you won’t get paid.

Designer, protect thyself!

If you have clients with overdue content that is holding up the launch of a website, it’s not a big deal, except that designers often get paid when the site goes live. No content, no pay check.

A contract is a great place to define what happens if the site is ready except for the content. Rather than being paid at launch, it is a good great idea to be paid when the site is ready – content or not. That way, if you’ve done your part of the project, and your client has not yet prepared their portion, you can still send off that invoice.

When modifying your contract, keep in mind that you’ll still need to agree to add the content once you receive it! If that’s too big a hassle (working for free after getting paid), then don’t bother changing your current contract.

How do you deal?

Do you have nightmare clients? Late content delivery? Are you the client? How do you handle being part of a web design project? I’d love to hear your stories.